There are two kinds suitable as house or garden room plants: Cyperus dUjiisus, the smaller of the two, is more suited to the living room, while the tall and stately C. alternifolius will do better in more spacious surroundings. Both must have a lightly shaded position in which to grow and must be kept very moist at all times. In fact, these are two of the few indoor plants that will benefit if their plant pots are left standing in water. It can be a shallow dish of an ornamental pool.
C. diffitsas is the tougher of the two and is hardy out of doors, but it is better to keep the plant reasonably warm in order to get freer and more attractive growth. C. alterrfolius, when growing in a pot, will attain a height of some 6 ft., and is much more at home when growing in, or around, a pool.
The stems are cut up into sections about 3 in. long and allowed to dry before being placed on their sides on standard propagating compost and pressed firmly in. Kept in a close atmosphere at a temperature in the region of 22″C. (72’F.) they will root with reasonable ease. A strong word of warning here, however: it is extremely important that the sap from the plant does not accidentally get into one’s mouth, so hands should he washed immediately after completing the propagating operation.
The consequence of getting sap in the mouth is that the tongue swells up rendering one speechless – a particularly unpleasant experience. It is for this reason that the dieffenbachias have acquired their unusual common name of dumb cane. Keeping plants away from the inquisitive hands of children is therefore an important precaution.
Raised from cuttings about 6 in. in length, which can be taken at almost any time except in winter, and potted on into rich compost, they quickly make up into impressive plants. In winter the temperature can fall to 4C. (40F.) if water is given sparingly and the compost kept on the dry side, but a winter temperature nearer the 10C. (50F.) mark would be more suitable.
Following their summer season out of doors plants should be hard pruned before being reintroduced to the garden room or greenhouse. In this way many of the pests will find their way to the rubbish heap, and plants will occupy much less winter storage space.