Grown for their large, patterned, and often colourful foliage, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) plants, also known as Philippine evergreen plants, are leafy, attractive, and bring an exotic feel indoors.
As you’d expect from the name, Chinese evergreens are native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Asia and New Guinea (and yes, they’re also evergreen!) Many different cultivars are available, such as Aglaonema Maria Christina featuring dark green leaves patterned with minty green hues, Aglaonema Commutatum with its green-edged pink leaves, and Aglaonema Silver Queen boasting silver splashes on the lush green foliage.
One thing the cultivars all have in common is how easy they are to care for. Given the right care and conditions, a Chinese evergreen house plant can live for ten years or more. Here’s our guide to making this happen.
- 1 Chinese Evergreen Care
- 2 Common Problems With Chinese Evergreen
- 3 How to Re-Pot a Chinese Evergreen Plant
- 4 How To Propagate Chinese Evergreen Plants
Chinese Evergreen Care
While Chinese evergreens are relatively easy to grow, they do have some specific care needs. Without these needs being met, growth will slow, and the plant may ultimately die.
A Chinese evergreen’s light requirements largely depend on its colouring. Plants with dark green foliage tolerate low light conditions. However, those with red, pink, or variegated leaves need brighter light to photosynthesise and make the colours pop. Keep colourful and variegated Chinese evergreens in bright, indirect light, but keep them out of direct sunlight to prevent leaf scorch.
Temperature and Humidity
Chinese evergreens are happiest in normal room temperatures of between 18-24°C. Avoid hallways and other areas where the plant may feel cold draughts. These plants don’t like fluctuations or when the temperature drops below 16°C.
Growing Chinese evergreen plants in high humidity is the best way to recreate their natural habitat and help them thrive. The kitchen or bathroom are ideal for allowing the plant to soak up plenty of moisture. If you’d rather keep your Chinese evergreen in a drier room, raise the humidity around the plant by placing it over a pebble tray filled with water or by misting the leaves regularly.
Chinese evergreen aglaonema are drought-tolerant plants and are quite forgiving of the occasional forgotten watering. They are somewhat prone to root rot, so ensure the soil doesn’t get overly wet. Aim to keep it evenly moist and water whenever the top few inches of soil dry. Allow any excess water to drain away freely before returning the plant to its regular spot.
It’s always better to under-water than over-water a Chinese evergreen to help prevent root rot from taking hold. If the plant starts drooping, you’ll know it is overdue a drink.
Use a quality liquid houseplant fertiliser every 6-8 weeks during the growing season. Follow the instructions carefully, and don’t use too much plant food, as this can damage the leaves. And after all, they’re the main attraction!
Common Problems With Chinese Evergreen
The most common cause of droopy leaves is under-watering. When you notice the leaves start to sag, consider your watering schedule. If it’s been a while since your plant last had a drink, give it some water, and the foliage should perk up again.
Drooping leaves can also be a sign of over-watering, so don’t rush to the watering can without checking if the soil is dry first.
Yellowing or Brown Leaves
Yellowing leaves are often a symptom of over-watering. Conversely, crispy brown leaves are usually a symptom of under-watering. Again, check how moist the soil is and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Stems or stalks turning yellow or brown is a sign your plant has succumbed to root rot. Before you give up and chuck the plant, take it out of its pot and remove as much soil as you can from around the root system. Prune damaged roots and stems before re-potting the plant in fresh soil.
Leaf spot is a fungal disease caused by poor air circulation or too much humidity or moisture reaching the leaves.
Prune affected leaves from the plant and place the plant in a less humid room with plenty of space to let the air circulate. A copper fungicide should solve the problem, but double-check any solution is suitable for delicate Chinese evergreen leaves before use. Avoid getting the leaves wet when you water the plant, and never let the pot sit in standing water.
Mealy bugs, aphids and whiteflies are common pests that may affect your Chinese evergreen plant. Inspect the leaves of the plant regularly and wipe or wash off any insects you see. You may want to treat the plant with an organic insecticide to eradicate the problem.
How to Re-Pot a Chinese Evergreen Plant
Chinese evergreen is a slow-growing plant that only needs re-potted every two to three years. Choose a slightly larger pot and ensure it has plenty of small holes in the bottom to let excess moisture drain away freely.
Place some well-draining potting mix into the bottom of the new pot. You may wish to add some perlite or gravel to improve drainage and soil aeration. Remove the plant from its pot and gently brush away the soil. Examine the root ball and cut away any damaged parts. Position the plant in its new pot and fill it with fresh potting mix. Water the plant well and give it time to settle into its new home before watering again.
How To Propagate Chinese Evergreen Plants
Remove the plant from its pot and gently shake off some of the soil. Check around the root ball for new shoots and gently tease them apart from the main roots. Plant the divided Chinese evergreens in separate pots and water them well.
Take a clean, sharp knife and cut away a 10 cm stem towards the top of the plant, cutting diagonally beneath a leaf node. Remove the leaves from the bottom of the stem and place the cutting in a jar or bottle of water, ensuring none of the remaining leaves get wet. Keep the new plant in bright, indirect light, topping up the water level as required. In around 3-4 weeks, you’ll notice new roots forming. When these reach around 1-2 inches long, the new Chinese evergreen can get planted in its own pot of soil.
While the Chinese evergreen plant is relatively easy to grow, it does have some rather particular care requirements. Adhere to these, and you’ll be rewarded with a highly-attractive house plant bursting with colour and pattern interest. Care for your Chinese evergreen well and as the plant matures, it might even produce flowers.