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How to Prune Your Dieffenbachia (And When to Do It)

How to Prune Your Dieffenbachia (And When to Do It)

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If you’re like most people, you probably think of dieffenbachia as a fairly low-maintenance houseplant. For the most part, you would be right! Dieffenbachias are very hardy plants that can thrive with little care.

However, there is one thing that all dieffenbachia owners should know how to do: prune their plants. Pruning dieffenbachia is not difficult, but it is important if you want your plant to stay healthy and look its best.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about how to prune dieffenbachia.

What Is Dieffenbachia?

Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical flowering plants that are native to the Americas. Dieffenbachias are popular houseplants because they are very easy to care for, and they can tolerate low light conditions. In fact, they thrive in low light conditions.

They come from tropical forests where they only receive sunlight filtered through the canopy above, so keeping it in a bright room away from a window, or a room that receives little to no light, is a great way to help it feel right at home.

Dieffenbachias can grow to be quite large, so they are often used as floor plants or in large pots, but some people prefer to keep them small, and this is often (but not always) where pruning comes into play.

Why Should You Prune Your Dieffenbachia?

Pruning dieffenbachia is important for two reasons: health and aesthetics. A plant that grows beyond the size of its pot will usually start to look sickly, or it will stop growing altogether and stagnate until it slowly dies.

So if you want yours to continue growing, make sure to transfer to an appropriately sized pot when the time comes.

Dieffenbachia grows very quickly, so if you don’t want it to become too big, you will need to prune it regularly. Pruning also helps to encourage new growth, so if your plant is looking a little sad and spindly, a good pruning can help it bounce back.

Pruning will help keep your dieffenbachia looking nice and bushy as opposed to tall and leggy. Pruning encourages new growth, which is important for keeping your plant looking full and lush.

Additionally, pruning dieffenbachia can help to prevent it from becoming pot-bound, which is when the roots of a plant become so tightly packed that they can no longer absorb nutrients and water effectively.

Gather Your Tools

The process of pruning your dieffenbachia isn’t complicated, but you’ll need to gather some tools before starting.

Gardening Shears

You’ll need a good pair of gardening shears or pruning shears for this job. If you don’t have any, a sharp pair of scissors will work in a pinch. You want the cuts to be as clean as possible so that you can minimize the damage to your plant.

This is why it’s important that the shears are very sharp. If you don’t have gardening shears or scissors, a sharp knife will work as well—again, it needs to be sharp.


You might also want to wear gloves while you’re pruning your dieffenbachia. It gets its nickname “dumb cane” from its notorious irritating effect. The sap from the plant can cause itching, burning, and swelling if it gets on your skin, and even worse if it gets in your eyes or mouth. So it’s best to use gloves.

Try your best to be very mindful of what you touch while pruning (even with gloves on). Refrain from touching your face, lips, eyes, or even just scratching your skin.

A Trash Can or Compost Bin

Last but not least, you will need a place to put all of the leaves and stems that you cut off. A trash can or compost bin will work perfectly for this.

You don’t want that sap leaking onto your floor or furniture, so make sure they go from the plant, straight into another container. If you’re planning to propagate the cuttings, now is a good time to set them aside in a separate container.

Now that you have gathered all of the necessary tools, we can move on to the actual process of pruning your dieffenbachia.

Before you start, it’s crucial that you sterilize your tools with isopropyl alcohol to avoid introducing unwanted bacteria or disease into your plant. That would cause a much larger issue than some unwanted growth!

How to Prune a Dieffenbachia

Pruning dieffenbachia is actually a lot easier than you might think, so don’t be afraid to grab those gardening shears and cut them! Pruning a dieffenbachia is best done in the spring or summer, when the plant is actively growing.

You can prune dieffenbachia at any time of year if necessary, but it’s best to avoid pruning during the plant’s dormant period (winter).

To prune your dieffenbachia, start by cutting off any dead or dying leaves. Cut these leaves back to the point where they meet a healthy stem.

Next, trim back any long or leggy stems. These stems can be cut back to just above a leaf node (the point where the leaf meets the stem). Cutting just above the leaf node will ensure that new growth will occur. Finally, remove any damaged stems.

Once you have finished pruning, your dieffenbachia should look healthier and more compact. Pruning also helps to encourage new growth, so you may see some new leaves or stems sprouting out in the coming weeks.

Pruning dieffenbachia is a simple task that only takes a few minutes, but it can make a big difference in the health and appearance of your plant.

When Should I Prune My Dieffenbachia?

Pruning is easy, but knowing when to prune is tricky for most plants. You don’t want to cut too much off at the wrong time and stunt the plant into dormancy, but you also don’t want to wait so long that it starts to get leggy.

When it comes to dieffenbachia though, timing isn’t really as important. There are a couple of basic principles to follow, which will keep you right on track for pruning your dieffenbachia.

The best time to prune a dieffenbachia is during the spring and summer, when the plant is actively growing. Pruning while it’s dormant might overstress the plant and cause it to start dropping leaves. But if the plant is in a constant state of growth, it won’t harm the plant to prune.

Never cut off more than one-third of the plant’s foliage. If you cut off anything more, it will begin to harm the plant.

How Often Should I Prune My Dieffenbachia?

How often you need to prune your dieffenbachia will depend on how fast it is growing. If your plant is growing quickly, you may need to prune it every month or so.

However, this is unlikely to happen, unless you keep it in a greenhouse or a very warm, bright, and humid room, all year-round. If it is growing more slowly, you can probably get away with pruning it every few months.

How to Keep Your Dieffenbachia From Getting Leggy

The word “leggy” gets thrown around a lot in gardening, so it’s hard for newcomers to understand what it means when they hear it. Leggy simply means that the plant has long stems with few leaves at the top.

As plants grow, they stretch out in search of light, so when a plant doesn’t receive enough light, it will grow taller in search of it, leaving the stems much longer in comparison to the amount of leaves present.

Dieffenbachia will do the same thing. They will grow tall in search of light, but their leaves will start to droop after a certain point, as they are too heavy for the long stems to support. This happens to a lot of new dieffenbachia owners.

Keeping the plant in a darker room forces the plant to reach for light. Not knowing how to prune or just avoiding pruning altogether allows the plant to begin growing too tall and eventually start drooping.

Drooping doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy, as long as it still has its color. To keep your dieffenbachia from growing too leggy, cut the top foliage regularly. This will keep its growth focused on the bottom.

What If My Dieffenbachia Is Already Leggy?

If your dieffenbachia is already leggy, don’t worry. You can still save it. All you need to do is give it a good pruning. Start by cutting off any leaves that are yellowing or dying. Cut these leaves back to the point where they meet a healthy stem.

Then, cut back any long or leggy stems to just above a leaf node (the point where a leaf meets the stem). This will encourage new growth to occur at the bottom of the plant. Finally, remove any damaged stems.

If the entire plant is leggy and all of the stems are long, you can top the plant so that it can grow back shorter and bushier.

What Does it Mean to Top?

Topping is a term that refers to cutting back an entire plant at the stem so that it can grow back shorter and thicker. This is a good way to encourage bushier growth if your plant is leggy.

When you top a plant, you want to cut it back so that there are only about two inches of stem remaining. This will ensure that the plant can grow back quickly and evenly.

Don’t be afraid to do this. As long as the roots are intact, your plant will continue to grow, and it will come back stronger than ever.

How to Propagate Your Dieffenbachia

Now that you’ve pruned your dieffenbachia, you may want to take those clippings and plant them to make new dieffenbachia plants. Planting dieffenbachia is easy, and it only requires a few steps.

First, fill a pot with a well-draining potting mix. You can find this at any garden center or nursery. Then, take your clipping and dip the end into some rooting hormone. This will help encourage the roots to grow quickly.

Next, plant the cutting about an inch deep into the potting mix. Be sure to water it well so that the soil is moist but not soggy.

Place the pot in a warm place with indirect light and wait for it to root. It may take a few weeks for the roots to grow, so be patient! Once it has rooted, you can begin watering it as you would any other dieffenbachia plant.

Can You Propagate Dieffenbachia in Water?

Although propagating in soil or a sand/peat moss mixture is the most common way to propagate new plants, it is possible to propagate them in water. This process is actually easier in some ways.

Once you’ve pruned your dieffenbachia and have fresh clippings, remove the leaves so that you’re left only with four- to six-inch long stems that you want to propagate. Then, all you have to do is dust them in growth hormone and place them in water.

Make sure that the water stays warm and that they are in a bright room, but that they are out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause the cuttings to wither and propagation will fail. Keep a close eye on them.

After a few weeks, you will start to see roots forming, and as soon as the roots form, they’re ready to be planted.

Plant your newly propagated stems in a peat-based, well-draining soil, and water immediately. Don’t fertilize at this point, as it will only slow down the growth process.

Once your new cuttings have taken root, you’ll start to see new growth within weeks, and you’ll have brand-new dieffenbachias to care for, sell, or give as gifts to your friends and family!

Final Thoughts

Pruning dieffenbachia is an easy process that anyone can do, as long as you have the patience and know-how. With a little bit of care, you can keep your dieffenbachia healthy and looking its best.

For best results, prune regularly to encourage new growth and keep your dieffenbachia looking thick and bushy. Always wear gloves to avoid serious irritation of the eyes, mouth, or skin.

If you want to propagate your plant, it’s easy to do so in either water or soil. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start pruning!

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