Gerald L. Klingaman
Plant Common Name
Aglaonema is a genus of more than 20 species and many cultivated varieties and hybrids. The members of the genus are naturally distributed across the warm, humid, tropical forest of Asia. The cultivated varieties are highly prized as easy, tough indoor plants, selected for their striking leaves and used as houseplants, conservatory specimens, container plants, or bedding plants where growing conditions are favorable.
These plants are evergreen, tender perennials. Most grow fleshy stems from rhizomes (underground stems) to form slow-spreading clumps. Thick, leathery leaves alternately clasp the stem on long, succulent petioles (leaf stems). The leaves are single (simple) and narrowly lance-shaped or oval. Most are beautifully marked with various silver, white or gray patterned variegation, though unusual varieties may have red or pink variegation or petioles.
Like all members of the family Araceae, they have unusual flowers consisting of a finger-like floral column (spadix) surrounded by a white or pale green petal-like leaf (spathe). The female flowers are usually at the base of the spadix and the male flowers are towards the top. The spathe is often small, leathery and hidden among the foliage. After pollination, the female flowers produce showy fruits of red or orange which look like fleshy berries along the column.
Commonly grown species include Aglaonema commutatum which grows erect with large, lance-shaped to elliptical leaves with lovely silver blotching. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum ) is native to south China and has dark green, glossy leaves. And Aglaonema nitidum is found in the region from Myanmar to Borneo and has upright leaves which are dark green and variously blotched with white.
This tropical is very frost tender so protect the plants from a chill whether grown inside or in the landscape. Bright indirect light, high humidity and a moist but well-drained soil or potting mix are required for good growth. Water and fertilize regularly and make sure that outdoor plants are shaded from the intense sun of mid-day. Indoors, these are some of the best plants for low-light conditions. Aglaonemas are grown as landscape plants in the tropics and prized as houseplants or tender patio plants in temperate climates. Their fabulous leaves brighten up the darkest office and are long-lasting and beautiful when cut for arrangements.
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Bedding Plant, Container, Edging, Groundcover, Houseplant, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns