Dieffenbachia refers to a genus of tropical evergreens that are known for their ovate and lanceolate leaves, mounded or tree-like growth habits and dazzling variegation.
Out of the 50 original species discovered throughout Central and South America, only two were found to be viable houseplants. In an effort to expand the number of Dieffenbachia varieties that would thrive indoors, those two have been carefully hybridized into 100 unique specimens.
Below, we’ll discuss 17 of the easiest-to-grow varieties and what they need to thrive in your home. But first, it’s important to note the common name for these plants and why.
Types of Dieffenbachia Houseplants
The term “Dumb Cane” was originally assigned to Dieffenbachia plants of any variety because of the severe health effects that the toxins within (calcium oxalate crystal, specifically) can have on people and pets. When picking your favourite from this list, imagine growing somewhere away from paws and little fingers.
1. Dieffenbachia ‘Sparkle’
We’ll start with a stunning Dieffenbachia variety that presents dazzling, upward-sweeping strokes of dark green on chartreuse leaves. Dark green edging visually defines each leaf from the others.
As it matures to 24” – 36” in height, with a potentially equal spread, the ideal watering schedule for this hybrid will include allowing its well-draining soil mix to dry out down 2”, before watering again.
An indoor temperature above 60°F (16°C) and bright, indirect light are key to maintaining this extraordinary variegation.
Pests and fungal diseases are common with distressed ‘Sparkle’ Dieffenbachias. Consistent hydration and nutrient access will help to keep those at bay.
2. Dieffenbachia ‘Camouflage’
The ‘Camouflage’ clearly demonstrates how different variegation patterns can be on each Dieffenbachia variety. Here, long, tapered leaves of pastel green are stippled and edged with a darker shade and highlighted with white veining.
Such delicate patterns require a higher level of humidity and bright, diffused light to maintain. But, watering is a snap! Simply allow its well-draining soil to dry out down 2-3” before watering again.
With the right combination of light, temperature (65°-75°F), humidity and water, this pest-resistant hybrid can reach a mature height of 4 ft and produce 5-6 new leaves, per growing season.
3. Dieffenbachia ‘Honeydew’
Gradient shades of the green envelope each leaf on the ‘Honeydew’. As large, teardrop leaves unfurl along tall stalks, this eye-catching Dieffenbachia type can reach 2 ft tall and wide.
Lower light will trigger a darker leaf colour. Soft, bright light, on the other hand, along with temperatures above 60°F and moderate humidity, will maintain vivid variegation.
A well-draining, potting soil that’s allowed to dry to 50% before watering again is best to prevent drooping leaves and root decay. A study from the University of Florida reveals that Anthracnose and brown leaf spot are common when Dieffenbachias are overwatered in colder months. Following the “50% rule” will also protect against these fungal and bacterial diseases.
4. Dieffenbachia ‘Compacta’
If you’re looking for a smaller houseplant, then this compact Dieffenbachia type is perfect. Maturing to just 12-18” tall, the ‘compacta’ presents spear-shaped leaves with an uneven disbursement of chlorophyll cells.
This phenomenon results in random streaks of white and lime-green that move outward from a centre vein across a dark green leaf.
While the compacta do well in lower light, variegation will be more pronounced in bright, filtered light and ambient, indoor temperatures.
Soil should be nutrient-rich and well-draining to promote steady growth and water should be offered only when the soil is dry down to 1”.
5. Dieffenbachia ‘Exotica’
The ‘Exotica’ is essentially a full-sized version of the ‘Compacta’. With the same mounding growth habit, this hybrid can reach 2-3’ tall and wide.
In response to consistently bright, diffuse light, each leaf may reach the same level of variegation, becoming almost entirely white with subtle green mottling and edging.
The ‘Compacta’ and ‘Exotica’ have both been found to be more drought-tolerant than others on this list. They actually prefer to have their well-draining soil dry out to around 50% before being watered again. But, leaves may need to be misted if the air indoors gets too dry.
6. Dieffenbachia ‘Sarah’
Rather than streaks, leaves on this ‘Sarah’ hybrid reveal chlorophyll cells grouping closely together in certain areas, while being thinly spread in others. What results in a pooling of vivid and variant colours?
In ideal conditions, the ‘Sarah’ can reach 4-5 ft tall, with 6-7” leaves sprouting from thick, bamboo-like stalks. This slow-growing hybrid doesn’t have to be re-potted all that frequently. When it does, loose, loamy well-draining soil works best.
This Dieffenbachia type prefers its soil to be a bit moister and needs watering when the soil is dry down 1-2”, depending on the size of its pot. Naturally, larger plants will need more water each time.
7. Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Tropical tiki’
The ‘Tropical Tiki’ is a special hybrid that will infuse any indoor space with colour, intriguing variegation and lush growth.
Long, sword-like leaves display contrasting shades of dark and light silver-green, highlighted by flecks of cream and white. This unique colour palette will be further enhanced by bright, dappled light, nutrient-rich, loamy soil and consistent watering when the soil is allowed to dry down 1-3”. Again, depending on the pot size.
Although, such a high concentration of chlorophyll cells (greener leaves) means this dieffenbachia type can also tolerate lower light levels better than those with lighter leaves.
8. Dieffenbachia ‘Aurora’
The ‘Aurora’ exhibits the same pooling of chlorophyll cells as the ‘Sarah’, creating compelling variegation patterns. Where this Dieffenbachia variety stands out is the seemingly fluid movement of those cells.
Dark green and white ribbons flow across each leaf, with hints of chartreuse where chlorophyll cells begin to thin. As one of the fastest growing, this stunning specimen will add 2ft of new growth within a single year. Potentially reaching 5-6 ft, at maturity.
With fewer photosynthesizing cells, the ‘Aurora’ will need more bright, diffused light. Well-draining soil will provide sufficient drainage when this is thoroughly, yet infrequently watered.
9. Dieffenbachia ‘Delilah’
‘Delilah’ may not be as easy to find as some other Dieffenbachia types. But, find one and you’ll enjoy its lush, tree-like structure that can reach 6-9 ft in height. With crisp, white leaves, mottled with dark and light green, that span 14” in length.
This hybrid is more resistant to pests and diseases than other types, too. But, with so few chlorophyll cells for photosynthesis, consistent access to bright, filtered light is critical.
Water when the soil is dry down 1” and mist in dry environments for increased humidity. Soil should be nutrient-rich and airy to promote adequate drainage.
10. Dieffenbachia ‘Panther’
The ‘Panther’ has familiar patterns that spray white and pale grey outward from a centre vein. Yet, its relation to other Dieffenbachia types is evident by way of lime-green specks and thick, silver-green margins.
On a lush, mounded form that can span 3 ft tall and wide, each leaf can reach 2 ft in length.
Greener leaves mean will thrive in shady areas that receive a few hours of sunlight per day. While this does prefer higher humidity, it is prone to over-watering. Wait until the soil is dry down 2-3” before thoroughly watering again.
11. Dieffenbachia ‘Star bright’
Another rare specimen is one of my favourites. The ‘Star Bright’ seems to glow in shady corners with its long, lanceolate leaves of speckled chartreuse that are edged in dark green.
In bright, filtered light, chlorophyll cells will scatter, changing leaves to pastel green and cream. Brighter light will also promote a faster growth rate, as this tree-like specimen pushes toward 6-10 ft tall.
Lower leaves will often fall away revealing a handsome trunk or two.
While beautiful and low-maintenance, keep in mind that this and all Dieffenbachia varieties are highly toxic. Causing severe swelling of the mouth, tongue and airways.
12. Dieffenbachia ‘Seguine’
The ‘Seguine’ is one of the original species from which many hybrids were parented. Native to Brazil, this Dieffenbachia presents broad, 12” long leaves with delicate brush strokes of light green, yellow and white.
In the wild, the ‘Seguine’ can reach 10 ft tall. With occasional repotting, it’s possible for your ‘Seguine’ houseplant to reach this size as well. Although, most will remain small, relative to the size of their pot.
This prefers the same bright, diffused light as its hybrid offspring and a deep watering when the top 1-2” of soil is dry.
13. Dieffenbachia ‘Snow’
The Dieffenbachia ‘Snow’ (not to be confused with ‘Tropic Snow’) is often mistaken for an Aglaonema or other genus, given that its variegation is so different from others in its genus.
Solid green, teardrop leaves, with a distinct ribbed texture are speckled with white as if dusted with snow. Such delightful variegation on a 6ft tall, tree-like structure can make quite a dramatic statement!
The level of green on each leaf speaks to its ability to thrive in low or artificial light, as well as its water-retaining abilities. Well-draining potting soil should be allowed to dry to 50-75% before watering again.
14. Dieffenbachia ‘Tropic Marianne’
Reaching just 36” tall, the ‘Tropic Marianne’ has almost translucent leaves that can mature to 12” in length with a 6” spread.
As it grows, a kaleidoscope of variegation appears. Young leaves sprout a dark green before taking on a wisp of variant colour that travels across ever-expanding leaves before arriving at a luminous yellow-green.
Bright, diffused light is key to maintaining this spectacle. But, this variety will continue to grow in lower light.
Soil should be light and airy and watering should be offered only when the soil is 50% dry, to avoid plant damage and pest infestations.
15. Dieffenbachia ‘Triumph’
Have you ever wanted to combine the best features of different things into one? Aptly named, this hybrid combines the maturity size of a D. ‘Perfection’ with the variegation of a D. ‘Camille’ and the white veining of a D. ‘Wilson’s Delight’. All with an increased tolerance to pests, disease and drought. How’s that for a triumph?
Each spear-shaped leaf is supported by its own sturdy stem, creating a young, mounded habit that advances into a tree form, 3-4 ft tall and wide.
Both low and bright, filtered light levels are easily tolerated, giving way to differing variegation patterns. Use well-draining soil and water only when the soil is dry down 2-3”.
16. Dieffenbachia ‘White Etna’
This stunning offshoot of the ‘Seguine’ is a rare treat. Large, paddle-shaped leaves rise up on tall stems directly from the soil to a mature size of 5ft tall.
Green and white marbling and an embossed texture make this hybrid a standout among Dieffenbachias.
With fewer chlorophyll cells to photosynthesize and retain moisture, the ‘White Etna’ requires at least 4 hours of bright, indirect sunlight, a tad more frequent watering and higher humidity.
A well-draining potting mix that includes orchid bark, coco coir or vermiculite will support proper drainage and moisture retention.
17. Dieffenbachia ‘Tropic Snow’
This second snowy specimen is more tropical in nature and more closely resembles its original parent plants than more hybridized Dieffenbachias.
But, where those originals present more yellow variegation, the ‘Tropic Snow’ has more white. Giving each leaf the appearance of collected snowflakes that are melting across an expanse of green.
At maturity, this hybrid can reach 6-8 ft in height with tightly packed, tall canes.
Water your ‘Tropic Snow’ thoroughly and allow the soil to dry down 2-3” before watering again. Bright, dappled sunlight will maintain its striking variegation. As well as well-draining soil that prevents root rot and deters pests.
Dieffenbachia Varieties Final Thoughts
Whether you’re looking for something small or a tall, tree-like structure to fill a large indoor space, you can’t go wrong with the tropical Dieffenbachia.
Just give it bright, filtered light to fuel growth and dazzling variegation, loamy well-draining soil for healthy root formation and sufficient drainage and water only when the top few inches of soil are dry and you’ve got a very lush, long-lived plant.
Just remember that while dazzling to look at, these plants are toxic and can cause severe and potentially life-threatening reactions in both people and pets. Caution is recommended when choosing a growing location.
Types of Dieffenbachia FAQ
Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.