How-to Guide to Growing and Maintaining Aglaonema

People with black thumbs, rejoice! Aglaonema is the houseplant for you. Considered one of the easiest plants to grow, Aglaonema isn’t picky about light, water or food. You can grow it in a room that doesn’t get much light at all and go weeks between waterings and still the plant will thrive. Although it prefers some humidity and warmth, it’s fairly adaptable. The plant’s also known for its ability to filter pollutants out of indoor air. The one drawback of aglaonema is that it’s toxic to pets, meaning it can be tricky to grow in a home with cats or dogs.

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Aglaonema Varieties

You can choose from a range of different Aglaonema (also known as Chinese evergreen or Philippine evergreen) varieties. While the different varieties might have subtle differences, they each have a few major similarities. For example, the plants usually have wide, sturdy leaves that usually have some sort of pattern on them.

Aglaonema

Photo by Selso licensed under GNU 1.3

Here are a few different varieties you might come across at a nursery or garden center:

  • Red Gold. The red gold variety of aglaonema has vibrant foliage, usually in a range of red, gold and cream colors.
  • Silver Queen. The silver queen variety of Chinese evergreen is best suited to areas that get low levels of light. It has dark green leaves with wide silver stripes.
  • Silver Bay. Like silver queen, the silver bay variety of aglaonema has deep green leaves with silver stripes. Its leaves are slightly darker than those of the silver queen.
  • Golden Bay. The golden bay aglaonema plant has silver-green leaves with a cream-colored center.
  • Emerald Beauty. True to its name, the emerald beauty has vibrant, deep green leaves, which feature feathery grey markings.
  • Maria. Maria is another aglaonema variety with silver-gray markings.
  • Calypso. The calypso variety has bright green leaves with distinctive cream-colored or silver-colored marks.

The video above, from LSU AgCenter, introduces you to a few of the more colorful aglaonema varieties available today. It also provides tips for keeping your plants looking great for many years.

While each variety of aglaonema might look slightly different, the plants generally all have the same care requirements. Aglaonema is known for being an easy-to-care for, difficult-to-kill houseplant.

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Care for Aglaonema

One word that’s often used to describe aglaonema is durable. That’s because the plant is able to withstand and survive a fair amount of abuse and neglect. It’s an ideal houseplant for people who have a history of killing houseplants or for people who aren’t home that much, but still want a bit of greenery in their decor.

Light Requirements

Southern Living has dubbed aglaonema the “easiest houseplant.” One of the things that makes the plant so easy to grow is its ability to thrive in low light conditions. While you don’t want to grow Chinese evergreen in a completely dark room, it does do well in rooms that barely get any sunlight at all or that are lit by artificial lighting.

That means it’s a good pick for windowless, fluorescent lit offices. It can also grow in rooms that get a fair amount of sunlight. Just make sure to put the plant in an area of the room that doesn’t get direct sun. You can put it in a north facing window, if you’d like.

Water and Food Needs

Like all houseplants, aglaonema needs water to survive. But the plant can tolerate less water than many other houseplants. If you let the soil dry out between waterings or if you forget to water it for a few weeks, it usually isn’t bothered.

The one thing that will do Chinese evergreens in is giving them too much water. Don’t water the plant daily and make sure you let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings. To keep the soil from becoming too soggy or waterlogged, make sure you plant the aglaonema in a container that has a hole for drainage.

Aglaonema doesn’t need much when it comes to food either. You might not have to fertilize the plant at all during its life. But to make sure you’re not starving your plant, it’s usually recommended that you feed it once or twice a year, usually during the spring or summer. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer to feed the plant.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

If there is one thing aglaonema is going to be fussy about, it would be the temperature and humidity levels of the air around it. Remember that the plant is from a tropical area. It does best when temperatures are relatively warm (above 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and when the air is relatively humid.

You don’t have to recreate the conditions of a tropical rainforest in your home for Chinese evergreen to survive. Just make sure to keep the temperature above 65 degrees and to keep the plant away from drafty areas. If you’re concerned about the air around the plant being too dry, you can mist its leaves from time to time.

Another option is to give the plant a shower every now and then. Rinsing aglaonema in the showering accomplishes two things. First, it helps the plant stay moist (but not waterlogged). Second, it helps remove any dust or debris that might have collected on the plant’s leaves.

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Benefits and Drawbacks of Aglaonema

Aside from being an easy to care for and easy to grow houseplant, aglaonema has some other benefits. According to Mother Nature Network, it’s known for its ability to help clean indoor air. Chinese evergreen can help filter indoor air pollutants and toxins, improving the quality of the air inside your home.

No plant is perfect, though. If you have pets, such as a cat or dog, you might want to carefully consider whether aglaonema is the right plant to grow in your home. The plant is toxic to both cats and dogs, according to the ASPCA. If you are going to grow it in a home with pets, be sure to put it in a spot that is well out of their reach.

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