Botanical Name: Aglaonema hybrids
Chinese Evergreen is a member of the Aroid family (Araceae), known for easy-to-please foliage house plants.
A very adaptable plant, Aglaonema tolerates low light and dry air better than most other house plants. One thing it doesn't like is cold air. Keep your plant away from drafts and A/C vents and it'll do just fine.
Its large, pointed, green variegated leaves are 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) long, 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) wide, and heavily marbled with white, cream, silver or red.
New hybrids and cultivars are developed all the time, giving us more beautiful choices than ever before. Newer hybrids of this plant grow in thick clumps, so mature plants stay compact and bushy. 'Silver Queen' (shown at bottom) is a compact cultivar.
You have a wealth of varieties to choose from:
Choose the one you like, they all make eye-catching house plants.
Water regularly. Consistently moist soil will keep this plant happy. In fact, it can grow in water alone.
Don't prune. All new growth is from the crown of the plant, so don't prune it back or you'll kill it. If it begins to look leggy, plant pothos -- or some other low-light plant -- in the same container to cover the bare stems.
Repot in spring when it outgrows its pot. Aglaonema likes to be slightly root-bound, so it's a good idea to move to a pot that's slightly larger. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil. If you want to use a container without drainage holes, use it as a cachepot. Slip a plain nursery pot into a decorative cachepot to cover it up. I put small pebbles in the bottom of cachepots to keep the inner pot above the drainage water.
Check for bugs. Scale insects can weaken Chinese Evergreen, causing its leaves to droop. Look for these tiny, brown insects on stems and the undersides of leaves. Treat any infestation right away.
Is Chinese Evergreen poisonous? Yes. Small flowers may appear in summer, followed by red berries. Both the berries and the sap of this plant contain oxalic acid, which can be toxic. It's not a good idea to keep Aglaonema where children and pets may play with or ingest it.
Origin: Subtropical forests of Southeast Asia
Height: 2-3 ft (60-90 cm)
Light: Bright, indirect light to low light. Keep it out of direct sunlight, which may cause its leaves to fade. Aglaonema grows well under fluorescent light, making it an ideal office plant.
Water: Water Chinese Evergreen thoroughly, then allow surface of potting medium to dry out a bit before watering again. Keep it slightly drier in winter, when growth is slower. Don't allow it to get so dry that its leaves wilt. When watering, try to keep the leaves dry to prevent leaf spots.
Humidity: Average indoor (around 40% relative humidity) or higher. Don't mist, which will cause spots on its leaves. It's a good idea to use a humidity monitor near your houseplant, rather than guess -- indoor air can become extremely dry during the winter months. The most efficient way to boost humidity is to use a cool-mist room humidifier.
Temperature: Normal room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C. Aglaonema has no tolerance for the cold. It suffers when exposed to temps below 55°F/13°C. Cold air may cause grayish-yellow patches on its leaves. Set your plant where it won't be exposed to cold blasts from doorways and windows, or an AC vent.
Soil: Good-quality, all-purpose houseplant potting mix.
Fertilizer: Chinese Evergreen is not a big feeder. From spring through summer, feed monthly with a balanced (such as 10-10-10 NPK) water-soluble houseplant fertilizer, using half the recommended amount. Do not feed in winter, when growth is slow.
Propagation: Chinese Evergreen is easy to propagate by stem cuttings. Take 3-4 in (7.5-10 cm) long stem tip cuttings in spring. Dip the cut ends in water then rooting powder. Insert into sterile, moist potting mix. Keeping the plants warm and humid will improve successful propagation. Older root-bound plants can be divided.