Dripping Dieffenbachia

I have propagated and given away giant-leaf dieffenbachia (18" leaves) for years. I keep my plants in the house year round.
In my house, they grow a single trunk until they reach the ceiling. I cut them down and cut up the trunk, root the top and the trunk pieces, and the original bottom still in the soil grows another single-trunk plant.
A friend who has one of my dumb cane progeny left it outside for the summer, and just brought it in for the Fall. She called to say that it now has beads of moisture around the edges of the leaves. That has never happened in my own house. She also said that it has four new baby stalks shooting up from the base, That is also something that I have never encountered.
What is going on. Too much moisture? Too much summer sun? Are the drips safe, or are they severe irritants like the sap?
- David
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Quite a few of my tropical houseplants have drops of water at the leaf edges, although I usually see it in the morning. Generally speaking, it's the by-product of transpiration - what plants do at night in the absence of light. I doubt your friend's dieffenbachia are producing calcium oxalate in those drops of water. Why yours don't do it, I have no idea. But, the fact that there are new stalks would indicate that the plant is nice & healthy.
By the way, the calcium oxalate in the stalks is the same stuff that's in some of the leafy greens we eat, like swiss chard, but in a much higher concentration. Sometimes, pets (especially stupid ones, like dogs) will chew on dieffenbachia leaves and the juice will numb their throats and make them drool for awhile, but it's pretty much harmless. You can get a hint of this effect by eating swiss chard that's been grown in overly hot weather.
Incidentally, this is the reason for one of the plant's common names: dumbcane - causing temporary speechlessness.

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I read, many many years ago, the story of the Dumb Cane. It went something like this.
The natives would feed an accused criminal some of the dumb cane and if he could still tell his story through the affects of the plant then he was telling the truth. If he could not tell his story then he was thrown off the cliff.
Kate
| > I have propagated and given away giant-leaf dieffenbachia (18" leaves) for | > years. I keep my plants in the house year round. | > | > In my house, they grow a single trunk until they reach the ceiling. I | cut | > them down and cut up the trunk, root the top and the trunk pieces, and the | > original bottom still in the soil grows another single-trunk plant. | > | > A friend who has one of my dumb cane progeny left it outside for the | summer, | > and just brought it in for the Fall. She called to say that it now has | > beads of moisture around the edges of the leaves. That has never | happened | > in my own house. She also said that it has four new baby stalks shooting | > up from the base, That is also something that I have never encountered. | > | > What is going on. Too much moisture? Too much summer sun? Are the | > drips safe, or are they severe irritants like the sap? | > | > - David | > | > | > | |
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your friend's dieffenbachia will probably rot and die. The same thing happened to me. First year both of them were fine in the house and growing vigorously, then the second summer I took to placing them outside along with every other houseplant. For most plants it is very good, but dumbcane picks up a virus or fungus that rots it starting from the stem. It starts with those drops. Both died, one at the end of the first summer and the other at the end of the second summer.
By then I had given out a few dumbcane babies to a friend, and those, placed outside in the summer but only on a concrete patio (not under trees like I do), had grown to be nice specimens with many shoots. Eventually I took a couple of plants back, and they both died again. One of them already had babies, and those two babies are still alive and well. But I hope you are getting the drift.
The two plants I got the second time probably got it from the compost I put in their pot after transplanting, because they started dying well before I put them outside. It's a bug that is out there (at least in Michigan) and dumbcane is sensitive to it. No other houseplant has ever died on me except a couple I left out during a hard frost.
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