Aglaonema commutatum: Chinese evergreens

Family: Araceae
Common name: Chinese evergreens, Philippine evergreen, Golden evergreen, Poison dart plant, Silver evergreen, Pewter, Painted drop-tongue

Aglaonemas are beautiful, evergreen, sturdy plants that can thrive in home gardens in most light and water conditions. Chinese evergreens can grow to a height of 1-1.5 meters with a bright colored foliage in shades of dark green, light green, silver, white, pink, yellow and red.

Leaves usually have spots, splotches, lines, patterns and shading that makes these plants lovely. They are grown as ornamental plants in home gardens, parks and landscaped areas. These plants also produce flowers that have a long spadix enveloped by a spathe.

Aglaonema spadix is usually white or yellow in color, and the spathe is white, yellow or green. Flowers are produced only in bright sunlight, and is not common in indoor plants. Aglaonema plants can be grown indoors or outdoors, and they prefer indirect sunlight. Too much harsh sunlight might burn the leaf edges, giving a good indication that the plant must be moved away from the sun.

These plants prefer moist, well-drained soil though watering should only be done when the top soil is dry to touch. Though they are native to the Philippines, they are now found in gardens all over the world, as ornamental plants.

In appearance, they resemble Dieffenbachia or Dumbcane and Spathiphyllum or peace lilies because of their leaves and flowers.
Aglaonema commutatum leaves are 30-40 cms long with an intact leaf lamina ending in a pointy tip.

These plants can thrive in poor soil, low sunlight, drought and fluctuating weather, and need very little maintenance. They can also be propagated easily, making them ideal garden plants for amateur gardeners. They are pest resistant and rarely get infected by aphids, mealy bugs or fungi.

But the leaves of most plants in Araceae family have calcium oxalate crystals that are toxic to pets and humans. It can cause inflammation of nasal and oral tissue, and also nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. So make sure you keep the plants away from pets and small children.

Some common variants are Frasher which has green and cream leaves, White Rajah which has primarily white leaves, Psedobracteatum which has grey, green and white patterned leaves. The name Aglaonema comes from aglaos which means bright or clear, and nema referring to the thread-like stamens.

Propagation is through stem cuttings and root division.