Aglaonemas: Popular House Plants – Large, spear-shaped leaves on short stems are the decorative feature of Aglaonema, the Chinese evergreen. Its virtue, according to the textbooks, is an ability to thrive in poorly-lit conditions, but this is only true of the all-green varieties. The ones with white or yellow variegated foliage need brighter conditions.
According to some European authorities the shade tolerance of this slow-growing plant is its only virtue — it has even been described as being far too difficult for growing in the home. In the United States, however, Aglaonema is regarded as one of the most tolerant and reliable of house plants.
The best advice is to treat it as a moderately easy plant with a few special needs. Grow it in a shallow pot and keep it well away from draughts and smoky air. In winter it requires warm and moist air. Mist leaves regularly, but never use a coarse spray. Surround pot with damp peat. Aglaonema is a slow-growing plant which requires frequent feeding and infrequent repotting. Young specimens are virtually stemless, but older ones have a short trunk which is scarred with old leaf bases.
Aglaonema needs repotting in spring every 3 years. In spring or summer pot up basal shoots with a few leaves and roots attached. Air layering is an alternative.
Types of Aglaonema
The Aglaonemas are popular house plants. The Arum-like flowers which appear in summer are not particularly showy, so they are grown primarily for their large and colorful foliage. Aglaonemas tolerate some shade, but near-white varieties need a well-lit situation. The baby of the group is Aglaonema pictum (6 in. speckled and velvety leaves) — the giant is A. nitidum (18 in. plain green leaves). The usual plain green species is A. modestum, but it is the variegated types which are generally chosen. A. commutatum has silver bands — A. pseudobracteatum (Golden Evergreen) is blotched with yellow, cream and pale green. A. coommutatum ‘Silver Spear’ is an attractive variety, but perhaps the best of all the Aglaonemas are the hybrids Aglaonema ‘Silver Queen’ and Aglaonema ‘Silver King’ with foliage which is almost entirely silvery-grey.
Special problems of Aglaonemas
– leaves shrivelled because of too dry air;
– leaves curled with brown edges because of too cold air or cold draughts;
– insects – mealy bugs at the base of the leaf stalks can be a serious problem – so can red spider mite if the light is too bright.