dumb cane

Dieffenbachia Plant Dying? 9 Tips To Nurse It Back To Health

Dieffenbachia dies mainly due to overwatering. Dieffenbachia shows dying signs when the plant receives too much direct sunlight. Dieffenbachia dies immediately after potting due to transplant shock if it has been transplanted of late. Yellow leaves are seen in Dieffenbachia due to Nutritional deficiency and the condition is called ‘Chlorosis’.

Dieffenbachia is kept indoors by many enthusiasts. Dieffenbachia is also called the ‘Dumb Cane’ plant. They are kept for their beautiful foliage.

Dumb cane plants are perfect to decorate the living area or office. Its broad leaves will light up any indoors and improve the aesthetics.

It’s easy to care for this plant. But, sometimes people run into issues with this plant. Let’s see what kind of problems hurt Dieffenbachia and ways to fix them.

Browning Tips of LeavesEnsure proper watering to prevent waterlogged soil. Keep an eye on soil moisture levels and adjust watering accordingly.
Curled Leaves with Brown EdgesFlush the pot with excess water to remove accumulated salts from over-fertilization.
Yellow Droopy LeavesEnsure proper drainage to avoid waterlogged conditions and root rot. Avoid overwatering.
Too Much SunlightProvide bright, indirect sunlight, as Dieffenbachia prefers these conditions. Avoid direct sunlight exposure.
Nutritional Deficiency (Chlorosis)Feed the plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer (e.g., 20-20-20) during active growth, following label instructions. Correct high pH soil conditions.
Root Bound PlantRepot the Dieffenbachia into a larger pot to allow for healthy root growth. Divide the plant if necessary.
Pest Infection (Aphids, Spider Mites)Use appropriate insecticidal treatments, like insecticidal soap, following label instructions.
Temperature ShockMaintain a consistent temperature range of 65-75°F (18-24°C) for Dieffenbachia to prevent leaf drop.

Why is my Dumb Cane dying?

There may be several reasons why your dumb cane plant is dying. Here I’ll list them by their signs. Go to that particular topic depending on your plant’s signs.

  • Browning leaf tips are seen when watering is improper.
  • Curly leaves with brown edges are seen when you overfeed(fertilizer) your Dumb Cane.
  • Yellowing of the foliage is seen due to improper watering, too much light, Rootbound plant, and Pests like Aphids and Mites.
  • Leaves die if there is an abrupt change in temperature.
  • If your plant is dying immediately after potting, it probably went into transplant shock.

Now, let’s look at these problems one by one and discuss how to fix them!

Why are the leaves on my Dieffenbachia turning brown?

Leaf tips turn brown due to improper watering. Leaves get curled and turn brown when Dieffenbachia is overfed, this is called Fertilizer Burn.

Browning tips of leaves

Tips of the leaves become brown if the watering schedule is improper. Do not let the plant sit in waterlogged soil.

Water the plant regularly and let it know when you’ll water it. This will fix the problem hopefully.

Curled leaves with brown edges

Curled leaves with brown edges are seen when you overfeed your Dieffenbachia plant. Never add excess fertilizer to the pot, less is better when it comes to fertilizing.

To fix: Flush the pot with excess water to remove any accumulated salts. Follow the instructions on the label when applying fertilizer.

Dieffenbachia Yellow Droopy Leaves

Yellow leaves are seen on Dieffenbachia when the plant receives less water than required. Yellow leaves are also seen on Dieffenbachia due to overwatering. Dieffenbachia leaves also turn yellow when they receive too much sunlight. Nutritional deficiency also turns the leaves yellow and this condition is called ‘Chlorosis’.

Let’s look at them one by one.

Natural Lifecycle

It may just happen as a natural process. Old, lower leaves are yellow and fall off. Once this happens, the plant gives rise to new foliage.

This is completely natural if it only happens to the lower leaves.


Leaves become droopy when they are watered less than required. Water the plant only when needed. You can check the soil with your fingers.

If the soil feels dry, water the plant. Water again when the soil goes dry. If you do this regularly, you won’t see the Dumb Cane in this situation.

Have I Overwatered my Dieffenbachia?

Overwatering can also cause leaf yellowing. Leaves become yellow and droopy, then fall off. You can check for an overwatered plant by sticking your fingers in the soil.

If the soil is soggy and waterlogged, it suffers from overwatering. Waterlogged conditions will lead to root rot. Make sure the pot has a draining hole at the bottom.

To fix: Try to replace the potting soil with a potting mix that has good drainage.

Tip: Water the plant only when required. Stick your hand in the soil and water only when the soil is dry up to 2 inches.

Too Much Sunlight

The Dumb Cane plant can survive in full shade, but it can’t survive in direct sunlight. As tropical plants, they are used to shade from the larger trees.

Once they get too much sunlight, the leaves yellow and fall off. Ideally, it should get bright, indirect sunlight. It can survive in shady areas too.

To fix: If you think the plant is getting too much light, move it away from the window. Keeping the plant at a North or East-facing window would work fine.

Nutrition Deficiency

If the Dieffenbachia plant doesn’t get the required nutrients, the leaves will turn yellow due to a condition called Chlorosis. It may also happen if the soil is high in pH.

Make sure the plant is in a good potting medium. It performs best in pure peat moss. It can also thrive in 1:1 peat moss and potting soil.

To fix: Feed your plant with a houseplant fertilizer(20-20-20) once in a month or two. Do this only when the plant is actively growing.

Tip: Plants that are grown in low light require less feeding. So, feed such plants once in two months.

After feeding the plant with fertilizer, you should notice the change in 3-4 days. The leaves should become green. If it doesn’t happen there was no nutrition deficiency in your plant.

Root Bound Plant

Rootbound plants show the same signs. If the Dieffenbachia plant is in a small pot, then over time its roots get constricted. This is not an ideal condition.

The plant tells us its problem by yellowing its leaves. Eventually, such leaves droop and fall off. How would you know if your Dumb Cane is rootbound?

Roots will try to grow out of the drainage hole or through the soil, upwards. The root system can’t survive in such a low space.

To fix: Repot the affected plant in a bigger pot immediately. If you want you can divide the plant and plant them in small pots.

Once you have done this, water and feed the plant well. The plant will revive soon.

Pest Infection

Dieffenbachia leaves turn yellow when it’s infected by Aphids and Spider mites. Inspect the plant well for any pests.

If you see the webby undersides of the leaves, there are spider mites. In the case of Aphid infection, you’ll see those pests crawling all over the leaves.

If your Dumb Cane plant is infected, isolate it from other houseplants.

To treat: Use insecticidal soap following the instructions on the label. If the infestation is severe, dispose of the plant.

Dieffenbachia Dying Leaves

Continuous low temperatures or abrupt changes in temperature can hinder the growth of Dieffenbachia. Such conditions cause the leaves to drop.

The plant grows best in a temperature that ranges from 65 to 75F. Do not ever let the temperature drop below 55F.

If the leaves drop without yellowing, then it’s an effect of low temperature. Try to maintain a consistent temperature pattern for your Dumb Cane plant.

If you suspect the temperature is too low, move the plant to a warmer place.

Dieffenbachia dying after repotting

Dieffenbachia dies after repotting due to transplant shock. The leaves become wilted and show a wide variety of signs. It usually happens if the plant wasn’t properly treated during the repotting/transplant process.

Plants are greatly vulnerable just before they bloom, so do not transplant them in this phase. Avoid repotting your Dieffenbachia in the spring.

How do you fix leggy Dieffenbachia?

Dieffenbachia grows tall and leggy if the room is too dark. It’s best to place them 2 or 3 feet from an East-facing window.

To prevent: If the room is too dark, you can add artificial light to help the plant thrive.

  • Rotate the pot every time you water. This is to prevent the plant from leaning to one side(As the plant grows toward the light).
  • Pinch or prune the new foliage at the top to keep the plant bushy.
  • If your Dumb Cane plant has become leggy, you can prune it where necessary. The plant will grow new foliage where it’s been cut.

Why is my Dieffenbachia weeping?

Do you see droplets of watery liquid falling from the tips of your Dumb Cane’s leaves? Does it look like it’s weeping?

Dieffenbachia Guttation

This is called Guttation. This is usually seen in Dumb Cane if the plant is overwatered. It gets rid of excess water this way.

The edges secrete excess water in sap form. Along with excess water, low light can induce guttation. You may want to water less frequently and give the plant more light.

Is Dieffenbachia poisonous to humans?

Yes, this sap excreted is harmful to humans and pets alike. Even touching the sap can cause irritation.

Ingesting the leaves/sap may swell the throat and the person won’t be able to speak. That’s the reason why this plant is called Dumb Cane.

Try to keep the plant away from kids and pets. Keep it at a high place.

Frequently Asked Questions

People ask me the same questions over and over via mail. I’ll try to answer them all in this blog post. Let’s see what we got today.

Should I mist Dieffenbachia?

Dieffenbachia like humidity, but do not overdo it. Misting a lot may lead to fungal infections. Some people just put the plant in the bathroom. This gives the plant enough humidity.

If you don’t wanna do this, just mist the plant from time to time.

Does dumb cane purify the air?

Dumb Cane is generally placed in the living room. Dieffenbachia purifies the air and this is why it’s famously placed in the living room.

Does Dieffenbachia like coffee grounds?

Dieffenbachia likes acidity in the soil. So, it will love coffee grounds. You can feed the plant with liquid coffee once in a week or two.