How to Take Care of a Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

Aglaonemas or Chinese evergreen plants have the right amount of freshness and green for any indoor environment. Its renowned foliage can come in different vibrant colors and combinations, making it the perfect match for a table or a window. So, how do you take care of a Chinese evergreen?

To take care of an aglaonema or Chinese evergreen keep in mind the following:

  • They will thrive under indirect light exposure. Avoid direct sunlight as its leaves are susceptible to burn.
  • Water it only when its soil gets dry. This should be once per week.
  • Aglaonemas prefer humid environments, so consider misting its leaves frequently.
  • Keep it in temperatures above 60º Fahrenheit (15º Celsius).

Although these basic guidelines will help you keep your Chinese naturally evergreen, maybe you still have a couple of questions in mind. Maybe you want to find out the best soil mix for your plant or how often you should prune it. Well no worries, we’ve got your back since we created this guide with everything you need to know about the Chinese evergreen.  

 Let’s jump into the details.

Aglaonema or Chinese evergreen Care: The Basics

See, what I like most about the Chinese evergreen is its ease-of-care. As we mentioned above, aglaonemas just need the right combination of light, water and humidity in order to thrive. 

chinese evegreen leaves
Photo by Mark Bosky on Unsplash

Let’s start with light.

How much light does a Chinese evergreen need?

This species can grow in areas that have indirect light. Depending on the sub-type, however, it will be more or less tolerant to light exposure. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a botanist to get it right, as you can use the color of its leaves and their patterns as a reference to know their  light needs.

For instance, the darker aglaonemas can thrive in near shade, whilst the variegated or light-greener ones will require more bright light to grow in a healthy way.

Pink aglaonema
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

For those who don’t have bright light spaces in their homes or offices, you will be happy to know that the Chinese evergreen can grow under fluorescent light, thus with relatively low care. 

Do Chinese evergreens need sunlight?

There is only one golden rule about light, or, actually,it’s more sort of a warning. Don’t grow your aglaonema under direct sunlight, as you will definitely put it at risk of leaf burn.

How often do you water Chinese Evergreen?

This will depend on your plant and how fast its soil gets dry. Watering should take place no more than once per week. However, we suggest checking your Chinese evergreen on a daily basis. Once you do, only water it if you notice that the top inches of the soil are dry. 

Watering will also vary depending on light exposure and temperature. For example, aglaonemas placed near windows or balconies will need more water in comparison to plants located in darker rooms or offices. In a similar way, if your aglaonema lives in hotter temperatures, water will be absorbed by its soil quicker, so there will be a more frequent need to replenish its vital fluids.

chinese evergreen or aglaonema indoors

To water your Chinese evergreen pour a couple of cups of water evenly on all of the topsoil layer until you notice it is sufficiently moist. Then, stop for a moment, and allow some minutes to go by before pouring more water.

Avoid overwatering or sogginess as this can cause root rot and this will put your plant at risk of dying. It’s also a good idea to check that the drainage holes of the pot are working properly and are allowing sufficient water to flow out. 

Although most aglaonemas have low watering needs, prevent your plant from long periods without water as the roots can dry out. This can be once you reach a week’s time. 

Humidity: Should I mist my Chinese evergreen?

Yes. Misting your Chinese evergreen will increase its overall humidity, which it will appreciate. This will protect your plant from dry air during the summer or cold drafts during the winter. If misting is not enough to raise humidity and you notice that your plant’s leaves decay or you just want to improve its humidifying process, feel free to place your plant near to a humidifier or pebble tray.

The reason why these plants show a preference towards humidity, is the aglaonema’s native environment. They grow in the jungle between topical trees where conditions are pretty humid (up to 80 percent).

What’s the best temperature to grow a Chinese Evergreen?

The ideal temperature range to grow your Chinese evergreen is between 60º and 80º Fahrenheit (15º and 26º Celsius). As said before, keep in mind that warmer and humid environments will benefit your aglaonema’s growth and overall health. Also, be careful during winter as these plants won’t be able to survive in frost.

chinese evergreen in table

Advanced Caring Guidelines

The tasks for more seasoned owners can be divided into the following:

  • Fertilizing
  • Soil and repotting
  • Pruning
  • Pest prevention

Fertilizing your Chinese evergreen

You will be happy to know that fertilization is not strictly necessary for this plant to thrive. However, if you want to go the extra mile and give it more love, you can apply a mild and water-soluble fertilizer to your plant once per semester. 

Also, it’s important to avoid fertilization during the winter months as this can create salt accumulation and burn the roots of your plant. 

Repotting and Soil Care

Similar to fertilization, aglaonema’s repotting might be only needed every two to three years due to its slow growth rate. However, keep in mind that some varieties like the red aglaonema may grow relatively a little bit faster. The repotting frequency will be also affected by light exposure since Chinese evergreens raised in low light will grow slower in comparison to its counterparts.

In regards to soil, this type of plant isn’t needy. Standard potting soil for houseplants should do the work. However, keep in mind that in all cases the soil mix should have good drainage properties and proper aeration. Feel free to add perlite to minimize the risk of excessive moisture retention and root rot.

How do you prune a Chinese evergreen?

First off, let’s clarify that pruning will be seldomly recurrent for this plant. However, if you want to give it a desired shape or control its foliage volume, you can prune your plant every other month by removing any dead leaves. Don’t forget to sanitize your shears or knife before making the cuttings, since if you don’t, it can affect its overall health. It is recommended to prune the leaf stems at its base or plant center. 

Pruning is also recommended when your aglaonema blooms and has flowers (more on this topic below), as they aren’t very charming, to be honest. Instead, when you do so, you are helping your plant to save energy that it can invest in its foliage growth, extending its longevity as well.

Aglaonemas are toxic and its sap can produce irritation, so make sure to wear gloves when performing any cutting.

How can I prevent my aglaonema from pests? 

Misting should help to prevent pests. Although they aren’t very common on this plant, spider mites and mealybugs can always appear. If that’s the case, then proceed to isolate your aglaonema from other plants and apply neem oil with a spray on the affected areas. Misting your plant with slightly soapy water can also help you to get rid of pests.

Can I propagate my Chinese evergreen?

Yes. You can propagate your Chinese evergreen by division or via stem cuttings. 

  • To propagate a Chinese evergreen by division, simply remove your plant from the pot by grabbing it near the base of the stem and then split the root body with your hands and sharp knife if needed. After that, you can proceed to plant the new baby plants into separate pots with a well-drained soil mix.
  • If you choose to propagate your aglaonema via the stem cuttings method, we suggest pruning a handful of leaves with their stems and place the cuttings in a glass of water (filled about one-third of the height of the stems).
  • Make sure to replace the water every other day to prevent mold from appearing. After a while, roots will start growing from the stems. Once the roots are about 2 inches long, then you can proceed to gently plant the cuttings into the soil and then following the caring guidelines described in the sections above.

And that’s it for the caring guidelines that you need to follow to take care of a Chinese evergreen! However, you might be interested in learning more about the frequently asked questions around this type of plant.

Companion Plants

The Aglaonema is a great plant to grow indoors, but it can also be grown near other plants. It pairs well with Hoya Carnosa, Dracaena or Orchids for its company.

Related Questions

How tall do Chinese evergreens grow?

Aglaonemas can grow up to one to three feet tall (30cm to 90cm). Their height and width will be influenced by its growing conditions, especially with indirect light exposure. The more indirect light exposure your plant has, the higher growth rate it will have.

Is the Chinese evergreen toxic to dogs?

Yes. Aglaonemas contain crystals made of calcium oxalate that can cause tissue irritation and pain if chewed or swallowed by your little pup . So it’s better to keep them in a place that can’t be reached or chewed by your pets.

Is Chinese evergreen toxic to humans?

Yes. The toxicity contained in calcium oxalate crystals can also affect humans and produce dermatitis if the plant sap is touched without a glove.

Why do Chinese evergreens turn yellow?

The cause of leaf yellowing can be under or overwatering. Make sure to first figure out which one it is. Then discard one of these causes by checking the watering frequency your plant currently has.

Remember that aglaonemas should only be watered if the soil is dry, but you cannot allow the roots to dry out. For more information please read the watering section above.

Why is my aglaonema drooping?

The main cause of aglaonema leaves drooping is not enough light or an incorrect watering routine. Make sure to adjust the location of your plant, so it gets indirect bright light. Also, do not overwater it if you notice that the soil is already moist.

Does the Chinese evergreen clean air?

Yes. One of the hidden benefits of growing a Chinese evergreen indoors is the fact that it can clear the air. This type of plant has special properties that allow filtering pollutants and toxic agents in the air. I personally keep my Chinese evergreen and my snake plant as my top air purifying all-natural devices.

Does a Chinese evergreen bloom?

Yes. Aglaonemas will bloom and give rise to white flowers which are known because they aren’t very appealing if you compare them to the flowers from other houseplants. The flower or spathe has an oval shape cover which is green, while the spadix or part in the center is white.

Since the main attraction from the Chinese evergreen are its leaves, you can prune the stems with flowers, so your plant saves energy and can better invest it into foliage growth.

How much do Chinese evergreens cost?

This will depend on the country or state where you live, but from our research, we found that prices for aglaonemas range from $15 to $45 if you purchase them online and with a standard ceramic or plastic pot. Of course, variations of this will increase or lower its price.

Are there many aglaonema varieties?

Yes. According to Wikipedia, there are more than 20 aglaonema varieties. Although the most popular for growing indoors are the following:

  • Aglaonema Emerald Bay
  • Aglaonema Red Gould
  • Aglaonema Silver (King and Queen)
  • Aglaonema Modestum

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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