Chinese evergreens are not like a pine tree as they are much smaller and not trees at all but herbs. The term evergreen means always green, that it does not go through a state of green and then changing colors. The term Chinese evergreen, like with trees, is a group of plants, not just one.
How big do Chinese evergreens get and how fast do they grow? Chinese evergreens can get to about three feet tall and about as wide. The leaves can be quite large on these beautiful plants as well. In the summer, they can grow quite well, but in the winter they do need to rest, so they won’t grow nearly as fast as the summer.
Chinese evergreens are beautiful plants with leaves that can rival most flowers. They are multicolored and multi-patterned and can add a bit of color and life to just about any space. One of the best things about any of the Chinese evergreens is how hardy they are. They are more adaptable than most house plants making them versatile and easy for the beginner to keep.
What Are Chinese Evergreens?
Chinese evergreen is the common name for a variety of tropical plant genus aglaonema which includes over 20 different varieties. Known for their hardiness and beautiful foliage, these types of plants are often found in offices and other public buildings. Easy to maintain yet pleasing to the eye, Chinese evergreens are a wonderful starter plant for someone new to plant keeping.
Originally from southeast Asia, these plants grew on the floor of the tropical floors. Due to the extreme shading that comes with the forest floor, these plants adapted to being able to grow in low light with warm temperatures. This makes them suitably adapted to be able to survive well as houseplants and are actually a good starter plant for someone new to owning houseplants.
Chinese evergreens are actually a type of perennial herbs, so they will last over the years, though they do not have large flowers like many plants do. As far as reproduction they do produce berries that contain a single seed inside. Unless you plan to try to grow one from a seed, then it is just best to pinch off any flowers that you notice.
In many parts of Asia, they are considered luck bringing plants, so it would not be uncommon for a family to keep one or more in their home. Due to their ability to be able to purify the air in a living space better than most plants, the Chinese evergreens can help to keep your environment, whether it is your home or office, much healthier.
Although they are originally from Asia, the name aglaonema is Greek. The name comes from the Greek words “aglos” and “nema” which means golden thread. Even though they are called Chinese evergreens, they are found in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines in tropical rainforests. This makes them adapted to survive in low light conditions.
Varieties of Chinese Evergreens
The Chinese evergreen actually covers a variety of plants. All quite beautiful without even being in bloom. Some of the different varieties that fall under the class of Chinese evergreen are:
- Golden Bay
- Silver Bay
- Silver Queen
- Queen Juliana
- Emerald Beauty
Although this is not by any means a complete list, it just goes to show the names of the different varieties are as beautiful as the plants themselves. Chinese evergreens are not displayed for their flowers, but for the beautiful variegated leaves that can contain as many as four different colors in a single leaf, depending on the variety.
Although a Chinese evergreen will flower, it is not the main reason people are attracted to them. Their foliage, the gorgeous patterned leaves are what draws the eye. They are a beautiful addition to any home when you add in the fact that they are rarely just green but a variety of colors including:
Chinese Evergreens are Easy to Grow
The ease with which Chinese Evergreens grow is probably why they are very popular in an office environment. During the summer months, this type of plant only needs to be watered every seven to twelve days, depending on your local humidity and heat. In the wintertime, they only need to be watered a couple of times a month.
Fertilizer only needs to be applied once a year, usually in the springtime before the plant’s growing season starts. Due to the wintertime rest period, you don’t want to risk fertilizing it then as it may burn the roots. Organic fertilizer, like worm castings or compost, is best for this type of plant just to reduce the risk of burning the roots with too many chemicals.
Chinese evergreens don’t have a real high light requirement either, even during the growing months. This is another reason why it is such a hardy plant and useful for areas that it would not get a lot of light exposure. Placed in an area that only gets a few hours of indirect light would work best for these types of plants.
Direct sunlight or strong artificial light could cause light burns on the leaves of these types of plants. Due to their origins, originating on the floor of the rainforest, Chinese evergreens are not adapted to strong light sources. They have adapted to growing in deep share on the forest floor. Care must be taken with the placement of these plants so that direct sunlight is very limited.
Trimming your plant just before the growing season, in the spring, is the best way to ensure full foliage and keep your plant from getting too tall or getting sparse leaves. It is best to trim the stems down to six to eight inches from the soil to ensure that it spends most of its energy on growing more leaves than it does growing taller.
While the different varieties can get up to three feet tall, you don’t need to try to do a severe trimming every year. The only time a significant trim like that would be required is if it seems it is getting too tall or if it has developed into more than a single plant. By trimming down the extra stalks, you can limit the growth of the plant. This helps the plant to build better foliage.
Any leaves that start turning colors will need to be trimmed off as well, which can be done easily by snipping as close to the stem as you can.
These are pretty easy-going plants. If you are comfortable temperature-wise, then chances are so are they. As long as you keep the temperature between 65 and 80, they should be pretty comfortable. Although below 60 degrees these types of plants can be damaged or even die, so these are not the type of plants that would do well outside year-round in most climates.
One thing that I want to make sure to mention and make very clear. Chinese evergreen plants, no matter the variety, are toxic to pets. They should always be kept out of the reach of cats or dogs. If they eat any part of the plant, it could kill them. Rather than risk a large vet bill or your pet’s life, it is best to just keep these kinds of plants out of their reach.
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