Troubleshooting an Unhappy Dumb Cane

Discussion in 'Houseplants' started by stripedog, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. stripedog

    stripedog New Seed

    Dec 18, 2009
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    Several months ago, in a fit of confidence after keeping several spider plants and a false Aralia alive for a while, I purchased a plant that claimed to be a "Camoflage" plant from the local Fred Meyer (Washington State, US). The tag instructed me to keep its soil fairly dry, away from drafts, and give it indirect light (which I did).

    It did ok for a few months, but then the lower leaves started turning yellow and drooping, then falling down completely. It kept making new leaves, though.

    A little googling later, and I think it actually is a "Dumb Cane" (Dieffenbachia) or a relative. Various sources suggested keeping the soil somewhat moist. I started watering more often. It didn't seem to help much. The newest leaf at the top of the plant started to yellow and droop, so I cut it off. Now the top center of the stem (where the new leaves are generated) has yellowed too.

    A week and a half ago I gave it a tiny amount of liquid fertilizer with its water (up till then, no fertilizer at all). No major improvements. Now 2 of the last 3 leaves are starting to droop.

    Can anyone help me turn this guy's sad little life around? Any suggestions?

    In the picture, the tape measure is set to 1 foot for perspective. Also, the plant is normally not in front of the window, but a bit further away, where direct sun can't hit it.

    Tape measure 1 foot long for scale. ( photo / image / picture from stripedog's Garden )
  2. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Jan 7, 2006
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    North Central Texas, Zone 8a
    So many plants found in grocery stores and some of the big box store garden centers are labeled with a localized common name that doesn't properly ID the plant and the growing instructions are usually generic and not specific to that in this case.

    It needs consistently moist soil, setting it in a tray that always has a little water in it will keep the soil the way it likes. Also, it needs more sun than it has been getting. Not direct sun but a bright window will do, Keep it out of drafts from the AC/heat and it needs temps of at least 60 degrees.
    I would hold off on the fertilizer until it's feeling better, too much when it is under stress will cause more stress and could kill it.

    You might want to check the root ball too, If it is still in the pot you bought it in, the roots might have grown too crowded.

    Good luck with it, keep us up on it's progress.
  3. stratsmom

    stratsmom Flower Fanatic

    Aug 23, 2006
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    Southern Oregon
    I'm thinking too much water :shrug:
  4. Bluewing0

    Bluewing0 Seedling

    Feb 13, 2010
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    Upstate NY
    I thought the problem might be over-watering as well.Checking the root-ball like Toni suggested might be a good idea.

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