Just as a person’s home is their castle, a plant’s soil is their small kingdom.
Tropical perennials and indoor plants, such as the Chinese evergreen (sometimes also referred to as the Philippine evergreen), have become one of the most popular houseplants because of their low-maintenance characteristics and attractive variegated foliage.
This type of plant relies on its soil to protect it from cold and dangerous infections like root rot.
Many of your plant’s health problems can be traced back to inadequate or poor soil conditions.
Here’s everything you need to know about what type of soil to use for the genus Aglaonema plant (ag-lay-oh-NEE-muh) to ensure it has long, healthy, dark green leaves.
- Chinese Evergreen Soil
- Common Questions
- More on Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema
Chinese Evergreen Soil
Aglaonema plants can be relatively forgiving, but that’s not to say you should skimp on the soil quality.
The more you cater to your plant’s preferences, the happier it will be and the more it will give back (and might even one day bloom!) in return.
The Necessary Soil Conditions
If possible, settle for a soil mixture that closely resembles the composition of the original plant’s native soil.
Your Aglaonema requires moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
You will often have to amend the soil to achieve the right consistency. How you amend will largely depend on whether you’re planting outdoors or in a container, as well as the condition of the soil before planting.
NOTE: Unless you are planting in a SIP (sub Irrigation pot), always use a container with a drainage hole.
Choosing the Right Chinese Evergreen Plant Potting Mix
Before delving into a watering schedule, lighting conditions, and humidity levels, prioritize your plant’s well-being by using a suitable potting mix.
Select a soil medium that can retain moisture while also permitting the excess water to drain away, preventing the risk of root rot.
Peat-based potting mixes are a good choice but will usually need amending with perlite to ensure proper drainage.
A good default ratio is 1 part perlite to 2 parts standard household potting mix or peat moss.
However, a better option is to go with good quality houseplant soil, such as Miracle-Gro, and mix in 1 part perlite to 3 parts mix.
The MiracleGro is usually designed to be well-draining, which allows you to use less aggregate.
Some commonly used alternatives to perlite are coarse sand, gravel, and orchid bark.
A third alternative is to mix equal parts houseplant potting soil mix, aggregate (perlite, pumice), and shredded peat or coco coir.
The coir is usually a better choice, as peat retains more water.
To enhance the likelihood of success, position the pot in a location where it is shielded from cold drafts, air conditioning, and heating vents.
These can negatively affect the plant’s sensitivity to cold temperatures.
If you like, you can give the plant a bit of liquid fertilizer after repotting.
Choosing the Soil Type (Outdoors)
Most Aglaonema varieties are pretty forgiving when it comes to soil type, as long as it is well-draining.
Some of the potential soils include clay, loamy (AKA silt-based), and sandy.
You can dig a little deeper down for garden areas that may not have the best drainage and add a substrate of coarse sand, gravel, or perlite to ensure excess water won’t sit around the roots after a storm.
It also helps to add a little aggregate to the soil itself, especially when planting young plants.
This gives the roots room to grow and develop.
Can I use Coffee Grounds on Aglaonema?
Heavy coffee drinkers will often recycle their used grounds in the garden, where the acidic, nitrate-laden particles can work wonders for specific plants.
However, your Chinese evergreen isn’t one of them.
Coffee grounds may help provide nitrates and a more acidic pH, but they’re also notorious for absorbing and holding water.
This can lead to issues with plants that require well-draining mediums.
Coffee grounds swell and slowly release water, caffeine, nitrates, and other substances, unlike other organic materials.
That’s what makes it a great fertilizer for some plants, but it can harm the growth of others, such as Aglaonemas.
Another problem is that it provides far less acidity than you might expect.
Soil treated with coffee grounds has displayed a soil pH of 6.7.
That’s only slightly below the neutral pH line of 7.0.
Your Chinese evergreen needs a pH of 6.5 or less, which is far more acidity than the coffee grounds can provide.
Can Chinese Evergreen Grow in Water?
It’s possible to grow your Aglaonema hydroponically without it getting root rot.
The main cause of overwatering in hydroponic planting is when roots are consistently submerged in water, or the growing tray is excessively wet.
The method is the same as with philodendron or pothos and works best with newly propagated plants.
Choose a clear container and fill it with rainwater (or distilled water).
Using tap water is acceptable as long as you do not have a water-softening system that introduces sodium into the water.
Add in a bit of charcoal and give it a monthly feeding with one drop of water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.
Can I place Chinese Evergreen under Direct Sunlight?
Chinese evergreen plants flourish when placed in environments with moderate to low-light conditions or in areas with indirect sunlight.
More on Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema
- Why Are My Chinese Evergreen leaves turning yellow? It could be insect pests – mealybugs, spider mites, aphids. In need of a humidifier? Learn why!
- Have questions on Chinese Evergreen propagation from stem cutting?