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 (or 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.

Contents:

If you’re looking for your next Aglaonema plant, check out our guide to best plant nurseries and houseplant specialists 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

All About Chinese Evergreen Plants

Origins

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
  • Calypso
  • Firecracker

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

How to Grow Chinese Evergreen Plants at Home (Aglaonema)

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

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

The Best Soil mix for Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema Plants

Chinese evergreens need a well-draining, lightly 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.

How to Plant a Chinese Evergreen

  1. Select a container two to four-inches larger than the plant’s current pot.
  2. 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.)
  3. Gently remove the Chinese evergreen from its current pot.
  4. 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.
  5. Place the plant’s rootball in the new pot on top of the bottom layer of soil.
  6. 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.
  7. Water thoroughly to compact the soil and add more to the top if needed.
  8. Allow the pot to drain completely.
  9. Place the plant in the desired location.

Chinese Evergreen Light Preferences

Chinese Evergreen Plants 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

How to Care for Chinese Evergreen Plants

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.

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.


Feeding & Fertilizing Chinese Evergreen Plants

bloomscape spring snow aglaonema delivery in the USA
Credit: Bloomscape

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

How to Prune Chinese Evergreen Plants

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:

  1. Simply split the plant – roots and all – into two sections with at least four leaves apiece and repot both.
  2. 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

How to Repot Chinese Evergreen Plants at Home

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

Common Chinese Evergreen Problems and 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.

Essential Tools & Supplies for Chinese Evergreen Care

Essential House Plant Tools

Here’s a useful checklist of items you’ll need to get going:

  • Houseplant mix
  • Sand/peat/perlite
  • 5-5-5 fertilizer
  • Well-draining container
  • Gardening gloves
  • Soil probe moisture meter (fingers are a good substitute as well!)
  • Secateurs
  • Watering can

Wrap Up

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!


Chinese Evergreen Care FAQ:

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 Evergreen plants can be gently misted with water which helps to hydrate the leaves and improve humidity levels when the air is particularly dry. Be careful not to over-saturate the leaves though as stagnant water is a breeding ground for fungal infections, pests, and disease. Often a better method is to place the plant on a humidity tray or near an in-room humidifier which will provide comparable benefits.

Yellowing leaves on Chinese Evergreen plants are most commonly associated with over-watering. Check with a moisture meter or soil probe to ascertain the situation. Drain excess water from the pot if present and hold off on watering until the soil has almost dried. If the plant’s condition does not improve, consider assessing the root structure of the plant for any signs of root-rot. If present, cut the affected areas away carefully with sharp, sterilized shears or scissors.

Chinese Evergreen plants symbolize good fortune, luck, and prosperity. They are a popular gifting plant for house warmings, thank you gestures, and make excellent ornamental centerpieces throughout the home or office.  

Chinese Evergreen plants are hardy, easy-going plants and will thrive in most indoor living spaces with minimal maintenance. Aim for a spot with medium to bright light and water every 10 to 14 days when the soil is almost completely dry. 

With due care and attention Chinese Evergreen plants have been known to live close to 10 years indoors. Be aware these are fairly speedy growers so you’ll need to consider upsizing to a larger potting vessel every 18 to 24 months.

Chinese Evergreen plants are considered low-maintenance, easy-growing plants. To ensure your plant has the best chance to thrive in your home, find a suitable location with medium to bright light throughout the day, and ensure it’s not exposed to any cold drafts. You’ll need to water every 10 to 14 days and fertilize every 4 to 6 weeks during spring and summer only.

Chinese Evergreen plants are well regarded for their ability to purify the air we breathe. They are particularly effective at removing the likes of formaldehyde and benzene.


Author

I’ve long been fascinated with the world of flowers, plants, and floral design. I come from a family of horticulturists and growers and spent much of my childhood in amongst the fields of flowering blooms and greenhouses filled with tropical plants, cacti, and succulents from all over the world. Today, my passion has led me to further explore the world of horticulture, botany, and floristry and I'm always excited to meet and collaborate with fellow enthusiasts and professionals from across the globe. I hold a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and have trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris.

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