Sumo Gardener
Shares

Chinese Evergreen | How to Grow Aglaonema

Aglaonema, more commonly known as Chinese evergreen, is a beautiful lush and leafy houseplant. There are so many varieties of aglaonema, they come in greens, frosty whites, pinks, yellow, and more.

There are different patterns and sizes. They are often seen planted in malls, conservatories, and atriums as they are an easy low maintenance plant that provide clean air and greenery.

So consider bringing one of these leafy marvels into the home for an easy, beautiful touch of green (and white and pink and yellow…).

More...

Chinese Evergreen How to Grow Aglaonema

Chinese Evergreen Plant Details

Aglaonema, more commonly known as Chinese evergreen, is a beautiful lush and leafy houseplant

Aglaonema is a genus of plants that belongs to a notorious houseplant family. Aracea, also known as arums. This family includes a lot of beloved houseplants including philodendrons, alocasia, peace lilies, and monsteras to name a few.

They are native to subtropical regions of Southeast Asia. Knowing where a plant is originally from will help to determine how to take care of it in the home.

There are many varieties of Chinese evergreens, making it hard to pinpoint them and they can often be mistaken for other houseplants (Dieffenbachia, Caladium and Calathea to name a few). So be sure to check our comprehensive guide on Dieffenbachias and Calatheas for more information on them. 

The main feature of an aglaonema is their elongated leaves that are oval in shape and often end in a point. They are an upright growing plant that form a bushy mound. 

Plant Name:

Chinese Evergreen

Genus:

Aglaonema

Species:

Sp

Common Names:

Chinese evergreen

Location:

Indoor

Type: 

Houseplant

Growth:

1-3’ high and wide (variety dependant)

Sun Requirements:

Shade - indirect sun

Foliage Color:

Variety dependant, green, white, yellow, pink

Maintenance Level:

Low

Poisonous for Pets:

Aglaonema Varieties

This is the fun part about aglaonemas. There are so many Aglaonema varieties. They are like chameleons that can blend in and appear as other plants. They have come in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Here are some varieties to consider. 

Aglaonema Pictum Tricolor

Aglaonema pictum tricolor is a rare and fairly expensive variety

Source: urbanhouseplant.com

Starting off this list with a bang. Aglaonema pictum tricolor is a rare and fairly expensive variety. It is often found on plant collector’s wishlists. It features very elongated oval leaves with a pointed tip.

What makes this variety so unique is the camouflage color pattern on the leaves. It has various shades of green in irregular patterns. The pattern is so close to camo, it looks fake. It is an amazing plant to see.

White Aglaonema

White Aglaonema is a large bushy plant that has green elongated leaves and white speckles all over the foliage

White Aglaonema is a more classic variety. It is a large bushy plant that has green elongated leaves and white speckles all over the foliage. 

Because of the white in its foliage, it likes lower light areas. This is a good variety to try before diving head first into the more crazy, complicated, and expensive varieties.

Aglaonema Tigress

Aglaonema Tigress has dark green glossy foliage with frosty white stripes

Source: cinemagreens.com

Aglaonema Tigress is reminiscent of a calathea. It has dark green glossy foliage with frosty white stripes through it. It has elongated pointed leaves. It forms a nice bushy plant that doesn’t get too large. The benefit of choosing an aglaonema over a calathea is the ease of care.

Calatheas are miserable plants that seemingly want to die (haha sorry, I’ve killed too many over the years), whereas this plant is a low maintenance plant that will tolerate a variety of conditions. 

Aglaonema Red Valentine

Aglaonema Red Valentine is a pink variety of Aglaonema

Aglaonema Red Valentine is a pink variety of Aglaonema. It is a beautiful bushy plant that has wider oval leaves with a pointed tip. Its leaves have a pink center that blushes to lighter pink as it moves towards the edges where it is met with white and green speckles and a thin medium green border.

It has the same feel as a polka dot plant except with larger leaves and is much harder to kill. 

Aglaonema Jubilee

Aglaonema Jubilee is the variety that is common in mall and office building plantings

Source: gardengoodsdirect.com

Aglaonema Jubilee is the classic variety of aglaonema (in my opinion). It features large elongated pointed leaves. It has a dark green margin and a frosty silver center.

This is the variety that is common in mall and office building plantings. It brightens up darker areas.


How to Grow Aglaonema 

There are so many varieties to choose from, the easiest way to get one is to go to the local garden center and pick one. A lot of the time the tags will say it is just an aglaonema, so it will take some research to determine the specific variety. A more specialty garden store will have more of the unique and expensive ones. 

How to Grow Aglaonema

Light Requirements

Bright indirect sunlight is best for most aglaonemas. Since they are a low growing tropical plant in their natural habitat, they are covered and protected by the larger tree canopy.

So it is best to replicate these conditions in the home. This could be a few feet away from a south window, or up close to a north window. Eastern exposures are great for the gentle morning sun, or to the west for the late afternoon sun.

Nothing too bright and harsh or it could burn and bleach out the leaves. But this is where Aglaonemas are wonderful. They will tolerate less than ideal light conditions. 

They will grow slower, but they do not mind lower light conditions. Any of the varieties with a lot of white patches are great for brightening up low light areas and they require less sun. 

Soil Requirements

Chinese evergreens prefer loose peaty free draining soil. For the average aglaonema owner, a potting soil will suffice. But for those who want to create ideal conditions, consider mixing some peat (or coir) into the potting mix along with some perlite and some compost, such as worm castings.  

Here is more details guide on how to make your own compost. Black earth and soil directly from the garden are generally too heavy and won’t drain and make a poor choice for growing aglaonemas.

Humidity

Humidity is always a tricky one. While it will make this plant happier and grow slightly faster, it is also not completely necessary. If it is too daunting of a task, skip it. 

Or choose an easy method of adding humidity like boiling water on the stove, or leaving the bathroom door open after a shower. A tray of water with pebbles underneath the plant will also provide some extra humidity.

Misting can be done. Use a fine mist as getting leaves sopping wet does leave it more susceptible to fungus and pests. Or, purchase a small humidifier (see our review of some of the best humidifiers online) and run the aglaonema (this is great if you have a bunch of plants that require extra humidity).


Chinese Evergreen Propagation

Chinese Evergreen Propagation

Chinese evergreens are also easily propagated from an established plant. Find a young shoot or stem and with a sharp pair of secateurs snip off the stem below a leaf node (this is where the stem joins to a leaf).

This cutting can simply be placed in water where it will form roots and grow indefinitely. However, if growing the cutting for the purpose of creating another plant, it is better to get that cutting growing in soil as soon as possible.

Plants seem to struggle to adjust to soil life if they’ve been growing in water and have established large roots. 

To plant the cutting in soil, grab a small container (6” nursery pot, yogurt container with holes poked in the bottom etc.) and fill it with nice evenly moist fluffy potting mix.

Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone (you can skip this step, but it really does make a difference in the speed of root development). Then plant the stem into the soil and press it in so it stays in place.

Now grab a baggy or a dome lid of some kind and cover the cutting to hold in the moisture. Leave out of bright indirect light for a few days until it starts to root. Once the cutting perks back up remove the covering and let it grow. Voila, a new baby aglaonema.


Caring for Aglaonemas

Aglaonema is a popular plant growing in malls, atriums, offices, and the home

Water Chinese Evergreen

This is the reason most houseplants die, and believe it or not, it isn’t usually because of underwatering. Plants tend to be over loved and over watered by eager house plant enthusiasts.

So do not overwater this plant, this will lead to root rot and death. Instead, stick a finger into the pot and make sure the top few inches (depending on size, aim for about 50% down) should be dry before watering.

The best way to water is to take the plant under a tap or shower and soak it until water runs out the bottom (always have drainage in pots). This replicates how a plant would be watered in its natural environment, A big heavy rain, and then it is allowed to dry out.

Do this once every week to three weeks depending on pot size and amount of sunlight it receives. Larger pots require water less often, and smaller pots need water more often. But make sure the plant is only slightly larger than the pot. A small aglaonema in a giant pot will rot.

Best Fertilizer for Aglaonema

Fertilize with an all purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer monthly in the active growing months (Spring-Fall). When potting a new aglaonema, mix in some worm castings to give it a natural boost. Or use an organic compost tea. They require extra nitrogen to keep them leafy and green.


Designing with Aglaonema

Chinese evergreen are native to subtropical regions of Southeast Asia

On to the fun stuff! This plant is so much fun because there are so many varieties with different shapes, sizes, and patterns. Pick pots that have adequate drainage (add more holes if necessary). 

Then really just pick a pot that will make the plant pop. Maybe a teal blue or a creamy white pot for a pink variety. Or a simple black pot for a green and frosted white variety.

Remember to keep the pot size only slightly larger than the plant itself. Let the plant grow out of the pot before sizing up. The roots will start poking out the drainage hole when it's time to up the pot size. Then choose a new pot only a couple inches larger than the old pot.

Aglaonema can also be used in outdoor annual container designs. Place them in shady and protected pots. They look great in a shady container with begonias and ivy.


Common Aglaonema Pests and Diseases

Aglaonema is a popular plant growing in malls, atriums, offices, and the home

Luckily, if the aglaonema is growing in its ideal conditions it rarely has problems with pests. That is to say, bright indirect sunlight, loose free draining soil, watering only when the top 50% of the soil is dry, and fertilizing it in some way (chemical or natural) during the growing months.

All those things will equal a healthy lush growing aglaonema. If pests are becoming a problem. First, deal with the pests, then try to figure out why the plant got them in the first place and adjust the plant's conditions to make them more ideal.

The pests that are commonly associated with this plant are the usual suspects. Aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. If any of these appear try spraying the leaves off with a shower head or tap and then apply an insecticidal soap.

Aphids appear on the stems and folds of the leaves. They are small transparent insects that suck the sap out of the plant.

Spider mites create a fine webbing on the plant. Upon closer inspection there will be a network of tiny spider-like bugs racing through this network of webbing. The leaves will yellow and curl and appear mottled as they suck the life out of the leaves.

Mealy bugs appear as little cotton puffs on the underside of leaves, almost mold-like. (Here is a more comprehensive guide on how to identify and get rid mealy bugs.)

Aglaonema Root Rot

For diseases that will affect an aglaonema, root rot will be the most common. Aglaonema root rot is directly related to prolonged periods of over watering. The leaves will start to yellow and die off starting around the bottom.

The plant will have to be repotted. Take it out of its pot and cut off all mushy and rotten bits of root and then transplant into fresh soil. Do not over water.


Chinese Evergreen FAQs

Aglaonema Design

Does Aglaonema need direct sunlight?

No! They actually prefer bright, but indirect, sunlight. Too much direct light will burn and bleach out their leaves. They will tolerate even less light, they will just be slower growing.

Is Aglaonema hard to take care of?

No, quite the opposite. They are easy to care for and make great houseplants. What I like most about them is that there are certain varieties that actually look like a really fussy plant, such as a calathea.

But aglaonema are easy to take care of, which is why you will find them in lots of commercial plantings (office buildings, malls etc.)

How tall do Aglaonema grow?

This is really variety dependent, but on average they will grow anywhere from 1-3 feet. They are a nice bushy plant.

Can Aglaonema grow outdoors?

yes! In frost free zones, which in the USA would be Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the southern tip of Florida, they will grow outside. For the rest of us, they can be grown outside in the summer months.

Use them in a tropical container arrangement, or in a shady garden spot for some added lushness. Either treat it like an annual and dispose of it after the frost kills it, or bring it in and enjoy it as a houseplant through the winter.

How do you make Aglaonema leaves shiny?

The first step is ensuring your plant is growing in its ideal conditions (read the full article for more). Plants are like people, if they are healthy on the inside they will glow on the outside.

The next step will be dusting them with a microfiber cloth, their large flat leaves tend to collect a bit of dust. It’s not necessary to use any cleaner or anything. A dry or damp cloth will work perfectly.

How often should I water my Chinese evergreen?

First make sure you have a nice peat filled soil that will hold on to moisture. Then make sure to let the plant dry out in the top half of the soil. Water only when that top half is dry, do not over water.

The frequency really depends on the pot size and how much sun the plant is in. I will say every 1-2 weeks is a good place to start. Adjust the water as needed.

Looking for more plants to grow? Check out our Plumeria rubra plant growing guide to add more vibrant color to your garden.


Wrapping Up Our Chinese Evergreen Guide

Aglaonema are everywhere, a popular plant growing in malls, atriums, offices, and the home. There are so many varieties that are anything but a boring leafy green plant.

Some varieties are rare and very expensive, while others are cheap and abundant. They make great and easy to look after plants that often look like a more fussy difficult plant (like a caladium or calathea). So grab an aglaonema and get growing.

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

Leave a Comment: