Aglaonema (genus)

One of the most durable types of houseplant out there, it is no wonder that Chinese Evergreens are such a popular choice for the novice indoor gardener. Tolerant of a wide variety of low light conditions, these steady growers can thrive in almost any home. Having been grown as luck-bringing houseplants in Asia for centuries, these plants were introduced to the West via Kew Gardens in 1885. Known for their pretty variegated leaves and the endless variety within the plants of the genus, these tropical delights are easy to love and easy to look after. 

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Where Does It Come From? 

Native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and New Guinea, all the plants of this genus are native to a humid, shady tropical forest habitat. Growing mostly on the floor under the forest canopy, the plants are used to shady and soggy conditions. 

Why Should I Get One? 

  • Various varieties of aglaonema have been determined to have air purifying qualities by the NASA Clean Air Study. The research determined that the species aglaonema modestum of this plant genus was particularly effective at removing common household air toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene.
  • The plants’ tolerance of low-light conditions mean that they can be used to brighten up areas of the home with poorer access to sunlight, like landings, hallways and bathrooms. The humidity of a bathroom or kitchen placement can also help the plant to thrive. 

How Big Can It Grow? 

Indoor Chinese Evergreens can grow to a healthy 3-feet high and 3-feet wide. They are relatively slow growers, so even with excellent care and ideal conditions, they can still require a few years to reach their full potential. If you wish to keep your plant small and tidy, regular trimming can help you achieve the size and shape you need. 

Where Should I Keep It? 

The key ingredients for a healthy Chinese Evergreen are low-light, moist soil and high humidity. As a tropical forest plant, most kinds of Chinese Evergreen thrive in filtered light to partial shade and direct sunlight is almost always too much for them. The main pet-peeve for the Chinese Evergreen is a chill. The plants are fairly easygoing overall but will put their parts on spectacularly if it gets too cold for them. For example, a chill injury can begin to appear on the leaves of your plant if the temperature drops below 15°C. These ‘injuries’ manifest as greasy, dark patches on the foliage and if this occurs, your plant needs moving to somewhere warmer.

Chinese Evergreen plants are poisonous due to the calcium oxalate crystals in their stem and leaves. If ingested they can cause internal irritation and the saps can cause painful rashes on the skin. This said, it is best to keep these plants away from pets and small children. 

How Often Should I Water It? 

In general, the Chinese Evergreens like it moist. They require an evenly moist soil and prefer high humidity conditions, finding dry air quite hard to tolerate. Water the plant regularly until the soil is moderately moist and then allow a little drying in between waterings. If you go too heavy-handed, you risk root rot and fungal growths, so exercise a little restraint. Applying a balanced liquid fertiliser every 2-3 weeks is beneficial during the spring and summer growing seasons and you  can then reduce feeds during the winter. 

These lush evergreens are super sweet to look at and really work in areas of the home that other plants don’t enjoy. Perfect for brightening up utility rooms, kitchens and bathrooms; the endless variety of specimens on offer is also a huge plus! With the adequate knowledge and a whole lot of love, these tropical plants can enjoy many happy houseplant years. 


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