Chinese evergreen plant care

Contents

How to Care for a Red Aglaonema

Use these instructions to care for a Red Aglaonema. This guide will tell you how to water your Red Aglaonema, its light, temperature, and humidity preferences; and any additional care your plant might need to help it grow.

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS

Bright indirect sunlight is optimal and will help the Red Aglaonema produce the beautiful red and pink colors on its leaves. Be careful not to put your Red Aglaonema in full sun because, in many cases, the leaves will burn. Your Red Aglaonema will tolerate a low light area, but the colors may not be as deep and rich.

WATER REQUIREMENTS

The Red Aglaonema prefers to be kept moist during the spring and summer, but make sure the soil isn’t soggy. Moderation is key! Do not allow the lower soil to remain wet as this may cause root rot. In the winter, water thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

HUMIDITY PREFERENCE

This plant can survive in a low humidity environment, but it will thrive with higher humidity levels. Mist the leaves regularly to raise the humidity, especially during the drier winter months.

OPTIMUM TEMPERATURE

This plant prefers temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. Avoid cold drafts and sudden temperature changes.

PLANT FOOD

For best results, use a general houseplant fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer.

ADDITIONAL CARE

A common problem with Aglaonemas is called ‘tipping’ when the tips of the leaves dry out and turn brown. This can be caused by a variety of issues like overwatering, too much fertilizer, etc. The most common cause, however, is tap water which contains salts, chlorine, and fluoride. If you do not have a filtration system, leaving the tap water in an open container overnight before watering can help remove some of the chlorine and fluoride.

TOXICITY

The Red Aglaonema is moderately toxic to pets and humans. Typically, ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

Are you a fan of houseplants with patterned leaves? Let me please introduce you to Aglaonemas which are the epitome of fabulous foliage. Not only are they easy on the eyes but if you’re a beginning gardener, they’re 1 of the easy maintenance houseplants out there. These Agalonema aka Chinese Evergreen care and growing tips will get you well on your way.

When I worked in the interior landscaping biz Aglaonemas were the quintessential file cabinet and credenza plants that we used in offices. Not easy environments for these sub-tropical and tropical plants but they handled it all like troopers. I’ve always had a fondness for these patterned beauties and decided it was about time to do a post on them. They’re so easy to care for and easy to find – what was I waiting for?!

This is my Aglaonema Silver Bay. It’s in our living room & I love looking down on this gorgeous foliage.

How Are Chinese Evergreens Are Used?

Their most common use is as a tabletop plant. The larger varieties are low, wide floor plants with a rounded form. Besides offices, we used them in lobbies, malls, and even airports too. They make fine underplantings for tall floor plants and are also seen in dish gardens and living walls.

Size

They’re sold in 4, 6, 8, 10 & 14″ grow pot sizes. They range in height from 10″ tall to 3-4′ tall. My Aglaonema Silver Bay in a 10″ grow pot is 3′ x 3′.

Varieties

Many years ago when I worked in the trade the Silver Queen, Chinese Evergreen (A. commutatum) & the Roebellini were the 3 Ags to buy. Now there are so many varieties, leaf sizes and shapes, and patterns of Aglaonemas on the market. A sampling: Maria, Silver Bay, Siam Red, Emerald Beauty, Golden Bay, Romeo, & First Diamond to name a few.

Growth Rate

Aglaonemas have a slow to moderate growth rate. My Silver Bay (which puts out new growth like crazy in the warmer months) & Red Agalonemas grower faster than my Maria (which is sometimes called Emerald Beauty). Agalonemas in low light will grow slower.

Chinese Evergreen Care and Growing Tips

Exposure

2 green thumbs up – many of the Ags are known for their tolerance of lower light conditions. I’ve found that the dark leaf varieties, like my Ag. Maria, handle low light (which isn’t any light by the way) the best.

My Ag. Red & others that have more color & brightness in their foliage need medium light to do their best. These can tolerate high light but keep them away from windows with the strong sun coming in or they’ll burn in no time flat.

Watering

I water mine when dry. That tends to be every 7-9 days in the warmer months & every 2-3 weeks when winter comes around. Yours might need more or less – this houseplant watering 101 posts will help you out.

2 things: don’t water yours too often & back off on the frequency in the winter.

Darker leaved varieties like this Ag. Maria can tolerate lower light conditions.

Temperature

If your home is comfortable for you, it’ll be so for your houseplants too. Just be sure to keep your Aglaonemas away from any cold drafts as well as air conditioning or heating vents.

Humidity

Chinese Evergreens are native to the subtropical & tropical regions. Despite this, they seem fairly adaptable & do just fine in our homes which tend to have dry air. Here in hot dry Tucson, mine only have a few teeny, tiny brown tips.

If you think yours look stressed due to lack of humidity, fill the saucer with pebbles & water. Put the plant on the pebbles but make sure the drain holes &/or the bottom of the pot aren’t submerged in water. Misting a few times a week should help out too.

Fertilizing

Ags aren’t needy when it comes to fertilizing. I don’t fertilize mine but that might change soon because I’m experimenting with a concoction. I’ll let you know. Right now I give my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2″ layer of each for a larger sized houseplant. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.

Liquid kelp or fish emulsion would work fine as well as a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower) if you have that. Dilute any of these to half strength & apply in spring. If for some reason you think your Chinese Evergreen needs another application, do it again in summer.

You don’t want to fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because that’s their time for rest. Don’t over fertilize your Ags because salts build up & can burn the roots of the plant. Avoid fertilizing a houseplant which is stressed, ie. bone dry or soaking wet.

You’ll find Aglaonemas in our houseplant care book “Keep Your Houseplants Alive“.

Soil

Any good quality (preferably organic) potting soil is fine. Just be sure it’s formulated for houseplants which it’ll say on the bag. I now use Smart Naturals by Fox Farm. It has lots of good stuff in it.

Aglaonemas, like other houseplants, don’t like a heavy mix. You can up the ante on the aeration & drainage factors which lessens the chance of rot by adding some pumice or perlite.

Repotting / Transplanting

This is best done in spring or summer; early fall is fine if you’re in a warm climate. The faster your plant is growing, the sooner it’ll need repotting.

My silver Bay is growing like crazy & is currently in a 10″ pot. Early next spring I’ll divide it into 2 plants & put them in 10″ pots. Stay tuned for that.

Pruning

Not much is needed. The main reasons to prune this plant are for propagation or to prune off the occasional lower yellow leaf or spent flower.

Just make sure your pruners are clean & sharp before you do any pruning.

Oh my goodness, Aglaonema First Diamond is quite the looker for you fans of green & white!

Propagation

I’ve always propagated Chinese Evergreens by division & this has worked very well. I’ll be dividing my Silver Bay next spring & you’ll see how I do it.

If yours gets leggy over time then simply cut the stems down to a couple of inches above the soil line to rejuvenate & stimulate new growth. Cut the stems with the foliage back to 4-8″ & propagate them in a light mix.

I’ve rooted Aglaonema stems in water but never got around to planting them in the soil. I’m not sure how they transfer over from water into soil for the long haul.

Pests

Mine have never gotten any. On commercial accounts I saw Aglaonemas with mealybugs & spider mites. Keep an eye out for aphids & scale too. I’ve done posts on mealybugs & aphids, spider mites & scale so you can identify & treat early on.

Pests can travel from houseplant to houseplant fast so make you get them under control as soon as you see them.

Pet Safety

Chinese Evergreens are considered to be toxic to pets. I consult the ASPCA website for my info on this subject & see in what way the plant is toxic. Here’s more info on this for you. Most houseplants are toxic to pets in some way & I want to share my thoughts with you regarding this topic.

The spathe flower of my Aglaonema Siam Red. The stems are a beautiful pink color.

Flowers

Oh yes! They are a spathe type flower which you see above. My Aglaonema Red has been in flower for 5 months now & still has some blooms on it. The spathe is light green & the spadix (the center part) is white. My Ag. Maria bloomed also but the flowers were much smaller & shorter lived & more of an ivory color.

I’ve heard that it’s good to remove the flowers because they zap energy from the plant. I leave them on & haven’t found that to be true. I cut them off (down to the base) when the spathe & spadix are both dead. Maybe I’m missing something but I like to look at them!

Chinese Evergreen Care Tips

Yellow leaves can be due to quite a few causes. The most common are: too dry, too wet or a pest infestation. If the lowest leaves are occasionally turning yellow, no worries as this are the normal growth habit of this plant.

Small brown tips are just a reaction to the dry air in our homes.

Be sure to rotate your Aglaonemas every few months so they get sunlight from all sides.

Here’s another spathe flower – this is the very popular Spathiphyllum or Peace Lily. I think this is harder to maintain than an Aglaonema. Plus, where’s the jazzy foliage?

These plants are all called Chinese Evergreens as a group. This is actually the common name for the Agalonema commutatum but I think it evolved for all Aglaonemas because they were so few varieties back in the day.

You can find this plant, more houseplants and lots of info in our simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.

Aglaonemas, Ags, Chinese Evergreens. Whatever you call them they’re awesome houseplants well worth having and you’ll love the easy care. Their fabulous foliage will win you over! I hope you found my Chinese Evergreen care roundup to be useful.

Do you want to try an Aglaonema or 2? Here are Silver Bay, Siam Red & White Calcite (similar to First Diamond) available online from Costa Farms.

Happy gardening,

Have you ever wanted to grow a lucky plant? Aglaonema, also called Chinese Evergreen, is a colorful favorite in China where it is considered lucky. Native to China and the Philippines, these leafy tropicals are easy-care houseplants with foliage that is a combination of white, dark green, pink, and other colors.

NASA has placed the Aglaonema modestum variety on its top ten list of clean air plants because of the plant’s natural ability to remove benzene and formaldehyde from air sources. For this reason, aglaonema may one day be grown in space!

Lush and full of color, tropical aglaonema not only cleanses the air, but it looks stunningly beautiful in your garden or living space. Learn to care for aglaonemas in this guide.

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Recommended Aglaonema Care Products:

  • Safer Soap
  • Monterey Liqui-Cop

Quick Care

Common Name(s): Chinese evergreen, Philippine evergreen
Scientific Name Aglaonema
Family: Araceae
Height & Spread: 10″ to 3′ tall and wide
Light Low to moderate, can tolerate short periods of bright indirect light
Soil Well-draining, with lots of perlite or sand
Water: Lightly moistened soil, do not overwater
Pests & Diseases: Scale, aphids, leaf spot, root rot

Aglaonema Care

All aglaonema varieties (an estimated 21-14 species) are extremely easy to care for, making them office favorites worldwide. Although aglaonema ‘Silver Queen’ is one of the most popular varieties, you can experiment with cultivars like ‘Suzy’ – you don’t have to stick to ‘Silver Queen’.

Whatever variety you decide to grow, here’s a list of the conditions for your aglaonema plant to care for it properly.

Light and Temperature

Renowned as a low-light plant, the darker varieties of aglaonema are extremely popular as indoor plants in windowless offices. Lighter or colorful variegated varieties prefer a bit more indirect bright sunlight, but can also survive in fluorescent-lit bright office spaces, not close to a window.

Needless to say, aglaonema does just as well as a houseplant. In their natural environment, they’d be tucked beneath the shade of tropical trees, and would seldom get direct sun, so they thrive even indoors as long as there’s some light.

Aglaonema are sensitive to cold conditions. They should never be placed in a location where temperatures drop below 60°F degrees, as the plant can begin to show signs of cold damage anywhere beneath that range. They should be maintained at 65-80°F.

Water and Humidity

Closeup of an Aglaonema commutatum. Source: Dingilingi

Your colorful Chinese evergreens will be somewhat tolerant of low water conditions, but should never be left completely dry for long periods of time. Ideally, never allow the soil to dry more than 25-30% of the way down the pot before giving a deep water.

In its natural environment, humidity is high enough that the plant will absorb some of its moisture from the air. You can mist your plant occasionally to bring up the humidity level, or place it on a pebble tray with water in it to offer extra moisture.

Don’t place your plant under air conditioning vents or in drafty areas. It doesn’t tolerate dry conditions well, plus colder conditions can cause damage to the leathery foliage. Avoid placing it directly in the path of a heater vent, as it can dry out rapidly.

The soil for your aglaonemas needs to be able to hold some water, enough to stay lightly moist. However, it should easily be able to drain off excess water quickly so that you don’t risk root rot damage.

A peat-based potting soil with extra perlite is recommended, but you can also consider blending in a bark-based orchid mix. The soil itself should be reasonably nitrogen-rich, but should be loose and not densely-packed.

Lightly-acidic soil in a range of 5.6-6.5 pH is recommended for aglaonema growers.

Fertilizer

Aglaonema ‘Red Gold’. Source: techieoldfox

It is surprisingly easy to over-fertilize your colorful aglaonema. While it does in fact require some nitrogen for foliage development and plant growth, houseplant fertilizer tends to carry a lot of salt deposits in it which can build up in the soil.

I personally recommend using a half-strength balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer once a month in the spring and summer months. In the fall you can slow this down to once every couple months, but in the winter you should avoid fertilizing.

While aglaonema can be propagated by seeds, tip cuttings, division, or by tissue culture in a lab, most people opt for division. It’s the simplest for home growers to do.

To divide your aglaonema, first look to be sure there are multiple points from which the plant is emerging from the soil. It naturally propagates itself via suckers beneath the soil’s surface, and a pot can rapidly fill up with young sucker plants. You want many healthy plants showing.

Then, gently remove your plant and its soil from the pot. If the soil is loose enough, lightly dust it off with your hands to expose the roots. Provided that the plants are not rootbound and tangled together, you should be able to gently pry your aglaonema apart with your fingers for replanting.

If your plant is rootbound, you will need to use a sharp, sterile knife to cut the root mass into multiple sections for replanting, but be sure to leave an even number of leaves and stalks on each.

Repotting

Aglaonema pseudobracteatum. Source: Nasser Halaweh

Aglaonema should be repotted into fresh soil every two years. This not only replenishes the soil, but it also allows you to divide your plant if you wish to or to increase the size of its pot.

Keep the pot size proportionate to the plant itself. Aglaonema likes to have secure, dense root structures, but does not need a lot of extra soil that can hold too much moisture.

Replant your Chinese evergreens at the same height as they were originally planted for best development.

These colorful, low-maintenance plants make pruning not absolutely necessary. In fact, it’s mostly done for cosmetic adjustment.

You can remove the dead, dark green leaves as they appear by following the foliage stem down to the plant’s base and using a pair of sterile pruners to snip it off there.

Avoid pruning off leggy live growth in the same fashion, however. You can remove some just above a node to encourage bushing, but try to avoid taking the live growth off at the base of the plant, as you risk severe damage to the plant itself.

One thing which is always recommended is to prune off any inflorescences as they start to appear. Aglaonema flowers are not very pretty, and they use up the energy your plant should be devoting to foliage growth. Trim off flower stalks before the bud opens to prevent pollen going everywhere!

Aglaonema Problems

Another view of the ‘Cutlass’ Chinese evergreen plant. Source: douneika

A surprisingly easy plant to care for, Chinese evergreens are popular for indoor growers. But what happens when problems arise? While few will materialize, here’s how to handle them when they occur.

Growing Problems

The most common issue for these plants is yellowing of the leaves. Yellow leaves are a sign of under or over watering, usually the latter. Be sure you maintain a regularly-moist but not wet soil to ensure dark green leaves.

If yellowing still occurs despite maintaining optimal watering conditions, your plant may be suffering from a copper deficiency. This is surprisingly common in this type of plant, as it’s a heavy feeder on copper in the soil. Your plant may be lacking micronutrients and should be fertilized appropriately.

Browning tips on green leaves are usually caused by a buildup in the soil of salts, chlorine, minerals or fluoride from tap water. To remedy this, you can either leach the soil of its mineral deposits by thoroughly draining it using distilled water, or you can simply repot in fresh soil.

The most common pests are mealybugs. Attaching themselves to the leathery leaves, they will suck the plant sap right out of them and cause damage. Other scale insects may also make an appearance.

Less common but still possible are spider mites and aphids. These too like to consume the plant’s sap, and will affix themselves to the undersides of leaves and stems.

All of the above can be handled with a light misting of Safer Soap on all plant surfaces. This organic insecticidal soap should be applied in the evening or when the plant is less likely to be exposed to light prior to the mist drying, so as to avoid foliage burning.

Diseases

Aglaonema is susceptible to anthracnose and myrothecium leaf spots, which are both fungal. These can discolor your leaves and cause holes or patchy dry brown spots, and can slowly develop into more severe damage over time.

Treating these requires a light misting of a liquid copper fungicide such as Monterey Liqui-Cop. Again, apply this product at dusk so that it can dry on the foliage surfaces overnight. Your plant should appreciate the extra copper, as well!

Bacterial leaf spot may also appear on your plants. Typically transmitted via non-sterilized tools or by aphids, this will also respond well to Monterey Liqui-Cop treatment.

If your plant is frequently overwatered, it may develop fusarium root rot. This is generally fatal, so your best protection against this is prevention. Do not overwater your plant!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is aglaonema or colorful red aglaonema poisonous to pets or people?

A: It certainly can be. The ASPCA states that it is a toxin to cats, dogs, and horses. Aglaonema and cats and dogs should not mix. Don’t let them eat it, and if they do, get them to the vet immediately!

In addition, the sap is dermititis-causing, and can create skin irritations and skin rashes. Keep this plant away from children.

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Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener
Kevin Espiritu
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Chinese Evergreens Indoors – Growing And Caring For Chinese Evergreen Plants

While most houseplants require a bit of effort in providing appropriate growing conditions (light, temperature, humidity, etc.), growing Chinese evergreens can make even the novice indoor gardener look like an expert. This tropical foliage plant is one of the most durable houseplants you can grow, tolerating poor light, dry air and drought.

Tips for Growing Chinese Evergreens Indoors

Growing Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema) is easy. This gem of a plant is one of the most popular houseplants grown in the home due to its ease of care. You can find Chinese evergreen plants in many varieties, including variegated forms.

Although they are tolerant of many growing conditions, following certain recommendations will yield greater results. This includes placing them in well-draining soil, preferably an equal mix of potting soil, perlite and sand.

Chinese evergreen plants thrive in medium to low light conditions or indirect sunlight. Wherever you place it in the home, you should make sure that the plant receives warm temps and somewhat humid conditions. However, this flexible plant will tolerate less than ideal conditions if necessary.

These plants prefer temperatures no lower than 60 F. (16 C.) with average indoor temps ranging between 70-72 F. (21-22 C.) being most favorable, but they can tolerate temps around 50-55 F. (10-13 C.). Keep Chinese evergreen plants away from drafts, which can cause browning of the foliage.

Chinese Evergreen Care

Caring for Chinese evergreen houseplants requires little effort when given the proper growing conditions. They enjoy moderate watering—not too much, not too little. Allow the plant to dry out some between watering. Overwatering will lead to root rot.

As part of your Chinese evergreen care, you should fertilize older Chinese evergreens once or twice yearly using a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.

If your Chinese evergreen plant becomes too large or leggy, give the plant a quick trim. It’s also possible to save cuttings during the process for propagating new plants. Cuttings root easily in water.

Older plants will sometimes produce flowers reminiscent of calla or peace lilies. This occurs in spring to summer. Most people choose to cut the blooms prior to seed productions, though you may choose to keep them and try your hand at seed growing them. Keep in mind, however, that this will take much longer.

To limit the accumulation of dust build-up, clean the leaves occasionally by wiping them down with a soft, damp rag or simply place them in the shower and allow them to air dry.

Chinese evergreen houseplants can be affected by spider mites, scale, mealybugs, and aphids. Routinely checking the leaves for signs of pests will help limit problems later.

While it may seem overwhelming at first, especially if you are new at growing Chinese evergreens indoors, it’s actually easier than you may think.

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), is one of the best plants for beginners (or folks too busy to keep most houseplants alive). This sturdy plant is wonderfully easy to grow; it tolerates just about every indoor condition. While it’s one of the toughest plants, it’s also beautiful. Most varieties have rich green leaves attractively patterned with silver. It also has cute, calla-lily-like blooms in spots where it gets enough light.
Chinese evergreen, when it’s young, is small enough to fit on desks, tabletops, and other surfaces. It’s a slow-growing plant, so you can enjoy it without worrying if it will grow out of bounds. Older, larger plants are suited to growing on the floor — in corners, next to furniture, or as an accent piece along a wall. The silvery tones in Chinese evergreen’s leaves let you have some fun choosing pots; the neutral color works with just about every decor color palette and style.
Chinese evergreen questions?
Email us and one of our houseplant experts will get back to you. Sign up now for our monthly email newsletter to get more houseplant (and outdoor gardening) tips.
Chinese evergreen is one of the Plants of Steel. Discover the others!
Red aglaonema is a more colorful version of this plant. Learn more!

The Easiest Houseplant

Larger-leaved selections such as ‘Deborah’ and ‘Silver Bay’ help reduce the scale of a big room. William Dickey

The leaves are so beautiful on Chinese evergreens that you just want to reach out and touch them. Glossy greens, silvers, and grays with stripes, spots, and streaks create a subtle tapestry of wonder. And when you learn all the qualities of this forgiving and carefree houseplant, you’re going to wish that someone had told you about it sooner.

It’s Simple Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema sp.) are easy right from the start. You can find them just about anywhere–at the grocery store, nursery, or garden center. You can even order them by mail. There are lots of selections; so look for one with the leaf pattern you love, or try more than one. Use them in different rooms throughout your home, and then decide which plant is your favorite.

You don’t need a green thumb to grow these. Care is not a problem, as Chinese evergreens require just a few things. They thrive in low light, so you can place them in locations where other houseplants won’t grow. Being tropicals, they like warm, slightly humid conditions with room temperatures of at least 65 degrees. Leaf tips can turn brown if the air is too dry. Water well, let drain, and then let the soil dry slightly before doing so again. Overwatering is the most frequent way houseplants are killed.

Gardener’s Secret
A common error beginners make when buying houseplants is transplanting new ones directly into decorative pots. All of a sudden, these beautiful plants start looking poorly, and the leaves begin drooping and falling off. The solution? Don’t repot. It’s much easier to keep it in the plastic container it came in. Just place a plastic saucer or dish inside your decorative pot to catch the drainage.

Why is this better for your plants? Lots of reasons. It avoids the risk of transplant shock. You can water them where they are; or lift the plastic containers out of the pots, water them in the sink, and then let them drain. If the leaves get dusty, you can place the plastic containers in the shower to gently clean the foliage. It also makes it easy to give plants a summer vacation outside in the shade.

Is your plant leaning to the side? Just rotate the plastic container inside the pot to balance the amount of light received. Remember, too, that large plants in glazed pots can be heavy to move. But if you keep them in their plastic containers, you can lift them out of the glazed pots and move the pots separately.

Nice Surprise
In the spring and summer, small blooms that resemble those of the common peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) may appear on your Chinese evergreens. However, the leaves are the real show. NASA has determined that these plants help clean the air indoors. So not only are they easy and carefree, Chinese evergreens also work hard when you have things to do.

CHINESE EVERGREEN
At a Glance
Light: low to bright, indirect light (New selections with white and yellow in their leaves, such as ‘Deborah,’ need brighter light.)

Temperature: Keep warm, with a minimum temperature of around 65 degrees. (New selections such as ‘Stars’ and ‘Emerald Star’ can take temperatures as low as 40 degrees.)

Moisture: Water well, let drain, and then allow soil to dry slightly before watering again. They also like a little humidity.

Feed: In spring and summer, use a liquid plant food (10-15-10).

Expect to pay: $8-$35, depending on the size of the plant and where it’s purchased.

Aglaonema modestum Chinese Evergreen1

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen2

Introduction

Easily grown, the attractive plants eventually form substantial clumps of green stems with 10- to 14-inch-long, shiny, deep green leaves. This lends a tropical characteristic to any shaded area planted with Chinese rvergreen. The plant requires shade, making it well-suited to low-light conditions for house plants or sheltered, outdoor northern exposures. Temperatures below 45°F can injure the foliage.

Figure 1.

Full form—Aglaonema modestum: Chinese evergreen.

Figure 2.

Leaf—Aglaonema modestum: Chinese evergreen.

Credit:

Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Aglaonema modestum

Pronunciation: ag-lay-o-NEE-muh mo-DESS-tum

Common name(s): Chinese evergreen

Family: Araceae

Plant type: perennial; herbaceous

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 3)

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year-round

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: mass planting; container or above-ground planter; groundcover; suitable for growing indoors

Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Figure 3.

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

Description

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Spread: 2 to 4 feet

Plant habit: upright

Plant density: moderate

Growth rate: slow

Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: spiral

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: undulate

Leaf shape: ovate

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 8 to 12 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: green

Flower characteristic: summer-flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval

Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches

Fruit cover: fleshy

Fruit color: red

Fruit characteristic: showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems

Current year stem/twig color: green

Current year stem/twig thickness: very thick

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in the shade

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; loam

Drought tolerance:

Soil salt tolerance: poor

Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Any fertile, nematode-free soil or artificial media is suitable for growth, yet aglaonemas will survive in peat and perlite, in sand, or can be grown hydroponically. They enjoy moist soil which is allowed to dry slightly before watering. Be careful not to overwater but do not let the soil dry for more than a few days. Aglaonemas require shade since direct sun will turn leaves yellow. They perform admirably in conditions too dark for most other tropical plants. They will succeed in low light, either as house plants or in sheltered locations on the north side of buildings, or under heavy shade of trees. They are attractive planted as single specimens, or in mass to create a tropical, coarse-textured effect. Space plants on 2- to 3-foot centers. Temperatures below 45°F can injure the foliage. Overwatering causes root rot and yellowing of the leaves.

Propagation is by cuttings.

Soil-borne nematodes and mites can be a problem for Chinese evergreen.

Design Considerations

The broad, deep green leaves and lush, leafy, irregular form of the Chinese evergreen will give the landscape a cool tropical feel. The mass of leaves with pointed tips and rippled edges creates a coarse texture and the light and dark shadows within the cluster of leaves emphasize the coarse texture. Pair with plants that are softer with small foliage and mounding or spreading forms, or grasses with thin, strappy blades and wispy flowers. Yellow-green, variegated green, and/or burgundy foliage in the companion plants will highlight the deep green of the leaves. When pairing with other flowering plants use white and/or warm colors such as pinks, light corals, soft yellows, and light orange to contrast the deep green.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern. Roots can rot if the soil is kept too wet.

Footnotes

This document is FPS25, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised August 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Gail Hansen, associate professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreens)

Aglaonema Care Guide

Light

These are perfect plants for your low, medium or bright light locations in your homes. They’ll give a splash of greenery and thrive in spots that other houseplants will struggle with. They won’t survive in no light conditions though so don’t even think about trying it in windowless rooms!

Established wisdom points out, that in general, Aglaonema’s with light green or heavily variegated types will need more light than those with darker green and less variegation. Follow that rule and you won’t go wrong.

Watering

These plants like their soil to be just damp / moist. No sodden soil or allowing it to fully dry out. In Winter and if your plant is in a lower light location it might only need watering once every two weeks. In brighter light locations or if the temperature is very warm watering once or twice a week might be needed.

In ideal cases, you will never see either of the below warning signs because you’ve been looking after your plant like we’d told you above right? Although on the off chance something might have accidentally gone wrong, these are the signs to look out for and what they mean.

  • Drooping leaves and wet soil means over-watered.
  • Leaves and stems pointing very upright along with dry soil mean under-watered.

Humidity

Although these are tough plants, given the choice they would prefer high humidity, but will still cope reasonably well with low humidity conditions. They won’t do well if the air in your home or workplace is very dry though so do bear this in mind.

Feeding

Growing and active plants will enjoy a feed every few weeks using a normal houseplant fertiliser. Based on what we’ve already told you about their easy-going nature, you might have predicted this anyway, but they’ll still do perfectly well with less frequent feeding. Don’t bother feeding in Winter.

Temperature

True to it’s tropical origins, these plants love it warm. In fact, they crave it. Avoid cold rooms at all cost, they want to be snug and cosy all year round. The warmer they are the better they grow. Keep them in your living spaces and away from unheated guest rooms and unheated porches. Aim for temperatures 18°C (64°F) and above.

The warmer they are, the better they grow.

Repotting and Soil

Aglaonema plants tend to grow slowly and in a compact way. This means they take quite a while to outgrow a pot. Of course, this will eventually happen and so when you notice the plant is particularly congested or there has been no new growth for a long time, it’s probably time to repot it.

They’ll grow well in a variety of different growing mediums mixes so you could likely use whatever you already have to hand. If you’re buying something fresh, it’ll likely be cheaper and easier to simply stick to the basics and look for one labeled as suitable for houseplants or garden plants.

Propagation

Chinese Evergreens look beautiful and certain ones are bound to catch the eye of visitors and illicit comments like “Oooh I like that one”. If you’re feeling generous, then know that they can be propagated quite easily, and a young cutting can make for a fab give away or present. You can also do it to increase your own stocks. There are two main ways of doing it and we cover them below.

Division – Each mature plant will usually have a cluster of offsets that give it the “bulk” of the overall plant. If you’re happy to split and break everything down, division is the way to go.

Remove the plant from its pot and wash off or remove the soil so you expose the roots and can easily identify the parts of the clump. It’s then a case of separating everything.

You can propagate Aglaonema by division. In this photo you can see three potential new plants.

You can easily divide the clump with just your hands and we’d recommend this, as tools can be harsh and too precise. Your hands will be more gentle and cause the splits to be more random and should allow each piece to come away with some of the roots.

After everything is separated, just plant each section into its own pot or container. Use a similar potting to what it was growing in before and keep the environmental conditions the same. The new plant should be fully established within a month or so.

If you’re not sure about division or just want to take a smaller cutting from the main plant then you can do this too.

Cuttings – Use a sharp knife to cut away a stem at the base of the plant. In your hand, you’ll be holding the leaves and the main step without any roots. You can then pop the cutting into a cup of water and new roots should start to appear over a few weeks.

Once the roots have formed in the water (or you want to just skip the water rooting step) you can put the cutting into a pot filled with soil and grow on in the usual way.

Sound confusing or you want more information? We love seeing things explained visually, and you might too. We found the below to be a super helpful YouTube video that confidently covers both types of propagation described above. In one part of the video, he recommends putting the plants in direct sunlight. A reminder that most Chinese Evergreens do not respond well to direct intense sunlight, so we would suggest following our Light instructions above instead.

This helpful video will show you how to create more Aglaonema plants for free

Speed of Growth

Warm temperatures with bright light conditions will trigger most Chinese Evergreens to produce new growth at a moderate rate. If the temperature is cooler or the light levels lower, growth will be much slower. Plants grown in very low light places are unlikely to produce any new growth.

Height / Spread

This varies considerably between the different varieties. As a general rule, these will almost always be moderately low growing and compact houseplants. The plant you buy in the store is unlikely to grow significantly in height or width.

Flowers

These plants do sometimes produce flowers, however as with many indoor plants with interesting looking foliage, the flowers are quite dull in comparison. You’re likely to see them in late Summer, but they can appear at all times of the year when being grown indoors.

The Chinese Evergreen does flower on occasion as this photo taken by HQ shows

Are Aglaonema Plants safe around pets?

These are poisonous plants, however it rarely kills human or animal, (we’ve not been able to find any documented cases of it happening). When considering safety, the problem here is that all parts of the plant contain microscopic needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals and when some unfortunate animal (or person) eats a bit, they end up with a painful and swollen mouth. Not life-threatening, but not nice to experience or see someone suffering with.

Some Aglaonema plants will produce red berries when the flowering period is over (see flower section above). Although children and animals will not normally eat plant leaves, they might be more tempted by the berries. We’d recommend removing the flowering stalk before the berries form, just to be safe.

Anything else?

Dust can be a problem for these plants. Their slow-growing nature means it’s easy for dirt to accumulate and cover the leaf surface. Make sure you wash them down from time to time to keep things clean and the foliage vibrant.

How to Care for the Aglaonema Summary

  1. Low, Medium or Bright Light Anything will do except no light and direct sunlight.

  2. Moderate Watering Once or twice a week at most in Summer and once every week or two in Winter or if growing in lower light conditions.

  3. Warm to Hot Temperature Aim for temperatures 18°C (64°F) and above.

  4. Feeding If you can, fertilise every couple of waterings.

  • It can cope with low light but not no light. Avoid windowless rooms.
  • Many varieties have leaves that will scorch if placed in direct sunlight.
  • Keep it away from any cold spots in your home over winter.

Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreens) Problems

Yellow Leaves

Some leaves will go yellow from time to time. That’s normal. If there is quite a few doing this, or it happens more than once or twice a year then you could have a problem.

Yellowing Chinese Evergreen Leaves

Typically, problematic yellowing like the above would be caused by one of the following:

  • Cold Temperatures
    Your plant needs to be grown in warm places.
  • Overwatering
    Like many houseplants, if you’ve watered your plant too frequently then some of the leaves will turn yellow in response.
  • Fungal Disease
    Humid and dank environmental conditions with low ventilation can encourage fungal diseases like Botrytis. Remove the affected leaf and think about moving it to a brighter more ventilated spot.

Brown Tips

This is fairly unusual in most homes. But you can expect brown tips if the humidity is low or there is a lot of hot dry air being blown over the leaves for example if the plant is positioned above a radiator or above a heat vent.

Some people have reported that if they use water from the tap and live in a hard water area, over time this encourages the build-up of minerals in the soil and corresponding brown tips.

Brown Leaf Spots

If the brown is crispy and dry, occasional and is present on older leaves then it’s very likely to be sun damage. These are semi-shade loving houseplants and direct sunlight falling on the leaves will cause them to easily burn and create scorch marks.

This Chinese Evergreen has brown spots caused by sun damage

Pests

For sure this is a hardy houseplant with a positive can-do attitude. It puts up with a lot and can resist most pests, but it’s not immune to some of the fairly common ones that afflict indoor plants (Spider Mites, Scale Insects, Mealybugs and Aphids). It’s still rare to have issues, but if you do, have a read of our pest article for guidance.

Leaf Position Changes

Not the worst thing that could happen to your plant. In fact it’s actually communicating with you and letting you know what’s wrong. Helpful things are Aglaonemas. Listen to its pleads and help it out where you can.

Leaves Wilting – This happens when your plant has been overwatered. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s been underwatered and pour more on. If you see this happening have a feel of the soil and hold back on the watering for a week or so until it dries out again.

Leaves and Stems Standing Tall – This happens when your plant has been underwatered. It’s quite a sight to see, but if you see this happening then give it some water as soon as you can.

Our story with this houseplant

On the surface, the Aglaonema should have been the ideal houseplant. I’ve always tended to live in homes that had a strong North facing aspect and the resulting low light situation these tend to have, plus in the early days of houseplant ownership, like many people, I made my share of silly mistakes so could have done with a few more hardy ones. But this houseplant just never did it for me and I shunned it. Massively.

In some ways, it seemed a smaller Aspidistra substitute without any of the grandeur and history. In particular, it was Aglaonema Silver Queen that did the damage. For some reason where I lived, it was constantly grown in places that most people do not want to spend any time in – Dentist waiting rooms and hospitals. So the last thing I wanted was one of these anxiety-inducing bad memory houseplants rocking out in my living room!

Aglaonema in a living room next to an Aspidistra plant

Times change though and so did the Aglaonema. I’m now sharing my home with several different varieties that really thrive with minimal effort. One is actually positioned next to a splendid Aspidistra, and they really don’t look the same at all. I don’t know what I was thinking, cousins at best! That said, as much as I’ve grown to like this plant now, I’ve still not given Silver Queen a chance to redeem itself. Maybe one day…

What’s been your story with this plant? And more generally, are there any houseplants you cannot stand to have around? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.

Also on Ourhouseplants.com

Chinese evergreen

Chinese Evergreen

Tough-as-nails Chinese evergreen, also known as Philippine evergreen, is an easy-to-grow houseplant that tolerates virtually all indoor growing conditions. (Beginners: This one’s for you!) It’s also a showstopper, with verdant green leaves splashed with white, silver, pink, or red—depending on the variety. It rarely flowers when grown inside, though. A slow-growing houseplant, it will happily reside on a desktop for many months before outgrowing the space. Large Chinese evergreen plants are perfect accent pieces for empty corners or for pairing with big furniture pieces.

genus name
  • Aglaonema commutatum
plant type
  • Houseplant,
  • Perennial
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 1-3 feet wide
foliage color
  • Gray/Silver
special features
  • Low Maintenance
propagation
  • Division,
  • Stem Cuttings

Chinese Evergreen Care Must-Knows

If you’re growing Chinese evergreen as a landscape plant, make sure you protect it from frost and intense mid-day sun. If you’re growing it inside, just about anything goes. It grows well with indirect sunlight or in medium- to-low light conditions . Place this houseplant on a desk top under the glow of florescent lights and it will do just fine.

Chinese evergreen is easy-going about moisture, too. Plant it in an equal mix of potting soil, perlite, and sand that drains easily. Water the plant regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Let the plant dry out a little between waterings. A Chinese evergreen will grow faster and maintain more vibrant foliage if fertilized once or twice a year with a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer.

Keep it in a room that’s at least 55 degrees F (70 to 72 degrees F is best). And keep it away from drafts, which cause the leaves to brown. Wipe off the leaves once in a while to limit dust accumulation. And keep your eyes open for aphids, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites while you’re wiping. Your plant will thank you.

Unsure which pot is best suited for your houseplant? Discover the ideal container here.

More Varieties of Chinese Evergreen

‘Silver Bay’ Chinese evergreen

Aglaonema commutatum ‘Silver Bay’ is a relatively new variety with greater tolerance for temperatures below 60 degrees F. The center of its leaves are generously splashed with creamy silver.

‘Nicole’ Chinese evergreen

Aglaonema ‘Nicole’ has dark-green leaves decorated with jagged silver midveins. Zones 12-15

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