Growing An Indoor Jungle

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How to Grow and Care for Aglaonema Plants

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How to Grow and Care for Aglaonema Plant

If you are a beginner or busy houseplant parent but want to bring a plant home that still has stunning, decorative foliage, you might be surprised to learn that Aglaonemas checks all the boxes. Often considered the quintessential office plant, Aglaonemas are renowned for their low light tolerance and ability to forgive the occasional late watering. The best part is that despite their hardiness, many Aglaonema species have show-stopping foliage that will make a statement in your space. 

Even if you are new to plant care, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to grow happy and abundant Aglaonemas in your space. This includes their light needs, watering requirements, temperature, and so much more. 

The Natural History of Aglaonema 

Belonging to the Araceae family, Aglaonema is a plant genus most often nicknamed Chinese Evergreen. With 21 species, Aglaonema grows natively along the tropical forest floors of southeast Asia, southern China, Indonesia, northeast India and New Guinea. It enjoys plenty of shade and high humidity in these locations under the dense forest canopy. Aglaonema is celebrated as a symbol of good luck and good fortune across many Asian countries, and many houseplant owners celebrate this plant for its beautiful, patterned foliage. This plant is very hardy and has remarkably low light tolerance, making it a popular choice for offices and shopping malls. It's also a very accessible and low-maintenance plant for beginners who appreciate ornate foliage. 

Light Needs for Aglaonema

Aglaonemas are famous for their tolerance of lower light conditions, but if you want to see this plant thrive, provide it with medium to bright indirect light. While these plants can survive in lower light settings, it can hinder their growth potential. In general, the lighter-colored species, such as Silver Bay and First Diamond, prefer a bit more light than those with darker foliage, such as the ā€‹ā€‹Aglaonema' Maria'. Avoid giving your Aglaonema direct afternoon sun, as this can scorch their leaves and bleach their patterned foliage. 

Watering Aglaonema

One of many reasons why Aglaonemas make excellent beginner plants is that they tolerate late watering. Ideally, you will keep the soil evenly moist but not soaking wet and avoid letting it completely dry out between watering. Aiming to water the soil when it is nearly dry but not yet completely dry would be best. With that said, if you are a bit late to water your Aglaonema plant, it won't punish you for it. A great way to tell if your Aglaonema needs water is to stick your finger into the soil. If the soil is still moist, there may also be soil residue on your finger. You will notice that if your Aglaonema is in lower light conditions, you will need to water it less frequently. This is also true during the winter when your plant slows down in growth. If you tend to overwater your plants, consider potting your Aglaonema in a terra cotta pot. These pots are very porous and will help to wick away the excess moisture from the soil. 

Soil Requirements for Aglaonema

Setting your Aglaonema up for success starts with giving it the best soil mix possible. With these plants, you want to find a middle ground between giving them enough drainage and some good moisture retention. This helps prevent overwatering and root rot while replicating the moisture-laden soil they receive in their natural environment. It is essential to start with a pot with drainage holes, allowing the excess water to drain out of the pot. While many Aglaonema may survive on typical store-bought potting soil, it isn't ideal. These mixtures are often too dense, making drainage challenging. If you want your Aglaonema to thrive and remain low maintenance, try James's Aroid Soil Mix Recipe. It has a blend of orchid bark, perlite, worm castings, and coco coir, perfect for retaining moisture while still providing drainage. 

Temperatures and Humidity for Aglaonema

If you want to see your Chinese Evergreen plants flourishing in your home, give it an environment replicating its natural habitat. Since they grow natively in tropical forests, keep your temperatures between 65 to 80°F (18°C to 29°C). They are sensitive to cold conditions and will suffer from cold damage in temperatures less than 60°F (°C). Avoid placing them near drafty windows or cold appliances as much as possible, and take extra care when shipping or traveling with your plants.  

Aglaonema can tolerate typical household humidity of around 40%. However, if you increase the humidity around your plants, they will reward you with abundant growth. You can give your humidity a boost with the help of a humidifier or a pebble tray. With that said, the 'Aglaonema pictum tricolor' cultivar prefers humidity levels around 60% and can develop crispy leaves in drier conditions. 

Fertilizing Aglaonema

During the growing season (the spring and summer months), Aglaonema can benefit from additional nutrients by fertilizing as long as you don't go overboard. It is possible to overfertilize Aglaonemas, so it's best to go with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once per month and even less frequently if you keep your plant in lower light conditions. During the winter months, you can hold off on fertilizing altogether. Aglaonema can also do well with a fertilizer that favors nitrogen since most people grow them for their beautiful foliage. 

Pet Safety and Aglaonema 

Unfortunately, all Aglaonema species are toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses. This is due to calcium oxalates, which are crystal-like formations within the foliage, stem, and roots. When your pet bites into the leaves, those calcium oxalate crystals can cause oral irritation, swelling, and pain in their mouth, lips, and tongue, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and excessive drooling. Not only are these symptoms very unpleasant, but they can become very dangerous. It's best to keep all Aglaonema plants away from your pets and seek immediate veterinary care if you suspect your pet has consumed your Chinese Evergreen plants or shows any of the above symptoms. 


Here are a few important takeaways for growing happy and healthy Aglaonema plants in your space:

  • Lighting: While Aglaonema are low-light tolerant, they require medium to bright indirect light for better growth. Avoid direct afternoon sun. 
  • Watering: While this plant is hardy, keep the soil evenly moist and don't let it dry out completely.
  • Soil: Use a soil mix that retains moisture with additional ingredients such as orchid bark and perlite to allow for drainage. 
  • Temperature and humidity: Maintain temperatures between 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 29°C) and moderate humidity levels for optimal growth. 
  • Fertilizing: Use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once per month during the growing season. To promote lush foliage, you may also choose a fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen. 
  • Pet safety: All Aglaonema species are toxic to pets, so they should be kept out of reach. 

With these suggestions, you can enjoy Aglaonema’s ornamental foliage, even if you are a complete beginner.

If you have any more questions about caring for your Aglaonema species, consider joining my Plant Club community and reaching out. 

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