There is nothing more beautiful to an avid gardener than seeing lush and healthy multicolored leaves on their plants. It can be very concerning to see these once-thriving plant stalks and leaves start to droop and lose their vibrance. It happened to one of my friends not long ago, and she was worried about why her dieffenbachia was drooping.
When you see your dieffenbachia plant’s stalks or leaves drooping, the main issue is a lack of moisture. There are several reasons why your dumb cane might not be getting enough water, including age and underwatering. Overwatering can cause a myriad of issues, including drooping leaves as well.
Dieffenbachia or dumb cane are hardy plants that thrive in a tropical climate. They have multicolored leaves that get more beautiful as they grow.
When you see your vibrant dieffenbachia plant starting to droop, you need to find the cause as soon as possible. This post will help you identify what can cause the drooping plant and how to fix it.
Why Is My Dieffenbachia Drooping?
The main reason why your dieffenbachia is drooping is a lack of moisture. While that sounds simple enough to fix, the reason behind the lack of moisture may not be. Plant cells work a lot like the cells in the human body. Like us, plants need a certain amount of water each day to stay healthy.
The plant cells absorb the moisture they need to stay plump and healthy. When they can’t absorb the correct amount of water, they start to sag, wrinkle, go slack, and the leaves curl back. There are several reasons why a plant can absorb enough moisture to keep it healthy. Here are some of the factors that might cause your dieffenbachia to droop:
- Mineral concentrations that are too high
- Underwatering your plant
- Overwatering your plant
- Humidity problems
- Too much sun
- Damage from pests
- Temperature shock
We will be discussing each problem in detail and then provide ways to correct or avoid these issues from harming your dieffenbachia plant.
Age is the only problem that has nothing to do with a lack of moisture. When plants age, they shed leaves just like we shed skin cells. So when you see your dumb cane with drooping leaves lower on the plant and nowhere else, it’s because of age.
When the lower leaves of the dieffenbachia start to droop and die, it’s reached the end of its lifecycle. It’s completely normal as these leaves die to make way for newer growth.
When you see the lower leaves droop and start to die, trim them from your plant and remove any dead foliage. It helps encourage new growth in your plant.
Problem: Mineral Concentrations Are Too High
Tap water and fertilizer both deposit minerals into the soil of your plant. These minerals can build up to unhealthy or damaging levels as time goes on. The build-up of mineral ions like salt can prevent the roots of your dieffenbachia from absorbing water.
That means that you might have a well-watered plant, but it will still droop as it can’t absorb the water it needs to stay healthy. You can check to see if your dieffenbachia has a mineral concentration that is too high by looking at the soil and leaves.
There might be a white crust on the soil surrounding your plant or pale spots on the leaves. The other signs include brown, crispy tips on the leaves, and they will droop and sag.
When you have a build-up of minerals in your soil, and it’s harming your plant, have no fear; you can fix it. The best way to fix the soil and save your dieffenbachia from excessive minerals is to do a soil flush.
How to Do a Soil Flush
Flushing the soil will remove the excess minerals, essentially flushing the toxic levels away. You do this by drenching the plant in water. The water should preferably be distilled or filtered water. Drench the plant 4 or 5 times thoroughly by slowly pouring the water all over the soil. The water will start to run out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot.
If you use fertilizer in your soil, you must do a soil flush at least once a month. It will keep the mineral ions from building up in your soil.
The Problem: Underwatering Your Dieffenbachia
This one might seem obvious but underwatering your dieffenbachia doesn’t always present just with a dry top layer of soil. If you feel the top two inches are dry, it’s not always a sign of a dehydrated plant, so look at the surrounding soil. If the soil looks compacted (like a hockey puck) and it has pulled away from the sides of the pot, it means your soil is too dry.
If you don’t see these signs, you can push a wooden bbq skewer into the soil. If the stick comes out dry, your dieffenbachia is definitely dehydrated.
The solution is relatively easy; you thoroughly water the dieffenbachia until the water seeps out of the drainage hole. Your plant should perk back up within a few hours. To avoid this dilemma in the future, you can buy a moisture meter. It’s a meter that will tell you exactly how much water is in the soil and what the plant needs.
The Problem: Overwatering Your Dieffenbachia
It might sound contradictory, but you can dehydrate your dieffenbachia by overwatering. Overwatering can dehydrate your plant because the roots need oxygen to survive. They find oxygen in the small pockets of air in the potting soil.
So if the tiny air pockets get flooded, and the soil is saturated, the roots start to suffocate. When the roots can’t get oxygen, they won’t be able to function normally and won’t take up water. Overwatering will dehydrate your plant, and it can cause many other issues that can cause your dieffenbachia to droop and eventually die.
If the oversaturated conditions in the pot continue for a few days, then root rot will develop as the microbes present in all soil and water will breed like crazy in the wet, dark conditions. Root rot is a more serious problem, and you need to take care of it immediately, or the plant will die.
If your dieffenbachia is overwatered, you will see the plant looks dry and droopy even with extremely wet soil. If your plant has begun to develop root rot, there will be an overwhelming sour or musty smell. There might also be tiny white patches of fungus and mushy stems.
To solve the overwatering problem, you can leave the plant to dry out until the soil is damp. You can also add coarser potting soil to help with drainage. The solution is more complicated if the overwatering has led to root rot.
Saving Your Dieffenbachia from Root Rot
To save your plant from root rot, you will need:
- A new pot
- Rubbing alcohol
- Pruning shears
- Fresh coarse potting soil
You will have to take your dieffenbachia out of its pot carefully. Gently run the roots under a low water flow to remove all the excess soil. Next, you need to place it on a surface you have disinfected with rubbing alcohol.
Trim all the brown, grey, soggy roots. Remember to disinfect the pruning shears with rubbing alcohol after each cut, so the rot doesn’t spread. Next, you need to report your dieffenbachia using a new pot and fresh potting soil.
Use coarse potting soil to help with drainage. It’s essential for you not to use fertilizer for at least six months after repotting the plant. It will burn the roots and might stunt the healing of your plant.
The Problem: Humidity
Dieffenbachia is a tropical plant, but it does not need the same concentration of humidity to survive. It needs around 50% ambient humidity. When the humidity drops below 50%, the leaves and stems of your plant will begin to droop and curl. It’s most common in cold rooms and wintertime because the heat from grow lights will dry out the air.
If you aren’t sure about the level of humidity in the room, you can buy a hygrometer. This device helps to measure the humidity and temperature in a room so you can adjust the levels as needed. You can also boil water for a few minutes and leave the pot without a lid on to cool in the room where the plant is to increase the humidity.
The Problem: Too Much Sun
Dieffenbachia is not overly fond of the sun. It needs the sun to grow, but these plants can’t stand direct sunlight. They also can’t grow in complete shade. The ideal conditions for these plants will be in a shaded room that has sunny areas, so your dieffenbachia has access to sunlight and shade as it needs it.
Ensure your plant doesn’t get more than two hours of sunlight every day; the leaves will burn and turn brown if it does. These plants enjoy bright light, just not directly on their thin and delicate leaves.
The Problem: Damage From Pests
Like most other plants, dieffenbachias are prone to insect infestation. When these insects invade your plant, the damage they do can kill your dieffenbachia if they aren’t taken care of. Some pests include spider mites, scale, mealybugs, and aphids like lice.
If you think your plant may have a pest problem, you will see the leaves droop and sag over a few days. You can also check the underside of the leaves and the tiny crevices. There will be groupings of bugs clumped together or hiding in the spaces where the stem and leaves meet.
It might be hard to see them at first as some bugs can change their coloring to suit the plant’s color. So they might be yellow, brown, green, grey, or white, depending on the type of dieffenbachia you have. Other bugs like mealybugs look like cotton and spread a sticky substance called honeydew over your plant.
One of the best methods to get rid of these bugs is to use an insecticide. It’s better to use an organic insecticide, as it keeps chemicals away from your plant while still protecting it. You can buy these organic insecticides at most nurseries or online.
If you are adventurous, you can make your own insecticide. Adding water and some mild dish soap in a spray bottle and liberally coating the plant will help get the bugs off of your plant.
Many other DIY insecticides will work if the dish soap doesn’t, such as mixing two blended bulbs of garlic, half a cup of oil, and a little dish soap. Let it sit for 24 hours, and mix two cups of garlic liquid with a gallon of water. Spray every day until the bugs are gone.
The Problem: Temperature Shock
If you have a sudden drop in temperature, for example, a sudden rainstorm or cold front, heatwave, or excess humidity will cause your dieffenbachia to droop and sag. The shock in temperature causes these plants to stress and then droop. Some causes might be a drafty window or an air conditioning unit blowing directly on the plant.
The quickest solution to this issue is to ensure that the room’s temperature is always between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also monitor the weather, and if you think the weather is going to cause excess heat or cold, you can act accordingly.
You should close the windows and turn off the air conditioning or fans if it gets colder and increases the humidity and open windows if the temperature rises or place the plant in a cooler room.
Seeing your beautiful dieffenbachia drooping can be devasting. You need to check on the water levels to ensure you don’t underwater or overwater your plant.
The key is to provide a stable damp environment for your dieffenbachia to thrive. If you find not enough humidity in the room where you keep your dumb cane, you can turn on a humidifier.
It will add the necessary moisture to the air to give you plant the tropical paradise it loves. Keep the soil of your dieffenbachia loose to ensure proper drainage, and use an organic insecticide if you suspect the problem might be an insect infestation.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.