Aglaonema House Plant

Overview

Blotches of light green on waxy dark green leaves warrants aglaonema, or the Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum), a place in frost-free gardens. This plant's tolerance to dim light, whether under a shade tree or an interior room, allows it to add life and charm to hotels, offices and living rooms. This native of the forests of Indonesia and the Philippines is easy to grow.

Description

A tropical herb lacking any woody stems, the aglaonema grows from fleshy tubers that produce upright stems and narrow, oval leaves that taper to a point. Colored dark green, the leaf blade has mottling stripes or spots of light green, pale yellow, or silvery pewter tones. It will occasionally produce a flower hidden under the foliage. It includes a green finger-like spadix with a whitish green cloak called the spathe.

Light

Grow aglaonema in low to bright indirect light where it will never receive direct sunlight through windows. Very early morning or dusk sun is gentle and doesn't harm the foliage. The plant also prospers under large fluorescent lights that are common to offices, if they on for at least eight hours daily.

Soil

The containers used for aglaonema must have drainage holes to allow for water to freely leave the potting mix. Either a sandy soil with organic matter or a peat-based houseplant potting medium provides a healthy growing environment for this plant. Avoid alkaline soils.

Water and Humidity

The soil should be evenly moist, but never bone-dry or soggy to the touch. If humidity is high, watering needs are slightly lowered and the foliage looks its best. In spring and summer, the water when the top 1/2-inch of soil is dry to the touch, and then add enough water to make the soil moist, not soggy. Liquid fertilizer at 1/2 the product label dosage may be added to the watering schedule once per month in spring and summer. Do not fertilizer in fall or winter, and allow the soil to become slightly drier between waterings during this time of year.

Varieties

Aglaonema commutatum is not the only species available to grow as house plants. In fact, many other species, such as Aglaonema crispum and Aglaonema pictum have been hybridized to create modern foliage plants with ornate leaf patterns and colors. Among the varieties sold as ornate house plants include Malay Beauty, Pseudobracteatum, Emerald Bay, Indo-Queen, Silver King and Silver Queen.

Keywords: Chinese evergreen, houseplants, low light tropical plant

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," non-profit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He holds a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne.