Plant Profile: Aglaonema

Aglaonema is a genus of perennial evergreen plants in the family Araceae. The plants in this genus are wonderful low light houseplants, and are among the easiest to maintain. They are one of the only plants which can survive long periods of time in poorly lighted and badly ventilated areas. Numerous species of aglaonema are available, from gorgeous specimens with variegated foliage to darker, green-leaved varieties.

Plants in the aglaonema genus are slow-growers, but can eventually grow up to four feet in height, depending on species. They have large, glossy oval-shaped leaves on short stems, which arch outward elegantly and can reach 10 inches or more in length. Leaf variegation generally consists of gray or silver markings against darker green leaves. However, one species (aglaonema rotundam) has some red coloration, and another species (aglaonema pictum) shows lime green colors its is variegation.

Aglaonema species also produce small, inconspicuous flowers, which are white to greenish white in color, and give way to clusters of bright red, glossy berries. The name "aglaonema" is derived from the appearance of the plant's glistening flower stamens, with the Greek "aglaos" meaning bright and "nema" meaning thread. Aglaonema produces flowers and fruit periodically throughout the year.

Other Names:
Although no common name is given to Aglaonema, it is sometimes known as Chinese Evergreen.

Aglaonema are tropical plants native to southeast Asia, northeast India, southern China, Malaysia, New Guinea and the Philippines. They grow wild in rainforests, tropical swamplands and moist uplands. Surprisingly, aglaonema plants can tolerate low humidity levels, such as those found indoors, despite their tropical roots. However, wind and cold air can threaten them, which is their one major weakness.

Not too picky when it comes to soil, aglaonema will do well in any high-quality organic potting mix with good aeration. They don't grow well in heavy soil mixtures, but they are particularly fond of soil which has been amended with humus.

Low to medium shadowless, indirect light is best for aglaonema, and placing them in a north or east-facing window is ideal. As with most indoor plants, the variegated varieties of aglaonema need more light than the darker green species.

Aglaonema prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 24 degrees Celsius), which is roughly average room temperature. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), and long term exposure to the cold could permanently damage or kill aglaonema plants.

The soil should be kept moist at all times, but not overly wet or soggy. Water regularly and thoroughly several times per week in the summer months, but reduce watering in the winter. Never allow the soil to completely dry between watering, as this can cause the leaves to drop.

Although aglaonema tolerate dry air better than many other indoor low light plants, they are still tropical plants and will benefit from the occasional misting to raise humidity. Fill a spray bottle with distilled water and mist the foliage of your aglaonema plant daily, or more often if the air becomes very dry indoors.

Feed aglaonema once per month using a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer during the spring and summer. In winter, reduce fertilization to once every six weeks. Refer to the instructions on the packaging for proper dosage and application instructions.

Do not prune aglaonema beyond removing dead or dying leaves. Because all growth emerges from the crown, it cannot be pruned back without killing the plant.

Aglaonema only need to be repotted once every two or three years, as they grow slowly and prefer to be slightly rootbound. They may be repotted in any season, when it does become time to move to a larger pot.

Aglaonema are prone to scale, and it is one of their most serious problems. Indicators of this pest include a weak appearance despite regular watering, and small disc-shaped insects on the undersides of the leaves. For a light infestation, isolate the plant and apply a pesticide that is absorbed through the roots.

Visit your local home and garden store for an appropriate product and follow the instructions on the packaging for proper application and dosage. Heavily infested plants may have to be discarded. Always treat pests at the first sign of a problem to avoid losing your plant.

Aglaonema is considered a highly toxic plant when ingested. Calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves and stems of the plant can cause severe pain and irritation of the mouth and throat if consumed. Keep aglaonema away from curious pets and children at all costs, or consider another houseplant if this isn't possible.


Santosh Kore said...

In genera which media it prefers and what is the source of propagation?

Jm DefiƱo said...

May I know who the author is??

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