It’s happened. I have a bonafide red aglaonema addiction. It sounds like a nasty rash, but actually, it’s an affliction of indoor plant happiness.
Haven’t heard of red aglaonemas? How about Chinese evergreens? For years, the large green and silver plants graced a lot of office buildings, sitting atop file cabinets and stuck in various fluorescent-bulb-lit corners. In fact, I saw two large ones gracing the altar at St. John the Baptist Church the other night.
They were stalwart office dwellers and often boring, but boring no more. The red and pink newcomers are all the rage, and I need them all. OK, I tell myself, settle down. Maybe not all, but I own several now.
Many colors from which to choose
If I see another one in red, pink or white splashed, I will probably buy it though. Aglaonemas can be a little tricky to find, and trying to grow named varieties is even harder. As those of you who live in Oklahoma know, most of our houseplants are simply described as “tropical houseplant” or “succulent.”
Cultivar names? What cultivar names?
When growing houseplants, it takes a little detective work to find out the genus let alone the variety. I’m talking to you pothos/philodendron! By the way, I just bought ‘Brazil’ aka ‘Brasil’ philodendron the other day at the Plant Shoppe in Midtown. I could’ve ordered it, but I wanted to find it locally.
But, back to aglaonemas and why I love them so. First, they look difficult to care for, and nothing could be further from the truth. They are nearly indestructible. Case in point: I found ‘Siam Aurora’ red aglaonema on a sale table at Lowe’s. Its lower leaves were droopy, and it looked like it had been dropped on its head a time or two.
I brought it home, talked to it gently, and then repotted it in a red glazed container, also purchased at the 2nd Street Lowe’s in Edmond. They are outside in the greenhouse area if you want to brave the cold and get one or three. Red glazed pots are hard to come by and are perfect for a red Chinese evergreen. Well, the little darling perked right up and is growing in a windowsill with the amaryllises as we speak. Costa Farms suggests you pair red aglaonema with poinsettias at Christmas, but I think amaryllis are quite nice too. You can actually pair them with anything.
Extremely easy to grow
Now, the cool thing about these plants other than the unique coloration is how little water they need. Part of the reason ‘Siam Aurora’ was so sad was that it was overwatered. In a glazed pot (my favorite), I only water them about every two to three weeks. They also can handle direct light in an east, south or west window in winter. I might move them out of the south or west windows in summer in Oklahoma. They can handle low light–again think of your average office building–and they can handle indirect light–most houses. The red and pink ones do have prettier and brighter leaves if they get a little more sunlight.
Just don’t overwater them. Also, make sure their containers have drainage holes. Drainage is important.
One of the pink varieties is commonly called “Heart of Jesus” according to my best friend, Aimee. By the way, she grows it and loves these plants as much as I do. In fact, she gave me one for Christmas.
I’ve grown houseplants since I was thirteen years old, and these are the easiest next to philodendron, pothos and ZZ plant. Really, given good drainage and not too much water, you can’t kill them. Try one, and soon you’ll be like me, trying to find more.
Don’t eat them!
One thing to remember, Chinese evergreens are part of the Araceae or arum family. They are poisonous due to calcium oxalate crystals so don’t eat them.
If you’d like to hear my IGTV talk on aglaonemas, here you go! Try this post for winter gardening with paperwhites and amaryllis and this one for more about amaryllis and my other favorite indoor blooms.
Do you grow this group of plants? If so, I’d love to hear what you think too.