How to Care for Chinese Evergreen Plants (Aglaonema commutatum)

Most Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum) plants are small, low-growing, and have crowded leaves formed near the soil’s surface on short stalks. The less frequent and hence more elusive Aglaonema pseudo-bracteatum has a branching habit and is significantly less widespread.

The ability of the Chinese evergreen to thrive in low light conditions makes it a popular plant.

Avoid plants with brown leaf edges or dry tips when purchasing Chinese evergreens since these signs indicate that the plant was cultivated in poor conditions and kept at an uncomfortably low temperature. Instead, choose a young plant with vibrant, new foliage whenever possible.

Quick Guide

Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Height6–8 in (15–20cm)
Spread9–12 in (23–30cm)
Winter Care50–61°F (10–16°C). Direct light, but without full sun
Summer Care61–75°F (16–24°C). Needs Indirect light
General CareKeep soil moderately moist in the winter; in the summer, water more liberally and feed every three to four weeks. Every three to four years, repot in the spring.
PropagationWhen plants are being repotted, divide congested plants. Place in 50-61°F (10-16°C) until established. By dividing large clumps into smaller portions and planting each separately, new plants can be propagated at any time.

Types of Chinese Evergreen: Varieties

  • A. modestum: Considered a true Chinese evergreen but also a rather dull plant. 
  • A. crispum ‘Silver Queen’ Has a green and blotched silver foliage- a relatively popular variety.
  • A. treubii Has green mottled and cream leaves.
  • Aglaonema commutatum’ Pseudobracteatum,’ sometimes called Aglaonema pseudobracteatum) ‘Golden Evergreen’ Has spear-shaped leaves with a deep green color and creamy gold marks.
chinese evergreen plants in wicker baskets

Common Problems

Cold Temperatures

Make sure your Chinese evergreen is kept at the appropriate temperature since cold temperatures might harm the leaves of this plant. They grow better in warmer climates.

Leaf Spot

Spray the plant with the proper fungicide to treat the leaf spot disease.


Low temperatures and poor ventilation are connected to this fungus. After removing the leaves that were seriously damaged, transfer the plant.

Root Mealy Bugs

The only way to find these little bugs is to take the plant out of the pot. Then, inject the soil with insecticide solution.

Mealy Bugs

The Chinese evergreen’s crowded leaves and stems are perfect breeding grounds for mealy bugs. Therefore, combining the pesticide in a watering can is preferable, and administering it via a coarse rose instead of spraying it on as usual.

How to Grow & Care for Your Chinese Evergreen 

Soil (Not Too Picky)

Chinese evergreens require a peaty mixture, and winter repotting should be avoided at all costs. These plants develop best when their roots are constrained in relatively small containers. Thus the pots used shouldn’t be too big.

What many growers love about these plants is that they’re not too picky about their soil mix.

To grow plants for long-term indoor usage, growers combine peat moss, bark, wood chips, sawdust, sand, and aerolite (Styrofoam) in various ways.

However, there are specific soil needs for aglaonemas, and these are:
• Hold moisture
• Drain properly

You can grow an excellent Chinese evergreen if you meet only these two fundamental needs.

Light & Location (Lots of Bright, Indirect Light)

The Chinese evergreen can withstand low light without suffering negative consequences; however, direct sunlight must be avoided as the direct sun may burn the leaves. It looks best when paired with other, more vibrant plants.

Temperature (It’s Tropical, Keep it 70-75° F)

Avoid cold environments. They enjoy the same interior temperatures that are pleasant for most people, between 70 and 75 degrees F. Although many of the new Aglaonema types can withstand lower temperatures, keeping the temperature at 60 degrees or above (particularly with “Silver Queen”) prevents plants from wilting in the winter from doors opening and closing.

A warm environment should be between 59 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 21 degrees Celsius), although a Chinese evergreen will grow more actively at higher temperatures (and again prefers 70-75 degrees F).

Leaf yellowing may result from even a mild cold.

Water (Likes Moisture, But Drainage Key + Avoid Overwatering)

Chinese evergreens require regular watering to keep the potting soil moist. Between waterings, just the very top surface should have dried.

Plants kept in lower light levels are highly susceptible to overwatering. For example, Chinese evergreens are susceptible to various root and stem rots. Therefore, proper watering is essential for the plant’s long-term health in low light conditions. 

This applies to indoor tropical plants in general, not only Aglaonemas. 

If you decrease the following:

  • Temperature 
  • Light intensity 
  • Light duration 

It would be best if you generally waited longer between waterings to let the soil further dry out. 

The plants will need a little less water over the winter. The leaves will start to wilt if the roots get too damp. Placing a tray of wet stones under the plant will improve humidity.

Fertilizer (Likes to Feed)

If established plants are to thrive, they should get liquid food every time they are watered. Once more, during the dormant winter season, less feed is required. A relatively mild solution should be used to give the fertilizer.

Seasonal Care Tips (Avoid The Cold)

Chinese evergreens often remain healthy if kept in the right circumstances. Keep them away from windows and drafts throughout the winter and if it’s frigid outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the tips of my Chinese evergreen leaves turning brown?

If your Chinese evergreen is developing brown tips, you will likely have a humidity issue. Remember that this plant is a tropical species and like humidity. To solve this, place it in a naturally humid area near the kitchen or bathroom, or use a pebble tray with water.

What causes Chinese evergreen leaves to yellow and wilt?

This is likely a watering issue (too much or poor drainage). Inspect your soil to see if you can spot the problem of standing water near the bottom of the pot. If it’s overwatering, allow the soil to dry out before watering again. You’ll need to ensure your drainage holes are not clogged if it is a drainage issue. If you spot root rot, the best thing to do is repot in new soil.

Why is my Chinese evergreen pale looking and patchy?

A Chinese evergreen will look pale or patchy if it gets direct sunlight. These plants like indirect light like they would get under a canopy of trees in the rainforest.

What causes Chinese evergreens to lose variegation?

If your Chinese evergreen is losing its variegation, you should try moving it to a location with more indirect light. These plants thrive in medium to high, bright indirect light.

References + Resources

Aglaonema modestum Chinese Evergreen – IFAS Extension – PDF

Success with Your Aglaonemas Indoors By Gary Antosh – PDF

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.