Known for their striking foliage that comes in many varieties, Aglaonema makes up for a great indoor plant. Learn how to care for the aglaonema plant (the Chinese Evergreen).
Despite garnering this common name, these plants come in an array of colors as well as patterns. Some species come with a touch of red, pink, white, a combination of colors in the form of variegations, and of course, green.
The name Aglaonema was coined from the Greek words aglos, meaning bright, and nema, which means thread.
Aglaonemas are also commonly known as Chinese evergreen. Chinese evergreens have been first cultivated in China and are kept indoors for good fortune.
Native to the heavily shaded and humid tropical forests and gardens of Southeast Asia, there are at least 21 species with varying cultivars of this plant.
That means more choices for you!
Plant name: Aglaonema, Chinese Evergreen
Common species and cultivar hybrids: A. modestum, A. curtisii, A. treubii, Aglaonema “Silver Queen”, Aglaonema “Emerald Beauty”.
Native to: Southeast Asia
Light: Shaded area with indirect sunlight
Care: Water sparingly in winter, thoroughly in warmer months (allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering again), can survive low humidity but prefers higher humidity, warm temperature
Common problems: shrivelled leaves, leaf blight, mealybugs, spider mites
Toxicity: Contains calcium oxalate that may cause dermatitis to humans and other serious complications when ingested. Toxic to cats and dogs.
How To Care For Aglaonema Plant
- Bringing the plant home
- Light conditions
- Toxicity Information
- Pests and other common issues
Bringing your Aglaonema to their new home
If you are an experienced indoor plant-gardener, you would agree if we say that it would be best if you isolate your plant first before letting it join with the other bunch.
Besides knowing what conditions your plants like, you need to check the plant for signs of potential pests or diseases. The last thing that you want to happen is to infect all your other plants.
Whether you bought your plant from a nursery garden where they use greenhouses or in a supermarket, your plant will need to acclimatize to its new environment.
The plant will get stressed, which might show on the plant itself, but that is to be expected. You have to support your plant along the way.
Aglaonemas are actually quite tolerant when it comes to bugs. However, the stems can be targeted by mealy bugs.
These insects are fairly easy to spot. Take care of them before bringing your plant inside.
While you’re checking for bugs, take the time to check for any presence of fungal infection and try to prune infected leaves. You can also prune back wilting leaves so the plant can focus its energy on acclimatizing to its new environment.
Although some species are tolerant to overwatering, root rot is always just lurking behind every drop of that extra drop of water. Check the state of the soil and if it’s already moist, resist watering until it dries.
How much light does my Aglaonema need?
There is a reason why Aglaonemas are some of the most popular indoor plants.
Being native to dark, tropical forest floors, these plants can very well thrive in low light levels.
In fact, they can be grown in 75% to 90% shade.
There is a reason why Aglaonemas are grown in shaded areas.
When these plants are grown within the higher spectrum of the light range, their foliage starts to turn pale and lose their striking colors. Despite this, they grow faster in conditions with brighter sunlight.
Keep this in mind, if your plants are in low-light areas of the house, expect your plant’s soil to become dry much slower.
How much water do Aglaonemas like?
Similar with most indoor plants, Aglaonemas would appreciate if you let the soil dry a bit in between watering.
That being said, some varieties are very resistant to both over watering and drought such as the Aglaonema “Rhapsody in Green.”
To maintain the beauty of this plant’s foliage, proper watering is undeniably the key.
As your plants grow older, they will appreciate more thorough watering.
This plant will tell you if they are on the verge of collapsing because of thirst.
Older leaves will start to turn canary yellow in color, then brown, then ultimately fall off of the stem.
Although resistant to overwater, Aglaonemas cannot tolerate soggy soil. So, make sure your pots are well draining.
In terms of misting, some growers would suggest that you cut back on it when plants have just been cut for propagation to avoid any diseases that may show.
Another reason why Aglaonemas are great indoor plants is they can do well in lower than ideal air humidity. They do generally prefer moist air.
Air humidity above 50% will most likely make them happy (different varieties prefer different air humidity levels).
Cleaning your Aglaonemas
If you bought your plant from a nursery garden, there may be occasions when you purchase a plant with white, powdery stuff on them.
Sometimes, this may be fungicide that has just dried out or mineral deposits from the water from the nursery, no need to worry.
You may choose to leave it or wipe them so the foliage will reveal a more attractive color.
Make sure to go easy on the leaves when wiping and do not apply too much pressure. Some delicate leaves may turn slightly softer after wiping but will easily bounce back after a few hours or days. Don’t forget to use gloves.
Dusting the leaves can be done with a soft damp cloth.
Know how to fertilize your Aglaonema
Controlled release and water-soluble fertilizers with micronutrients work best for Aglaonemas.
It is also worth noting that most Aglaonema cultivars tend to develop copper deficiencies, so it may be fitting to supplement the soil with this element with added amounts.
When fertilizing your plants, do it sparingly or conservatively.
Salts tend to build up within the soil and in the case of Aglaonemas where you do not water too much, these salts may stay within the soil without leaching and cause the foliage to burn.
The secret is to know your plants. The safest choice would be to use time or temperature-controlled release fertilizers.
If you choose water-soluble fertilizers for indoor plants, it is suggested to use 20:20:20 ratio at 50 ppm once a month.
When to repot your Aglaonemas?
When repotting, we have to generally consider if the roots of our plants are already well-established.
During the process, if the plant has a weak root system, it may be inevitable not to damage the roots.
So before giving in to the urge of repotting your Aglaonema, check its roots first.
One indication that your plant needs repotting is if the roots are already overgrowing the pot. Another is when you notice that the plant demands to be watered more than once a week.
Your plant is basically telling you that it needs more soil to hold more water.
Spring is considered the best time for repotting, although this isn’t a rule set in stone. Generally, aglaonemas should/can be repotted every 3 years or so.
As previously mentioned, Aglaonemas are generally not picky when it comes to their soil medium.
Growers usually use varying mixtures and ratio combinations of peat moss, bark, wood chips, sawdust, sand, and aerolite for indoor growing.
Generally, the soil for these plants must hold moisture well, but just enough to drain the excess water.
Watering of the soil must be done thoroughly until the excess water drains off.
It’s time to propagate your Aglaonema!
Normally, these plants are propagated by cuttings and division of basal shoots.
It is recommended that cuttings must have four to five leaves and to be planted in a well-aerated soil.
To facilitate rooting, it is best that the pH of the soil is around 5.5 – 6.5.
One more important thing to remember when propagating Aglaonemas are the cuttings planted in the soil must always be kept off the ground to improve drainage.
Are my Aglaonemas toxic?
Yes, they are toxic to pets and are not to be ingested. Skin irritation is possible.
Although these plants seem to be the perfect indoor plants, you may want to take reconsider if you have pets.
Studies have shown that most Aglaonemas contain calcium oxalates in their leaves which can cause irritation of the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat.
When ingested in high amounts, throat swelling, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, and upset stomach may occur.
In case the sap of these plants come in contact with your skin, we recommend that you wash it immediately to avoid any potential rash.
Wear gloves when pruning your plants!
What pests or diseases should I look out for?
Generally, Aglaonemas do not have big problems when it comes to pests.
Usual pests related to these plants include mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids.
These plants will tell you if they are infested with pests since some of them are hard to see.
As Aglaonemas have succulent stems, mealybugs suck the fluids from these stems and will deplete the plant with nutrients.
Damaged leaves will wither and may produce sticky sap on the affected area.
Harder to see, spider mites are usually detected when they already made damages to the stems of the plant.
Damages would look like rust-colored spots and webs and the plant would start to turn yellow on the leaves and may look a bit dusty.
The most common disease of Aglaonemas is the bacterial leaf blight.
Caused by bacteria under the genera Dickeya, Xanthomonas, and Pseudomonas, infected leaves show wet spots that will turn black over time.
The optimal conditions for these bacteria are coincidentally similar with what Aglaonemas like.
As the disease spread, the stems would start to become soft and mushy.
Symptoms of the disease caused by these plants include leaf blight, foul-smelling stem, and blackening leaves.
These bacteria attack the host plant when there are open cuts on the leaves and stems.
To control this disease, copper-based products for the soil may be used.
When infected, it is not a good idea to splash water onto the leaves or mist them. Misting spreads the bacteria to the adjacent leaves.