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Chinese Evergreen/Aglaonema Problems, Care, and Propagation Tips

Chinese Evergreens, also known by their true name ‘Aglaonema’, are a beautiful potted plant. They’re easy to care for once you have the proper maintenance schedule, sunlight, water, and soil for the job. If you’re trying to grow your own Aglaonemas at home, then you’re in the right place.

When it comes to the problems, care instructions, and propagation tips for Chinese Evergreens, where do you start? Chinese Evergreens need to be planted with high humidity, partial shade with filtered sunlight, and new fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks. Bugs, pests, and fungal growth can ruin them quickly. Also, you can propagate them by using 3 to 4 leaves with a root system attached.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information:

  • Detailed instructions to care for your Chinese Evergreens
  • How to prevent common problems
  • How to grow Aglaonemas at home healthily
  • Toxicity concerns
  • Propagation instructions
Photo by Digigalos, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Common Problems of Aglaonemas

Much like any other potted plant, Chinese Evergreens are especially susceptible to root rot and other problems. They’re are from durable, but you can take several precautionary steps to keep them thriving in the given environment.

Below, you’ll find numerous issues that an aglaonema could face if they’re threatened.

Common Pests & Diseases

Chinese Evergreens are fairly susceptible to insects and diseases. They’re not the toughest of plants, so it’s important that you do whatever you can to protect it from such issues.

Some of the pests that they have to deal with include aphids, spider mites, mealy worms, and more. All of these bugs are capable of eating the leaves, stems, and roots of aglaonemas, so if you can identify them, remove them all as soon as possible.

If you add too much water to these plants, they can grow mold and mildew rather quickly. Either way, they’ll die from fungal growth, which tends to run through Chinese Evergreens unlike anything else.

Root, Stem, & Leaf Rot

Root, stem, and leaf rot are often caused by too much or too little water in the soil. Fungus and other problems start to form, shredding through all parts of the plant. Once rot sets in, it can be very difficult to save the plant. You’ll have to add fertilizer and possibly even remove all of the soil surrounding the plant.

The best way to treat root, stem, and leaf rot is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To do this, follow the watering suggestions in the next section. 

Another way to deal with it is to make sure that the soil is loose enough to filter the water out without holding it for too long. Excessive amounts of clay or sand can make it hard for water to leave, leading to flooding and rotting.

Overwatering vs. Underwatering

Watering your plants can be frustrating. Sometimes, a little bit too much or too little can ruin them completely. Aglaonemas are no different, unfortunately. That being said, there are a few ways to water them much more efficiently.

Try these three suggestions:

  1. Use an Aqua Globe. These nifty little tools are designed to give your plants the perfect amount of water. They’re affordable, easy to use, and you’ll never have to worry about flooding your plants.
  2. Consider setting up a sprinkler system. You can put it on a timer to water your plants at certain times of the day, preventing them from drying out or getting over-hydrated. They’re not as efficient as an Aqua Globe, but timed sprinklers are better than traditional hose watering.
  3. Try a drip system if your Chinese Evergreens are planted in the ground soil. Drip systems slowly release water around the clock, supplying a small amount of hydration at all times. You’ll never have to worry about overwatering or under-watering.

Why Won’t It Bloom?

Aglaonemas can be tricky if you’re trying to grow them in the wrong climate. They have various requirements that must be met in order to bloom on time. For example, they can’t be placed too close to other plants with developed roots.

Here are a few other requirements to bloom:

  • Chinese Evergreens need to be placed in a humid environment if possible. You might have to water them much more often otherwise. It’s also possible that you could have to moisturize the leaves and stems.
  • If you’re not allowing them to get enough sunlight, they won’t grow. They need partially shaded, filtered sunlight throughout the day. Without enough of it, the stems will get leggy the plant will likely never bloom at all.
  • Finally, if the soil that you planted them in isn’t nutritious, aglaonemas won’t bloom. They need mineral-rich soil and fertilizer to bloom, so make sure that you know the makeup of the soil prior to planting them.

Why Won’t It Rebloom?

Reblooming is a common area of concern when dealing with Chinese Evergreens. They tend to require the same necessities as mentioned above. If something changes, their cycle might be stunted or missed altogether.

In order to prevent this issue from happening, always stay on top of the three aforementioned requirements. However, a lack of space for roots to grow as well as low humidity can impact their growth rate.

Caring for Chinese Evergreens

As you can probably assume from the previous ‘Common Problems’ section, Chinese Evergreens have a handful of caring details that need to be followed. Before you start growing your own, review this section to ensure that you have everything you need to move forward.

Watering Routines & Schedules

Sticking to a routine is the best way to ensure that your aglaonema grows up to its full potential. You’ll need to maintain a healthy, regular watering schedule to keep it going.

As mentioned in the overwatering and underwatering section, using Aqua Globes, timed sprinklers, and drip systems can take some of the weight off of your shoulders.

Unfortunately, there’s no set amount of time that you can rely on. Different temperatures, windage, and humidity can determine how often you need to water your plants.

If you live in an area that’s always high in humidity, then it’s safe to say that you don’t need to water it too often. On the other hand, dry environments call for more frequent watering sessions.

As a rule of thumb, place your index finger about two inches into the soil (avoiding the roots) to see if it’s moist or not. Add more water as needed.

Sunlight Requirements

Chinese Evergreens are very sensitive in every sense of the word. They can’t handle too much moisture, dryness, heat, excessive roots, pests, and diseases. Along with those comes sunlight.

The normal requirement for most aglaonemas is to have filtered sunlight. They grow naturally underneath the shade of trees, bushes, and other large plants.

If you’re growing yours outside, then make sure they’re not exposed to excess sunlight. Direct rays can damage their leaves quite easily, so it’s important to watch for discoloration in the tips.

On the other hand, those growing theirs inside should keep them near a window with the blinds opened. The glass and other obstacles in the way are enough to filter the sunlight to a healthy limit.

Why Isn’t It Growing?

Growth problems in Chinese Evergreens usually stem from the previously mentioned three factors. Sunlight, moisture, root problems, pest invasion, and plenty of other issues can take hold of them as well.

If your aglaonema isn’t growing at all, then the following three points are likely the culprit:

  1. There’s not enough nutrition in the soil. Much like humans and other animals, plants have a need for nutritional value to grow healthily.
  2. They’re not getting enough sunlight. When sunlight isn’t given to these plants, they’re unable to sprout and grow at the rate that they should.
  3. You’re not giving them enough water. Lack of water will be a serious issue for most living beings, including Chinese Evergreens. According to JoyUsGarden, you shouldn’t water your plants as often in the winter, though.

What Should You Grow Them In?

One of the diverse features of these plants is that they can grow in several different containers. You can choose to grow them in the garden right in the ground soil, but they do well in plenty of other places, too.

Some suggestions include a 5-gallon bucket, an aquarium, and traditional gardening pots. Whichever container you choose, make sure there’s enough room for the roots to expand and grow; Otherwise, the aglaonema could start to whither away or cease to bloom.

Signs That It’s Time to Repot

As with most potted plants, you’ll eventually have to repot a Chinese Evergreen. Here are some of the signs to look out for:

  • If you notice that your plant has suddenly stopped growing despite it having all of the requirements listed above, then it might be time.
  • After about two years it’s time to replace the pot. You shouldn’t ever go larger than two sizes bigger than the current pot to avoid root rot.
  • If water starts to flood the pot more often than usual, there’s a high chance that the roots are too big for the pot.

Signs That It’s Time to Fertilize

Fertilizer is equally as important as every other key component. Without it, most plants will grow too slowly or not at all.

Here’s a short list of signs that it’s time to fertilize your Chinese Evergreen:

  • Your plant isn’t growing as quickly as it used to (this can also be a sign of numerous other issues).
  • It’s been longer than a year. You should fertilize your Chinese Evergreens at least once to twice annually during spring and/or summer.
  • The soil feels too much like clumpy, chunky dirt rather than mineral-rich material.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Growth

Growing a Chinese Evergreen indoors is one of the most common choices for many people. They’re easy to maintain and you don’t have to worry about pests or animals trampling and eating them.

However, you can grow them inside or outside with relative ease either way. Make sure that there’s enough filtered sunlight and that it doesn’t get too frosty if they’re outside. Extremely cold temperatures can ruin an aglaonema.

If you grow them outside, you should place them underneath the shade of a tree. Consider putting a gate around the garden to keep animals out.

What Are the Soil Requirements?

Surprisingly enough, aglaonemas aren’t too picky when it comes to soil requirements. They need the nutritional value, of course, but not much else.

A top-notch organic soil to choose is the Fox Farms Organic Potting Soil. It’s designed for indoor and outdoor plants, so you don’t have to worry about using it with your Chinese Evergreens.

Make sure that the soil is rich and void of fungus, mold, and bugs. If you notice too much of any of them, it might be time to replace some or all of the soil with more of the soil mentioned above.

How Big Do Chinese Evergreens Grow?

The range of sizes of a Chinese Evergreen varies drastically. Depending on the size of the pot, fertilizer, soil, sunlight, moisture, and other components, they can grow anywhere from 10 inches to 4 feet in height.

As your plant grows larger, it’s important that you continue to increase the size of the pot. They won’t be able to expand and bloom if you limit them to the same size pot over the years.

Propagation of an Aglaonema

Photo by Mokkie, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Aglaonemas can be made with seeds as well as cuttings. You can grow them in soil or sprout them in water, although they always ultimately need soil to live and grow in the long run. In this section, you’ll learn all about the propagation techniques of an aglaonema.

Cuttings vs. Seeds

If you’re growing your aglaonemas with cuttings, you’ll need to cut off a few 6 to 7-inch stems. Place the bundle in a cup of water, ensuring that they get enough sunlight by a window ledge. As the roots begin to grow, it’s time to put them in the soil in a pot.

Mix potting soil, sand, and perlite (equal amounts of each), in a bucket or bowl. Pour the mixture into a pot and place the germinated seed about two to three inches into the soil. To germinate the seeds, place them in a damp paper towel in the fridge for 24 hours, then allow them to soak in water for up to 7 days.

Growing From Stem in Water vs. Stem in Soil

As you read above, you can grow Chinese Evergreens in water or soil. However, some people believe that there are more benefits to one over the other. Let’s examine the possibilities below.

  • Using a cup of water or a vase to grow these plants from stems in much quicker since it doesn’t have to filter through the soil. You’ll end up getting roots to sprout within days rather than weeks.
  • However, it’s not as safe for the plant since you can accidentally bump it and break the glass, ruining the roots. Another dangerous possibility is that another liquid can get put into the cup, destroying the stems and roots.
  • Both options are worth trying since they’re equally as effective in creating healthy, ready-to-plant cuttings.

Different Varieties

There’s a plethora of different varieties of Chinese Evergreens. From the Calypso to the Silver Queen, these lovely plants can look, smell, and grow differently from one another.

Here are the varieties of the plant:

  • Cecilia
  • Emerald Beauty
  • Nicole
  • Golden Bay
  • Maria
  • Romeo
  • Queen Juliana
  • Red Gold
  • Silver Bay

As you can see, there are plenty of choices to look through. Silver Queen offers brightened silver leaves that are thin and long, whereas the Cecilia has wide, deep green leaves. Whichever one you go with, the propagation and growth tips remain the same.

Are Chinese Evergreens Toxic to Humans & Pets?

One of the biggest concerns that people have about owning Chinese Evergreens is their notorious toxicity. Cutting to the point, yes, Chinese Evergreens are poisonous when ingested by humans and other animals (including dogs and cats.

Paws Dog Daycare points out that common symptoms include difficulty swallowing, burning around the eyes, nose, and lips, as well as swelling of the throat. It’s best to avoid ingesting this plant altogether.

If you or your pet consumes a Chinese Evergreen leaf, call a local poison control center right away. Some symptoms set in quickly, but others can take as long as two weeks to start showing up.

Final Thoughts

Chinese Evergreens (aglaonemas) are some of the most lovely houseplants on the market. They’re easy to grow, and despite their picky, sensitive nature, you can maintain them for plenty of years.

Remember that the most important growth factors include filtered sunlight, fertilization annually (spring or summer is the best time), an adequate about of humidity and/or watering, and always upgrade the pot once every two years.

Under proper care, Chinese Evergreens can last decades or longer. Once you get a handle of the growth techniques from this article, you’ll be able to enjoy your plants for quite some time!