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Green plants are gorgeous, but sometimes, we crave bright colors and bold patterns. The aglaonema plant, also known as Chinese evergreen, offers both. This compact, easy-to-grow houseplant is known for its attractive coloring and patterns, ranging from jungle green, pink, red, silver, yellow, and cream to stripes and speckles. So, if your space needs a little pop of color, aglaonema is for you.
- Botanical Name: Aglaonema commutatum
- Common Name: Aglaonema, Chinese evergreen
- Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
- Mature Size: 20 inches high
- Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
- Soil Type: Peat-based potting soil
- Soil pH: 5.6–6.5
- Toxicity: Toxic
Keep your aglaonema plant's soil just barely moist—but not wet—and avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely. Generally, it will need watering more frequently in the spring and summer and less in the winter, so check the soil moisture regularly. Your plant will tell you when it's getting too dry by letting its leaves droop. They should perk back up shortly after watering. If your plant's leaves are yellowing or its stems feel mushy, that's a sign that the plant is getting too much water.
Feed your aglaonema with houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength every four months or so. When its pot becomes overcrowded, transplant your plant into a container one size larger with fresh soil. This is best done during the spring or summer, when the plant is actively growing.
Best Growing Conditions for Aglaonema
Many of our favorite houseplants need as much light as you can give them, but aglaonema plants are pretty flexible in this regard. In particular, green varieties of aglaonema can tolerate lower-light conditions well. However, for colorful variegated species, bright, shadowless light is ideal—such as from a window facing north, which offers the weakest light compared to windows with other exposures.
This plant likes the heat, so make sure that you place it in a warm spot, ideally with nights in the 60-degree range and days ranging from 75–85 degrees.
Pot your aglaonema in standard potting soil. Like pothos and heartleaf philodendron, aglaonema can also be kept in a clear container of water. If using this method, add a bit of charcoal to the water, and feed the plant once per month with just a drop of houseplant fertilizer.
There are more than 100 varieties of aglaonema to choose from. Cultivars like 'Red Peacock,' 'George's Ruby,' and 'Harlequin' have splashes of pink and yellow, while 'Anyanmanee' has bright pink leaves speckled and edged with a bit of green.
The green-hued aglaonema, sometimes called Philippine evergreen, offers a lush, jungle-like feel along with more subdued—but no less attractive—colors and patterns. 'Black Lance,' a larger cultivar, features long, pointed leaves with pale silver and deep green hues, whereas the pale green and white stripes on A. modestum and 'Brilliant' call to mind the coloring of some calathea species.
How to Propagate Aglaonema
Aglaonema is very easy to propagate in water or in soil via stem cuttings. You'll get the best results with propagation done during the warm growing season. Note that water-propagated specimens tend not to thrive when planted in soil. If you choose to propagate in water, it's best to keep the mature plant in water, too.
Step 1: Identify a healthy shoot on the mother plant to remove for your cutting. The shoot should have at least five leaves and be at least six inches long. Both newer and older shoots can be used for propagation.
Step 2: Using a clean, sharp blade or gardening shears, make a diagonal cut in the shoot's stem just below a leaf node. Trim off the bottom couple leaves from the cutting.
Step 3: If using the water method, fill an appropriately-sized glass or jar with water so that the leaf nodes will be submerged, and place the cutting in the water.
Step 4: If using the soil method, fill a small plant container with well-draining potting soil. Moisten the soil, poke a hole a few inches deep with your finger or a pencil, and plant the cutting in the soil. Pat the soil gently around the base of the cutting to secure it.
Step 5: Place your cuttings in a warm place with bright, indirect light. If using the water method, change the water when it becomes cloudy. The plant should establish new roots in four to six weeks. After that point, care for the plants as usual.
Common Growing Problems
One indicator that there's a growing problem with your aglaonema is dried-out leaf tips. This is called "tipping," and can be a symptom of a few issues, including overwatering and too much fertilizer. Professional gardeners have determined that the most common cause of tipping is watering your plant with water that has a high concentration of salts, chlorine, and fluoride. If your plant is showing signs of tipping, switch to purified water.
Is Aglaonema Toxic?
Some plants have tiny molecules, calcium oxalate crystals, which, to the touch, can be quite painful and cause temporary swelling; unfortunately for pets, aglaonema contains these crystals. If your cat or dog accidentally ingests the leaves, take them to the vet ASAP. They'll experience minor but uncomfortable symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting. In rare cases, pets who eat aglaonema may experience swelling of the tongue and throat, as well as trouble breathing.