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Chinese evergreen: Plant care for Aglaonema houseplants
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Chinese Evergreen is a popular houseplant – and for good reason! These beauties are available in a host of different patterns and colors (all of which are quite easy to care for).
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) is a flowering plant in the Aroid family (Araceae) known for their decorative leaves. There are many beautiful pattern variations to add to your plant collection. Chinese Evergreen is the perfect plant for beginning gardeners as it is easy to keep alive. Though they grow slowly, Chinese Evergreens can grow to be three feet tall.
Read on to learn all about Chinese Evergreen plants!
Chinese evergreen: The basics
If you haven’t heard of a Chinese Evergreen before, you might’ve heard it called by its other, more official, botanical name: Aglaonema. This leafy houseplant is a great starter for an indoor garden for the beginning gardener or for those that have always wanted to have luck with plants but never have.
These plants are very flexible with their conditions; they’re harder to harm than other plants, especially when cared for correctly. Even that doesn’t take long with the Chinese Evergreen. Happy plants can even grow flowers that look similar to peace lilies.
A word of warning about the Chinese Evergreen: it is toxic to pets and humans, so if you have young children or pets that like to eat your plants, this might not be the best houseplant for you. However, these plants can act as indoor air purifiers, and in Chinese culture, they represent good luck and prosperity.
Popular varieties of Chinese evergreen
Though there are many types of Chinese Evergreens, there are about a dozen cultivars that tend to be the most popular:
- Aglaonema Wishes has pink foliage splashed with green dots and with green-edged leaves.
- Aglaonema Pictum Tricolor has light green and dark green splotches all over its foliage.
- Lady Valentine Chinese Evergreen is a pink-leaved variety with dark green dots.
- Aglaonema Jubilee has sage green leaf interiors with thick dark green edges.
- Aglaonema Edgy White is characterized by dark green leaves with white edges. They take the contrast further with white stems and petioles as well.
- Aglaonema Emerald Beauty features dark green leaves with feathery silver markings.
- Aglaonema Golden Bay has gray-green leaves with creamy white centers and a silvery variegation.
- Aglaonema Silver Bay is characterized by silver leaves with dark green edges.
- Aglaonema Silver Queen has silvery-green leaves marbled with dark green.
- Aglaonema Calypso features dark green leaves with small silvery stripes.
- Aglaonema Firecracker sticks out true to its name with its medium green leaves with red edges and marbling throughout the leaf.
Light requirements for Chinese evergreen plants
Chinese Evergreens thrive in spots with medium to low light conditions. This means that they do not like harsh direct sunlight, which can cause the leaves to curl and shrivel up. Place these plants in indirect sunlight where they can photosynthesize without being burnt. As a general rule, the darker the stalks and leaves on your Chinese Evergreen, the less light it needs.
While they are tolerant of low light, Chinese Evergreen plants do need adequate light levels to photosynthesize and produce the energy required to grow those gorgeous leaves. Plants grown indoors will likely benefit from supplemental lighting in all but the brightest homes. You can start with a simple LED plant lightbulb or group your houseplants together under a plate-style LED diode grow light.
Watering Chinese evergreen plants
When watering your Chinese Evergreen, there are many ways to go about it. In most indoor environments, water Chinese Evergreens once every 7-10 days. Chinese Evergreens like moderate water—not too much and not too little. You should allow your plant to mostly dry out before watering it again.
Try not to get the foliage wet every time you water your plant. While the plant may appreciate the odd dusting and shower to clean off its foliage, it makes sense to keep the leaves dry whenever possible to discourage fungal disease from developing. These bushy plants are easiest to water with an indoor watering can that has a long, thin spout, like these options:
- Small BPA-free Plastic Watering Can from The Sill
- Dramm Indoor Plastic Watering Can from Hoss Tools
- Haws Forest Green Plastic Watering Can from Botanical Interests
- Haws Metal Mini Watering Can from Terrain
In the winter, water Chinese Evergreen a little less than usual.
Fertilizer for Chinese evergreens
Chinese Evergreens grown in pots require supplemental feeding with plant fertilizer. Here are some high-quality plant fertilizers that work well for Chinese Evergreens:
- Dr. Earth Exotic Blend Palm, Tropical, & Hibiscus Organic Fertilizer
- DEN Sustainable Granular Plant Food from EarthHero
- ARBER Indoor Organic Plant Food Concentrate from Nature Hills
It’s common to fertilize Chinese Evergreens regularly in spring-summer-fall while skipping feeding in the wintertime to allow the plant a period of rest.
Ambient temperature and humidity for Chinese evergreen plants
Similar to its light and watering habits, Chinese Evergreens tend to be happiest in moderate temperatures, with 70-72°F being the most favorable. However, these flexible plants can live in any range from 65-80°F, and some can even tolerate temperatures in the 50-degree range, but those plants will not be as happy as others.
Chinese Evergreens love to be warm, and they also like to be somewhat humid, which is why many of these plants can be found in greenhouses. To keep your Chinese Evergreen in good humidity, run a humidifier in your house or mist your plant’s leaves very regularly. You can choose a regular ultrasonic mist humidifier or opt for a specialty humidifier from a plant store (like the Humidifier by Canopy from The Sill). Pebble trays tend to be ineffective for these large foliage-heavy plants.
Potting mix for Chinese evergreens
A Chinese Evergreen will be happiest in well-draining potting soil. To create these, find a well-draining potting mix. These usually contain peat or coco-coir-based soil that includes perlite, sand, or pumice.
Here are some high-quality potting mixes that work well for Chinese Evergreens:
- Organic Potting Mix by The Sill (contains compost, pine bark, coco coir, worm castings, & perlite)
- Espoma Organic Potting Mix (peat moss, composted plant matter, perlite, limestone, earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, feather meal, & yucca extract)
- DEN Sustainable Peat-Free Potting Soil Mix (contains biochar, fir bark, nufiber cow manure, worm castings, pumice, pumice, fertilizer)
Use fresh potting soil to repot your plant to avoid transferring soil-borne diseases.
Planter pots for Chinese evergreens
Because of the neutral colors found on these plants, Chinese Evergreens look great in planter pots in a variety of colors, shapes, and designs. For older, larger Chinese Evergreens, the best pot size is anywhere from 10-14″, depending on exactly how large it is. For smaller, younger plants, 4-8″ planter pots tend to be best.
Common pests and diseases affecting Chinese evergreen plants
Like all plants, Chinese Evergreens are prone to infestation by many types of pests. The best way to prevent them is to routinely check for pests so that if they do show up, you can act quickly! If pests are already a problem, the whole plant can be treated weekly with an organic insecticide until the pest problem is irradicated.
- Spider mites. These are the very definition of the word ‘pest’. They’re incredibly small, and if not for the fact that they’re a bright orangey-red, they’d be practically impossible to see. They weave sticky webs and damage the plant. To get rid of these, prune away the infested sections of the plant, or purchase a plant-safe insecticide from a garden center.
- Mealybugs. These show up as white fluff on the underside of leaves, stalks, and even on the soil. Cut them off before they spread to other plants, prune away small infestations, or dab them with rubbing alcohol. For heavier infestations, use an insecticide.
- Scale. These pests are easily recognizable from their shell-like appearance on the plant, popping up on leaves and stalks. Scale can only be killed in one stage of its life, and sadly, it’s best and easiest to throw away infected plants before they infect other ones.
Other common problems that aren’t in the form of nasty pests usually come from a lack or surplus of something. Here are some common causes:
- Droopy leaves: caused by lack of water or light
- Dark, greasy patches: caused by lack of warmth
- Crisp, brown-tipped leaves: lack of water or humidity
- Curling leaves: surplus of light
- Yellow/brown leaves: surplus of water
- Yellow/brown stalks: root rot, which means that the roots are waterlogged.