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Caring For Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

Aglaonema, commonly known as Chinese Evergreen is so popular that you may be familiar with it gracing the interiors of large shopping malls. These plants are incredibly easy to care for, can tolerate low light conditions, and often boast beautiful, decorative foliage. Is this the perfect houseplant?

In this guide, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about caring for your Chinese Evergreen plant. You may even find yourself a bit addicted to these plants, collecting every variety you can. They come in many different colors, from the flashy Red Valentine Aglaonema, to the classic Silver Bay. If you can’t find a good plant for a difficult spot in your home – this houseplant might be a perfect fit.

Silver Bay Chinese evergreen
Silver bay Chinese evergreen

Lighting: Low to moderate. North or East facing window are suitable.
Watering: Allow top inch to dry out completely between waterings, but always keep the soil consistently moist.
Soil: Well-draining with good moisture retention
Temperature: 60°F and up

The Chinese Evergreen is sometimes mistaken for a Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), as they are similar in appearance. However, they are different and have different care requirements. So, be sure you know the difference before bringing your new plant home!

Dieffenbachia Dumb Cane vs Aglaonema Chinese Evergreen
Dieffenbachia Dumb Cane (LEFT) vs Aglaonema Chinese Evergreen (RIGHT)

Chinese evergreen light requirements

While this plant is incredibly tolerant of low light conditions (especially green varieties), that doesn’t mean no light at all. You can’t keep this houseplant in a basement and expect it to thrive. A North-facing window with a bit of indirect light, or a window that gets a little bit of morning sun would be perfect for this plant. You can even set it several feet back from a window that gets more sunlight.

Be sure to rotate the plant frequently for even exposure. A 1/4 turn every few days is fine. If you have this plant outside, be sure it’s not sitting directly in the sun.

If you have a variegated variety of Chinese Evergreen, you’ll want to provide it with a bit more light than one with dark green foliage. This will help keep the colors fresh and bright. However, too much light will burn the leaves and can even fade the beautiful colors. It’s all about finding the plant’s favorite spot, and it may take some trial and error.

Tip: This plant is toxic to pets! So, be sure to keep it away from furry friends.

Red and pink aglaonema
Red and pink Chinese Evergreen

Best soil for Chinese evergreen

When choosing the best soil for this houseplant, you want something that is well-draining but also retains moisture rather well. This plant is not too fussy when it comes to soil, so here are some basic recipes you can use:

  • 75% potting soil mixed with 25% perlite or pumice.
  • 60% potting soil mixed with 20% perlite or pumice and 20% orchid bark.
  • 50% potting soil mixed with equal parts horticultural charcoal, bark and perlite or pumice.

You don’t need to be exact with your measurements. Just understand that the better drainage you provide, the more frequently you may need to water. It’s best to become familiar with your soil mixtures so you know what to expect.

Tip: If you are looking for the perfect ready-made soil for your houseplants, keep it simple and check out our favorite Chunky Houseplant Mix from Sol Soils. And, use code “GEEKY” for 10% off!

Pot size for Chinese evergreen

These plants are not vigorous growers and do not need to be repotted that frequently. You’ll want to make sure you choose a pot that is not too big for the plant. If the amount of soil/pot size is too much for the plant, you run the risk of the roots not getting properly watered.

If anything, these plants like to be a bit snug in their pot. Repot only one size larger and only as often as needed.

Tip: These plants are notorious for coming pre-potted with several smaller net pots inside the one pot. It’s a lazy shortcut that some nurseries take. You can gently snip these off and free the roots when repotting your plant.

Chinese evergreen in pot
Chinese Evergreen potted plant

How often to water Chinese evergreen

There is no set schedule on how frequently to water any houseplant. A variety of factors come into play. The temperature of your home, the size of the pot, the size of your plant, and the soil mixture you use all make a difference.

A good rule of thumb for this plant is to let the top 1/3 – 1/2 of the pot dry out between waterings. This plant does not like to be overwatered (none of them do, really). Get in the habit of sticking your finger (or a chopstick) into the soil to see how moist the soil is. It is more common for people to give this plant too much water than too little. You’ll also notice the leaves drooping a tad when it’s thirsty.

When you do feel it is time to water your Chinese evergreen, give it a proper soaking with room temperature water in the sink or tub. Make sure it’s in a well-draining pot and soak it thoroughly.

Fertilizing Chinese evergreen

Fertilize this plant with a balanced fertilizer in the active growing season about once a month. These plants are considered slow growing, so avoid over-doing it. You can also mix worm castings into the soil when repotting.

Chinese evergreen temperature and humidity

Chinese evergreen does best in temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. It’s pretty adaptable to the average home. If you’re comfortable with the temperature of your home, your plant likely will be as well. Do not expose the plant to temperatures below 60°F.

When it comes to humidity, this plant is definitely not as fussy as some of the other humidity-loving types. While they appreciate higher humidity levels, they will do okay with average humidity. In the wintertime, our home gets to about 30% humidity and we have no problems with our Chinese evergreen where it is. We run a humidifier to keep some of the more fussy plants happy in a separate room.

Pink Dalmatian Chinese evergreen
Pink Dalmatian Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen issues and pests

As with any houseplant, there are some issues that may happen during the life of your plant. If you just brought your plant home, remember that it will need some time to acclimate to it’s new environment. It’s normal for a bit of leaf drop to occur on a new plant. However, if its a plant you have had for some time, these symptoms are worth investigating.

  • Yellowing leaves / Soft and mushy – This is the most common issue with Chinese Evergreen plants. The leaves begin turning yellow, the variegation slowly fades, and the leaves fall off. If you notice this happening, it is possible that you are overwatering your plant. Check the moisture level of the soil and cut back on watering if this is the case.
  • Yellowing leaves / Crispy and dry – If your yellow leaves are crispy, it is possible you are underwatering your plant. it is also possible the plant is getting too much sun. However, this would only be the case if the plant was in direct sunlight, or adjusting to a sunnier spot.
  • Brown dried leaf tips – Brown, crispy leaf tips can occur from underwatering your plant. If you are letting the soil dry out too much between watering, the tips can turn brown and dry. This can also happen if you are not watering properly (giving it a proper soaking every time you water). While not as likely the case with this plant, brown tips on leaves can also be caused by inadequate humidity, close exposure to hot or cold drafts, or being root bound.
  • Pests – Some common pests of this plant include mealy bugs, spider mites, and aphids. Be sure to check your plants on a regular basis for any sign of pests.
Yellowing leaves on Chinese Evergreen
Yellowing leaves On Chinese evergreen

The Chinese evergreen is a great, relatively easy going houseplant. If it were not toxic to animals, we would probably have a few more of them around the house. They’re incredibly decorative and a good option to add a splash of color to a low-light area. And, they come in so many different varieties and colors, you would never get bored, even if they were the only houseplant you kept!