How to Prune a TOO Tall Dieffenbachia

I have a lovely plant/tree that continues to grow upwards despite the ceiling obstructing it. I’ve moved it to a room with higher a ceiling but that won’t fix the problem long term as it will keep growing. It also stops growing “leaves” on the lower portions of the stalk/trunk.

I have no idea what kind of plant it is – I’m not a green thumb! How should I maintain it? Can I trim the top? I thought that would kill it?

Many thanks,


Hi Aaryn,

Your very tall plant is called a dieffenbachia. You can aggressively prune to keep a dieffenbachia short and bushy and prevent it from getting too tall. Cut anywhere along the main stem, preferably above a leaf node (a leaf node is the small bump on the stem from which new leaves grow). New growth develops directly below the cut in the stem.

You can plant the section you cut off directly back into the original pot or plant it in a new pot. The cut end should be cut on the diagonal and dip it in a very small amount of rooting compound before planting it. These are very poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants plants and the sap is very irritating. Always wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt when pruning or propagating the plant.

You can read all my care tips for a dieffenbachia in the popular Houseplant section of the website.