Dieffenbachia is considered one of the golden standards for tropical plants. They will spruce up any area and add a festive floral note that harkens to summer in the tropics no matter where you live. So it’s no surprise you would want plenty of these gorgeous plants for your space…and there’s an easy way to grow them to your heart’s content without breaking your gardening budget.
Read on to learn all about propagating dieffenbachia from the mature plants you already have–including different rooting mediums, how to protect yourself while you gather your cuttings, and more.
Propagating Dieffenbachia from Cuttings: Why It’s the Best Option
There are a couple of different methods at your disposal when it comes to propagating dieffenbachia. However, arguably the simplest and most straightforward–and the one with the greatest success rate–is to propagate dieffenbachia from cuttings.
By removing either tip cuttings or stem cuttings from a mature dieffenbachia, you can propagate your plant in water or soil and grow several new, mature dieffenbachia plants.
Propagating Dieffenbachia in Soil or Water: Choosing the Best Environment
Like many houseplants and herbs, you have the option of propagating dieffenbachia in either soil or water. Both methods usually see a good success rate, although rooting in water is often considered the quicker and easier method.
The popularity of rooting dieffenbachia cuttings in water comes from the ability to more closely monitor the rooting process. In a glass jar, you can see when your dieffenbachia cuttings have begun to root and then transplant them into soil.
When potting your dieffenbachia cuttings in soil, you will typically have a longer and less certain wait to see if the cuttings have taken root. However, this method saves you the step of an extra transplant (from water to potting soil) once the roots have formed.
Ultimately, choosing your environment comes down to personal preference and whether you would prefer to watch the rooting process or not.
How to Propagate Dieffenbachia from Cuttings: A Step-by-Step Guide
1. Gather Your Tools
Many of the tools for propagating dieffenbachia are the same as any other propagation process, with one notable exception: you must wear rubber gloves.
Dieffenbachia also goes by the name “dumb cane.” This is owed to the numbing chemicals contained within the sap of the dieffenbachia’s stem and leaves. If this sap comes into contact with the lips, it can sting and even burn your mouth for up to a few weeks. It can even cause you to lose your speech for that time!
In addition, the juice and sap of the dieffenbachia plant can also irritate and sting the skin. For all these reasons, it’s crucial to ensure a pair of sturdy rubber gardening gloves is a part of your repertoire of tools when propagating dieffenbachia plants.
You should also wear protective eyewear, if possible, when gathering your dieffenbachia cuttings from the mature plant for propagation. This added layer of protection can help ensure you don’t suffer eye irritation from contact with the sap.
With these tools taken into consideration, you will also need either a clean, new razor blade or a sharp pair of pruning shears to remove your dieffenbachia clippings from the plant. You will also need a clear, wide-mouth glass jar of filtered water for water rooting or a pot and a peat style potting soil for soil rooting.
2. Prepare Your Environment Ahead of Time
Before you get started on actually removing cuttings from your mature dieffenbachia, you will need to prepare the environments a bit to receive the trimmings.
For your glass of rooting water, make sure the jar is filled appropriately and that you are using clean, filtered water. For rooting in potting soil, you will need to thoroughly moisten the soil in the planting pot and allow it to drain (but not dry out) before planting the cuttings.
Prepare your pruning shears or razor blade by ensuring they are clean and sterilized, as well as sharp. Any bluntness runs the risk of damaging your mature dieffenbachia and ruining your chances of propagating dieffenbachia from the cuttings you gather.
3. Properly Remove Cuttings from a Dieffenbachia Plant
Now it’s time to remove and plant your dieffenbachia cuttings! You have the choice here of propagating dieffenbachia from tip cuttings or stem cuttings. A tip cutting involves removing a portion of the main stem from the top of the plant.
A stem cutting, meanwhile, involves propagating dieffenbachia from a side shoot off the main stem. You can effectively propagate dieffenbachia from either, but be sure that your cutting is between two and four inches long and has two or three leaves attached to it. Note that you can do leafless dieffenbachia propagation, but unlike other herbs and plants, this will actually take longer.
Remove your dieffenbachia cutting with your sharp pruning shears or razor blade, making as clean a cut as possible. If you are using a razor blade, discard it afterward to avoid spreading the irritating sap to anyone or anything in your household. If using a pair of pruning shears, take the time to thoroughly wash them afterward, removing any traces of the sap.
4. Prepare Your Dieffenbachia Cuttings for Propagation
Before you root your dieffenbachia cuttings in soil, place them in direct sunlight and allow them to dry overnight. This step is not necessary for rooting your cuttings in water.
It’s also a wise option to coat the base of your dieffenbachia cutting stems in a rooting hormone. This helps encourage and accelerate growth by spurring the production of roots as well as protecting the vulnerable cutting from any bacterial or fungal infections.
5. Root Your Dieffenbachia Cuttings In Their Environment
Root Your Dieffenbachia in Water
To root your dieffenbachia cuttings in water, simply place the stems in the water. Just be sure they are right side up, as they will not root in the medium if you place them upside down (another reason having leaves on the cuttings is helpful!).
Place the dieffenbachia cuttings in a bright, warm part of your house, in indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight can shrivel the stems. Change the water out every three to five days to avoid stagnation. You should see the roots begin to form within a few weeks.
Root Your Dieffenbachia in Soil
Once your dieffenbachia cuttings have dried out and you have dipped them in rooting hormone, you can place them in their moistened potting soil. Make a hole in the soil for each stem cutting with the eraser end of a pencil or the tip of your smallest finger.
Insert the root end of the dieffenbachia cutting, with rooting hormone applied, into the hole. Gently press the peat potting soil up around the stem. Then, place the planting pot in a warm, dim location and keep the cuttings moist as they propagate.
Planted in this planting medium, roots should begin to form in anywhere from three to eight weeks. The sight of new, green shoots on the stem cuttings will be your signal that the roots have sprung.
6. Transplant Your Propagated Dieffenbachia
Once your dieffenbachia cuttings have sprouted roots, you have the option of transplanting them to a larger pot (if propagated in soil) or getting them into their first pot (if propagated in water). If you are propagating dieffenbachia cuttings in water, you will need to transplant them into the soil when only a few roots have formed; otherwise, it can be tricky to get them to take root in the soil.
To transplant your dieffenbachia cuttings from water to soil, fill a four-inch planting pot with moist peat-based potting soil–the same as you would use for soil rooting. Carefully transfer your cuttings to the post, ensuring each cutting has its own separate four-inch pot.
If you are transplanting your dieffenbachia cuttings from one planting pot to another, you simply need to gently loosen the root ball, extract the plant, and place it gently into the new pot. Water generously but not too drenching in order to adhere the new soil to the root ball, and your dieffenbachia should begin to thrive in its new environment.
Other Methods for Propagating Dieffenbachia
There are a couple of different methods for propagating dieffenbachia. One is by air layering, which involves cutting into the mature dieffenbachia plant and using damp moss adhered to the plant to encourage root growth directly from the plant’s main stem.
Another method is called division, which requires going directly to the root ball of the mature dieffenbachia plant and removing offshoots of root nodes to propagate dieffenbachia from the roots up.
However, both of these methods can be a bit more complex and tricky than your average plant keeper might like. So when it comes down to it, you will find that propagating dieffenbachia from cuttings is still the easiest method, despite being more hands on.
Wrapping Up Propagating Dieffenbachia
Ready to start propagating dieffenbachia from your mature plants? Before you get started, be sure to check out our article on indoor mini-greenhouses for some fun ideas on how to help encourage growth in your dieffenbachia cuttings.
- About the Author
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Renee Dugan is a lifelong writer, professional editor, and lover of all things nature, gardening and the big outdoors.
A Midwest girl who’s been in the garden since she could first hold a hand trowel, Renee’s love of growing things has bloomed into a passion for healthy living, holistic lifestyle, and knowing where our food comes from.
Now a mother and maturing gardener herself, Renee is passionate about channeling everything she knows and continues to learn about gardening into lessons for her son and others. Her excitement for sharing this knowledge is only superseded by her excitement about being able to finally grow her own citrus plants in pots.
Renee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org