UBC Botanical Garden Forums  

» UBC Botanical Garden


Go Back   UBC Botanical Garden Forums > Indoor and Greenhouse Plants

Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Plant Care, Propagation, Identification, Appreciation and more!

Post New ThreadReply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old February 11th, 2013, 01:50 PM
schraminvan schraminvan is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Vancouver BC
Posts: 13
cutting/pruning dumb cane

I have this dumb cane plant, but it is getting tall and I'd like to cut it down to size. Found info on the internet but I need clarification.

The plant was in a low light situation for a few years and grew quite tall and thin. We recently moved to a brighter location, and it is looking healthy on the top again.

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_2636.jpg
Views:	156
Size:	84.5 KB
ID:	109154

However, now the plant is too tall and won't support itself. Question, how hard can I cut it back ?

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_2637.jpg
Views:	124
Size:	70.7 KB
ID:	109155

You can see that the stem grows off the side of an old larger stem. If I cut the growing stem back to 6 inches, then there would be no leaves remaining at all. Will this kill the plant, or will it simply regenerate a new stem?

I do plant on propagating the top portion of the new growing part as a back up. Any tips on that?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old February 11th, 2013, 11:13 PM
mrsubjunctive mrsubjunctive is offline
Contributor (100-499 posts)
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Iowa, United States
Posts: 268
Re: cutting/pruning dumb cane

It'll produce a new stem if the top is cut off. Potentially more than one, even. (You do have to watch the watering while it's working on that, though -- it'll stay wetter a lot longer than you're used to, without the leaves to transpire water. Too much water and the stump will rot before it can resprout.) This will happen faster if the plant is in a warmer, brighter spot, but should still happen if the plant's in the original location.

I've propagated cut-off tops by 1) direct-sticking them in potting mix, and 2) by rooting them in water first and then transferring to soil. There's some risk of rot with the former. Rooting in a sterile medium (like damp vermiculite) is a nice compromise between the two, though I haven't done that with this particular plant before.

They'll also produce new growing tips from sections of the cane, provided the sections are long enough (about 3-4 inches / 8-10 cm). I've had good luck with Aglaonema (related, if not quite the same plant) in vermiculite, in a covered container to keep the humidity high while rooting is happening. I've managed to start a few new Dieffenbachias by laying canes horizontally on potting soil too, but that hasn't worked as well. Plants started from cane sections also take longer to develop full-sized leaves.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old February 12th, 2013, 06:07 AM
lorax's Avatar
lorax lorax is offline
In search of the Truffula Trees.
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Ecuador SA Zone 12/13
Posts: 4,775
Re: cutting/pruning dumb cane

Further to what mrsubjunctive has to say, cane sections for propagation need to be at least 3-4 nodes long (nodes are the scars on each section of the cane from the leaves). I just gave one of my Dieffs a healthy haircut, and will see about 10 new plants from what I pruned. I tend to bunch groups of cane or cane sections together, so that as they grow they support each other. My current pot of crowns, for example, has 4 plants in a box grouping - it will help to keep the plant upright even when it gets more top-heavy and starts flowering.

I go with the "cut it and stick the cut sections directly into damp potting mix" method, which has always worked for me; I'd add that I won't water, but rather just mist the surface of the soil, until I see new growth developing. This helps to prevent rot. Water-rooting has its advantages, but the roots are weaker than what's developed with soil-direct planting, and I've found that the plants are more prone to shock when transferred from water to soil.

EDIT - if you're cutting sections of cane blind (without any leaves) you can check for branching nodes along their lengths - these look like little nubbins of green. I'll go take a picture of mine, because it's hard to explain them well. If you can get at least one if not two or three of these branching nodes on each section of cane you're going to propagate from, you'll see leaves much more quickly because the plant was already thinking of starting to produce them at those points.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old February 12th, 2013, 06:19 AM
lorax's Avatar
lorax lorax is offline
In search of the Truffula Trees.
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Ecuador SA Zone 12/13
Posts: 4,775
Re: cutting/pruning dumb cane

OK, here's what I'm talking about in terms of nodes. In the first photo, the nodes are well developed and starting to branch. In the second and third, they're still in the eruption phase. You want at least one if not more of these in each section you cut for propagation - it speeds the leafing out time considerably and ensures the survival of your new plants.
Attached Thumbnails (click on thumbnail to enlarge)
Click image for larger version

Name:	Nodes1.jpg
Views:	231
Size:	336.6 KB
ID:	109159   Click image for larger version

Name:	Nodes2.jpg
Views:	222
Size:	182.5 KB
ID:	109160   Click image for larger version

Name:	Nodes3.jpg
Views:	219
Size:	248.4 KB
ID:	109161  
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old February 13th, 2013, 09:20 PM
schraminvan schraminvan is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Vancouver BC
Posts: 13
Re: cutting/pruning dumb cane

Thanks for the great tips. I'll be trying these later in the spring as it seems to be the better time recommended.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old April 14th, 2013, 12:42 PM
Grooonx7's Avatar
Grooonx7 Grooonx7 is offline
Contributor (100-499 posts)
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 138
Re: cutting/pruning dumb cane

(Years ago, my mum used to refer to Canada's then-Prime Minister Dieffenbachia, as she was more familiar with plants than politics.)

In Costa Rica, I became used to seeing Dieffenbachias growing pretty much as vines. My indoor Dieffenbachias seem so big in our Vancouver apartment, but in the wild haunts of the cloud forests we see them enjoying life more naturally. Everything is big there, and so a Dieffenbachia as a vine makes sense.

I mention this because it changed my perspective in cutting the houseplants back when they reach the (mere) 8-foot ceiling height. It also explains why Dieffenbachias, when ignored, sometimes grow at angles closer to the horizontal, when there is no alternative. These are quite snaky plants.

I have successfully cut ours back, from time to time, by taking my largest kitchen knife and using it as a machete, checking for safety first and then making one single very fast slash to make a very neat cut, thereby chopping the stem in two in that one single swing. If everything is done just right, I am thusly left with plus-one Dieffenbachia and my original number of fingers.

It is that simple. Other writers on this thread have given you all you need to know to be an expert. You are very likely to go through the actual process and find yourself saying, "Well, that was easy." Best of luck.
Reply With Quote
Post New ThreadReply

Bookmarks

Tags
pruning

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Dumb cane shedding more growing less cryshnon Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 5 October 10th, 2012 08:13 AM
Oregon: Rose Pruning question: how many buds should be left on the cane? MuddyP Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest 0 January 27th, 2011 07:55 PM
Identification: Dumb cane? funnyfarmherbs Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 22 November 4th, 2007 08:07 PM
help my dumb cane MOCHA Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 4 August 10th, 2006 04:42 AM
Dumb Cane y2kmei Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 10 May 23rd, 2006 10:03 AM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:20 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2001-2011, University of British Columbia Botanical Garden & Centre for Plant Research