Common name: Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema
Distribution and habitat: Aglaonema modestum is rhizomes evergreen plant, native to the tropical swamps and rainforests of southeastern Asia. Aglaonema modestum has lanced-shaped leaves on leaf stalk 30cm (12 inch) long that rise from the central growing point. A plant may occasionally form a short trunk-like stem scarred with circular markings where leaves were once attached, giving the plant up to 60cm (24 inch) height. Mature plants produce in summer or early fall an arum-shaped flower head comprising a white or yellow spathe with central stalked spadix and this is followed by red or orange berries.
Description: Aglaonema modestum is a foliage plant with large, lance-shaped, waxy, undulate, medium green leaves 20cm (8 inch) long and 10cm (4 inch) wide. Some mature plants may produce arum-like flower spathes. Indoors, this plant is grown for the effect created by its handsome foliage rather than for flowers.
Light: Aglaonema modestum needs a shaded spot away from direct sun and will tolerate dark position.
Never expose them to direct sunlight which can scorch the leaves.
Temperature: Normally warm room temperatures are suitable. Aglaonema modestum needs a constant temperature, ideally between 16 and 21°C (60-70°F) all year round. Winter temperatures should never drop below 13°C (55°F) and avoid droughts and exposure to gas fumes.
Water: During the active growth period water moderately – enough to make the entire potting mixture moist, but allowing the top 2-3cm (0.78-1 inch) of the mixture to dry between waterings. During the rest period (which may be very short or even non-existent) water only enough to keep the potting moisture from drying out completely.
A high degree of humidity is required by Aglaonema modestum, so stand the plant on a tray of damp pebbles and mist the leaves regularly.
Fertilising: Use standard liquid fertiliser monthly except during the rest period.
Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move young plants into pots one size larger in spring, but repot older Aglaonema modestum plants only once every two or three years.
Aglaonema modestum do not need large containers; they will thrive in 13 or 15cm (5-6 inch) pots. When maximum convenient size has been reached, top-dress them annually.
Propagation: The best time to propagate is in spring. Plant a basal shoot bearing three or four leaves, preferably with some roots already attached, in a pot containing moisturized mixture of equal part of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Enclose the potted shoot in a plastic bag and keep it in medium light. Rooting should occur in six to eight weeks, after which the new plant can be treated as mature.
If an old and unwanted plant is to be broken up, sections of the main stem of the basal shoots can be used for propagation instead of basal shoots. Aglaonema modestum may also be air layered.
Shriveled leaves and brown tips and edges usually indicate low temperatures, dryness or exposure to droughts.
Treatment: Keep the plant always above 13°C (55°F). For extra humidity place the plant on a tray of damp pebbles or mist the leaves and water the plant regularly.
Roots can rot if the potting mixture is kept too wet.
Treatment: Do not over water the Aglaonema modestum.
Pests: Infestation by mealy bug amongst the leaf stalk can be a problem. Red spider will attack if conditions are too dry.
Treatment: spay plants with appropriate pesticide. Repeat the treatment after 3 days and again 10 days later. If the insect attack persist, try a different pesticide. Daily mist-spraying will help in keeping the plant healthy.
Uses: Aglaonema modestum is used for mass planting, container or above-ground planter, ground cover. It is suitable for houseplant or interiorscape. Its tolerance of shade makes Aglaonema modestum a good plant for problem corners.
Aglaonema modestum emits high oxygen content and purifies indoor air by removing chemicals, such as formaldahyde, benzene or other toxins.
Toxicity: All plant contain Calcium oxalate crystals which can develop skin irritation after contact with cell sap. If chewed, irritation of mouth, lips, throat, and tongue will occur.
Aglaonema modestum Variegatum is a variegated-leaved form with yellow patches on the green.
Foliage – green or variegated
Shape – bushy
Height: 30-60cm (1-2 feet)
Width: 30-90cm (2-3 feet)
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – medium
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high
Hardiness zone: 10a-11