Everything You Need to Know About Growing and Nurturing Chinese Evergreen Plants at Home
The word “evergreen” conjures up images of lush evergreen forests filled with pine and fir trees. Although Chinese evergreens (commonly known by their scientific name of Aglaonemas) stay green year-round, they’re actually perennial herbs and not a tree. This favorite for growing in homes and offices has showy leaves that make a big visual impact with little maintenance needed. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Chinese Evergreen Care at home including potting and planting tips; the best soil mix and recipes; how to water, fertilize, prune, and propagate; and the ideal light and temperature considerations for your plant to truly thrive.
- Chinese Evergreen Care – The Essentials
- About Chinese Evergreen Plants
- Chinese Evergreen Meaning & Symbolism
- How to Grow Chinese Evergreen Plants at Home
- Chinese Evergreen Care – When and How to Water & Fertilize
- Pruning Chinese Evergreen Plants
- Propagating Chinese Evergreen Plants
- How to Re-pot a Chinese Evergreen
- Common Chinese Evergreen Problems & How to Treat Them
- Essential Tools & Supplies for Chinese Evergreen Care
If you’re looking for your next Aglaonema plant, check out our guide to best plant delivery services shipping Chinese Evergreen Plants throughout the United States.
Chinese Evergreen Care – The Essentials
Aglaonemas (Chinese evergreens) prefer low to moderate indirect/filtered sunlight. They can grow under fluorescent lights, but will scorch in direct sunlight. Pot in a well-draining container with a lightly acidic soil (5.6 to 6.5 pH). Chinese evergreens require a moist, humid environment with an ambient temperature no lower than 65°F. Water thoroughly with filtered or distilled water just before the soil has dried completely.
About Chinese Evergreen Plants
Native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and New Guinea, Chinese evergreens first made their way west when they were brought to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the United Kingdom in 1885.
Classification and Characteristics
Aglaonemas, commonly referred to as Chinese evergreens, are a genus of flowering plants in the Araceae family. However, the Chinese evergreen doesn’t produce very showy blossoms. Its flowers resemble exceedingly small peace lily blooms. Instead, people around the world adore these plants for their striking foliage.
The genus of plants gets its name, aglaonema, from the Greek words aglos (shining) and nema (thread) which seem to describe the gleaming appearance of the bright colors and patterns woven throughout these plants variegated leaves. Chinese evergreens’ broad leaves feature smatterings of white, yellow, orange, pink, and red hues throughout their foliage.
Popular Chinese Evergreen Cultivars
Selectively cultivated for their leaf colors and patterns, more than 20 species or cultivars of aglaonemas exist. The most popular include:
- Silver Queen
- Silver Bay
- Golden Bay
- Emerald Beauty
Are Chinese Evergreens Toxic to Humans and/or Pets?
All aglaonemas are toxic to humans and pets. All the plant’s parts contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These damage and irritate soft tissues when the plant is ingested or handled roughly. Additionally, certain varieties produce berry-like fruit that can be poisonous. Keep small children and pets away from Chinese evergreens.
Uses and Benefits of Chinese Evergreen Plants
Although dangerous to ingest, aglaonemas are prized for their ornamental value. They’re attractive, low-maintenance, and easy to grow indoors.
Like all living plants, Chinese evergreens replenish indoor oxygen. According to NASA’s clean air study, they also help purify indoor air by removing formaldehyde and benzene toxins.
Chinese Evergreen Meaning & Symbolism
In Chinese culture, aglaonemas represent good luck and prosperity. People around the world recognize this auspicious symbolic meaning.
How to Grow Chinese Evergreen Plants at Home
Growth Expectations: How Big and How Fast Do Chinese Evergreens Grow?
Depending on the variety, a Chinese evergreen can grow to about one to three feet tall. Chinese evergreens grow more quickly in the summer and more slowly during the winter. Compared to other plants, Chinese evergreens grow relatively slowly. Most indoor aglaonema plants only need to be repotted once every two or three years.
3 Planting Preparation Tips
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It’s always good to have a mini-plan in place before potting or planting at home. Here are 3 points I always consider for new houseplants:
1. Choose a Location
For successful indoor growing, Chinese Evergreen plants should be placed in a spot where it will receive low to moderate indirect sunlight. Keep the plant away from heating and air conditioning vents and cold drafts.
2. Select a Container
Obtain a well-draining pot no more than two sizes larger than your plant’s current pot. For example, if your plant currently has a 4-inch pot, choose a 6 or 8-inch container.
3. Gather Supplies
Before you begin, make sure you have gardening gloves and the proper potting soil in addition to your container.
The Best Soil Mix for Chinese Evergreens
Chinese evergreens need well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Make the perfect potting mix by combining store-bought potting soil (formulated for houseplants) with perlite or peat and sand in equal parts. In a pinch, aglaonemas can also survive in cactus soil.
For more, see our comprehensive guide to the best soil mix for Aglaonema plants.
How to Plant a Chinese Evergreen
- Select a container two to four-inches larger than the plant’s current pot.
- Fill the container 1/4 of the way full with your potting mix. (To encourage proper drainage, you can add a shallow layer of rocks at the bottom of the pot before adding the soil. However, this isn’t necessary with a well-draining container.)
- Gently remove the Chinese evergreen from its current pot.
- Dislodge some of the spent soil from the plant’s roots. However, Chinese evergreens prefer being slightly root-bound, so there’s no need to tease apart its roots.
- Place the plant’s rootball in the new pot on top of the bottom layer of soil.
- Fill in around the plant’s roots with the rest of the soil, until the roots are completely covered. Only the plant’s stalk and leaves should show.
- Water thoroughly to compact the soil and add more to the top if needed.
- Allow the pot to drain completely.
- Place the plant in the desired location.
Chinese Evergreen Light Preferences
Chinese evergreens can survive in a variety of light conditions. They make popular office plants because they do well in rooms bathed in fluorescent light only. However, your Chinese evergreen will grow best with moderate, indirect or filtered sunlight. Avoid bright, direct sunlight in south-facing windows because it will scorch and burn the plant’s leaves.
Although Chinese evergreens can tolerate most light conditions, certain varieties (those with vibrant, variegated leaves) do best in bright, indirect light and others (those with mostly green leaves) fare best in moderate to low light conditions.
Temperature and Humidity Preferences
Chinese evergreens prefer high humidity and don’t tolerate temperatures below 65°F. Keep aglaonemas away from cold drafts and hot air vents that can chill or dehydrate the plant.
If you live in an arid environment, consider running a humidifier in your home or misting your plant’s leaves once every week or two. You can also place a tray filled with pebbles and water beneath your plant’s container to increase the humidity present in its immediate environment.
Chinese Evergreen Care
Chinese Evergreen Watering
Watering schedules vary based on each plant’s environment (season, temperature, humidity, and light levels). In warmer, drier environments or during the growing season, plants need to be watered more frequently. On average, Chinese evergreens should be watered once every seven to 10 days in the summer and every two weeks in the winter.
Chinese evergreens prefer a damp environment. An aglaonema’s pot should never dry completely. However, leaving one in standing water can cause root rot. Water when the top three inches of soil feels dry. To keep the soil perfectly moist, use a soil moisture meter. Water your plant when the meter reads three or four.
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To water, first fill your watering can. (Instead of tap water, use filtered or distilled water to protect your plant from chlorine and fluoride.) Then pour gently into the plant’s soil, avoiding its leaves. Stop watering as soon as water begins to drain from the bottom of the pot.
For more, see our in-depth guide to watering Aglaonema plants at home.
Feeding & Fertilizing Chinese Evergreen Plants
What to Feed
Aglaonemas prefer a balanced liquid plant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower), fish emulsion, or liquid kelp. Regardless of what you use, be sure to dilute it to half-strength.
When to Feed
Aglaonemas don’t require frequent feeding. Fertilize your Chinese evergreen once a year in early spring. If you think yours needs more food, you can give it a second dose in the summer.
Do not fertilize a Chinese evergreen in the fall or winter. Your plant will go dormant and rest during the cooler months. Do not over-fertilize your plants; doing so can burn the plant’s roots.
Chinese Evergreen Pruning
When to Prune
Chinese evergreens only require pruning to remove spent flowers or yellow/brown leaves.
How to Prune
Use clean pruning shears to trim spent flowers or dead leaves from the plant as close to the stalk as possible. To reduce the risk of exposing your plant to pests, wait to prune until the dead leaves pull away easily.
Chinese Evergreen Propagation
You can propagate Chinese evergreens in two ways:
- Simply split the plant – roots and all – into two sections with at least four leaves apiece and repot both.
- Sprout new plants from leaf cuttings. Cut as many leaves as you want new plants from the original Chinese evergreen. (Choose leaves that have at least six inches of the stalk to remove with the leaf.) Simply snip the leaf at its stalk, place it in a cup of water, and wait for it to sprout roots. Then, pot it in a small pot with soil and move it to a larger container after additional shoots have sprouted.
Chinese evergreens are most successfully propagated during the growing season (spring and summer).
How to Repot a Chinese Evergreen
When to Repot
A Chinese evergreen won’t suffer from being slightly rootbound. If yours has roots sprouting from the bottom of the pot or emerging above the soil, you should still wait until spring or summer to repot the plant.
How to Repot
- Take all your supplies outside or lay down a drop cloth or newspaper to catch the mess.
- Choose a pot that’s three to four inches bigger than the current container.
- Create a mix of well-draining soil (potting mix/perlite/peat/sand).
- Fill your new pot 1/4 full with soil.
- Gently remove your Chinese evergreen from its pot. If you have trouble getting it loose, you can use a small trowel or butter knife to separate the soil and rootball from the sides of the pot.
- Don’t worry about teasing the roots apart.
- Place the plant on top of the soil in the new pot.
- Fill soil in around the plant until the roots are completely covered.
- Water until it runs out the bottom of the pot.
- Continue care as usual.
Common Chinese Evergreen Problems & How to Treat Them
Look Out for These Common Chinese Evergreen Problems
- Droopy Leaves – The plant might need more water or light. Give both a try and observe the plant for improvement.
- Dark, Greasy Patches – These indicate chill injury. Move your plant to a warmer location.
- Crisp Leaves with Brown Tips – The plant likely needs more water or humidity. Mist the leaves or add a tray of pebbles with water or a humidifier.
- Curling Leaves – Too much light. Try moving your plant to a shadier location.
- Yellow or Brown Leaves – Your plant might be getting too much water. Use a soil moisture meter for a perfect watering schedule.
- Yellow or Brown Stalks – The plant might have root rot – especially if it’s in standing water. Drain excess water from the pot and hold off on watering until the soil has almost dried. If the plant’s condition does not improve, consider applying a root rot treatment.
Common Chinese Evergreen Pests and Diseases
- Mealybugs – These appear as white fluff on the undersides of leaves, stalks, and soil. Treating them early will prevent them from contaminating other plants in your home. Prune away small infestations or use a cotton swab to dab them with rubbing alcohol. Store-bought insecticide works best for tackling heavy infestations.
- Spider Mites – These tiny orange-colored pests weave sticky webs and damage your plants. Prune away infested sections of your plant or purchase a plant-safe spider mite insecticide from a garden center.
- Scale – You’ll recognize these pests by their shell-like appearance that pops up on leaves and stalks. Scale can only be eradicated with insecticide during one stage of its lifestyle. Often, it’s easier to simply toss an infected plant before other houseplants are exposed.
For more, see our in-depth guide to common aglaonema bugs, pests, and diseases.
Essential Tools & Supplies for Chinese Evergreen Care
Here’s a useful checklist of items you’ll need to get going:
- Houseplant mix
- 5-5-5 fertilizer
- Well-draining container
- Gardening gloves
- Soil probe moisture meter (fingers are a good substitute as well!)
- Watering can
Versatile, low-maintenance, and beautiful to admire, it’s no wonder why aglaonemas are some of the most popular houseplants. Whether you enjoy them in your home or in an office, Chinese evergreens will surely brighten the atmosphere and lift your mood!
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