The Q&A Archives: Brown Wilt On Dieffenbachia Amoena

Question: I bought a dieffenbachia amoena a few months ago and noticed brown wilt on the tips of the leaves. The brown has spread up the leaves and is on new leaves. I give it indirect light and try to keep it on the dry side as the instructions say but don't know what to do now. Should I cut off the infected leaf, leaf part...if so, where should I cut? Do I need to change the watering ? I have only used Miracle Grow once and that was after the brown was evident so I don't think that chemials have burnt the plant. Also, could you recommend easy to care plants for the indoors?

Answer: Based on your description I am not sure what the problem is. It might be in brighter light than it needs or simply adjusting to its new home. In my experience cool temperatures (below about 65 degrees which is quite possible if the plant is sitting on the floor) can make this plant brown, as can a pest problem (examine it very carefully for signs of insects). It is also possible that you have been overwatering or not been watering it enough -- or that the humidity level is extremely low now that the heating season is here. Suggested watering for this plant is to drench the soil and then let it dry out somewhat (not totally dry as a bone, just so that it feels dry when you stick your finger in the soil) before watering again. It can take quite a bit of water to saturate the root ball; be sure the water is not running right out between the pot and the soil when you water. Also, empty the saucer of any excess runoff rather than letting the pot sit in it. To raise the humidity around the plant you can set the pot in a tray filled with pebbles and water. Set the pot so that the base of the pot is just above the water level. ( Add a bit of bleach to the tray water to reduce algae growth.) Generally you will need to fertilize during the times when the plant is actively growing, less if at all, in winter. Follow the label instructions carefully.

This plant is usually considered fairly easy to grow, but some others I have found quite easy would also include pothos, English ivy, jade plant, spider plant, peace lily, dracaena, Chinese evergreen, and asparagus fern. To some extent "easy" depends on the growing conditions you have to offer the plants because some will be better suited than others and simply do better for you because of it. If you want to get into lots of houseplants you might want to take a look at a basic book or two for some general pointers. One I particularly like is "Houseplants for Dummies" by Larry Hodgson ISBN 0-7645-5102-7 because it is straightforward and yet addresses plants for many types of growing conditions and care regimes.

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