Why is My Dieffenbachia Falling Over? (Causes and Solutions)


Indoor plants are the perfect way to complete your home décor. They add a touch of nature, and one of the most sought after is the dieffenbachia. Still, these aren’t the easiest plants to deal with since they tend to fall over once they reach a particular stage.

Poor lighting is the main cause for many dumb cane plants to fall over. As it strives to reach for light, it bends and falls over. However, having the dieffenbachia in direct sunlight is harmful too. Over and under watering, bugs, diseases, shock and harsh temperature may also cause falling over.

Here is where your plant care tips and tricks come in handy. In this article, you will learn how to prevent your Dieffenbachia from falling over or assist it back up once it does. 

Once you notice your favorite dumb cane plant is falling over, there’s no need to panic. All you do is put on your plant care hat and get to work. There’s still hope of making it stand tall and bold once more. But, you must care for the plant for this to happen. 

In the beginning, a thorough assessment of the situation is necessary before you come up with a plan. Often, the plant lets you know it’s under stress by becoming leggy and unappealing. However, what it needs is to be fuller and have thick stalks that can withstand the weight. 

Indoor potted diffenbachia plant falling over

6 Causes of Dumbcane Falling Over and Solutions

The best way to salvage the situation is by tackling each cause at a time, noting the signs to watch out for, and how to fix it. There’s no need to worry because you can salvage the situation and enjoy a healthy plant. 

Lack of Ample Light

Yes, it’s an indoor plant, but it still requires ample right to grow lush and healthy. If you place the dieffenbachia in a dark area of the house, it changes. You may start to notice its growing skinny and bending towards the light. 

Whether indoor or outdoor, every plant requires light to survive since it plays a crucial role in food production. So while you might think your plant loves being inside, when you place it in the wrong position, it starts changing. 

Suddenly, the thick stems start extending and becoming too skinny, causing the plant to fall over. It’s a strategy to go search for some light because it can’t survive otherwise. Some signs can sound the alarm, letting you know your dumb cane needs more light. These include:

Skinny Growth

Leggy growth is the very first sign that your plant isn’t getting enough indirect light to survive inside your home. Suddenly the once bushy and lovely plant looks skinny with thin stems extending far and wide. 

Any indoor plant lacking ample light starts growing skinnier stems as a strategy to go searching for some. Next, are the leaves growing away from each other, which does away with the bushy look you wanted. Honestly, the plant at this point starts looking unappealing as a way to let you know there’s a problem. 

Smaller Leaves

Usually, dieffenbachia has broad leaves that look thick and lovely when it’s healthy. You may notice the leaves growing closer to one another, which gives the indoor plant a fuller look.

But, all these changes occur when there’s not enough light. The leaves start growing smaller and further apart. Since light is what the plant needs to grow, lack of it means poor growth. 

Wet Soil

The norm is to water houseplants once or twice a month, depending on how much water each needs. However, if you notice the soil on your dieffenbachia is still wet after some weeks, the plant isn’t using up any of it. 

Photosynthesis is how plants make food, and for that, they need light and water. But, when they don’t have ample light, they don’t use up the water. That’s why you find the soil wet and the plant looking unhealthy. 

Bending Towards the Light

Do you want to know your plant is lacking ample light to survive? 

Check the direction of the new growth. The skinny stems start heading towards a window or other areas on the house with abundant light coming in.

If you don’t take action to change position, soon the whole plant starts changing direction and falling over in the process. 

How to Provide Dumb Cane with Ample Light

After finding out the problem, you can now get down to business and come up with solutions. The good news is you don’t need to do anything too drastic to nurse the plant back to health. The first thing you can do is change locations in the house. 

Typically, the best place to have all your dieffenbachias is near a source of light like a window. So pick out a window area with ample light coming in and relocate the plant. That will make it happy and able to produce enough food to grow thick once more. 

However, this new area must not have direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can affect the health of the plant resulting in browning leaves. 

Another way to solve this issue is to get some grow lights. Perhaps you live in an apartment and don’t get ample light coming in through windows. It doesn’t mean you can have some beautiful green plants in your home. Buy some grow lights and place them where the plants are in any area in your home. 

Over and Under Watering

Plants like dumb cane require perfect watering routines and the right amount. When you over or under water them, they start changing physical appearance and can even fall over.  Sometimes you can do it unknowingly and end up causing more harm. 

For instance, when the plant is getting little light, it uses up less water for photosynthesis. If you keep up with the regular watering routine, you overwater it adding more fuel to the fire. The plant looks miserable. 

However, even when it’s getting ample light, overwatering or under watering can cause issues. Some signs to alert you to this condition include:

Browning and Wilting Leaves

Perhaps the first sign that the plant is getting too much or too little water is changing leaves. While it’s common for the bottom ones to dry and fall out, it’s not okay if this starts happening all around. The tricky part is noticing is the browning and wilting are due to over or under-watering. 

Droopy Leaves

Old and new leaves alike start drooping. No matter how much you try to help the plant, the situation keeps getting worse. That is a sign that the plant has too much water than it can handle. 

One way to be sure the cause is excess moisture is to check the soil. You notice it’s still too moist even after not watering for some time. 

Mushy Stem

Feel the base of the plant. Is it mushy or squishy? If it is, stop watering the plant immediately as this will cause the base to lose its structure and even fall over. You can even start to notice a rotting smell emanating from this part of the plant. 

Poor Growth

Even when the plant is getting enough light, if it lacks water, it won’t grow. Therefore, poor dieffenbachia growth lets you know that you aren’t watering it enough. 

How to Not Over or Under Water Dieffenbachia

Right off the bat, you need to inspect your plants regularly. At times it’s easy to get busy and find things are not okay with your dieffenbachia. But, you can salvage the situation by first inspecting each one to notice the issue.

One way to measure the situation is by lifting the pot. When you lift the pot,  feel the weight of the soil. Plants with too much water tend to be heavier. Those with too little are light when you lift them. Do these as you also check the state of the soil. 

Usually, the right time to water plants is when the topsoil is dry enough. But, you can be more specific by getting a moisture meter that keeps track of the water content on the plant and helps you know the right time to water it. 

A wet plant is best left alone for some time to use up the excess moisture content. However, a dry one requires a good soak that drains out from below. 

Drafty Cold or Hot Air

Is the plant near an air conditioner or a heating furnace? As it struggles to cope with the atmosphere around it, it can start falling over in a bid to escape the draft.

Typically, dieffenbachia thrives at a temperature of 60-70°F (15-21°C). Anything more or less starts causing issues, including falling over. 

Some signs to watch out for that alert you the plant is in distress include:

Wilting

If the dumb canes are near the heating system of the house, they start wilting. The temperatures here are too high that it’s not possible to cope.

Some plants can survive such conditions, but dieffenbachia isn’t in this category. If you don’t change the positioning, the plant eventually dies. 

Bending over

Picture this: you wake up one morning and notice all your plants falling over in one direction. That is a sure sign that something is wrong.

They are escaping the hot or cold drafty air from your systems. If you leave them as is, they will keep growing in that direction. Also, drafty windows can cause this issue. 

How to Prevent Temperature Stress 

Plant positioning, especially indoors, is crucial for their survival. So step one is keeping them away from any heating or cooling units in the house.

For instance, never put plants under your AC or near it due to the cool air blasting from the system. The same applies to heating systems that cause extreme temperature stress. 

Next, get a thermometer to keep track of the temperature in the house. If you notice things getting too hot or cold, try and adjust this.

You can crank up the heating or cooling systems to provide the dumb cane with ample heat. You should also ensure there’s enough humidity to keep plants happy by using a humidifier. 

Lastly, move all plants that are near windows with drafts. Drafty air shocks plants due to sudden temperature changes. Therefore, it’s better to have them in an area without any drafts. 

Shock after Repotting

As the plant grows larger, repotting is necessary. However, not all thrive once they get to a new home. Some go into shock, which causes them to fall over due to poor acclimatization. 

But, at times, not all goes well. While some plants welcome the change with open arms (stems), others go into shock. The dieffenbachia starts falling over and not looking well at all due to the sudden change. 

Usually, as plants grow, they adapt to the pots and become one in a way. Therefore, when you take them out of this familiar place to a new one, it’s easy for the dumb cane to develop stress. The situation gets worse if you move the whole plant to a new location in your home. 

But, not all is lost because you can help nurse the plant back to life. You may notice dieffenbachia acting this way after repotting because of poor acclimatization. 

The steps below can help the plant acclimatize better to the new pot. 

1. Proper Plant Relocation

Start by relocating the plant to the new location while still in the old pot. It’s an excellent way for it to get used to the new environment. 

2. Reduce Watering

Cut back on watering the plant 2 weeks before repotting. It’s an excellent strategy that makes the plant hardy and capable of adapting to a new environment and pot. 

3. Plant Assessment

Assess the plant to see if there’s any sign of disease or bugs causing strain. Often a plant that falls over after repotting had an issue in the old pot. 

A thorough inspection helps you notice if it’s in good health or not. Only after you give the plant a clean bill of health, reposition it, and reduce watering can you repot. 

4. Thorough Plant Care

After repotting, you must take care of it until it acclimatizes to its new home. Start by watering the soil in the new plant to prevent moisture from escaping through the roots. Afterward, mist the leaves and stem often as you inspect the plant. 

Bugs

Even indoor plants suffer from a bug infestation, so you must conduct an inspection often to examine them. Once a dieffenbachia plant has an infestation, it starts falling over as a sign of distress. Some symptoms that your plant has an infestation include:

Yellow Leaves with Honeydew

Mostly, when your leaves start turning yellow and have honeydew all over, you have an aphid’s infestation. If you don’t take immediate action, the situation can quickly go from bad to worse. These insects can reproduce fast. 

Faded Leaves

Do you notice that your dieffenbachia leaves are no longer that beautiful green and start to look faded? The culprit, in this case, is the spider mite. Spider mites gather under the leaves of the dumb cane and suck the life out of your plant. 

Poor Growth

When you do all you can for your plants, including perfect watering and ample lighting, but they still look bad, you might have an infestation. Mealybugs cause stunted growth, so the dumb canes won’t grow no matter what you do. 

Another bug responsible for stunted growth is the whitefly. Once you start to notice white insects flying around my plants, take immediate action. Failure to do so can cause the whole plant to die. 

How to Control Bug Infestation on Dieffenbachia

Once you get indoor plants like dumb canes, be ready to deal with bugs. When you handle them immediately, you can prevent having an infestation on your hands. But, it’s not always healthy to use bug repellants or pesticides. Instead, you can create some organic solutions that work while protecting the plant. 

First, start by separating the infested plants from the rest. Immediate isolation helps prevent the situation from getting worse. Over the next few weeks, keep an eye on the remaining plants to make sure they’re okay. 

The next step is to fetch some organic liquid soap you use to wash the infested plant carefully. All bugs die off immediately when they come into contact with the soap. After that, use some rubbing alcohol to sterilize the entire pot but don’t rub it on the plant. 

Rubbing alcohol will get rid of all bugs and eggs on the surface of the pot, preventing reinfestation. Then place some organic oil like Neem on a spray bottle and mist a generous amount on the entire plant. Keep doing this for some time until you notice the plant is bug-free. 

Another organic solution you can use in the oil is garlic mixed with water or pepper mixed with water. Bugs hate the taste, and the solutions kill the eggs. 

Disease

Just as uncomfortable as you feel when you fall ill, the same happens to the dumb cane. If it’s sick, it starts falling over and requires immediate examination to determine the condition. Some signs of this include browning leaves that eventually fall off in numbers. 

Like any other plant, certain diseases can attach to the precious indoor plants that you must note. In the case of dieffenbachia, bacterial leaf spot remains the worst disease because there’s no cure. 

When a plant is healthy, it’s not easy to get these conditions. But if it’s weak due to any situation such as poor lighting or over watering, the diseases find it easy to attack dieffenbachia. 

How to Treat Diseases Attacking Dumb Canes

Treatment is the only way to save your plant. If you don’t, the plant will most likely die. Some diseases are easy to tackle, while others require extensive care to restore the plant to health. But, you must start by identifying the disease. 

Bacterial leaf spot occurs when you overwater a plant, and it’s in a cool part of the house. Simultaneously, if there are multiple plants in the same pot, they can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. 

Unfortunately, this is one of those diseases that prevention is better because there is no cure. In case the plant has a bacterial leaf spot, throw it away together with the soil. That’s the worst-case scenario, but if only a few leaves have it, you can trim them off and repot the plant in fresh soil. 

Other diseases you can come across include wilt, root and stem rot, fungal leaf spots, sooty mold, powdery mildew, and white mold. Often you realize some of the plants’ causes falling over create a perfect environment for these diseases to attack the plants. 

Therefore, when you prevent the plant from falling over, you keep diseases at bay. If a plant is overwhelmed, the best solution is to isolate it from the rest as you try different treatment measures. 

Final Words

I hope this article helps you get a clearer understanding of why your dieffenbachia is falling over. The good news is you can salvage the situation and save your beloved indoor plants before it’s too late. 

One primary step to take is to do a thorough investigation to note what is causing the issue. Afterward, you can take steps to resolve it and restore your plants to health.

(Source: University of Florida)

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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