Are you a fan of plants with patterned leaves? I would like to introduce you to the amazing foliage of Aglaonemas. They’re not only easy to grow but they’re also one of the easiest houseplants to maintain if you’re a beginner. These Agalonema care and growing tips will get you started.
Aglaonemas were the quintessential file cabinet and credenza plants that we used in offices when I worked in the interior landscaping business. It wasn’t easy for these sub-tropical and tropical plants to survive in these environments but they handled it all like troopers. I’ve always loved these patterned beauties and thought a post on them was in order. They’re so easy to care for and easy to find – what’s not to love?!
WHAT ARE THE USAGES OF CHINESE EVERGREENS?
Their most common use is as a tabletop plant, and the larger varieties are low, wide floor plants with rounded forms. We used them not only in offices, but also in lobbies, malls, and even airports. They make excellent underplantings for tall floor plants, and are also seen in dish gardens and living walls.
It comes in 4, 6, 8, 10 & 14′′ grow pot sizes. They range in height from 10′′ tall to 3-4′ tall. My Aglaonema Silver Bay is 3 ft x 3 ft in a 10′′ grow pot.
Back when I worked in the trade, the 3 best Ags to buy were the Silver Queen, Chinese Evergreen and Robellini. These days, you can find Aglaonemas in more shapes, leaf sizes, and colors than ever before. Examples: Maria, Silver Bay, Siam Red, Emerald Beauty, Golden Bay, Romeo, & First Diamond are a few to name a few.
Aglaonemas grow slowly to moderately. Growing faster than my Maria (sometimes called Emerald Beauty) are my Silver Bay (which sprouts new leaves like crazy in warmer months) & Red agalonemas.
GROWTH AND CARE TIPS FOR CHINESE EVERGREENS
Ags are well known for their tolerance for lower light levels, that is why we gave them 2 green thumbs up. I’ve found that dark leaf varieties, such as my Ag. Maria, handle low light (which really isn’t any light at all) the best.
The Aglaonema Red & others that have increased color and brightness in their foliage need medium light to do their best. They can tolerate high light, but if they’re near windows the strong sunlight will burn them in no time flat.
I water mine when dry. That is usually every 7-9 days in the warmer months and every 2-3 weeks when it is winter. Your watering schedule will be based on your home’s environment, type of soil mix, and pot size.
Remember two things: don’t water too frequently, and cut down on the frequency in the winter. Houseplants prefer to rest during this time of year.
It’s important to make sure your houseplants are comfortable too. Just be sure to keep your Aglaonemas away from drafts and air conditioning and heating vents.
The subtropical and tropical regions of the world are home to Chinese evergreens. In spite of this, they seem fairly adaptable and thrive in our homes which have dry air. Here in hot and dry Tucson, mine only have a few tiny brown tips.
Fill the saucer with pebbles and water and place your plant on it. Make sure the drain holes and bottom of the pot aren’t submerged in water. Misting it a few times a week will also help.
Fertilizers aren’t needed by agriculture. I do not fertilize mine, however I will be experimenting with a mix shortly. I will keep you posted. In the meantime I apply worm compost over a light layer of compost every spring.
It’s easy – about a quarter inch to a half inch of each for a larger sized house plant.
If you have a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower) , that would be perfect. Just dilute it to half strength and apply it in the spring. If for some reason you feel your Chinese Evergreen needs another application, you can do it again in the summer.
The best time to fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter is when they rest. Do not over fertilize your Ags since salts build up and can burn the roots. Don’t fertilize a houseplant which is stressed when it is bone dry or soaking wet.
You want a peat-based potting soil that’s formulated for indoor plants. I alternate between Happy Frog and Ocean Forest. They’re high quality & they have lots of good stuff in them.
Aglaonemas, like other houseplants, do not like a heavy mix. You can get more aeration and drainage and lessen the chances of rot by adding some pumice or perlite.
The ratio of 3 parts potting soil to 1 part pumice or perlite is fine. Add more if it still needs lightening up.
Repotting / Transplanting
Plants need to be replanted in spring or summer – early fall is okay if you’re in a warm climate. The faster your plant grows, the sooner it needs repotting.
My Silver Bay is growing like mad & is currently in a 10′′ pot. In early spring, I’ll divide it into two plants and plant them in 10′′ pots. Stay tuned for that.
I wrote a Guide to Repotting Plants that you might find useful, especially if you’re a beginning gardener.
Pruning this plant is mainly done for propagation or to prune off lower yellow leaves or spent flowers.
If you are going to do any pruning, make sure your pruners are clean & sharp.
I’ve always propagated Chinese Evergreens by division, and this has always worked. I’ll be doing it next spring and you’ll see how I do it.
Cut the stems back to 4-8′′ from the soil line if yours starts to get leggy over time. Cut them the same way as above to rejuvenate & stimulate new growth.
I have rooted Aglaonema stems in water but have never planted them in the soil. I am not sure how they will cope in the long term with soil.
My plants have never had any. On commercial accounts, I have seen Aglaonemas with mealybugs & spider mites. Keep your eyes peeled for aphids & scale as well. I wrote posts on mealybugs & aphids, spider mites & scale so you can identify and treat them early.
Getting rid of these pests at the first sign will prevent them from spreading to other plants in your home.
Dogs and cats should not eat Chinese Evergreens. I consult the ASPCA’s website for my info on this subject & find out in what way the plant is toxic. Here’s more info. Most houseplants are toxic to pets in some way and I want to share my thoughts with you regarding this topic.
The flower you see above is a spathe type flower. It has still had a few blooms on it even though my Aglaonema Red is five months old. The spathe is light green & the spadix (the center part) is white. My Ag. Maria bloomed also, but the flowers were smaller & shorter & ivory in color.
It is said the flowers draw energy away from the plants, therefore it is advisable to remove them. The thing is, I leave them on & haven’t found that to be true. I cut them off (down to the base) when the spathe and spadix are both dead. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I like looking at them!
Chinese Evergreen Care Tips
Yellow leaves can be caused by a number of causes. If the lower leaves are occasionally turning yellow, no worries as this is the normal growth habit of this plant.
Our homes have dry air, which causes small brown tips.
It is important for your Aglaonemas to receive sunlight from all sides, so be sure to rotate them every few months.
Asian Evergreens, Ags, Aglaonemas. What ever you call them, they are awesome houseplants well worth having and you’ll love the easy care. Their foliage is gorgeous! I hope you found my Chinese Evergreen care round-up useful!
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