Plant Showcase – Dieffenbachia

January 16, 2021

The Plant Showcase is a new feature for 2021 and to kick us off we have picked the dramatic Dieffenbachia, which features in our January, winter themed monthly flowering bowl. The cream, oval leaves of the ‘Camile’ variety, edged with green, an apt addition to the snowy toned bowl.

While the Dieffenbachia is lovely nestled in our monthly tropical display, the Leopard Lily is bold and intriguing and makes the perfect stand-alone feature plant. The RHS website lists over 70 different types of Dieffenbachia, each with it’s own unique leaf pattern and tones, so you won’t be stuck for choice. A member of the arum family (Araceae), generally, in commercial environments, we would use ‘Tropic Snow’ or ‘Maroba’, as robust and luscious specimens for display, guaranteed to impress and easy to maintain.

Like many plants, the Dieffenbach has more than one name, confusing or what? It’s also known as Dumb Cane and others refer to it as the Leopard Lily. So, what’s behind all the different names?

Well, the large leaved, tropical beauty originates from South America and the Caribbean and was named after Joseph Dieffenbachia, head gardener of the Imperial Gardens at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, in the 1800’s after he brought it back to Europe from a trip to Brazil.

Other names, however, relate to features of the plant. The Dieffenbachia produces stunningly, patterned leaves, green on the outside, paler in the centre, creating an eye-catching display piece, which copes well with partial shade. But don’t go chewing the stems as it’s sap is poisonous and although it won’t kill you, it can cause the tongue to swell rendering the ‘devourer’ temporarily speechless. Hence the name Dumb Cane. So, while this showpiece is a gorgeous accessory to offices and homes, it is best kept away from pets and young children.

Finally, Leopard Lily. Not a Lily or a leopard, the plant simply gets this name from the markings on its leaves of some varieties which resemble a leopard’s spots.

TLC Tips

  • Keep it warm and out of draughts. If its leaves begin to drop this might be a sign that it’s too cold or draughty.
  • It can cope with partial shade. If the leaves become bleached it may be a sign it’s getting too much direct sunlight.
  • Water the Dieffenbachia when the top few centimetres of soil are dry, mist it’s leaves and feed it once a month from spring to autumn. Brown leaves are an indication that it needs a drink or it’s a bit chilly. It could also be that it’s been over fed.

Finally, to keep your Dieffenbachia upright, turn it regularly because it will tend to lean towards the light.

Good luck with your Dieffenbachia’s and please share your favourite varieties.