CHINESE EVERGREEN HOUSEPLANT CARE
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One of the most commonly used interior landscape plants is the Chinese Evergreen or Aglaonema. Easy to care for, it can be maintained at the lower light levels often found in the home or office environment.
New varieties of this houseplant are introduced quite frequently. Sometimes these new varieties of Chinese Evergreen are healthy and robust and sometimes they develop problems and production is ended.
Lighting - This is a great houseplant for just about any location except full sun. Full sun, especially through glass, will scorch the exposed leaves. Chinese Evergreen plants will survive in low light but will become thin and leggy. For a nice looking plant, try to provide bright, diffused natural light or some artificial fluorescent light. This plant will do quite well with just artificial lighting. For this reason it is ideal for use in professional office space.
The most common varieties are the Aglaonema Emerald Beauty or Maria, Aglaonema Silver Queen and the Aglaonema Silver Bay. They have a bush-like or clumping growth and, depending on the pot size, can be from 8 inches to 4 feet tall.
Almost all varieties of Chinese Evergreen are variegated to some extent. Variegated types need more light than those with less variegation. Typically, the lighter the color of a plant, the higher the light levels it needs to maintain its color and variegation.
Watering Chinese Evergreen - If you place your Aglaonema in high light, you can allow the potting mix to dry down 1/2 to 3/4 of the way out before watering thoroughly. In a lower light situation, allow soil to dry almost completely between waterings. Please read the section on watering for more on the most important part of your plant care.
To help keep your Chinese Evergreen full and bushy, remove some of the new leaves as they appear. Do this by firmly grasping the stem the new leaf grows from and hold the new leaf near its base and gently pull. It should come out entirely and this is preferred. Do not use scissors. Leaves, stems etc. should be removed completely with no "stump" left behind. Wounds on a plant allow for entry of disease and can attract insects. Remove flowers or bracts in the same way.
There are a few problems you may encounter with this plant. Chinese Evergreen is prone to stem rot and root rot if over-watered. This is especially true if your Aglaonema is in low light. The light your plant receives is the biggest factor in determining the watering of your Chinese Evergreen.
Mealy bugs are one of the insect problems that you may have with Chinese Evergreen. An oval shaped, somewhat flattened body and six legs distinguish this insect, although they can appear to have more legs because of their "antennae" and "tails". They also have a fringe around the body. A waxy, protective substance covers the body of adults and egg sacs giving them a cottony appearance. Normally they are found in hidden areas, undersides of the leaves or in leaf axils. They also excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. Keep a watchful eye out for this pest, especially when you first bring a new plant home.
It is a good idea to treat any new additions to your plant family for a week or two with a spray mixture of water and rubbing alcohol followed with a wash down with mild liquid dish soap and water. Treat until run off, let dry then apply the second wash. You must be sure to hit the undersides of the leaves and the stems also. Never apply with the plant in the sun or when the soil is dry. Twice a week for two weeks and your plant should be safe.
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