Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family Araceae. It is native to the New World Tropics from Mexico and the West Indies south to Argentina. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental, especially as a house plant, and has become naturalised on a few tropical islands. Dieffenbachia prefers medium sunlight, moderately dry soil and average home temperatures of 17–27 °C. Indoors it should be watered about twice a week.
Dieffenbachia is a perennial herbaceous plant with straight stem, simple and alternate leaves containing white spots and flecks, making it attractive as indoor foliage. Species in this genus are popular as houseplants because of their tolerance of shade. The flowers are green/white and have the typical spathe of arums. The common name, "dumb canes" refers to the poisoning effect of raphides, which can cause temporary inability to speak.
Dieffenbachia was named by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, director of the Botanical Gardens in Vienna to honour his head gardener Joseph Dieffenbach (1796–1863).
With a minimum temperature tolerance of +5 °C, Dieffenbachia must be grown indoors in temperate areas. They need light, but filtered sunlight through a window is usually sufficient. They also need moderately moist soil, which should be regularly fertilised with a proprietary houseplant fertiliser. Leaves will periodically roll up and fall off to make way for new leaves. Yellowing of the leaves is generally a sign of problematic conditions, such as a nutrient deficiency in the soil. Dieffenbachia respond well to hot temperatures and dry climates.
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