Dieffenbachia Vs. Chinese Evergreen: Spot The Differences!

Kelly Garton

Are you a plant lover who wants to add some greenery to your home, but can’t decide between Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen? These two plants may look similar at first glance, but they have distinct differences that can affect their care and appearance.

In this article, we’ll help you spot the differences between Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen, so you can choose the perfect plant for your home. First, we’ll explore their similarities and care requirements, including their preference for indirect light and moist soil. Then, we’ll dive into their toxicity and family membership, so you can keep your family and pets safe.

We’ll also discuss how forgiving each plant is of less-than-expert care, their growth habits, and how to propagate them. Finally, we’ll provide miscellaneous care tips, as well as how to deal with pests and diseases that may affect these plants. So, let’s get started and discover what sets Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen apart!

Key Takeaways

  • Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen are both houseplants that prefer indirect light and moist soil.
  • Chinese Evergreen is more forgiving of less-than-expert care and can tolerate lower light levels better, while Dieffenbachia poisoning tends to be more severe.
  • Chinese Evergreens are more likely to have silvery-gray coloration, while Dieffenbachias often have yellow or lime green and more standout veins.
  • Both plants are toxic if ingested and precautions should be taken to avoid toxic side effects.


You already know that both Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen are houseplants that prefer indirect light and occasional misting to increase humidity. However, there are some identifying features that can help you distinguish between the two.

One common misconception is that these plants have identical appearances. While they do share some similarities, such as being members of the Araceae family and having standout veins, there are notable differences. Chinese Evergreens are more likely to have silvery-gray coloration, while Dieffenbachias often have yellow or lime green.

Additionally, Dieffenbachias usually push upward on tall, cane-like central stalks, while Chinese Evergreens remain closer to the ground and grow in a more shrub-like shape. By paying attention to these identifying features, you can tell the difference between the two popular houseplants.

Care Requirements

To properly care for both Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen, it’s important to keep them in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering. Both plants prefer moist but not drenched soil, so make sure to let the soil dry slightly between waterings.

It’s also important to manage moisture by misting the leaves occasionally to increase humidity, especially in dry indoor environments. When it comes to lighting preferences, both plants prefer indirect light. However, Dieffenbachia can tolerate slightly brighter light than Chinese Evergreen.

Keep both plants away from direct sunlight, as this can burn their leaves. If you notice your plant’s leaves turning yellow or brown, it may be a sign of too much or too little light. Adjust the plant’s location accordingly and monitor its growth.

With proper care, both Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen can thrive in your home.


If ingested, these plants can be toxic and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen contain calcium oxalate crystals and other toxins that can cause swelling, burning, and difficulty swallowing.

To prevent toxicity, it’s essential to keep the plants away from curious pets and young children who may be tempted to chew the leaves or stems. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the plants, and avoid touching your mouth or eyes.

If you suspect that someone has ingested part of a Dieffenbachia or Chinese Evergreen plant, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of poisoning can range from mild to severe, depending on the amount ingested and the individual’s sensitivity.

First aid for plant poisoning may include washing the mouth out with water, drinking milk or water to dilute the toxins, and seeking medical help.

Remember, prevention is the best way to avoid dangerous plant toxicity, so keep these beautiful houseplants out of reach and educate others about the risks they pose.

Family Membership

Identifying the family membership of these two houseplants can be helpful in understanding their care needs and potential toxicity. Both Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen are members of the Araceae family, which includes other popular houseplants such as Peace Lily and Philodendron.

This family of plants is known for its large, showy leaves and unique flowers that are often hidden within the foliage. Despite their shared family membership, there are differences in Araceae family traits between Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen.

For example, Dieffenbachias often have standout veins and can grow tall, cane-like central stalks, while Chinese Evergreens remain closer to the ground and grow in a more shrub-like shape. Understanding these differences can be helpful in determining which plant will work best in your home and in providing the appropriate care for them.

Forgivingness of Care

You can tell which houseplant will be more forgiving of less-than-expert care by examining their traits and needs. For instance, Chinese Evergreens are known to tolerate lower light levels better than Dieffenbachias. They are also less prone to suffering from root rot and spider mites, which are common problems that can arise from overwatering or neglect. However, this doesn’t mean that you can completely neglect them. Best practices for both plants include keeping them in a potting mix with good drainage, avoiding overwatering, and providing them with occasional misting to increase humidity.

To further emphasize the forgivingness of care, here is a table that compares some of the key differences between Dieffenbachias and Chinese Evergreens:

Dieffenbachias Chinese Evergreens
Light Prefers bright, indirect light Can tolerate lower light levels
Water Needs moist but not drenched soil Needs well-draining soil and can tolerate some dryness
Propagation Can be propagated from stem cuttings but not from leaves Can be propagated from stem cuttings or by division

By following these best practices and avoiding common mistakes such as overwatering or exposing them to direct sunlight, you can enjoy the beauty of both Dieffenbachias and Chinese Evergreens without having to worry too much about their care.

Severity of Poisoning

To prevent severe poisoning, it’s important to take precautions when handling both dieffenbachia and Chinese evergreen houseplants. Dieffenbachia poisoning tends to be much more severe than Aglaonema poisoning. Symptoms include intense burning and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat, difficulty speaking or breathing, and even temporary paralysis. In severe cases, the poison can lead to coma or death.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned by either plant, seek medical attention immediately. Treatment options may include inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal, or providing supportive care such as oxygen therapy or intravenous fluids. Remember to keep these plants out of reach of children and pets, and take precautions to avoid toxic side effects such as not eating any part of the plant and wearing gloves when trimming the leaves.

Common Names

When it comes to houseplants, it’s important to be aware of their common names and any potential toxicity they may possess.

In the case of Dieffenbachia and Aglaonema, their common names can reveal some interesting cultural and botanical facts. Dieffenbachia is commonly known as Dumb Cane, which refers to its toxic sap that can cause temporary speech loss if ingested.

On the other hand, Aglaonema is commonly known as Chinese Evergreen, which reflects its popularity as a symbol of luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. By understanding the cultural significance of these common names, you can gain a deeper appreciation for these plants beyond their aesthetic appeal.

Comparing common names can also provide insight into the plants’ physical characteristics and habits. For example, the name Dumb Cane suggests a tall, cane-like central stalk, while Chinese Evergreen implies a more shrub-like growth habit.

Additionally, the name Chinese Evergreen is often associated with the plant’s silvery-gray coloration, which can vary depending on the cultivar. By paying attention to common names and their meanings, you can enhance your knowledge and appreciation of these fascinating plants.


Take note of the coloration of these plants as a way to distinguish between them. Chinese Evergreens are more likely to have silvery-gray coloration, while Dieffenbachias often have yellow or lime green. This is one of the most obvious identifying features that can help you tell the two plants apart. However, it’s important to note that there are many different varieties of both plants, and some may have slightly different coloration.

Here are five common confusion points when it comes to the coloration of Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen:

  • Dieffenbachias often have yellow or lime green leaves with darker green veins, while Chinese Evergreens have leaves that are typically a darker shade of green.
  • Some Dieffenbachias have white or cream-colored spots on their leaves, while Chinese Evergreens tend to have a more uniform coloration.
  • Chinese Evergreens can have variations in their silvery-gray coloration, with some having darker or lighter shades of gray.
  • Dieffenbachias can have leaves with a more mottled appearance, while Chinese Evergreens typically have leaves that are solid in color.
  • Some Dieffenbachias have leaves that are completely green without any variegation, which can make them look more similar to Chinese Evergreens.

Vein Patterns

Notice the vein patterns of these plants to help distinguish between Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen. Dieffenbachias have a much more prominent vein pattern, with thick, standout veins that run the length of the leaves. In contrast, Aglaonemas have a more subtle vein pattern, with thinner and less pronounced veins that do not stand out as much.

This is a differentiating factor that can be easily spotted with the naked eye, providing a helpful visual cue for identifying these two types of plants. When trying to tell apart Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen, the vein pattern is just one of the many visual cues to consider. However, it is an important one, as it helps to distinguish between these two plants that otherwise look quite similar.

By paying attention to the vein patterns, you can confidently identify which plant you are looking at and ensure that you are providing it with the proper care to help it thrive.

Growth Habits

To differentiate between these two houseplants, you can observe their distinct growth habits. Dieffenbachias usually push upward on tall, cane-like central stalks, while Aglaonemas remain closer to the ground and grow in a more shrub-like shape. This means that Dieffenbachias may require different pot sizes than Aglaonemas, as they need more space to grow upwards. Additionally, leggy Dieffenbachias can be caused by insufficient light or too much fertilizer, so pruning techniques may need to be adjusted accordingly.

To further compare the growth habits of these two plants, the following table highlights some key differences:

Dieffenbachia Aglaonema
Growth Tall, cane-like central stalks Shrubby, closer to the ground
Pot Size May require larger pot sizes Can tolerate smaller pot sizes
Pruning May require pruning for legginess May require pruning for scale insects

By observing these differences in growth habits, you can better understand the unique needs of each plant and tailor your care accordingly. Whether it’s selecting the right pot size or adjusting your pruning techniques, taking these factors into consideration can help you successfully care for your Dieffenbachia or Aglaonema.


If you want to propagate these houseplants, you can start by taking stem cuttings or dividing the Aglaonema plant.

For Dieffenbachia, stem cuttings are the best option since they don’t propagate from leaves. To propagate using stem cuttings, take a healthy stem from the parent plant and cut it into 3-4 inch pieces. Make sure each cutting has at least one leaf and a node. Plant the cutting in moist soil and keep it in a warm, humid environment with indirect light. After a few weeks, roots should begin to form and new growth will appear.

For Aglaonema, you have the option to either take stem cuttings or divide the plant. To divide the plant, remove it from its pot and gently separate the roots into two or more sections. Each section should have a few leaves and roots. Plant each section in its own pot with fresh soil and water it well.

For stem cuttings, follow the same process as you would for Dieffenbachia. Keep the cuttings in a warm, humid environment with indirect light and wait for new growth to appear. Optimal conditions for propagation include a well-draining potting mix, consistent moisture, and warmth.

Miscellaneous Care Tips

Now that you know how to propagate Dieffenbachia and Aglaonema plants, it’s important to have a few miscellaneous care tips to keep your plants healthy and thriving.

First and foremost, proper watering techniques are crucial for both plants. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause the leaves to wilt and eventually die. A good rule of thumb is to allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again.

In addition to proper watering, there are a few other tips for maintaining healthy Dieffenbachia and Aglaonema plants. Both plants prefer indirect light and can benefit from occasional misting to increase humidity. It’s also important to keep them in a potting mix with good drainage and not overfertilize.

Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for any pests or signs of illness, such as yellowing leaves or brown spots. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your Dieffenbachia and Aglaonema plants stay happy and healthy for years to come.

To avoid overwatering, use a moisture meter or stick your finger into the soil to check for dryness before watering.

If your plant’s leaves are turning yellow, it could be a sign of overwatering or underwatering. Adjust your watering accordingly.

To increase humidity, you can place a tray of water near your plants or use a humidifier.

When repotting, be sure to choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the current one to avoid the risk of overwatering.

Pests and Diseases

Keeping your houseplants healthy means being aware of potential pests and diseases that can affect them.

Both Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen can suffer from similar issues, such as root rot and spider mites. To prevent these problems, make sure to keep your plants in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering.

Additionally, check leaves and stems regularly for any signs of infestation, such as webbing or discoloration. If you do notice pests or disease, there are several treatment options available.

For spider mites, you can try wiping the leaves with a damp cloth or spraying them with a solution of water and dish soap. Scale insects, which are more common in Chinese Evergreen, can be removed with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

For more severe infestations or diseases, such as root rot, you may need to remove the affected leaves or even repot the plant in fresh soil.

By taking preventative measures and addressing any issues promptly, you can help your Dieffenbachia or Chinese Evergreen thrive in your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you prune and propagate Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen?

To prune Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen, use sharp, clean shears to cut back stems to a leaf node. For propagation, take stem cuttings and place them in moist soil or water until roots form.

Can Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen be grown outdoors?

To grow Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen outdoors, choose a spot with indirect sunlight and well-draining soil. Water regularly but don’t overdo it. Protect from frost and extreme heat. Use a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

What is the optimal temperature range for Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen?

For optimal temperature, indoor care is essential for both Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen. Keep them in a range of 60-75°F and away from drafts. Water and fertilize regularly and watch for pests.

How often do Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen need to be fertilized?

To keep your Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen healthy, fertilize them every 2-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Common mistakes include over-fertilizing and using the wrong type of fertilizer. Choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for houseplants.

Are there any companion plants that pair well with Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen?

Looking to create a visually appealing indoor garden with your Dieffenbachia or Chinese Evergreen? Consider pairing them with plants like Pothos, Snake Plant, or Philodendron. These companions can add variety in color and texture while thriving in similar growing conditions.