How to Grow and Care for Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) Indoors


Chinese Evergreen, Aglaonema modestum

Botanical name: Aglaonema spp
Family: Araceae

Description

Aglaonema or Chinese Evergreens are popular plants on account of their spectacular foliage, ease of care, air cleaning properties and ability to adapt to indoor growing conditions.

Chinese Evergreens are relatively small and exhibit a compact growth. The leaves are large, spear-shaped and borne on short stems.

These large leaves have a strong vein running down the middle and a speckled pattern along the sides.

Being slow growers, Aglaonemas require minimal feeding and infrequent repotting and are perfect for limited spaces.

These plants are ideal for the poorly lit spaces especially the all green varities are very tolerant to low light or shade conditions.

Flower

The inflorescence in Chinese Evergreens are unimpressive unisexual flowers in a spadix. To conserve the plants energy and direct it to foliage growth, cut the flowers as soon as they appear though it is unlikely to flower when grown indoors.

Varieties

Numerous varieties and hybrids of Chinese Evergreen are available. It is the green varieties Aglaonema modestum that can tolerate some shade but the near-white varieties need a well-lit environment.

The favorite of the group is the Aglaonema silver queen whose foliage is almost entirely silver-grey

Another common variety of Aglaonema is the Aglaonema pseudobracteatum (Golden Evergreen) whose leaves are blotched with yellow, cream and pale green.

Other varieties are Aglaonema commutatum whose leaves have silver bands, Aglaonema nitidum which is the giant of the group with leaves 18 in. plain green and Aglaonema pictum whose 6 in. long leaves are speckled and velvety among many varieties and hybrids.

Origin

Aglaonemas are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and New Guinea.

Air Purifying

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Aglaonema modestum was found to be a good indoor air cleaner effective in the removal of common VOCs especially benzene and formaldehyde from indoor air.

Where to Buy

Aglaonemas in various sizes are readily available online at Etsy. Buy beautiful Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema) online from Etsy.

Chinese Evergreen, Aglaonema pseudobracteatum

Aglaonema pseudobracteatum (Golden Evergreen)

Chinese Evergreen Care Indoors

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) care indoors is easy when provided with the right growing conditions. Aglaonemas thrive in medium to bright light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter.

Aglaonemas are slow growing plants which do not require regular feeding or regular repotting. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Chinese Evergreen grows best in semi-shade to bright light conditions. However, the near-white variegated plants require more brighter light.

Keep Aglaonemas away from direct sunlight as it can cause scorching on the leaves.

Rotate the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth.

Watering

Chinese Evergreens require to be watered liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry out slightly between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.

Cut down on watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely as it may cause leaf drop.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot.


Temperature

Average warmth with a minumum of 150C is ideal for Chinese Evergreens. Below this temperature the plant may stop growing and die.

Keep Aglaonemas away from cold draughts as it is intolerant to very low temperatures below 150C which cause the leaves to curl and develop brown edges.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Chinese Evergreen. It has no need for high humidity.

Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and reduce pest infestation.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Chinese Evergreen with a liquid fertilizer (foliar feed) every 3-4 months during the growing period. It is not a heavy feeder.

To prevent the leaves from turning yellow due to copper deficiency, ensure your fertilizer contains this micronutrient.

Aglaonema is easily injured by overfeeding therefore withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.

Repotting

Chinese Evergreen is slow growing thus does not require frequent repotting. Repotting may be necessary after 2-3 years when the plant has outgrown its current pot or the soil needs to be replaced.

Repot Aglaonema at the beginning of the growing season. Use a free-draining soil which is rich in organic matter and a pot 1 size larger than the current one.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Soil

The best soil for Chinese Evergreen should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most potting mixes designed for aroids are ideal for this plant. Buy quality Aroids Potting Soil for Aglaonema online from Etsy.

Pruning

Being a slow grower, Chinese Evergreen requires minimal pruning. Pruning Aglaonema involves removal of yellow and old leaves by cutting them at the soil level.

Remove the inflorescences that may develop to prevent the plant from wasting energy to develop the inflorescences inorder to prolong the life of the plant.

Propagation

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings or by plant division.

Chinese Evergreen, Aglaonema Silver Bay

Aglaonema Silver Bay

Chinese Evergreen Problems Indoors

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) problems indoors include yellow leaves, leaf spots, curled and crispy leaves, pests and diseases. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Yellow leaves

There are four possible reasons why the leaves of Chinese Evergreen are turning yellow. One possible reason is aging.

This is a natural process. With age, the lower leaves turn yellow and die. These leaves are replaced by new leaves at the top of the plant.

The second possible reason for yellow leaves in Aglaonema is overwatering or soggy soil. Soggy soil will lead to root-rot which is characterized by general yellowing of leaves.

At this stage, the plant may be too far gone to be saved. However, you can try to save it by root surgery. Read on how to treat the plant for root-rot.

To prevent root-rot, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

The third possible reason for the leaves of Chinese Evergreen turing yellow is underwatering. Too little moisture in the soil will cause the older, lower leaves to turn yellow and die in a bid to save the new leaves.

Water Chinese Evergreen liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry out slightly between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.

However, reduce watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

The fourth possible reason for yellowing leaves in Chinese Evergreen is too little light. The variegated varieties require bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight.

Therefore, if variegated Chinese Evergreen is not getting adequate light, the leaves will turn yellow due to loss of chlorophyll and the plant may eventuall die.

Position variegated Aglaonemas in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not sufficient.

Brown leaf spots

Brown leaf spots on Chinese Evergreen are a sign of sunscorch marks. Do not expose the plant to direct sunlight.

Place the plant where it will receive bright, filtered light but not direct sunlight as it will burn the leaves.

A spot infront of a brightly lit window that has a screen like a sheer curtain is ideal for Aglaonema.

Stunted growth and dying

Stunted growth and plant death in Chinese Evergreen is an indication of the presence of root-knot nematodes. It is prone to root knot nematodes.

The presence of root nematodes is marked by swellings in the roots of the plant.

These swellings may reduce water and nutrient uptake resulting in stunted growth and in extreme cases plant collapse. Read more on nematodes and how to deal with them.

Curled leaves and brown leaf edges

Too cold air or cold draughts are the cause of curled leaves and brown leaf edges in Chinese Evergreen.

Keep the Aglaonema away from cold draughts to prevent sudden changes in temperature inorder to maintain a constantly warm temperature.

Shrivelled leaves and brown leaf tips

If the air is too dry especially when the indoor temperatures are very high, Chinese Evergreen's leaves become shrivelled and form brown leaf tips.

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

Diseases

Chinese Evergreen is prone to root-rot disease which is enhanced by soggy soil. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

Isolate the affected plant and treat it appropriately for the disease. Read on how to treat root-rot in houseplants.

Pests

Common pests in Chinese Evergreen are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Aphids and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and control the pests appropriately. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

Is Chinese Evergreen toxic?

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) are toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. The plant sap contains calcium oxalate crystals.

The Calcium oxalate crystals can cause irritation on sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling Aglaonema.

If ingested, the plant sap can cause burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains.

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