Like a hunky boyfriend, aglaonema strikes a balance between being tough and good looking. This versatile houseplant offers handsome foliage yet requires minimal care.
Aglaonema, also known as Chinese evergreen, is a popular foliage plant in both homes and offices because it adds great interest in low-light areas. The common name of aglaonema collectively refers to 21 species of plants that are originally from Southeast Asia where they grow in tropical forests.
Some varieties have solid green leaves, but most cultivars have interesting variegation in shades of silver, gray, or light green.
Here are a few popular cultivars from the University of Florida breeding program:
- 'Moonlight Bay' is a medium green with bold silver markings.
- 'Emerald Bay' has silvery-green leaves with darker dapples along the margins.
- 'Diamond Bay' has light green foliage with solid green margins.
- 'Stripes' has foliage tthat alternates in bands of green and silver.
The long, narrow leaves can reach up to two feet long, and the plants themselves typically grow one to three feet tall and equally as wide.
The plants aren't conspicuous bloomers, but they can produce flowers that resemble a peace lily (made up of a spathe and spadix). It's recommended that flowers be removed in order to prevent production of unattractive berries.
Planting and Care
Aglaonema plants are best grown indoors, since they prefer temperatures in the range of 68 to 77 degrees (though they can tolerate temperatures down to 55 degrees). They can be grown in areas that receive medium to low light.
Plant them in a rich potting media and water them only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. These plants have low water requirements so it's important not to overwater, which may trigger other problems.
You may find that you need to repot individual plants over time. If so, you can either move a plant to a larger pot or divide it into two smaller plants and then pot up each new plant. Another way to make new plants is to cut off any leggy stalks and then root them.
Aglaonema can be affected by the usual houseplant pests—spider mites, scales, mealybugs, and aphids—so be sure to check the leaves regularly for signs of pests.
For more information on aglaonema, contact your county Extension office.