Chinese Evergreen: The Indoor Gardener's Delight


The Chinese evergreen, a member of the Aglaonema family, is an attractive tropical foliage plant that originated in China and Thailand.

It is a slow growing plant with thick nonbranching stems and long leathery leaves that grow up to 2 feet (60 cm) in height.

It is a very popular plant because it can grow almost anywhere.

It is prized for being able to grow in dimly lit corners of a living room, in hallways, or in the artificial light of an office building; however, it does not like full sun.

It is both beautiful and durable and can survive in lowlight and dry air.

There are many varieties that have distinctive foliage with variegated leaf patterns of silver, gray, and shades of green to enhance their beauty.


The Silver Bay plant which is a hybrid. It is a tough, robust plant that grows up to 30 inches tall and 36 inches wide.

It has striking broad leaves with a central area of silver gray surrounded by a dark green border on self-branching stems. These stems produce new shoots that form bushy rounded plants automatically. It does not need pinching or pruning and it grows equally well in hot or cool rooms.

Natural Air Cleaners: These plants are ideal for indoors because it acts as an indoor air cleaner by ridding the air of toxins like benzene and formaldehyde. Benzene is found in nail polish, paints, solvents, and adhesives. Formaldehyde is found in foam insulation, particle board or pressed wood products.

Chinese Evergreen Care Instructions

Light: These plants like low to medium light. The variegated varieties require brighter light.

Water: Keep the potting soil evenly moist, plant can tolerate some surface drying without damage.

Temperature: Keep 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and about ten degrees cooler at night, avoid cold drafts, as leaf damage may occur.

Humidity: This plant like humid conditions but can tolerate low humidity. An occasional misting of the leaves with warm water will help to raise the humidity.

Fertilization: Fertilize with an all purpose fertilizer diluted to 1/4 strength during the growing season (March through September).

Propagation: Tip cuttings of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) or 2 to 4 inch (5- to 10-cm) stem segments. Make a clean, downward cut with sharp razor blade just below the joint with one or two small leaves attached.

Repotting: Repot is plants becomes potbound, using a well-aerated potting mixture of 50% or more organic matter.

Common Problems: These plants are mostly pest free but occasionally may be attacked by scale and mealybugs. Check the stems and undersides for scale, brown crusty bumps that scrape off easily; check the leaf nodes and axils for mealybugs which appear as cottony white masses.

Safety Tip: The Aglaonema plants contain calcium oxalic acid, which can be toxic. This acid is in the sap that seeps out of cuts in the plant. It can cause swellings and pain in the mouth and throat and can cause problems in the eye. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly when handling any type of Chinese evergreen or Aglaonema plant.

Although the Chinese evergreen is a beautiful accent for the home, it is classified as toxic.  Always keep these types of out of reach of small children and pets.

For more information, contact the ASPCA, to get a list of plants that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract.