Shortening and Propagating a Huge Dieffenbachia Amoena

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Introduction: Shortening and Propagating a Huge Dieffenbachia Amoena

About: If you think I am funny here try my twitter @BaconPuppets

The Dieffenbachia Amoena plant Is a rather common large house plant. They have beautiful patterned leaves and thick stems. They can also hit your celing. Over the years I have developed a method similar to "Air layering" to root the stems and keep the top of the plant. But instead of moss and cling wrap I use 2 Liter pop bottles and potting soil. I call it "Pillaring" after the Minecraft technique of stacking dirt blocks to get away from monsters. Please join me as I root my crazy big house plant and re pot it.

This is Gronk. He has been with me for literally decades. He has been my Christmas tree when I was broke, He almost got me strip searched at the airport (Never bring a root ball in your carry on luggage), He is mildly toxic, fast growing and spoiled. I am now at the point where if I want to buy him a new pot I have someone bring it to the cash register with a forklift. I have more stories about Gronk than any sane person should have about a house plant. Gronk is my friend. Now watch me hack him into pieces....

Step 1: Pillaring Up

Cut a hole just big enough for the stem in the bottom of a pop bottle. Cut the top off the bottle and split the bottle up the side. Now put the bottle around the stem. Tape the side of the bottle shut fill it with dirt and wait. Keep the dirt moist and in a few weeks the roots will be visible all around the bottle. On larger plants you can use a few bottles. If you get everything lined up right when you water the top one the water goes down into the second and third. On the stem there are little "eyes" like a potato. These points are where roots and leaves usually pop out.

Step 2: Rooting

After a couple weeks you will begin to see roots thru the plastic...then more roots. When you see roots everywhere in about a month it is time to stop watering for a couple days and prepare the birthing chamber.

Step 3: Happy Birthday! Congrats! It's a Hermaphrodite Clone!

If you have no dedicated birthing chamber a kitchen will do. Spread out a tarp and pick out a large sharp clean knife. Cut quick and cut deep, remember this is your friend. No need to drag this out. Peel off the bottles and save them for the next rooting. Each leafy top gets a bottle of roots and a pot as does each rooted chunk of stem. Make sure you have enough soil and pots before you start. Bury the stems of the tops deep so the stem supports the mass of the plant. By having a large root ball under the plant's top you get the maximum growth out of the plant. Shortening the plant is not a setback.

Step 4:

The babies will form a leaf node and the first leaf will come out. They take their sweet time about it (weeks or months depending on conditions) Sometimes they pop up out of the dirt in random places and nowhere near the stem. Never assume a baby is dead. I have never had one fail. You can easily sell these plants for $25 when they have a few leaves especially if you show them the parent. It isn't much but enough to cover the cost of pots and soil at least. You can totally bury your babies but I prefer having a bit of non rooted stalk poking up. These are rather large stalk sections. I have made them half this size and still had 100% success. I just don't have room for 12 plants at the moment.

Step 5:

Don't they look happy now?

Step 6: Maximum Growth

You might be wondering about how this plant got so big. There are many varieties of Dieffenbachia and this happens to be one of the largest. It has the genetics to be a monster plant but it needs care too. Every couple months it gets some plant spikes. Pretty much one spike for every severed human head that can fit in the pot. This happens to be a four head pot. I also bury eggshells (breakfast, unwashed) for calcium at least once a month in the pot and if you look very close all those tiny headstones are various flies I have killed in the house, I don't know if the flies help but the tiny headstones make me laugh. Water often but if the plant starts to cry back off on the water a bit. They will literally drip water from the tips of their leaves if you give them too much. They also like water in the little hollows at the base of the leaves and in the top of the plant. Never yank a leaf off. It is natural for them to lose lower leaves as they get taller. If you pull the leaf off it will scar the trunk and retard stem growth (see pic above). You can cut the old dead leaf off close to the trunk but let the leftover bit dry and fall off on it's own. Occasionally they will make strange primitive peeled banana like flowers but it will never self fertilize. The male and female parts are in the same flower but mature at different times. But as far as I can tell you can clone this plant thru cuttings indefinitely... or at the very least for 25 years or more.

Step 7: Where Gronk Came From.

Gronk is from The Maples in Winnipeg Manitoba. I was just a kid and driving a really crappy car. An old Mazda. It was spring and I was driving to my girlfriend's place. As I was driving I saw this old woman sitting outside reading on her front step with plants all along her front walk up to the sidewalk. The plants were all in cheap throw away garden pots and cut up milk cartons. There was no sign or anything but I assumed it was a plant sale. I stopped and walked up. I asked her how much the cute little plants were.... no response. I looked at the front of her book. So not English. I took out my wallet and pointed at a cute little plant with two leaves no bigger than my hand. Then I showed her the two $5 bills I had. She looked at me, then the plant... then my crappy car. She took $5 and gave me the plant. I thanked her, went back to my car and buckled him in. I showed it to my Mom and she said "That's a puppy with BIG feet!" I asked her what it was. She said it's a "Gronk" And that is what I have called him ever since. Little did I know he would grow to such a size or become such an oddly important part of my family. I know he is toxic but two kids and many pets later he hasn't killed anyone. Not even a rash. I hope this encourages you to add a large plant to your family. They are worth the effort and an amazing addition to any home.

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    29 Comments

    0
    brittanyjackson100
    brittanyjackson100

    8 months ago

    I know its been awhile since this was posted, but I just want to say thank you so much for this humorous and very helpful tutorial. My husband brought our plant home from the greenhouse at his work and it is a very large and falling drunk teenager in the biggest pot I could find. Im so happy to hear it isnt dying and that I can turn it into many more beautiful plants!

    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Reply 5 weeks ago

    You're welcome. I hope you get as much joy out of yours as I have gotten out of mine. Soon all your friends will have huge plants with silly names. It's unavoidable.

    0
    lindscastro
    lindscastro

    6 months ago

    This was the best plant story I have ever read!!!! I was just casually googling how to propagate a dumbcane and I came across this Planty gold! This was the most entertaining and educational article EVER! If you don’t have a YouTube plant channel you 100% should.

    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Reply 5 weeks ago

    I don't think a biannual propagation channel for one plant would be popular.

    0
    FrancesS4
    FrancesS4

    4 months ago

    Like your “Gronk” my “Dora” is 25+ years old. I, however, am not her original caretaker. I received her as a gift from an elderly neighbor who felt I was up to the challenge of caring for it. It seems I have mistreated her and her leaves are bowing, dripping, and browning. I had removed “babies” and now I fear I’ve killed it! The first photo is what I’ve done. 😩 The second photo is how she came to me. Any suggestions?

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    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Reply 5 weeks ago

    It is natural for the plant to loose lower leaves and shed them as they get taller. If her leaves drip it is how she sheds extra water. Cut back on the water a bit. Removing the babies shouldn't affect the plant in a bad way at all. You are doing fine. Less water and a few fertilizer sticks and it should perk right up.

    0
    FeltedFlora
    FeltedFlora

    3 months ago on Step 4

    My grandmother and mother both had dieffenbachias, so I've lived with them for over 60 years. Mine has followed me from classroom to home and back, and from place to place for at least 30 years. The only time I had an issue with her "toxicity" is when I foolishly tried to pull off (should have been cut) a damaged leaf that hadn't completely dried out.
    I learned that the plant tissues contain
    microscopic very sharp oxalic acid crystals that penetrate skin. They don't dissolve in water and the immune system has to send in amoeba-like cells to deal with them.
    They felt like having a million fiberglass splinters and the skin of fingers and palm turned bright red and swollen, like poison ivy without the oozing. The only treatment was cortisone cream and time. It took over 3 weeks for my immune system to clear out all the crystals.

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    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Reply 5 weeks ago

    Yes some people can react badly to them. But me and Gronk have a mutual understanding. I don't rub sap on myself and he doesn't try to kill me.

    0
    nkhunchuka
    nkhunchuka

    Question 3 months ago on Step 7

    Hello dear friend, I bought this plant and suddenly it started to get rotten from the bottom. I cut it and it was ok but I see it's going the same, 🥺

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    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Answer 5 weeks ago

    Root the stem like I did with new soil and then put it in a new pot with new tropical plant soil. Something in that dirt is not good for your plant. Get rid of it. If you want to keep the pot clean it with bleach and let it dry out in the sun for a few weeks. Throw out the root ball and old soil.

    0
    rojoda417
    rojoda417

    Question 2 months ago

    I need help I’m freaking out about shortening my huge dieffenbachia your page and instructions are awesome I just need a little cheering on, here is my “Audrey” 1 and 2 any support will help thanks Rojoda417 in Maryland. I’m going to try this pray for Audrey…this is the daughter of my mother plant whom I originally got in 1993 had my sister send me a leaf in the mail wrapped in a wet paper towel inside of a baggie (the mother plant is in Iowa) and this is what came from that very small leaf now I have 2…any suggestions on how I should cut the top once I propagate? It’s top heavy and secured by bamboo poles…can I put the top back in the same pot or do I need to get a new pot? Audrey 2 has 3 separate plants. Audrey 1 only has the one stemmed plant. Please help Rojoda417 from Maryland. Thanks much

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    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Answer 5 weeks ago

    Hello Rojoda. I don't check in here very often, sorry. Your plant will be fine. Just give it plenty of time to fill the dirt in the bottles with roots. You will get several plants out of those mothers. Pick out a nice big pot for the tops and give them a whole bottle of rooted stem under the top to support them. Every time you do this the stems will get thicker and support more of a canopy. Don't forget the eggshells and fertilizer sticks. You can use the same pots but the root ball in there will start another plant if you just keep it watered. Good luck!

    0
    bleujey
    bleujey

    Question 1 year ago on Step 3

    What do you do with the original root system now that it's been cut down? Also mine has 3-4 feet of leafless cane that is twisted. Will that affect my potting?

    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Answer 6 months ago

    I just keep the root system watered. Eventually it will pop up a leaf. There is no stopping these things. Twisted cane shouldn't matter. Getting bottles around it might be a problem but it will root and you can cut it up and repot it in semi straight sections.

    0
    equinelover02
    equinelover02

    Question 7 months ago on Step 7

    Will this cause the stem to rot or is it pretty much fool proof. Im terrified lmfao

    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Answer 6 months ago

    This is totally idiot proof. If you put moist dirt around the stem it will root. Just take care to not let it tip over if you have three or more bottles rooting. Maybe push the plant into a corner or tie it to a tall chair.

    0
    SheriLees
    SheriLees

    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    Hey peter I'm a tad confused as to what to do from root stage on
    I get the bottle and dirt .
    Does momma Gronk literally dissapear, or is she still there after babies are made just a little momma gronk instead of a huge one ?
    The deff I have is larger than the one you have ..
    Shes almost double .gorgeous
    Absolutely stunning
    And an umbrella the same way
    Want to propagate both
    Please help

    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Answer 1 year ago

    No the Momma stays. Just give it the section of stalk you rooted right below the leaves and plant it.

    0
    ZillaAlpha
    ZillaAlpha

    2 years ago

    Hello fellow Winnipegger! I just repotted and propagated my baby, The Beast. He was part of one of those Christmas decor pots from Costco years back. I can’t wait for him to get as big as Gronk and I will definitely keep this post in mind for when that happens! Thanks man!

    0
    Peterthinking
    Peterthinking

    Reply 1 year ago

    Glad you're enjoying it! Spread those babies around!