Why is my Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) drooping?

Last Updated: September 14, 2022

Loved for their hardy nature and gorgeous leaves, the these plants is slowly becoming a favourite in the houseplant world despite its dangers. However, if you start to notice your Dumb Cane has begun drooping down then this isn’t a good sign. 

In this article we will go through the main reasons why Dumb Cane plants begin drooping as well as how to diagnose each of them, treat them and prevent the problem from causing more damage to your plant in future.

Underwatering is the most common cause of drooping Dumb Cane leaves

Too little water can harm your Dumb Cane plant in quite a few different ways. It can cause dry brown leaves and a lack of growth. But one of the earlier signs of underwatering is drooping stems and leaves. This is because the root system will be slightly damaged and you plant won’t be able to stand upright. 

How do I know if underwatering is the cause of the drooping leaves on my Dumb Cane?

If you find that the stems and leaves look a little lifeless, it is most probably because the soil has been too dry for too long. Stick a finger in the top few centimetres of the soil to check the moisture levels. You can also try lifting your Dumb Cane if your plant is not that mature to see how light the pot feels. It can also be a good idea to remove your plant from its pot to inspect the root system and see if it has started to turn crispy already. This will give you a good indication of how long the issue has been going on. 

How do I fix an underwatered Dumb Cane plant?

Often you might think that drowning your underwatered plant is the best way to resolve the issue but this can actually cause your plant to go into shock. This can be pretty damaging to an already sensitive and drooping Dumb Cane plant so you want to avoid this as much as possible. 

Instead, you want to water your plant a little bit once a day for a week. Moving forward, keep an eye on how much you are watering your plant by checking the moisture in the soil frequently. You will want to increase the frequency of watering or how much you water each time to prevent your Dumb Cane from drooping again in future because of a lack of moisture.

Overwatering can also cause droopy Dumb Cane leaves

Dumb Cane are pretty hardy plants and won’t die suddenly if you overwater them once in a while. However, consistent overwatering will mean your Dumb Cane’s leaves will start to droop as their roots begin to rot and turn mushy. It’s strange that the opposite watering extremes can have the same impact on your plant but this is because the root system also becomes damaged. 

Consistent overwatering will lead to root rot which is very harmful to your Dumb Cane. It will cause the plant to become unstable, the individual leaves will droop and may even eventually fall off completely. 

How do I know if too much water is causing my drooping Dieffenbachia?

Make sure to check the moisture in the soil before you adjust anything about your Dumb Cane care routine. First check the moisture at the top of the soil, if it is still damp then wait a few days before watering again. You can also lift up your Dumb Cane to check the weight of the plant before and after watering. You will then start to be able to gauge how heavy the soil is when it is in need of water. Make sure to handle your Dumb Cane gently when picking it up to prevent any leaves from breaking away from the main stem.

If you want to be 100% sure about how much moisture is in the potting mix, and whether it’s actually time to water your Dumb Cane, then we recommend using a moisture meter. You simply pop them in the soil and it will tell you how soggy the soil is – it’s really that simple. We use this one from Amazon.

How do I fix an overwatered Dumb Cane plant?

Once you have confirmed that overawtering is the cause of your drooping Dumb Cane, it is best to replace the soil straight away rather than just sit and wait for it to dry up over time. Make sure to use a fresh, nutrient rich soil when you do this. 

Our recommendation is this one from Miracle Gro. Be careful when removing the soil from the roots as you don’t want to cause any further damage as the root system will be quite delicate. You also want to remove any mushy roots and leaves at this stage to encourage new healthy growth.

A drooping Dumb Cane can also be caused by cold temperatures

A much less common reason why your Dumb Cane might start to droop is temperature changes. This can be both hot and cold temperature extremes so be careful that your plant isn’t too close to an air conditioning vent, radiators, cookers or cold drafts coming in from outside. 

These areas can have really big changes in temperature over the course of a day or year and your Dumb Cane simply won’t be able to adapt properly to stay happy and healthy.

Use a digital thermometer to check for any temperature extremes or fluctuations and move your plant to a more suitable spot if needed.

Drooping Dumb Cane leaves can also indicate a lack of sunlight

Although watering and temperature issues tend to be the most common causes of limp drooping leaves on Dumb Canes, it’s important to also consider some other causes if the others don’t seem to fit with what is happening to your plant.

Dumb Canes need bright but indirect sunshine to really thrive and produce new strong leaves and stems. A lack of sunlight (which is common during winter) can cause your plant to struggle and develop brown leaves, discolouration of the plant, small leaves, slow growth, drooping stems or leaves falling off. So all in all, low light can be pretty damaging to the health of your plant.  

If you suspect a lack of sunlight is causing the leaves on your Dumb Cane to droop down and become quite limp, then we recommend moving it to a slightly sunnier spot in your home. 

Just make sure that you keep it away from too much direct sunlight (especially in summer) as this can become quite intense and scorch the leaves. Too much direct sunlight can also cause hotspots near windows which falls back to the issue of temperature extremes! 

Those are the most common reasons why Dumb Cane plants start drooping down. It’s important that you fix the issue early and quickly to give yourself the best chance at fully reviving your plant. Drooping stems and leaves are often one of the earlier signs of unhappiness so hopefully, with the right care and attention, you can reverse the issue fairly quickly.

To learn more about how to keep your plant thriving, check out our Dumb Cane care guide.

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