Chinese Evergreen Plant Care | Aglaonema
Aglaonema, also known as Chinese evergreen, Philippine evergreen, and the poison dart plant, is a classic indoor houseplant well-loved for its stunning variegated leaves and easygoing nature.
This plant is perfect for beginning houseplant owners who may not have a ton of space or the perfect lighting conditions.
Most Chinese evergreen varieties grow slowly and tolerate low light conditions well, and they won’t throw a fit if your watering routine isn’t spot-on. It’s perfect if you’re nervous about delving into the world of houseplants, and especially if you want to try out a variegated houseplant that doesn’t require a ton of upkeep or perfect lighting!
Aglaonema is a member of the Araceae, or aroid, family along with other houseplant favorites like pothos, philodendron, peace lilies, and monstera plants.
This plant comes in lots of different colors and varieties that include various shades of green, silver, pink, and red! It can even grow white flowers and tiny red fruits in the right light conditions. (Watch out, though, these are toxic!)
These plants are said to be lucky in Asia where they grow wild in tropical rainforests and have been kept as potted plants for hundreds of years. Chinese evergreen reached the West in the late 1800s and grew in popularity as a worldwide houseplant in the 20th century.
These plants are beautiful, adaptable, and relatively easy to grow. Here’s an easy guide for Chinese evergreen plant care!
Note: This plant is toxic to humans and animals, so make sure to keep it away from curious pets and children.
How to Care for Chinese Evergreen
Chinese Evergreen Light
Chinese evergreen’s light needs vary depending on the variety.
In general, a lighter-colored aglaonema needs more indirect sunlight while darker varieties can tolerate lower light (though they still do best in brighter light). Very colorful varieties will also need brighter light to keep their colors.
Whatever you do, keep this plant out of direct sunlight, especially if you have a variety with a lot of light pink or cream coloring. Those leaves will scorch in no time!
Darker green varieties can even adapt to fluorescent lighting, which makes this a classic choice for offices and malls. Try a darker variety if you don’t have the best light conditions but still want some pretty foliage in your space.
Also, make sure to give your plant a quarter turn each week so all sides can be exposed to light. That way, your plant will keep a nice even shape instead of growing toward the light source!
Chinese Evergreen Watering
Water your plant when the soil is damp about 2-3 inches down or when your soil meter reads 3-4.
If your plant receives only fluorescent light, let the soil get almost dry before watering. It will need a little more water in the growing season (spring and summer) and less in the winter. Don’t let it dry out completely.
When you do water, slowly add water to the soil until it starts to drain out the bottom of the pot. Use distilled water or tap water left out overnight so chlorine and other harmful substances can partially evaporate.
Humidity and Temperature
Aglaonema doesn’t need a lot of extra humidity (another reason why it’s a popular plant for office settings!), but consider placing it on a pebble tray or setting up a humidifier nearby if the tips of the leaves start to brown.
This plant likes fairly warm room temperatures, between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it away from drafts, AC/heating vents, and fireplaces, and don’t let the temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Overall, this plant does well in average room temperatures as long as it doesn’t get too cold.
Choose a light, well-draining soil for aglaonema, such as cactus soil. Make sure to use a pot with drainage holes. This plant grows slowly, so you’ll only need to repot every few years. How’s that for low maintenance?!
During spring and summer, fertilizer with a gentle liquid fertilizer like Indoor Plant Food to provide nutrients for bright coloring, strong stems, healthy leaves, and robust roots!
Chinese evergreen is slow-growing, so you won’t need to worry about pruning very often. Just remove dead leaves if you see them so the plant can redirect its energy to healthy growth.
If you want your plant to grow faster, you can prune off the flowers when it blooms so the plant can channel that energy into leaf and stem growth.
You can propagate this plant by division, but it’s difficult to do with other methods.
This is great to do when your Chinese evergreen starts to outgrow its pot!
To propagate, simply remove the plant from the pot by tipping it on its side and coaxing it out with a trowel or by squeezing the grower’s pot. When you’ve removed the plant, massage the root ball to break it up and remove as much of the soil as possible.
Untangle the roots as best as you can to separate the large plant into two or more smaller plants. You can also use sterilized shears or a knife to cut the root ball.
Pot the smaller plants as usual and care for them like you would a mature plant, but don’t fertilize for at least a month to avoid burning the roots, which will be sensitive after separation.
While Chinese evergreens are easy to care for, they can still develop health problems. It’s important to know what signs to look for so you can catch problems early and act fast before your plant suffers irreversible damage.
Here are some of the most common issues that affect Chinese evergreen plants:
Drooping leaves: Your plant may need more light or water. Check the moisture level of the soil and water if it’s very dry. If the moisture level of the soil doesn’t seem to be the issue, provide more light.
Drooping lower leaves: This is actually normal! The older, lower leaves eventually die off so the plant can allocate more energy to growing newer leaves. Just prune off the lower leaves when you notice them starting to die.
Curling leaves: Your plant is probably getting too much light. Move to a more appropriate spot with bright, indirect sunlight but where the sun won’t directly shine on the leaves.
Crispy, yellowing leaves: Your plant may be underwatered. Check the moisture level of the soil to see if your plant needs a drink!
Yellowing and browning: Your plant may be overwatered. Check the moisture level of the soil (are you noticing a pattern here? This is a crucial step in houseplant troubleshooting!) to see if it’s wetter than it should be.
If you confirm that your Chinese evergreen is overwatered, don’t just stop watering! The problem could be that your plant isn’t getting enough light and therefore isn’t using watering efficiently. Make sure to check that your pot and soil are draining well. If the soil is compacted or if the pot isn’t draining, it’s time to repot into a more appropriate pot and soil.
Yellowing or browning stalks: Your plant may have root rot. Root rot is a bacterial or fungal infection that attacks the roots, and it’s important to take care of it right away. Left untreated, root rot can kill your plant in just a few days!
If you notice yellowing leaves, squishy stems, or dark brown spots anywhere, carefully remove your Chinese evergreen from the pot and remove as much of the soil from the root ball as possible. Trim off any mushy, smelly, or blackened roots.
Then repot into a clean pot with fresh soil, and use our Root Rot Treatment when you water to help the roots heal and prevent further infection. Make sure to water only when the soil is dry 2-3 inches down, and provide enough light and drainage so that your plant is ready for a drink every 7-10 days.
Chinese evergreen, or aglaonema, comes in many beautiful varieties. Here are some of our favorites to add to your collection!
Aglaonema Silver Bay
This is one of the more common aglaonema varieties you’ll see, but that doesn’t mean it’s plain! This variety is known and named for its beautiful green and silver variegation. Try this variety if you have lower light conditions but still want some gorgeous greenery to brighten up your space.
Aglaonema Wintery Wine House
This striking variety is popular for its green and cream speckled leaves! These leaves are longer and more pointed than some other varieties. Wintery Wine House will tolerate lower light conditions, but will grow taller and produce more pronounced variegation with more bright, indirect sunlight.
Aglaonema Lucky Red
This stunning plant gets its name from the green and hot-pink variegation on its pointed leaves!
Lucky Red is gorgeous, but you’ll need to provide plenty of bright, indirect sunlight to maintain its dazzling colors. However, this variety is fairly drought-resistant and easy to care for. It’s perfect if you’re still a houseplant beginner but want to add some bright colors to your collection!
Aglaonema Siam Aurora
Siam Aurora is also known for its green and hot-pink variegation, but its pattern differs greatly from that of Lucky Red. While Lucky Red is dominantly pink, Siam Aurora leaves are mostly green with bright pink edges and central veins. Like other colorful varieties of Chinese evergreen, this cultivar requires plenty of bright, indirect sunlight to maintain its coloring.
This elegant variety is similar to Siam Aurora at first glance, but its edges and central stems include lighter pink along with the hot pink, and the leaves tend to be more dominantly dark green with slender veins of variegation. This is perfect if you want something more subtle than some of the flashier varieties.
This arresting variety is much more pointed and elongated than most of the others on this list and grows beautiful variegated cream, green, and silver leaves. This plant tolerates lower light quite well and makes a graceful, low-maintenance addition to your indoor plant collection.
This eye-catching cultivar boasts dark-green, light-green, and silver striped variegation on its wide leaves. Aglaonema modestum can range from mostly green to highly variegated with distinct blocks of light green, dark green, and white. This plant is always a beautiful option and a great way to get into variegated plants without a lot of work.
Harlequin is a colorful Chinese evergreen variety with pale green and pink leaves and stems that will stand out in your space and houseplant collection. Make sure to provide enough bright sunlight to maintain the coloring, but avoid direct sunlight at all costs to avoid scorching these delicate leaves.
Aglaonema Pink Star
If you love pink, look no further! This variety boasts leaves that are almost completely light pink, with only hints of light and dark green.
Keep this variety out of the sun’s rays to avoid leaf scorch, but still keep it near a bright window so it has enough light to maintain that unbelievable coloring and still carry out photosynthesis.
This is a harder-to-find variety, but we had to include it because it’s so pretty! As you might expect, this cultivar gets its name from its jaw-dropping chocolatey-brown, red, and green leaves with delicate, elegant light-green veining. If you happen to find one of these, snatch it up!
Aglaonema, in all its impressive varieties, is gorgeous and a great plant for beginning houseplant owners who have started to master the basics and are ready for something flashy and fun. Whether you pick up a more modest, mostly green variety or a flashy cultivar with exciting colors, you’re sure to fall in love with your Chinese evergreen.
Check out our other plant care guides for beginners!
The Easiest Houseplant to Grow
How to Care for Bromeliads
How to Care for Calathea Plants
The Best Houseplants for your Environment