A Chinese evergreen plant, Aglaonema , originally came from the subtropics of Southeast Asia. This plant is a member of the Araceae family and a close cousin to the alocasia, caladium, dieffenbachia, and philodendron. When small, the easy to grow Chinese evergreen plant can be used as an upright plant on a table, desk, or counter. As the plant matures and gets larger, it becomes a bushy floor plant. This is an extremely popular houseplant because its many varieties have different leaf colors and patterns. It is one on the few colorful plants that grow, though slowly, in lower light areas, and is drought tolerant.
Chinese Evergreen Description
There are many types of Chinese evergreen plants, all with shiny, oval, leathery leaves that have short stems. The leaves are usually 3″-5″ wide and up to12″ long. The original varieties had green and gray patterned leaves. The new hybrids have yellow, red, and pink in their leaves and require more light. A Chinese evergreen plant produces small, inconsequential flowers in the spring and summer that turn into red berries as the flowers fade. Flower production takes energy away from leaf development. Since the leaves of a Chinese evergreen are the attractive part of the plant, it’s recommended that the flowers be removed as soon as they appear.
Chinese Evergreen Varieties:
The more color in the leaves, the more light the plant needs.
Emerald Beauty (also called a “Maria”): Dark green leaves with silver markings
Amelia: Pale green leaves with medium green markings
Silver Queen: Silver, light green, and dark green patterned leaves that grow in thick clusters
Red Siam: Bright red and green patterned leaves
Moonshine: Yellow leaves with small splashes of green and pink
Red Valentine: Leaves have green edge; center of leaf is pink and bright red with splashes of green and cream.
Pictum Tricolor: Pointed oval leaves with splashes of light, medium, and dark green
Sparkling Sarah: Shiny leaves with a pink center vein and bold green and cream patterns. The stems of the leaves are also pink.
Red Siam Aurora Stardust Sparkling Sarah Moonshine
Like all member of the Araceae family, a Chinese evergreen plant is poisonous and toxic to cats, dogs, and small children. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants. NASA does list the Chinese evergreen as one of the top ten plants to clean the air of harmful toxins
Chinese Evergreen plants are probably the only indoor plant with large, colorful, variegated leaves that can live in low-light conditions. If placed in medium light, these plants grow more quickly.
Allow the top 25-30% of the soil to dry out before watering. When the soil of a Chinese Evergreen plant is too wet, the stems become mushy and die. When the soil gets too dry or too wet, yellow leaves develop. The lower the light, the less water the plant needs.
Chinese Evergreen plants require very little plant food. Fertilize every other month with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/4 the recommended strength.
Warm temperatures between 70°F (21.1°C) and Temperatures below 50°F (10° C) can damage the leaves. Keep a Chinese Evergreen plant away from cold winter drafts and air conditioners.
Chinese Evergreen plants do well in regular household humidity or higher.
I usually remove Chinese Evergreen flowers as soon as they appear. The flowers are not very attractive and use energy that the plant needs to produce leaves.
Mealy bugs, scale, and aphids can be a problem for a Chinese Evergreen. Read more on how to identify and treat these plant pests in the Glossary of the website.
In high humidity, the large leaves of a Chinese Evergreen may develop bacterial diseases such as Leaf Spot. Read more about leaf Spot disease and how to identify and treat it in the Glossary of the website.
Use a well-aerated potting soil that drains quickly for a Chinese Evergreen plant. If the soil does not dry out quickly, root rot may develop.
Keeping a Chinese Evergreen a little root-bound in a small pot is another way of preventing the soil from staying wet too long and causing root rot.
If a Chinese Evergreen plant becomes thin and leggy, prune the stems back to where they are bending. Cut the stem directly above a leaf node. The plant will branch out all along the length of the remaining stem.
Stem cuttings and plant division are the best way to propagate a Chinese Evergreen plant. You can read more about these propagation techniques in the Glossary of the website.
Clean Air Plant
NASA lists the Chinese Evergreen as one of the top 10 plants to clean the air of harmful chemicals.
Poisonous Plant Info
Chinese Evergreen contain calcium oxalate crystals and are poisonous plants with a #2 toxicity level. Adverse reactions include: skin irritations after contact with the sap, irritation of mouth, lips, throat, and tongue if leaves are eaten. Please keep this plant away from small children, cats, dogs, and other pets.
I would remove the flowers from a Chinese Evergreen plant as soon as they appear. The flowers of a Chinese Evergreen Plant hinder leaf growth, are not very attractive, and produce berries that weaken the plant.
The sticky “stuff” on the leaves of your Chinese Evergreen Plant is called “honeydew.” Honeydew is excreted by a plant pest called Mealy Bugs. Mealy Bugs are small sucking insects that look like tiny pieces of cotton.
The stems of a Chinese Evergreen Plant get soft and mushy when the plant is over-watered. The lower the light the less water a Chinese Evergreen needs. Move your Chinese Evergreen to a brighter, warmer location until the soil dries out. Once you move your plant back to its original location, be sure to allow the top 25%-30% of the soil to dry out before watering.