Growing Chinese Evergreen doesn’t need much effort. Unlike other houseplants, Chinese Evergreens are durable tropical plants, and growing them will even make a beginner feel like an experienced gardener. Chinese evergreens are famous for their colorful, patterned foliage.
Chinese Evergreen can survive under poor light conditions, dry air, and droughts. Though they can tolerate inferior growing conditions to some extent, following specific care tips will improve their health and increase their lifespan.
Well-drained soil, indirect sunlight, infrequent deep watering, adequate temperature, humidity, and feeding during growing months are some of the essential tips Chinese Evergreen requires to thrive.
If you are a beginner at growing a Chinese Evergreen and searching for practical care tips, you are at the right place. This article will guide you with all the needs of a healthy Chinese Evergreen.
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11 care tips for a Chinese Evergreen
Let’s learn about the elementary necessities of growing and caring for a Chinese Evergreen to enjoy the plant for prolonged periods.
1. Provide the Chinese Evergreen with bright filtered sunlight.
Chinese Evergreen does best while growing under indirect sunlight for 15-18 hours. Direct and indirect sunlight can be confusing. There are two ways to understand whether the plant is receiving indirect sunlight:
Stretch your hand towards the sunlight. If the heat feels soft and mild, it receives indirect sunlight. The shadow will be soft, not sharp or evident.
Chinese Evergreen will suffer sunburns if exposed to direct sunlight. These plants can bear light levels of about 1k-5k lux.
If you have an east-facing window, place your Chinese Evergreen near this window. This direction will give your plant the perfect indirect sun that won’t be much intense.
If you keep them near a south or west-facing window, it will require protection. Set up a sheer curtain or window films to filter the direct sunlight.
If there are no curtains at the present moment, bring them a few feet back during the middle part of the day and afternoon as these two times give bright direct sunlight that can be harmful to Chinese Evergreens.
They can survive low light doesn’t mean they will survive the darkness. A good amount of light will help in photosynthesis, maintain the balance of the plant and develop the foliage color to make it more evident.
Primarily, variegated varieties require full sun to thrive. But the intensity shouldn’t be harsh but soothing and cool.
If the plant doesn’t get enough light, fix artificial lights for them. Switch it on for 15-16 hours, and then keep it off. Use a light with a timer so that the light switches on/off on its own.
2. Water the Chinese Evergreen when the top 50% of the soil gets dry.
Constantly checking the soil’s moisture level and watering is the best way to water the houseplants.
As a rule, water the Chinese Evergreen once a week in their growing season. Because the plant will be growing actively in the spring and summer, they will take up water faster.
In the winter, you can either stop watering or water them every 2-3 weeks to keep the soil medium evenly moist.
Correct watering depends on many factors – light exposure, time of the year, indoor or outdoor, kind of pot, and humidity levels.
Chinese Evergreen thrives in indirect light and can tolerate low light. If the plant is getting low light, water less often.
In the spring and summer, water the plant more. From the fall, reduce the watering frequency.
Chinese Evergreens are tropical plants that will love high humidity. If they are getting enough humidity indoors, you can reduce watering frequency. The higher the humidity, the less water Chinese Evergreen needs.
Chinese Evergreens will tolerate droughts, but they will not like being overwatered. Thus, keep these situations in mind while watering.
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3. The soil must be well-drained with a 5.5-6.5 pH level.
The soil for Chinese Evergreen should be able to drain the excess water. At the same time, it should remain slightly moist. So, along with being well-drained and porous, the soil must also retain moisture.
Proper drainage will avoid overwatering and reduce the risk of root rot diseases.
A peat-based, nitrogen-rich potting soil will be best for the Chinese Evergreen. As this plant shows off its leaves more, Nitrogen will support the foliage development.
Along with good drainage, the soil’s pH level should be between 5.5 and 6.5. I would like to share some good soil mix recipes:
By using these potting mixes, the soil will drain well, retain moisture and maintain an ideal pH level.
4. Fertilize your Chinese evergreen during their growing seasons.
It is easy to over-feed the Chinese Evergreen. These plants demand low fertilizing.
Since Chinese Evergreen plants are everything about their beautiful patterned foliage, feeding them nitrogen-based fertilizer can encourage good growth and development of their foliage.
Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer with NPK value 10:10:10. You can also apply liquid kelp and fish emulsion. They work similarly to the chemical ones. Because they are less demanding about fertilization, make the fertilizer strength half.
Feed them once or twice every 4-6 months during the spring. They can uptake the food with ease because it is their growing season.
If you think they need some more, fertilize again with the same fertilizer and strength during the summer. In the fall, reduce fertilizing frequency. In winters, these plants remain dormant, so stop fertilizing.
Chinese Evergreens sometimes suffer from copper deficiency. To avoid such conditions, use fertilizers possessing copper as micronutrients.
5. Repot the Chinese Evergreen every 3 to 4 years.
Many houseplants are repotted once a year. But, Chinese Evergreens are slow to moderate growers and need re-potting every 3-4 years.
The best time is spring. Repotting in the growing season will facilitate quick recovery from transplant shock.
Once the plant outgrows the pot, the root system needs more space to grow. Else they will get suffocated. If you don’t repot the plant, it will suffer from water and nutrient deficiency due to lack of soil.
Generally, they enjoy slight root-bound conditions. As they are slow growers, yearly repotting is not needed. They will take at least 24-36 months to outgrow.
Repotting these plants will fresh soil in a new pot gives them fresh nutrients and more space to grow, promoting good development in the plant.
6. Use the correct pot for Chinese Evergreen.
The size of the planter should rely on the size of the plant. A small pot will make the plant rootbound before time whereas, a bigger one can cause overwatering.
The size of the pot should be 1-2 inches bigger than the plant’s root mass.
Generally, the Chinese Evergreen plants grow better in a 9-10 inches wide container.
While re-potting, grab a container that is just 2-3 inches bigger than the current one. A way too big pot will require more water and soil that takes forever to dry out, resulting in overwatering.
The container must have enough drainage holes.
7. Protect the Chinese evergreen from low temperatures.
Though Chinese Evergreens will tolerate dry air, soil, and low light, they don’t appreciate it when it comes to low temperatures.
The ideal temperature for them ranges between 68-77°F. It makes them suitable for growing indoors.
The foliage will create dark and greasy spots when exposed to cold temperatures.
Some varieties like Emerald Star, Stars, and Jewel of India can withstand 55 degrees or even below without showing any signs of damage. You can consider growing these collections if you live in such cold regions.
8. Provide the Chinese Evergreens with adequate humidity.
Chinese Evergreens are native to the tropical and subtropical areas of Asia and New Guinea. Being tropical plants, they will require about 60% or more humidity.
Remember that humidity shouldn’t drop below 40% because it’s the minimum humidity they can endure.
Fixing a humidifier in the room is the best solution to provide Chinese Evergreens with the right humidity level. It can mimic the exact humidity like their native land.
There are also other methods to increase humidity. Misting can be helpful. But the problem is during summer when the water dries out within 20-30 minutes. You have to repeat misting.
You can locate your plant near a bathroom. It will get enough humidity in such a location. Other methods include keeping pebble trays beneath the pot and grouping plants.
9. Prune the Chinese Evergreen for a bushy and good-shaped plant.
Prune the leggy Chinese Evergreens by 6 inches. You can propagate the cuttings in soil or water to get more Chinese Evergreens.
Prune off the dead and damaged foliage.
The damaged leaves will not turn green. It saves the plant’s energy to focus on producing new leaves. It makes the plant look clean and tidy.
Cut off the leaves with a sterilized pruner deep downwards in the middle of the plant.
You can prune off the blooms that you notice on your Chinese evergreen. These are not attractive, and you can prune the blooms if you want more foliage on your Chinese evergreen.
10. Propagate to get more Chinese Evergreens
While pruning, you will find many healthy parts to propagate to get new Chinese evergreen plants. And it’s a better alternative than buying new plants.
There are many ways to propagate Chinese Evergreens. Always propagate the plant in their growing season. Their active growth in spring and summer will encourage the cutting to root faster.
You can do it in water and soil by stem cuttings, divisions, seeds, and tissue culture.
To propagate by stem cuttings:
- Take a sharp disinfected knife or pruner to cut the stem close to the base of the plant. The cutting should be at least 5 to 10 cm. Make an angled cut.
- Apply some fungicide and root hormone to the cut portion. It will avoid fungus and support quick rooting.
- Place the cutting either in water or soil. Roots will emerge within 3 to 4 weeks. Keep the soil moist. Instead of watering by a can, spray the soil with water to avoid overwatering.
- After placing the cutting in soil or water, let them have indirect light.
- You can either transfer the plant to soil or let it remain in the water. Some people prefer transplanting in the soil after rooting in water.
- For a hydroponic Chinese Evergreen plant, change the water every 2-3 days and feed it with a few drops of houseplant fertilizer.
Propagating by division will disturb the roots. Do this during repotting. To propagate by division:
- Take the Chinese evergreen out of the pot gently. Remove maximum soil from the roots to have a clear vision of them.
- Divide the roots by separating a bunch apart.
- While doing this during re-potting, the plant will be root-bound. Be very gentle while dividing them. Try not to hurt the good roots and root ball.
- Now plant the separated cluster in a pot with fresh, well-drained potting mix. Moist the soil.
- Place both the mother plant and this new bunch under indirect sunlight. Don’t fertilize.
- The plants will have yellow leaves or droopy leaves due to transplant shock. Don’t worry. Within a few weeks, they will recover. Make sure not to stress them further.
To propagate by seeds:
- Collect the seeds from the flowers of the mature plant.
- Wash them with acidic water.
- Use seed germination soil mix for seed germination.
- Spread the seeds and cover them lightly.
- Maintain moist soil, indirect sunlight, and room temperature.
- Within 45 to 60 days, they will begin to germinate.
Tissue culture is not very common. It requires a lab environment to be successful.
11. Spray neem oil once a month to protect them from pests.
Neem oil is a kind of horticultural oil spray that helps deter bugs. It is natural and safe. Spraying this oil once a month in the Chinese Evergreen plants can avoid pest infestation. You can also use Insecticidal Soap to keep pests away.
Usually, it is involved when pests attack the plant. But you can also apply it once a month as a preventive measure to keep the bugs at bay. No bugs will ever loiter around your plant.
If an infestation is present due to overwatering or other stress, this oil will treat the plant and prevent the infestation from becoming huge.
- Let the brown leaves on the lower side of the plant be alone. Remove them when you can snip them off by hand at ease. It prevents the arrival of unwanted bugs and insects near the plant.
- If you are out on a holiday trip, keep your plant under low light conditions and keep the humidity high. In such circumstances, the plant will consume much less water than usual.
- Rotate your Chinese Evergreen about 90 degrees once a week. It promotes a decent round shape in the plant.
Chinese Evergreen is a beginner-friendly houseplant. Also called Aglaonema, these plants don’t need much attention.
However, their basic needs, which I explained in this guide, are not tough to follow and must be fulfilled to have a healthy and long-lasting plant.
Provide Aglaonema with an adequate amount of light, water, and fertilizer, depending on the season.
Give them high humidity and save them from cold drafts. Repot every 3 to 4 years and deadhead the spent flowers and leaves to keep them tidy and bushy.