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A friend of a friend passed two houseplants down to our family and I have no idea what they are or how to care for them (e.g. watering frequency, pruning, proper amount of sunlight, etc. ). At some point a previous previous owner also tied the plants to stakes in the pots; I’m not sure if this is correct or healthy.

Can anyone identify these so I may research how to take care of them?

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Thank you.

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  • Welcome! Our first rule for identification questions is “one plant per post” - reflecting the Stack Exchange principles and making the Q/A useful for future readers. You can easily split this in two posts or pick one plant and edit your post accordingly. See help center for more information.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 21:23
  • Noted Stephie, thanks.
    – tendim
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 19:54

1 Answer 1

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The plant in the first picture is a Dieffenbachia (commonly known as Dumbcane). I think it might be a Tropic Snow Dieffenbachia. Dieffenbachia are pretty easy to care for. They need bright, indirect sunlight. The one in the picture looks like it needs more light and needs to have the dead leaves pruned off.

A general rule for watering most plants is to allow the top 1-2 inches of soil to get dry to the touch between watering.

The plant in the second picture is a Ficus tree. This plant is a little harder to care for than the Dieffenbachia. They need lots of bright light with some direct sunlight. Don't allow the soil for this plant to dry out too much. It is best to allow just the top 1 inch of soil to get dry to the touch and they can sometimes be sensitive to the fluoride found in most tap water. Using distilled water to water the plant can avoid any possible problems with water quality. Ficus do not like changes in their environment, especially cold drafts, so place it someplace away from doors, windows that allow cold air in and from air conditioning vents.

Ficus trees drop their leaves a lot. It gets really messy sometimes. It is perfectly normal for most kinds of Ficus trees to drop about 40%-60% of their leaves in the fall. They will also drop a lot of leaves if they are the slightest bit unhappy about anything. Keep this in mind when deciding where to place your Ficus tree because there WILL be leaves on the floor. Like the Dieffenbachia, the Ficus in the picture looks like it needs more light and to have it's dead leaves and branches pruned off.

*** Warning ~ Ficus trees have a thick, milky, white sap that can cause skin irritation and can be toxic if ingested. When a Ficus branch or leaf is cut, it will freely 'bleed' this sap. When I prune my Ficus trees, I use a damp paper towel to dab the bleeding cuts. This stops the cut from bleeding and safely absorbs the sap so it doesn't drip anywhere.

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  • This is super helpful, thanks. For lighting due to our house configuration there is no place to put these for natural sunlight. Can I use artificial light to increase the lighting? And if so does the bulb matter? (We currently use daylight temperature LED around the house).
    – tendim
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 16:27
  • Another warning, this time about Dieffenbachia - From Wikipedia: "The cells of the Dieffenbachia plant contain needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. If a leaf is chewed, these crystals can cause a temporary burning sensation...With both children and pets, contact with dieffenbachia (typically from chewing) can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms, including intense numbing, oral irritation, excessive drooling, and localized swelling. However, these effects are rarely life-threatening" I've had cats nibble the leaves with no ill effects, however.
    – Jurp
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 16:45
  • I have grown both kinds of plants under artificial plant lighting but you need to get a bulb that is specifically for plants. Most home improvement stores have them. Be sure to get a 'grow' plant light. There are some plant lights that are just for display. They are supposed to make the plant look good but don't have the light spectrum the plant needs to grow and be healthy. Look for the word ' Grow' on the package
    – Avlar
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 18:48

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