How to Grow Chinese Evergreen Indoors

an aglaonema plant by the window

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Chinese evergreen is a decorative plant native to Asia with several interesting varietals. They all have large, narrow, and glossy oval leaves on short stems, and flowers (on older plants) that bloom in spring or summer. The Chinese evergreen is one of the most popular houseplants and its color variations—from dark green and silver to red—add personality to your home's decor.

Chinese evergreens are slow-growing, attractive, and make excellent indoor foliage plants that can be planted and cared for year-round. Best of all, they don't like full sun, so they're perfect for almost any room in your home, especially if window light is a commodity.

Botanical Name Aglaonema commutatum
Common Name Chinese evergreen, Philippine evergreen
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size 1–2 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial shade, full shade
Soil Type Peaty, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 10–12 (USDA)
Native Area Asia
Toxicity Toxic to dogs, toxic to cats
2:51

Watch Now: How to Grow a Aglaonema Plant (Chinese Evergreen)

agloanema receiving light by the window
Leticia Almeida / The Spruce
a closeup of aglaonema leaves
Leticia Almeida / The Spruce
shoots which can be used in propagation
Leticia Almeida / The Spruce 

Chinese Evergreen Care

If you're looking for a beautiful, easy-to-care-for houseplant, a Chinese evergreen may be the way to go. Beloved for its (nearly) hands-free care, the plant is simple to nurture, provided you follow one simple rule: the lighter the variegation on its leaves, the more sunlight it needs. Once you understand how that applies to your specific Chinese evergreen, you should have no problem helping it thrive. Beyond that, keep your plant warm and moist, and you'll be rewarded with a long-lasting, stable houseplant that will not outgrow its pot anytime soon.

Light

Darker green varieties of Chinese evergreens can grow in near-shade, while the variegated varieties require a bit more bright light. Take care not to expose any of the plants (no matter the variety) to direct sunlight, as the harsh rays can easily burn the delicate leaves.

Soil

Ultimately, the Chinese evergreen isn't particularly picky when it comes to the soil it's planted in. Typically, a well-drained, slightly acidic potting soil is perfect for the plant. If you find that your chosen soil is retaining too much water, try mixing in sand or perlite to aid in drainage. You should also make sure to plant your Chinese evergreen in a pot with ample drainage holes at its base.

Water

The Chinese evergreen plant thrives in moist—but not water-logged—soil. To achieve this balance, water your plant thoroughly, then allow it to dry out before watering again. You can maintain this cadence through the spring, summer, and fall, tapering off in the winter (but never letting the plant dry out completely).

Temperature and Humidity

These plants do not like cold drafts or temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to keep your Chinese evergreen away from windows or vents that blast in cool temperatures—the warmer the spot you can find, the better.

Due to its high humidity requirements, some growers consider Chinese evergreen to be a greenhouse plant. It will do best in the warm, humid, and bright environment of a greenhouse, but it can be successfully grown indoors by coming as close as possible to these conditions. To increase the humidity levels around your plant, mist it frequently, and consider placing it in a humidity-prone area of your home, like your kitchen or bathroom. If your home is particularly dry, you can invest in a small space humidifier to put near your plant.

Fertilizer

For best results, feed your Chinese evergreen with slow-release pellets or liquid fertilizer twice a year, at the beginning and end of its growing season.

Is Chinese Evergreen Toxic?

If you have curious pets in your household, you may want to skip the Chinese evergreen. It—and many members of the araceae plant family—is considered toxic, thanks to the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals found in every part of the plant. The plant is quite bitter, so it's unlikely that your pet will eat much of it. Still, if you notice your pet exhibiting any of the below symptoms of poisoning, contact your vet or emergency care immediately.

Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Burning or irritation of the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Choking or swelling of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Diaharea
  • Convulsions

Propagating Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreens can be propagated using stem cuttings or by dividing the plants during repotting. To propagate with stem cuttings, wait until the middle of the summer (when the weather is the warmest) and select a stem from the mother plant that's several inches long. Plant cut side down it in a separate pot, in soil that has been treated with a rooting hormone. Keep the soil moist and the cutting should take root within three to four weeks.

Common Pests and Diseases

While not terribly susceptible to pests or diseases, the Chinese evergreen can occasionally pick up a common houseplant issue like scale, mealybugs, or spider mites. These can be treated with an insecticide or neem oil. Most issues arise because the plant is kept too moist, and fungal problems (and root rot) are typical of an over-watered Chinese evergreen.