Dieffenbachia Dumb Cane; 15°C/60°F; Tropical America

There are many exciting plants to be found in this genus of outstanding foliage plants, but only very few are suited to other than warm greenhouse conditions. Warm, moist and shaded conditions suit them best, protected from draughts. Use a rich loam-based soil. By far the best one for indoor use is D. picta ‘Exotica’, which has compact habit and superbly variegated cream, white and green leaves. As plants age, typical arum inflores cences are produced from the topmost leaf axils, but as these do nothing for the plant they should be removed. You should wash your hands after cutting any part of diefTenbachia plants, as the sap contains a poison that could render you speechless if enough of it gets onto your tongue. The variety ‘Tropic Snow’ is an even bolder plant attaining a height of some 1.5m/5ft with larger leaves and darker green colouring-a fine plant if space is not a problem. Dieffenbachias can be propagated by removing young plants from around the base of the stem of the parent, or the main stem of mature plants can be cut into 5cm/2in-long sections and partly buried in moist peat in a propagating case that is kept at around 20°C/ 70°F.

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