Aglaonema: origin, care & propagation of Chinese evergreens

Katja
Katja
Katja
Katja

I study landscape ecology and through my studies have discovered a love for plants. Plants are not only beautiful, but also have countless fascinating survival strategies. To bring a bit of nature into my home as well, I nurture my houseplants and herbs on every possible windowsill.

Favourite fruit: rhubarb and all kinds of berries
Favourite vegetables: onions and garlic

Aglaonemas have beautifully patterned leaves and lucky for us indoor plant enthusiasts, they can be kept as houseplants! Read on to learn more about these evergreen beauties and how to take care of them.

Green and silver variegated Aglaonema
Chinese evergreens are truly eye-catching plants [Photo: dropStock/ Shutterstock.com]

Its preference for slightly shady spots makes the Aglaonema a particularly suitable plant for darker rooms. In this article, we tell you what else you should bear in mind when it comes to finding a suitable spot and caring for Chinese evergreens.

Aglaonema: origin and characteristics

Aglaonema, commonly known as Chinese evergreen, is a plant genus consisting of around 22 species and several hundred varieties, all of which differ in leaf colour and pattern. These slow-growing evergreen perennials are native to Southeast Asia and belong to the arum family, Araceae. These plants grow upright and can reach heights of up to 120 cm. Aglaonema leaves are elongated and pointed at the end, with an otherwise fairly simple shape that is beautifully variegated. And it is because of its beautiful foliage that the Chinese evergreen is often kept as a houseplant. Between June and September, the Aglaonema forms cob-like flowers, which are characteristic of plants in the arum family. The flower is enclosed by bracts and, if pollinated, develops into red berries.

Aglaonema in bloom
Even when kept as houseplants, Aglaonemas can produce flowers [Photo: YG PhotoArtWorks/ Shutterstock.com]

Location and soil requirements

Chinese evergreens do not require a lot of light and are therefore suitable for darker rooms. Placed in partial shade, Aglaonemas will develop particularly beautiful green leaves; if these plants get too much light, the leaves turn yellowish or greyish. On the other hand, varieties with light or brightly patterned leaves tolerate a little more light and should be moved to a brighter spot.

Aglaonema plants love warmth, so put them somewhere the temperature will not fall below 18 °C, even in winter. In summer, they prefer higher temperatures of around 20 to 25 °C.

How to plant your Chinese evergreen? Place a drainage layer of coarse materials, such as shards of clay, pebbles or expanded clay, in the bottom of the pot with a drainage hole. This will allow excess water to drain away and helps to prevent root rot. Now put a layer of soil in the pot. A high-quality substrate, such as our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost, with a loose structure allowing air to circulate and get to the roots likewise helps to prevent root rot. Place the plant in the centre of the pot and fill any gaps with substrate. Place the potted plant on a saucer to catch excess water when watering.

Tip: Aglaonema plants love high humidity levels of around 70%! However, if the leaves come into contact with water, this can cause unsightly stains, so misting is not recommended. Instead, you can place them in humid environments, such as bathrooms or kitchens. Alternatively, you can also increase the humidity in the air by placing a saucer filled with expanded clay and water nearby.

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Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
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Aglaonema care: watering, fertilising and more

As the Aglaonema is a tropical plant, it is vital to water it regularly and ensure sufficient humidity.

Water your Aglaonema frequently but only with a small amount of lime-free water or rainwater at room temperature. Keep the substrate moist but never wet. Watering around the plant’s base will keep the leaves from getting wet. Aglaonema plants do not tolerate waterlogging well, so remove excess water from the saucer or planter within a few minutes after watering to avoid the plant sitting in it. This will help prevent root rot. In winter, water less often and always let the soil dry out between watering.

Person wiping Chinese evergreen leaves
Aglaonema leaves need to be wiped down from time to time to remove dust [Photo: Damian Lugowski/ Shutterstock.com]

During the growing season from spring to autumn, fertilise your Chinese evergreen once a fortnight. Our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food is ideal for Aglaonema plants and strengthens both the leaves and roots. Simply mix the fertiliser with water as per the instructions and water your Chinese evergreen. This fertiliser ensures the necessary nutrients are readily available to the plant.

Chinese evergreens should be repotted in spring. Repot young plants annually in a slightly larger pot; older plants only need repotting every two to three years.

Watering Chinese evergreen plants
Chinese evergreens thrive in spots with little light [Photo: New Africa/ Shutterstock.com]

Propagating Aglaonema

Propagating Chinese evergreens is not too difficult. To propagate your Aglaonema, you will need head cuttings which are cut from the mother plant in spring. To make a head cutting, take a sharp, disinfected knife and cut off a 10 cm piece of healthy shoot from the upper part of the plant. Remove the lower leaves and prepare a pot with a suitable growing medium, such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seeding Compost. This soil is peat-free and due to its loose structure, offers optimal growing conditions for young plants. It also supports strong root growth which is particularly important in the early stages as this will ensure the plant can supply itself with sufficient nutrients later in life. Slightly moisten the growing medium and insert the cutting up to the base of the remaining leaf. If kept at around 22 to 24 °C, roots should form after about six weeks. Place the pots in a moderately bright spot and keep the soil evenly moist. You can also put a transparent bag over the cutting to increase the humidity but be sure to air this out from time to time.

You can also propagate Aglaonema plants by division. To do this, separate offshoots known as daughter plants from the mother plant, for instance during repotting. Note that the daughter plants must already have their own roots and leaves before being separated from the mother plant. After dividing, plant these offshoots in separate pots and keep the soil evenly moist. The ideal temperature for successful rooting is around 22 to 24 °C.

Tip: Older Aglaonema plants will eventually become somewhat unsightly, but you can always grow new plants through vegetative propagation.

Five rooted Chinese evergreen cuttings
Aglaonema plants can be propagated by head cuttings [Photo: johan kusuma/ Shutterstock.com]

Are Chinese evergreens poisonous?

The Chinese evergreen is considered poisonous as the milky white sap found in all parts of the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals. This can irritate the skin and mucous membranes on contact and, if ingested, can also cause gastrointestinal issues. Always wear gloves when repotting to be on the safe side. Aglaonema are likewise poisonous for cats and dogs and should be kept out of reach of pets.

We understand wanting to stay on the safe side when it comes to your pets, which is why we have an article on our top ten non-toxic cat-friendly house plants. Here you will find a list of ten plants that are perfectly safe for your feline friends.

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