Why Dieffenbachia Plant Gets Yellow Leaves

I got this plant three weeks ago. Its leaves are getting yellow. I put it in the kitchen where there is no natural light but very good artificial light. I don’t water it very much. Is it a Dieffenbachia “seguine”?

Hi Sara,

Your plant is a Dieffenbachia “Compacta”. Although the name dieffenbachia seguine is given to various kinds of dieffenbachias, the picture below is usually the accepted  version.

Your dieffenbachia is probably turning yellow because the soil has gotten too dry before you watered. Water well (until the water comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot) and then allow the top 2″ of soil to dry out before watering again. Never allow a dieffenbachia to sit in the excess water. Dieffenbachia plants do best when watered on a regular schedule. When the soil gets too dry, bottom leaves  turn yellow. If the plant is over- watered, stems rot and get mushy and bottom leaves die.

Cold temperatures also cause yellow leaves. Dieffenbachia plants prefer temperatures above 60°F (15.6°C). Lower leaves turn yellow when exposed to cold drafts from doors, windows, or air conditioners.

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


Dieffenbachias are extremely 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. Keep the plant away from small children and pets. If the sap gets on your skin, wash it off immediately. Seek medical advice if a child or pet ingests any part of a dieffenbachia plant.