Have you struggled to select the best plant for either your living room or office space and want to have a lucky plant? Aglaonema is the best choice for you. Also known as Chinese evergreen, this is a flowering plant whose origin is in the Asian tropical forest.
It belongs to the family Araceae and is a favorite plant in China, where the residents consider it a lucky plant. In addition, it is on the NASA top 10 list of clean air plants since it purifies the air by removing formaldehyde and benzene.
There are a lot of aglaonema varieties you can choose from, but all of them are easy to take care of and maintain. All the varieties have narrow and oval glossy leaves, which are variegated with colors like dark green, light green, pink, yellow, and silver.
Aglaonema is a slow-growing plant that has short and upright stems. When they grow older, they produce white flowers in summer and spring. The average size of an aglaonema plant is 1-2 feet wide and 1-2 feet tall.
Whatever variety of aglaonema you choose to plant, you must put some care tips in place to ensure its perfect health and long life.
Since aglaonema is a tropical plant, it means that it is used to growing under the canopy of other large trees and vegetation. Therefore, it does not get a lot of bright and direct sunlight.
If you are growing the verities of aglaonema that have dark green leaves, those can do well in very low light conditions, meaning that you can have them in your office away from a window.
However, the varieties that have variegations require bright but the indirect sun to maintain the colors bright. Having them in a low light spot makes them lose their bright colors and turn mostly green, as the leaves strive to make more chlorophyll for the plant.
Aglaonema can also do well in fluorescent light. However, do not expose them to direct sunlight because that will scorch the leaves.
The best temperatures for your aglaonema plant are 65-80 degrees F. However, the temperatures should not drop below 60 degrees F because the plant is sensitive to cold air conditions and might exhibit signs of cold damage.
To maintain that temperature, do not place your aglaonema in places that will experience extreme temperature changes like near heaters, windows that receive a lot of sun or cold breeze, and air conditioners.
Aglaonema has very low watering demands, as it can tolerate moderately dry and moist soil. The secret is to ensure that the soil is not waterlogged. Then, once you water the plant, ensure you water the soil thoroughly and evenly.
Before the other watering session, let the soil dry out, but do not let it dry more than 25-30% down from the top layer. In summer, however, ensure you increase the frequency of watering.
In its natural habitat, the aglaonema plant receives a lot of moisture. You can try to recreate that by placing it in the kitchen or bathroom, areas that have high humidity.
If you want to have it in your office, invest in a humidifier or place the plant on a pebble tray that will supply it with the extra humidity. To avoid drying out the plant, do not place it near heaters or air conditioning vents.
The Chinese evergreen is not a picky plant when it comes to the soil it grows in. The soil you plant it in should hold enough water for it to remain lightly moist for a long time, but it should also easily drain off excess water to prevent the dangers of waterlogging, which could cause root rot.
One of the most recommended soil is peat-based potting soil that has extra perlite in it to help with drainage. You can also blend in some bark-based orchid mix in the soil.
The soil should not be densely packed to allow for the easy spread of the root system and should also have a considerable amount of nitrogen. The pH of the soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH of between 5.6 and 6.5.
Aglaonema plants require a nitrogen boost to increase their foliage density and improve growth, which is why it is important to add fertilizer to the soil. Use a half-strength balanced liquid fertilizer or slow-release pellets once in the summer and once in spring.
Avoid over-fertilizing because a lot of the houseplant fertilizers contain high salt deposits that eventually build up in the soil, damaging your plant. Minimize the fertilization during fall, and do not fertilize at all during winter.
If you notice that you added a lot of fertilizer and your plant is showing increased and uncontrollable growth, consider repotting it into a fresh potting mix.
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Repotting Your Aglaonema
You should re-pot your aglaonema plant after every two years. That not only helps freshen the soil, but it also gives you a chance to divide your plant in case you want to increase the number of your plants.
Plant the plant in a pot with a proportional size to the plant’s size. These plants love to have secure and dense root structures, but they do not require extra soil because that could lead to more moisture retention.
When repotting your Chinese evergreen, re-pot it at the same height in the soil as it was in the previous pot for consistent growth.
You should also ensure that you choose the right pot for repotting your plant in, and all the pots should have a drainage hole at the bottom. That helps drain excess water and also helps airflow through the soil.
Terra-cotta pots are the best because not only are they visually appealing, but they also help with the escape of excess water.
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Pruning A Chinese Evergreen
Since these colorful and low-maintenance plants are slow-growers, it is not necessary to prune them often. People who prune do it mostly for cosmetic adjustment to maintain the shape and size of their plants.
To remove the dead and dark green leaves from your plant, follow the stem to the base of the plant and cut them off using a sharp and sterile blade. However, do not prune the leggy live leaves in the same way.
If you want to remove live growth to maintain the shape of the plant, snip them off just above the nodes. That encourages the plant to grow more densely. Avoid pruning live growth from the base of your plant, as that may result in severe damage to the whole plant.
Experts recommend that you cut off any inflorescences as soon as you spot them unless you want to use the seed for new growth. That is because the flowers are normally not that good liking, and they use up the energy your plant should use for new growth.
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Propagating An Aglaonema Plant
You can propagate your Chinese evergreen via stem cuttings, division, from seeds, or by tissue culture, mainly dine in a lab. Whichever method you choose, you can also plant the new plants in water or directly in the soil.
Propagating by Division
This is one of the safest methods and the one with the highest rates of success. However, it requires a lot of attention and care, which makes it difficult for beginners. First, you have to look for places from which the plant is growing from the soil.
That shows that new plants are growing from the main plant. Chinese evergreen propagates itself naturally through suckers below the soil surface. Remove the parent plant and its soil from the pot, and be careful not to damage the leaves or roots.
Gently shake off the soil from the roots so that you can see all the new plants. If they are not tangled, and root bound to each other, gently pull them apart using your hands. However, if they are, use a sharp and sterilized blade to separate them.
The sterilized blade ensures that you do not transfer any bacteria or diseases to the new plant, and the sharpness helps you make a clean cut which increases the rates of success.
Plant the new Chinese evergreen in a new pot and place it in a place with warm temperatures and indirect sunlight. It should have developed its roots within 5-10 days.
Propagation by Stem Cuttings
This is the easiest propagation method, which makes it also commonly used, even by beginners. For the best results when propagating using stem cuttings, do it in the middle of summer when the temperatures are warm.
Identify a shoot from the parent plant that has at least five leaves and is at least 6 inches tall. You can also use an old plant stem for the process. Whatever you choose, make a diagonal cut below a leaf node using a sharp and sterilized blade.
If you are using water, place the cutting in water such that the leaf nodes are underwater. If you are using soil, first moisten the soil, then make a hole in the soil with a pencil or your finger that is a few inches deep, then plant the new Chinese evergreen.
Pat, the soil around the base of the cutting, to secure it, then place the plant in a warm place that has indirect sunlight. If you are using water, change the water once it becomes cloudy.
The cuttings develop new roots and shoots after 4-6 weeks, after which you should take care of them normally.
Propagation From Seeds
Collect seeds from the base of your mature plant's flowers, and wash them in acidic water. Spread the seeds on top of a coco-peat mix or germination soil mix, then cover them lightly to help retain the moisture and warmth.
Place the seeds in a warm place that receives bright but indirect sunlight. The seeds will start germinating after around 45-60 days.
This method is mainly done in the lab and is perfect if you want to get a large number of new Chinese evergreen plants. In this method, the people conducting the propagation produce new seedlings from a small part of the original plant, either the leaves, stem, or roots.
They then place the tissue culture and new seedlings in a lab-like environment and slowly introduce them to natural weather conditions. The seedlings in this method grow slowly, but that is the best and most effective way to produce Chinese evergreen plants on a large scale.
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Chinese Evergreen Problems
Just like all other plants, there are some problems you will encounter when dealing with an aglaonema, including:
One of the most common problems is yellow leaves, which are a sign of over or under-watering. To avoid that, ensure that the soil remains regularly moist. If you maintain a good level of moisture in the soil, but your plant still has yellow leaves, it means that it may have an iron deficiency.
If that is the case, you need to fertilize the soil with an iron-rich fertilizer. You might also notice the tips of the green leaves have brown tips. That indicates that there is a buildup of chlorine, salts, fluoride, or minerals from tap water or over-fertilizing.
To deal with that problem, you can re-pot it in a new potting mix or leach the soil by draining it with distilled water to remove the buildups.
The most common pests you will deal with are mealybugs and scale insects. These pests attach themselves to the leaves and stems of the plant and suck the sup, causing the plant to have poor and slow growth, and might eventually kill it.
You can also spot some aphids and spider mites on the leaves of your plants. You can get rid of all these pests by using insecticidal soap, neem oil, or wiping the leaves with diluted rubbing alcohol.
The most common diseases that will affect your aglaonema are myrothecium leaf spots and anthracnose, which are fungal diseases. They discolor the leaves, causing patchy dry brown spots or holes, which slowly develop into serious problems over time.
You can treat them by misting a copper fungicide on the affected leaves. For best results, apply that fungicide at dusk to allow it to dry on the leaves overnight.
Your Chinese evergreen could also suffer from bacterial leaf spot, which mainly comes from aphids or using non-sterilized tools. You can also treat that using a copper fungicide.
Chinese evergreen plants have crystals of insoluble calcium oxalate in all the parts of the plant, making them highly toxic. Therefore, if you have any pets, keep them away from their reach. Some of the symptoms that will indicate poisoning from this plant include:
You should also be careful when handling the plant, as you could experience swelling and pain when your skin comes into contact with the sap.