Dieffenbachia is a popular houseplant that purifies the air by removing toxins. It got the name dumb cane from its sap which irritates the mouth lining and tongue, causing swelling. This renders the person unable to speak or dumb.
Dieffenbachia, or dumb cane, is also sometimes known as a leopard lily. It is part of the Araceae family and originated in South America. In their natural habitat, dieffenbachias grow up to ten feet tall, but those grown indoors are smaller.
Dieffenbachias have large leaves that show variegated patterning. Dark green, light green, cream, and white are colors that may be seen on a dieffenbachia leaf. The cultivar determines the exact pattern and colors.
The leaves usually have a prominent midrib, and lines tracing the pathway of the leaf veins may be visible on the upper leaf surface.
There are several plants that look similar to dieffenbachia.
- Variegated banana
- Peace lily
- Chinese evergreen
- Cast iron plant
- Calathea orbifolia
- Rubber tree
1. Variegated Banana Plant
Banana plants (Musa spp) are not true trees but herbaceous perennial shrubs, even though they grow as large as trees. Some banana trees can grow as tall as twenty feet, but those grown indoors have restricted growth.
Variegated banana plants have large leaves that can be several feet long. They resemble dieffenbachia on a grand scale but are popular as extravagant house plants. Variegated bananas, like dieffenbachia, can be grown outdoors.
Banana leaves are prone to damage by the elements. They are so large that they are prone to tearing, giving the leaves a frilled margin. Banana plants grown indoors usually produce only eight to twelve leaves.
The midrib of each leaf is plainly visible, and the leaf blades or lamina may show marked ribbing or ridges from the midrib to the leaf margin.
The dwarf Cavendish banana plant is a smaller variety of banana popular as an indoor plant or in small gardens. The leaves are purple when they first emerge and gradually turn green as they mature.
Related: 5 Plants similar to Banana Trees
2. Peace Lily
Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) are popular plants to grow indoors, like dieffenbachia. They belong to the same family as dieffenbachia.
They are herbaceous perennials with broad, large leaves with a marked point at one end. The leaves are bright green, but variegated cultivars have been developed.
They are not true lilies but produce a spadix (conical structure) on a spathe that may be white, cream, or light green.
Peace lilies kept indoors grow to sixteen inches tall, but those grown outdoors can reach six feet in height. They do not tolerate cold climates and need a warm environment to survive.
Related: 7 Plants That Look Like Peace Lily | 10 Peace Lily Plant Benefits
3. Chinese Evergreen
Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema) are members of the Araceae family and are remarkably similar to dieffenbachia. Chinese evergreens are hardier than dieffenbachia and cope better with dry periods, although they still need regular watering.
Aglaonemas have broad, elongated spear-shaped or oval leaves. They are well-known for their variegated foliage. Many cultivars have lighter leaf centers and darker margins. They commonly have pink overtones, which distinguishes them from dieffenbachia.
Chinese evergreens are smaller than dieffenbachia, reaching only about two feet in height. They have dense foliage, making them bushy compared to a dieffenbachia which grows taller and has less foliage.
Related: 10 Plants That Look Like Chinese Evergreen
4. Cast Iron Plant
The cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is also known as the barroom plant. It is part of the Asparagaceae family and is a tough, hardy plant. It may be grown indoors or outdoors.
The cast iron plant grows twenty-four inches tall and spreads into a wide clump. It has glossy green leaves that vary from twelve to twenty inches long. The leaves may vary from bright green to dark green.
Various cast iron plant cultivars may have different leaf colors. The Asahi cultivar has leaves that are chocolate brown when they emerge. The leaves gradually turn green as they mature. The Hoshi-zora cultivar has speckled leaves, and the Variegata cultivar has white stripes resembling dieffenbachia.
This plant gets its name from its ability to grow in most climates and soil types. It is a popular houseplant because of its durability and easy maintenance.
5. Calathea Orbifolia
Calathea orbifolia (Goeppertia orbifolia) is a perennial shrub that grows indigenously in tropical rainforests. It has large, broad leaves to make optimal use of the filtered light which comes through the tree canopy.
Calathea orbifolia has striking colored leaves. Its large rounded leaves have alternating lime and dark green stripes, making it an excellent plant to brighten dark corners or shady parts of a garden.
The midrib is clearly defined, and the stripes on the leaf run from the midrib to the leaf margin. The underside surface is a silvery green color. The leaves are similar to the colors seen on dieffenbachia. Calathea orbifolia leaves have an undulating margin.
Calathea orbifolia grows to approximately three feet in height. They have high heat and humidity requirements, and many people choose to grow them in bathrooms.
Hostas belong to the Asparagaceae family and are also known as plantain lilies. They are herbaceous perennial shade-loving plants. There are many species and cultivars, with miniature hostas growing three inches tall and other species growing to over six feet tall.
Hostas are distinguished by their broad oval or lance-shaped leaves. The leaves vary in color from green and blue-green in wild species to yellow-green or variegated in newer cultivars. The leaves are similar to dieffenbachia leaves.
Hostas produce white, violet, or lavender flowers on tall stems that protrude above the leaf mound. The flowers are unusual because they open as darkness sets in and close with the first light of morning.
Hostas are popular with gardeners as they grow in the shade where many other plants will not grow. They have low maintenance needs and their lush foliage fills up empty spaces.
Related: 7 Plants similar to Hosta | Are Hostas Poisonous?
7. Rubber Tree
Rubber trees (Ficus elastica) are popular indoor and outdoor plants. They belong to the Moraceae family. Rubber trees grow up to one hundred and thirty feet when grown outdoors but have limited growth when grown indoors, usually reaching six to ten feet.
Ficus elastica plants are well-known for their thick, shiny leaves, which can be fourteen inches long and six inches wide. The leaves have a waxy texture and make an eye-catching indoor plant. Rubber trees grown indoors are usually dark green and those grown outdoors are lighter green but this can vary with the cultivar. Some cultivars have variegated, bronze, or burgundy leaves. These are similar to the leaves of dieffenbachia.
The leaves have an alternate arrangement around the stem. They have a prominent midrib which may be pink, maroon, or green.
Rubber trees do not tolerate direct sunlight, and the leaves burn easily. They grow best in bright, filtered, or indirect sunlight.
Philodendrons, like dieffenbachia, are part of the Araceae family. Philodendrons grow to different sizes based on the species.
Philodendrons are all identified by their enormous leaves, which can reach one to two feet long. The leaves are heart-shaped, oval, or spear-shaped. They are sometimes called elephant ear plants because of the shape and size of the leaves.
Related: 8 Plants similar to Philodendron
Philodendron leaves may be varying shades of green, variegated, or even velvety. The leaves resemble dieffenbachia but are larger. They have pronounced midrib and clearly identifiable leaf veins, which may cause indentations and ridges on the leaf surface.
The leaves are held by thick, fleshy succulent-type petioles or stems. Philodendrons produce a spadix and spathe in the center of the plant where the leaf stems join.