Everything about Chinese Evergreen

31 Oct 2021

The Chinese evergreen houseplant is ranked among one of the easiest to care for. This fuss-free plant is perfect for a newbie gardener or houseplant collector.

Let’s explore all the care and environmental requirements to grow a flourishing Chinese evergreen, as well as how to fix any issues that may crop up along the way.

Main Characteristics

It belongs to the Araceae family and has the scientific name; aglaonema commutatum. It’s also referred to as a Philippine evergreen and poison dart plant.

Due to its small size, it makes for the perfect desk plant and eventually becomes big enough to be placed on the floor. Just like a Yucca, the Chinese evergreen is a herbaceous perennial.

Native to the Philippines and northeastern Celebes it thrives in tropical environments. Its stunning oval-shaped leaves have a glossy appearance and are coupled with beautiful delicate flowers. Cultivators have been able to create many variations of this plant. We’ll discuss some of the most beautiful and popular ones below.


Here, we’ll discuss just a few of the many different types of houseplants and their notable characteristics.

  • Algaonema Pictum Tricolor: Their leaves have a unique pattern with multiple shades of green, the pattern almost resembles camouflage.
  • Algaonema ‘Silver Bay’: This variation’s leaves are a silvery-green color, and it’s renowned as a fast-growing plant.
  • Algaonema ‘Widur’: It’s also referred to as ‘Red Peacock’, and the green leaves have a striking pink vein.
  • Algaonema ‘Cutlass’: These long, streaky leaves are a creamy-green color with subtle dark green veins.
  • Algaonema ‘Harlequin’: This plant’s lush, dark green colored leaves are speckled with yellow and have a pinky colored vein.
  • Algaonema ‘Chocolate’: This variation’s leaves are a gorgeous chocolatey-green color with a red vein. Unfortunately, this type of houseplant is not widely available.
  • Algaonema ‘Creta’: Its oval leaves are a lush green color with creamy splotches and a bright pink vein and margin.
  • Algaonema ‘Pink Dalmatian’: This plant’s foliage is a deep green color speckled in pink spots.
  • Algaonema ‘Red Valentine’: Its large oval-shaped leaves have dark green margins with a vibrant pink and red center.
  • Algaonema ‘Maria’: It has long leaves with multiple creamy colored markings.


When well cared for it can reach height of between 1 to 2 feet (0.3 – 0.6m), and a width of 1 to 2 feet (0.3 – 0.6m) as well.

How Fast Does It Grow?

They are typically slow growers and take a good couple of years to reach their mature height. The average Chinese evergreen grows an extra inch (2.5cm) a month.

How Long Does It Live?

In optimal conditions, you can expect it to live for around 7 to 10 years.

Is It Toxic to Cats, Dogs and Humans?

The Chinese evergreen like many houseplants belonging to the Araceae family are toxic, including the peace lily and dumb cane, due to the chemical compound; calcium oxalate. Its sap can cause microtrauma and pain when either a person or pet ingests it.

We’ll list the common symptoms to look out for below.

Pets’ Symptoms

Sadly this vibrant houseplant can cause some unpleasant symptoms if your pet ingests it, such as excessive drooling, the swelling of their throat and tongue as well as a burning feeling in their mouth.

Even merely coming into contact with the sap can cause a painful rash and eye irritation.

You must seek help and advice from your vet as soon as one of your pets has ingested the plant.

People’s Symptoms

If either you or a child comes into contact with the sap your eyes may swell, water, itch and have a burning sensation. You may also develop a rash and skin dermatitis.

When the sap is ingested it causes pain when swallowing, as well as vomiting, nausea, and the swelling of the tongue and lips.

Please be careful when handling this plant and always wear a pair of gardening gloves. Contact your doctor if either you or your child ingests any part of the plant.

Chinese evergreen - size, lifespan, toxicity, growth speed (infographics)

Chinese Evergreen Care

We’ll guide you through everything you need to know to optimally care for a Chinese evergreen houseplant, just follow all the tips and tricks below for a truly thriving plant.

How Often to Water It

The aglaonema commutatum flourishes in moist potting soil. You’ll need to water your plant once a week during the warmer months and about once every two weeks during the colder months.

When you water the aglaonema commutatum, make sure to allow for all the water to drain out before placing it back in its home.

Additionally, you should be mindful not to overwater the plant as this will cause severe root damage and fungal disease. You’ll need to find a balance as the soil should never be left to dry out completely either.

Top Tip: If you’re concerned that you’re overwatering the houseplant, try feeling the top inch (2.5cm) of soil to check that it’s dry before watering it again.


Effective drainage is imperative for the aglaonema commutatum as it cannot withstand overly moist soil, the same can be said of the English ivy. The container must have ample drainage holes to prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged.

Try adding a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot so that water can flow off the root tips easily.

Top Tip: Add in sharp sand, vermiculite or peat moss to enhance the soil’s drainage.

How to Prune It

The aglaonema commutatum is a slow-growing plant so it doesn’t have a high demand to be trimmed and pruned. If you notice any dead foliage or leggy growth then simply cut this back with a sterilized pair of scissors.

It’s ideal to prune your plant during the springtime. Remove any leggy growth by cutting back the stems to about 3 inches (7.6cm) above soil level.


It’s only necessary to repot your houseplant every 2 to 3 years or when it’s rootbound. You’ll only need to increase the pot size by a few inches. Follow the guide below.

  1. Find a new pot and fill it up one-quarter of the way with fresh potting soil.
  2. Slide the plant out and place it in the center of its new container.
  3. Add some more soil to fill in around the rootball.
  4. Water it thoroughly and place it in a sunny home.


Light Requirements

It thrives in bright, indirect sunlight, however, it can tolerate low-lit areas. The plant will maintain its texture and patterns in bright sunshine but keep it out of any direct light. The leaves will become scorched and burnt if it receives too much harsh light.

Typically, the darker green leaves can withstand shady areas while the variegated types should be placed in brighter areas.

Fun Fact: It can even grow under fluorescent light which is why it’s great for your office.

Best Soil Type

This houseplant prefers slightly acidic soil that is well-draining. You can mix in some sand, perlite or vermiculite to enhance the drainage.

A cactus mix is ideal for this type of houseplant, however, it isn’t too fussy when it comes to the potting mixture. A peat-based soil is also a great mix for the aglaonema commutatum.

Your potting mixture needs to be light and fluffy so that it doesn’t retain too much moisture and the roots can receive the air it needs.


The best type of fertilizer for the Chinese evergreen plant is a slow-releasing pellet or liquid water-soluble fertilizer.

It doesn’t require much feeding, in fact, it only needs to be fed twice a year; once at the beginning of spring and the second time at the end of summer.

Top Tip: If fertilizer salts have built up in the soil, simply flush these out by running a stream of water over the soil for 5 minutes.

Pot Size

The Chinese evergreen prefers to be housed snuggly in its container. The optimum size of your container is one that’s 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) wider than the rootball.

A pot made of any material will dot his houseplant just fine, as long as it has plenty of drainage holes.

Temperature Range

The aglaonema commutatum prospers in temperatures ranging from 65 to 85°F (18 – 29°C). It can survive in a cool environment around 50°F (10°C), however, it will not thrive or produce new growth.


Chinese evergreen houseplants flourish in moderate to high humidity levels. It prefers 60 to 70% relative humidity, however, it won’t suffer if the air is too dry.

If you’re concerned that your household humidity is too dry, there are a few things you can do to increase the humidity levels surrounding your plant. Try grouping the plants together or placing an electric humidifier nearby.

Outdoors vs. Indoors

The Chinese evergreen will be happy outdoors in USDA hardiness zones of 10 to 12. The only aspects of your care routine that may need to change are the amount of sunlight and moisture it receives.

You’ll need to place it in partial shade and during the summertime, you will have to water it more frequently. If you live in a cool region then growing it outdoors isn’t a good idea.

Chinese evergreen - care, water, light, pot, temperature, fertilizer (infographics)


During the spring and summer, you may notice small white flowers blooming. This will only occur once your aglaonema commutatum has reached maturity.

The flowers will be accompanied by small berries. The blooms may last for a few months before they begin to die off. If you want to encourage your houseplant to bloom try providing it with good lighting, moisture and make sure that you don’t overfeed it.

How to Grow

Growing a Chinese evergreen plant is fairly effortless. We’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide to propagating it in soil and water, as well as how to plant its seeds.

Chinese Evergreen Propagation

When propagating the aglaonema commutatum, you’ll need to get out your pair of gardening gloves. Make sure that you sterilize the blade or tool you will be using the divide the rootball or cut the stem to prevent the spread of bacteria.

In Soil

It’s best to make use of fresh, well-draining soil to grow your new plant, and always use a pot with a drainage hole.

Stem Cuttings
  1. Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut a 4-inch (10cm) long stem from the mother plant.
  2. Dip the cut end in some rooting hormone to encourage speedy growth.
  3. Take out a new container and fill it with some well-draining soil, and plant the cut end an inch (2.5cm) or so deep in the potting mixture.
  4. Find a sunny home for the cutting and water it well.
  5. In a month’s time, the cutting will root.
  1. Gently slide the plant out and brush off any excess soil still attached to the roots.
  2. Examine the rootball and use a sharp blade to separate it into clumps.
  3. Prepare a container with some potting mix and plant the clump. Make sure to cover all the roots.
  4. Position it by a sunny windowsill and water the division thoroughly.

In Water

When propagating the stem cuttings in water, make sure to change the water every 3 days or so to prevent the build-up of algae. You should also consider using a transparent jar or glass so you can see new root growth easily.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Cut a 3 to 4 inch (7.6 – 10cm) long stem with a sterilized pair of scissors.
  2. Fill a jar with tepid water and dip the cut area in a rooting compound.
  3. Place the stem into the water, and change it when needed.
  4. In a month the roots will form and you can repot it in some soil.

How to Plant Its Seeds

It’s best to plant those little seeds during the springtime so they can grow before winter.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to planting Chinese evergreen seeds:

  1. Soak the seeds in a container of water for 24 hours before planting them.
  2. Take out a tray and fill it with moist peat moss.
  3. Sprinkle the seeds evenly across the peat moss and cover it with plastic wrap to lock in the warmth and moisture.
  4. Once you notice any new growth you can remove the plastic and repot the seedlings.

How to Revive It

Although the Chinese evergreen is easy to care for and it isn’t finicky either, it may still run into some problems. So, we’ll make sure you are clued up on how to revive your plant back to health.

Why Are the Leaves Turning Yellow?

The yellowing of leaves could be a sign of aging or too much moisture. If the lower level leaves are turning yellow then this is completely normal and naturally occurs as the plant matures.

If many leaves are turning yellow then you are most likely watering your plant too much. You may have to adjust your watering schedule and allow the soil more time to dry.


Droopy and limp leaves are a sign of poor drainage and overwatering. All you need to do is assess your drainage system and make sure that the soil is aerated, light and well-draining. The pot must also have drainage holes to allow any excess water to flow out.

If you’re overwatering your plant then take a break for a few days and wait until the soil has dried out slightly before watering it again.

Root Rot

Root rot is caused by excessive overwatering. The aglaonema commutatum thrives in a moist potting mixture, however, it’s still susceptible to becoming waterlogged and developing root rot.

If the roots have become mushy, black and brown or the stem has become soft then you need to repot it immediately and remove any damaged tissue. Make sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly to avoid this problem in the future.

Brown Spots on the Leaves

When the leaves start developing brown spots, this may be due to one of two things; cool temperature and a lack of humidity.

If it’s winter or a cooler time of the year, think about relocating your houseplant to a sunnier area. This way the plant can keep warm and healthy throughout the year.

The aglaonema commutatum loves a humid environment, so try misting its leaves frequently or positioning it in your warm, steamy bathroom.

Wrapping It Up

This easy-going and fuss-free houseplant is perfect to leave at your desk or add some vibrant color to your workspace. The bright colors add a brilliant pop of energy to any room. Remember to follow the few care requirements and you can expect pretty blooms.

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