Chinese Evergreen

OFFICIAL NAME

Aglaonema commutatum 'Maria'

ALSO KNOWN AS

Aglaonema, Philippine Evergreen

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Southeastern Asia | Tropical & Subtropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

A pleasantly bushy and easy going plant. Densely packed stems are topped with graceful oblong leaves that radiate out in all directions. Each deep green leaf has a unique pattern of contrasting splotches in a much lighter, almost white, shade of green.

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

aroid, easy going, bright indirect, goldilocks, clusters, bushy or dense, tropical, subtropical, floor, tabletop, variegation, low light tolerant, mid-size, oblong

👌️ EASY PEASY 👌

Chinese Evergreen

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Reduce watering in winter, allowing the soil to get up to 50% dry.

Water

Preferred Light

Medium to bright, indirect light is ideal for the Chinese Evergreen. However, they can tolerate low light, as well. Just take extra precautions when watering and don't expect the plant to grow very much.

Light

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Chinese Evergreen will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their large leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The lower leaves are likely to yellow.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Chinese Evergreens are highly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. In some cases, may even cause swelling of the upper airway. Keep away from children and pets.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow upwards of 2 ft with a spread of 1-2 ft (when mature and with plenty of light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation of densely packed stems with elongated leaves arching only slightly down. Works best as a tabletop plant or on a shelf to showcase the unique leaves.

Format

Leaf Look

Elongated teardrop shaped leaves in deep green with showy flecks and splatters of pale green that radiate out from the midline of each leaf.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

The gorgeous large leaves on this plant can quickly accumulate dust. Dust blocks the plant from absorbing light—so be sure to keep their leaves clean and dust-free. You can do this by misting and wiping each leaf or a routine hose-down/shower.

Pro Tip

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Reduce watering in winter, allowing the soil to get up to 50% dry.

Light

|

Bright, indirect light.

Preferred Light

Medium to bright, indirect light is ideal for the Chinese Evergreen. However, they can tolerate low light, as well. Just take extra precautions when watering and don't expect the plant to grow very much.

Humidity

|

Not too concerned by humidity levels.

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Chinese Evergreen will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their large leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The lower leaves are likely to yellow.

Toxicity

|

Highly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Chinese Evergreens are highly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. In some cases, may even cause swelling of the upper airway. Keep away from children and pets.

Size

|

An in-betweener. Not too big, not too small.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow upwards of 2 ft with a spread of 1-2 ft (when mature and with plenty of light)!

Format

|

Densely packed upright stems.

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation of densely packed stems with elongated leaves arching only slightly down. Works best as a tabletop plant or on a shelf to showcase the unique leaves.

Leaf Shape

|

Deep green with variegation and an elongated teardrop shape.

Leaf Look

Elongated teardrop shaped leaves in deep green with showy flecks and splatters of pale green that radiate out from the midline of each leaf.

Pro Tip

|

A good wipe down, please!

Pro Tip

The gorgeous large leaves on this plant can quickly accumulate dust. Dust blocks the plant from absorbing light—so be sure to keep their leaves clean and dust-free. You can do this by misting and wiping each leaf or a routine hose-down/shower.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 2-3 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing the soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

While no specific pruning is required for this plant, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests. More on grooming techniques here.

Propagation

Since Chinese Evergreens grow in dense clumps, you can always divide these into multiple plants when repotting. You'll simply pull apart the roots into your desired clumps. Or, if a bit rootbound, you may need to cut them apart. You can then pot each one up into their own appropriately sized vessel. If you'd like to propagate without dividing your plant, you can also try a stem cutting. You'll need to take an apical stem cutting (the top of the stem where there is new growth). Try to cut a decent section with 3-4 leaves and cut just below the lowest leaf. Remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting in water or another medium. Once the roots are a few inches long you can pot up your new Chinese Evergreen! It may take about a year for your new plant to flower. More on propagation techniques here. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are the leaf patterns on my Chinese Evergreen fading?

Symptom

Leaf variegation and pattern are fading away, giving your plant a washed out appearance.

Cause

This is usually a sign that your plant is getting too much light. In a worst case scenario, the leaves may begin to burn or bleach completely.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings.

More on lighting here.
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Why does my Chinese Evergreen have patchy, pale spots?

Symptom

Larger grey or pale patches on a few leaves. The spot may look dried out and somewhat bleached.

Cause

When your plant is exposed to the hot sun, it begins to evaporate more moisture from the leaf surface than the plant can replace. Leading to bleached areas or large grey patches on leaves.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings. While this should prevent further burning, the spots will not "heal", so it's up to you if you'd like to prune off the affected leaves.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Chinese Evergreen wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaf tips on my Chinese Evergreen browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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