chinese evergreen

How to Grow and Care for Chinese Evergreen Plants

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One of the best ways to bring the outdoors inside all year round is with a Chinese Evergreen plant. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to grow and care for one.

But first, why should you grow them? There are lots of good reasons to consider doing so. These plants are known for their beauty and size, are relatively easy to propagate, and are simple to maintain.

Chinese Evergreens are herbaceous perennials, meaning these woodless plants survive throughout the year and flourish when kept inside. 

While they do flower in the late spring/early summer, they usually are identified by their large ovular leaves. Popular as decor for the home or office, Chinese Evergreens are great as both floor and table plants, providing beauty, fresh air, and color to any space. 

The overarching term Chinese Evergreen will be used throughout this article to refer to the 21 species of the genus Aglaonema which all originated in the tropics of Southeast Asia. 

With that in mind, let’s dive in! 

Plant Facts

Scientific nameAglaonema 
Common namesChinese Evergreen 
FamilyAraceae 
Plant TypeHerbaceous Perennial Houseplant 
Height and Width1-3 ft. tall (indoors), 1–23 ft. wide (indoors)
OriginAsia 
Flower colorsGreen, White (spathe and spadix)
Foliage colorDark Green streaked with silver, gray, red, or pink contingent with the species 
Sun ExposureLow to Medium 
Soil Type & pHWell-drained, acidic soil
Special featuresSlow growing, potted plant with colorful foliage; Low Maintenance 

How to Grow Chinese Evergreen Plants 

The best space that you can provide for a Chinese Evergreen to thrive in is indoors, typically in a spacious pot that allows for maximum root growth. You want to allow it low to medium sunlight exposure and water it infrequently or when soil is dry. Here are some more tips on how to grow these gorgeous houseplants.

Propagation

The propagation process of Chinese Evergreen plants is fairly straightforward and is extremely similar to the methods used during the propagation of many other common plants. 

When deciding if it is time to propagate a new Chinese Evergreen, make sure your donor plant is in a healthy condition, has a solid root system, and is producing plenty of leaves. If the houseplant has between four and eight leaves, it is best to cut off the entire stalk, which will ensure that there is enough length to properly replant the stalk into its own soil. 

Once you have your cutting, stick it into soil that has plenty of space for air and has a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. A soil that is too dense will not allow for a new root system to develop quickly. Your donor plant will eventually begin sprouting new stems and leaves from its stalk which will replace the cutting you removed. 

chinese evergreen care

If the Chinese Evergreen has more than eight leaves, you can propagate it by either cutting off a basal shoot or a sucker from the main root system. This will allow you to propagate a new Chinese Evergreen while allowing your donor plant to continue thriving without having to re-sprout completely. 

Once you have your cutting, the steps are the same as discussed above. It is most important that your soil is properly aerated to allow your Chinese Evergreen’s new root system to grow. You can also help this by elevating the pot containing your propagated plant. 

Soil

While Chinese Evergreens are known to be low-maintenance and adaptable, it is always important that the soil is adequate for it to thrive. These plants prefer a low-moisture environment which can be achieved by ensuring you have plenty of drainage holes and you are not over-watering. If you think your soil may be too moist, mixing in small amounts of sand throughout is an easy fix. 

Along with low moisture environments, these plants also prefer slightly acidic soil. You can test your soil to make sure it is no higher than 6.9. That being said, you also need to make sure your soil is not so acidic that it cannot survive. You can reach your preferred pH by introducing different types of nutrients to the soil such as peat moss. 

Pruning

As long as you have your Chinese Evergreen in the proper conditions it needs to survive, very minimal care is needed to keep the specimen happy and healthy. However, like any other plant, occasional pruning is advised to conserve nutrients, promote growth, and keep your Chinese Evergreen looking great. 

It is often recommended that upon the arrival of a flower it be immediately cut off. The flowers of a Chinese Evergreen are structured as a spathe and spadix and are easy to spot. You will want to cut off these flowers so as not to divert any nutrients from the leaves. Providing the leaves with as much of the nutrients from the soil as possible will allow them to grow larger and look more full. 

Again, it is not required, but cutting off dead, or near dead leaves will maintain a crisp and healthy look. 

Repotting and Transplanting

As the plant continues growing, it may reach a size which its original pot can longer sustain. If this occurs, you can re-pot your Chinese Evergreen into a larger container. Another option is to propagate a new plant from the original. 

One reason you will want to repot your plant is that Chinese Evergreens are known for their large root system. When looking for the right pot to replant in, look for pots a few inches larger than the original pot and that have a wide base with enough room for the root system to continue growing. 

After choosing the right pot, place a few inches of soil at the bottom. Carefully loosen the soil around your plant and slowly remove any loose and excess soil. Extract the roots from the loose soil and place it gently atop the soil in the larger pot and replant your Chinese Evergreen. 

chinese evergreen

How to Care for Chinese Evergreen Plants 

Now that you’ve planted your Chinese Evergreen, follow these tips to keep it growing to the best extent possible. It’s easy to get the hang of it by following these simple Chinese evergreen care tips. 

Water

Chinese Evergreens are popular because they have a reputation for being low-maintenance. This reputation has come about partly because of their preference for low-moisture environments. It is because they thrive in such environments that daily watering is not at all necessary. 

It is recommended that the plants only be watered when the top layer of soil looks and feels dry approximately one inch below the surface. Slowly pour or mist water onto the top of the soil only creating a damp surface— not a muddy one. 

The amount of sunlight your plant receives will also be an indicator of how much you should water your plant. If the plant is receiving low amounts of sun, watering will not be as frequent as a plant receiving medium amounts of sun. 

While Chinese Evergreens are a robust genus of plants, their preference for low-moisture environments does mean that overwatering is an easy mistake to make. Overwatering can trigger issues such as root rot which can kill a houseplant quickly. Ensure your pot has plenty of drainage holes to help remove any excess water in the soil. 

Sunlight

While each species within the genus Aglaonema has various needs for sunlight usually based on coloring, in general, Chinese Evergreens need medium to low amounts of sunlight. This is one of the reasons it is one of the most popular indoor plants

The amount of sunlight necessary for the plant to thrive will depend on the color of its foliage. The darker the foliage, the less sunlight it will need on a regular basis. The lighter the foliage, the more sunlight the plant will need. Similarly, if you prefer the leaves of your plant to be positioned more vertically, you will want to provide more sunlight than if you prefer horizontally positioned leaves. 

That being said, it is extremely important that you do not leave your Chinese Evergreen exposed to direct sunlight. The rays from the sun can be extremely damaging to its leaves and can even burn them. 

Keep an eye on the amount of sunlight your Chinese Evergreen is receiving on a daily basis as this will also affect the amount of watering necessary to keep Aglaonema hydrated. Also, always be sure to rotate your plant so that every side of it is provided sun. 

Temperature and Humidity

Like with sunlight, each species within the genus Aglaonema prefers different temperatures and humidity. In general, however, Chinese Evergreens thrive in daytime air temperatures between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the same for soil temperatures. 

While these plants can withstand nighttime temperature drops of up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can be fatal. That being said, cooler air can be used to stunt Aglaonema’s growth as long as you are not letting the temperature reach that limit. 

Regarding humidity, similar to water tolerance, Chinese Evergreens prefer lower-humidity environments. While most indoor plants thrive at humidity levels between 50 and 70 percent, Chinese Evergreens grow most efficiently when placed in an environment with humidity levels of 30 percent or above. 

Fertilizer

Most common house plant fertilizers will work fine with your Chinese Evergreen as they are adaptable and robust. As long as you are not drastically increasing or decreasing the pH of the soil, anything will work. Peat moss is often recommended. 

Pest and Diseases

While it is not common for Chinese Evergreens to attract pests, they still have the potential to cause great harm to your plant. Similarly, diseases of all kinds can infect any plant so it is important to be aware of the signs and treatments. 

Pests 

Some common types of pests and insects that have the potential to invade your plant include mealybugs, scales, and caterpillars. These can all be treated by spraying your plant down with a low toxicity houseplant pesticide.

Mealybugs are easy to spot because, when clumped together, they resemble white and fluffy cotton. They can stun your plant, causing it to die.

Scales feed on the leaves and stems of plants, leaving behind a sticky substance that can be used to identify their presence. They also stun the growth of Aglaonema, causing it to weaken and die. To remove the sticky residue, you can wash the leaves of the plant with soapy water or apply rubbing alcohol to gently clean them.

Caterpillar infestations are easy to detect as they will leave visible holes in the leaves of your houseplant. 

Always be sure to research pesticides when choosing the right one for your home and plant. 

Fungal Stem and Root Rot 

Both stem and root rot can occur due to fungal infections, usually caused by excess moisture. Before taking action, it is recommended an accurate diagnosis be made. If you notice any of the signs mentioned below, first remove your plant from its soil and repot it using pathogen-free soil. Continuing further, try elevating Aglaonema to promote drainage and be cautious when watering. 

Fungal Root Rot can be identified by yellowing or droopy leaves and dark brown or black roots that are mushy and can be easily moved or torn off. 

Fungal Stem Rot will cause the base of your plant to look and feel mushy and often has a deep purple to red tint. 

Bacterial Blights and Bacterial Stem Rot

While bacterial blight can be treated with antibiotic sprays, it is usually best to propagate your houseplant to ensure you have gotten rid of the bacteria. Similarly, bacterial stem rot can only be cured through propagation. 

  • Bacterial Blight is easily identified by the tiny holes it creates on the leaves of the plant, often causing them to fall apart. 
  • Bacterial stem rot most frequently occurs on recently propagated plants. It will cause the base of your cutting to become mushy and will smell of rot. This is why the best cure is re-propagation. 

Leaf Spots 

Leaf spots can be caused by both bacteria and fungi. They can be combated by repotting your plant in pathogen-free soil and ensuring your plant has plenty of opportunity to rid itself and its soil of excess moisture. 

Bacterial Leaf Spots can be identified by red, brown, and bright yellow coloring on the edges of your leaves. If the bacteria are allowed to thrive, the spots can reach the interior of the leaf as well, putting your entire plant at risk. 

Fungal Leaf spots often occur around lacerations on the plant’s leaves. They are a tannish-brown color and will cause the edges of the leaves to turn bright yellow. 

Common Varieties and Cultivars

There are close to four dozen different varieties and cultivars of Aglaonema to consider growing. Here are some of our favorite Aglaonema varieties!

Poison Dart Plant (Aglaonema commutatum

An extremely common species of Aglaonema, this Chinese Evergreen is a tropical plant native to the Philippines. 

Its leaves can reach up to 8 inches in length and are characterized by their dark green leaves streaked with colors such as cream, yellow, grey, pink, or red. They are known for their beauty and maintainability. 

Painted Drop Tongue (Aglaonema nitidum)

Often located in commercial spaces due to its lack of need for lots of water, this plant is also known for its beauty and ease of care. 

Its leaves are characterized by the silver streaks often found within their centers. These plants are natives of Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam among others. 

More Common Species and Cultivars

In addition to the three specific cultivars listed above, the below varieties and cultivars are also popular: 

  • A. costatum 
  • A. crispum 
  • A. modestum
  • A. “Emerald Beauty”
  • A. “Maria”
  • A. “Parrot Jungle”
  • A. “Silver Queen”
  • A. “White Rajah”
  • A. “Queen Julienne” 

Conclusion

If you are looking for the perfect touch of nature to brighten your indoor space, the Chinese Evergreen plant is a great way to do so. Easy to maintain, this plant is sure to fit the needs of even the busiest of people. It’s also one of the best plants for air purification.

Just remember to place your plant in an area where it can receive low to moderate amounts of sunlight each day and to water when the top of its soil feels dry. If propagating, watch out for disease and be sure to keep your pH levels in check. 

Available in many beautiful and interesting species, the Chinese Evergreen is a great plant to bring you fresh air inside and to get you to start working on your green thumb.

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