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The aglaonema or Chinese evergreen is a popular household plant. Depending on which expert you consult, there are anywhere from 21 to 24 species of aglaonema.
It is attractive and relatively easy to care for, and it has some very positive environmental benefits. The wide variety of looks and shapes also adds to their appeal.
This is why they are loved by novice plant lovers and expert enthusiasts alike.
Some care should be taken when adopting aglaonema, as they can cause some toxic reactions.
But with the proper precautions, there is no reason why an aglaonema – any one of its many varieties – can’t be a superb addition to your home or office.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the best types and variegations of aglaonema, as well as some basic information and tips on how to take care of this beautiful tropical plant.
Within the 21-24 recognized species of aglaonema, there are seemingly endless variations in leaf colors and shapes. Over the years, they have proven easy to hybridize and variegate.
The aglaonema is part of the arum Araceae family, like the monstera adansonii.
The aglaonema originates from Asia and New Guinea. Many hybrids exist today, and the plant has successfully found popularity all over the world.
It is a flowering plant, evergreen, with broad leaves emanating from a crown. Chinese evergreens are often used as glossy ornamental plants, happy to thrive in low light conditions. In fact, they are useful in spaces with lots of artificial light, too.
These plants grow slowly, and they typically bear a berry-type of fruit in the wild. In homes or offices, however, they do not always bear fruit or flowers.
In fact, in most variations, they are unlikely to do so indoors.
Of course, everyone has their own favorites, but here are just a few of the most popular options around. Take your pick of this aglaonema varieties list.
This is a great example of a pink Chinese evergreen, the leaf of the anyamanee (sometimes misspelled as anyanmanee), is absolutely striking.
This is one of the more beautifully colored aglaonemas. It, and has large, heart-shaped leaves, variegated in a dominant pink and green, giving it the alternate name “pink anyamanee”. On the rare occasion that it flowers indoors, the flowers will be white.
The growth of the plant is particularly attractive as it seems like the largest leaves are the topmost ones. A beautiful choice for a desktop plant.
If Chinese evergreens are to be known for interesting colors and variegations, the bidadari is surely one of its prime examples. It has the expected green, the dashing red, and even cream in its palette.
This makes the plant particularly striking, especially since its leaves are broad and dominant.
It’s especially amazing in appearance because there doesn’t seem to be a uniformity in the patterns from leaf to leaf. Each leaf seems to be a design experiment in itself.
For some reason, BJ Freeman goes by a few other human names – notably, Gabrielle or Cecelia. It’s a large-ish plant at 4 feet tall and about 3 feet wide.
But it’s a lovely lighter shade of green, with it’s large glossy leaves providing lovely dense foliage.
Narrow and relatively plain in its visual appeal, the black lance is a popular office and lobby plant.
The plant has green edges with slightly lighter laminae. It’s a lovely green addition to your room and makes for a wonderful corner filler.
Beautiful deep and lime green hues dominate the look of this plant. The stems drift towards cream.
But the real appeal is in its patterns, which seem to be almost circular in shape. At the very least, there’s a lovely symmetry to these leaf patterns.
If you have a sheltered outdoor porch or greenhouse, this broad leaf plant creates a wonderful tropical flavor to your collection.
Thye cory grows to a decent 35 inches and has silver stripes on its leaves, which are primarily green. The stems show as white or light cream, and grow so as to create dense foliage.
Of the aglaonema types, cory seems to have a stronger resistance to colder conditions. If you live in a colder climate, it may be useful to try a cory, if other types are struggling.
This variation has the potential to present almost shrub-like. It is relatively short, squat, and broad.
But it has the typically broad, beautiful leaves of a Chinese evergreen. The green and silver coloring also help it to blend well with a neutral home palette.
The long, thin, sword-like leaves of the cutlass make the plant quite distinctive. But as a whole, the plant is lush, and its dark and light green colors add a rich and fertile feel.
The light green elements are actually more silver in tone, which is probably why the leaves are compared to blades in that way.
The leaves are long, and the stems are relatively short. That said, the plant can grow to around 20 inches in height and length.
Another two-colored variety, the Emerald Bay is green and silver. In the right pot, it grows wide and thick, creating a rich and fertile feel in its surroundings.
Even within the aglaonema family, Emerald Bay has a reputation for being one of the best at tolerating low light.
Though similar in name, the Star doesn’t really have much in common with the Emerald Bay. It presents its colors as spots, between dark and light green shades.
It also grows relatively quickly, compared to most other variegations. It does, however, grow similarly thick and can be a great floor-standing plant.
This is another variegation that contains red elements, brightening the room dramatically. Some growers may indicate the color element as chartreuse.
Either way, you have a gorgeous broad leaf displaying either splotches of color or colorful midribs and veins.
Reminiscent of its namesake, the harlequin’s colors seem to betray a playful personality. It has pink veins and green leaves and packs a visual punch for such a relatively small plant.
Younger leaves are generally greener, and the coloration seems to take hold as it grows. Little wonder this little pink aglaonema is so popular.
Maria’s distinctive characteristic is its darker green hue. It does have a beautiful second color on its leaves, making it a deeply lush addition to your home.
Something to note: the deeper colors make the Maria even more suitable to lower light conditions.
The color may indeed face if the plant is left in light that is too bright. So it’s a good idea to move the plant around until you find the sweet spot that provides a deep dark green outer leaf.
This Chinese evergreen displays a similar color to the silver queen, along with narrow, longer leaves. It also has darker green edges and tends to be quite bountiful, even in smaller pots.
The darker green shade may also run through the leaves in a chevron shape.
Modestum can appear as plain green leaves. It is one of the very few types of aglaonema that can in fact be “plain” in color.
But it is also commonly found as a patterned, variegated leaf, displaying white, cream, or very light green splotches across its large leaves. The leaves grow from stems sprouting from a central point in the soil.
NitidumNitidium is predominantly silver. It does sometimes present as green with silver variegation, though.
It grows to about 1.5 feet, so not very tall. But it is bushy and will require very little fertilizer, even compared to another aglaonema.
Red Gold is thought to be a Thai-bred hybrid. It is distinctive for its gorgeous red leaf edges. The leaves themselves are green with touches of gold.
Then the veins show as gold or light red. It’s a really interestingly colored plant that has become increasingly popular in the proverbial aglaonema charts.
One of the aurora’s most interesting variations is the bold red outer leaf, contrasting its more conventional green inner leaf.
Even the midrib carries the color that matches the margin, making it seem like an arterial system of sorts.
It will add a splash of inverted color to your living room but also makes for a fabulous bathroom plant. Big broad leaves catch the eye wherever it’s positioned, whether on the floor, in a corner, or on a side table.
The silver king grows to a little under two feet tall, and two feet wide. When mature, it has foot-long medium green and silver leaves, sometimes shading to white.
One feature that separates it from the silver queen is its lack of chevrons running down the leaves.
This variation looks very slightly slimmer than the king variety but carries more foliage. At least, it seems that way.
The leaves are indeed slightly thinner than many other aglaonemas, but the silver and green coloring offers a classy feel.
This plant loves a reliable visible spot to be admired in – it’s especially great in a space that needs to feel more filled up, perhaps a bare corner or wall.
As mentioned, the leaves may have green chevrons across the silver blades, unlike the King, which does not.
Gorgeous thick white stems reach up and expand into beautiful, compact but vibrant leaves.
Though not the largest of the aglaonema leaves, the colors and variegation make up for their lack of size. Red and green are dominant colors, with some gold, cream, and light green all possible.
In terms of spread, the red peacock may also seem relatively compact, but it manages to reach in all directions beautifully, presenting a really impressive stance.
Suzy is a subtle one. Slightly elongated leaves may at first glance be predominantly green. But closer inspection reveals an effective Chinese evergreen pink pop that adds just the right amount of excitement.
The plant can be dense with leaves, making it a great bed around which to dot more colorful aglaonema or other flowering plants.
Some varieties of aglaonema – whether actual species or just leaf variegations – are worth mentioning here, though they may be harder to find.
Here are some rarer types of aglaonema that a real enthusiast will want to track down.
This extraordinary-looking variety is absolutely stunning. Its leaves are broad and resemble the most dynamic army camouflage.
In fact, you may begin to wonder whether the designers of military outerwear were inspired by them.
The light, medium and dark green pattern on its broad leaves will jump out in any room setting. It’s kind of ironic, given its camouflage coloring, but it will no doubt be the center of any discussion for some time.
If you’re looking for a slightly unusual plant to add a sense of abstraction to your home, Prosperity may be worth the look.
The leaves reach out as if to grab attention, or, if you like, resembling a twirling dancer.
Pink and green are the key colors, but in this case, it’s really the shape of the plant as a whole that will get people talking. It certainly adds a whimsical note to any occasion.
The plants themselves are toxic and the sap can cause rashes to the skin (dermatitis) in some people. It is advised you wear protective gloves when handling the plant. It could also cause illness if ingested.
The cause of this toxicity is the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. It is the same substance that causes kidney stones in humans.
When sap containing these crystals is touched, it causes dermatitis, and when the crystals are ingested it can cause severe illness.
Be aware also that the plant is very toxic to pets, so make sure your cats and dogs are not too interested in it. If they are, you might want to try to move it out of contact or reconsider keeping an aglaonema.
Chinese evergreens are tropical plants, and will not do well in cold temperatures. They do enjoy the indoors, though, and will be fine in most moderate-temperature homes and offices.
You may be able to keep the plant on a sheltered porch in summer, but it should be brought indoors in winter.
When they are young, Chinese evergreens can be ideal desktop ornaments. Larger and older varieties will also suit floor-standing pots.
The aglaonema isn’t tough to care for, but there are some basic tips worth noting to make the best of your Chinese evergreen.
- Avoid cold drafts – keep it out of doorways and open windows where there may be cold gusts of air.
- Avoid too much direct sun – Chinese evergreens like low light or, at best, indirect light. Direct sun will likely damage its beautiful leaves.
- Keep the environment moderate to warm – the ideal temperature range for aglaonema is 68 – 77 °F (20 – 25 °C).
- Provide lots of humidity – use a pebble tray, or use a spray bottle. If you can use a humidifier, you may notice your plant does even better.
- Water frequently, but not abundantly – keep an eye on soil moisture, and water more frequently in summer. Generally, aglaonema does not require much fertilization in winter, if at all. During its most active growth phase, liquid fertilizer can be used up to twice a month.
- Keep leaves free from dust – while it’s not necessary to use a leaf shine solution, regular dusting should help to keep the leaves shiny and free from dust-loving pests.
Safety reminder: Remember to wear gloves when handling aglaonema – as mentioned, the plant sap can be poisonous to the touch.
As mentioned, Chinese evergreens grow very slowly. New plants need only be repotted once a year. Older plants can stay in one pot for 3 to 5 years before they absolutely need to be repotted.
That said, it’s a good idea to plan for a repotting every two years or so. Soil often needs replenishing, and it’s better to keep things fresh and vital. It’s also a good opportunity to propagate if you choose to do so.
After repotting, use a liquid fertilizer every 5 weeks.
Chinese evergreens are considered slightly difficult to propagate, though an experienced hand should be able to do so. The plants use seeds and cuttings primarily, but their daughter plants can be separated at the roots.
The most effective way seems to be to separate the plant shoots with five or more leaves during the repotting phase, ideally entering a warm season.
Make a diagonal cut in the stem below a leaf node. submerge the cutting in a container with water. Keep an eye on the water over the next few days. If it becomes cloudy, replace the water.
Cuttings can be taken from a branched stem and rooting takes 3 to 6weeks.
Aglaonema and dieffenbachia are sometimes confused.
Dieffenbachia, also from the Araceae family, is sometimes called ‘dumb cane’ or ‘leopard lily.’ There are about 30 different species of dieffenbachia. Like a Chinese evergreen, it is poisonous when ingested. In fact, its calcium oxalate crystals can cause an inability to speak – hence the name dumb cane.
To a casual eye, they may look somewhat similar to some Chinese evergreens, especially in their young phases. Dumb canes do grow a little taller than aglaonemas, which are shorter and bushier.
There are also subtle differences in the leaves. One of the telltale signs is the coloring. Dumb canes tend to be mostly green, with darker leaf edges. Aglaonemas come in many different colors and variants like red, silver, and pink.
On the whole, dieffenbachia is also taller than most Chinese evergreens and grows from a stem resembling a cane (dumb cane, remember?). Aglaonema tends to clump as bushes or clusters.
These are relatively low-maintenance plants that can thrive in low light conditions. This is why they are popular as office plants, in environments where there’s lots of artificial light.
Another plus in the aglaonema’s favor is that it provides a couple of useful benefits. Chinese evergreens have been shown to improve air quality in their environment.
In particular, it’s noted as being a great formaldehyde and benzene combatant.
Aside from being an air-purifying plant, it’s also a great oxygen generator, making your home or office that much more pleasant to live and work in.
On another note: In parts of Asia, aglaonema is considered a lucky plant. That is to say, a plant that brings its owner luck, at least according to certain Feng Shui principles. It may not be possible to prove whether or not this is true, but everyone can use a little luck now and then. And it wouldn’t hurt to improve your chances, would it?
Aglaonema is an ever-popular plant both for homeowners and office decorators, and the reasons for this are not hard to see.
The plants are easy to maintain, they provide a broad range of looks, and they’re good for you!
Indeed, in this day and age, it’s hard to argue against a pretty, leafy plant that is also environmentally positive.
Extracting toxins from the air, and generating life-giving oxygen can make any office just a little more tolerable.
But even if you’re only looking for a space-filler, or a bit of tropical green, silver, red, or pink to brighten up your lounge, aglaonema could well be the plant for you.