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Aglaonema Plant

Question:

I’m trying to revive my sisters plant. It’s not the Chinese evergreen variety. It may be the Aglaonema Pseudobracteatum variety? Creams, grays & greens. I think she potted it in too big a pot too soon. It’s very leggy & straggly looking. Approx 14 plants in this 14″ pot. Stems very skinny. What should I do with it? I’d like to repot it in a smaller pot & cut all the stems off & hope it’ll throw new shoots off sides of old stalks. But I’m afraid that would shock it. I’m also not sure if trying to re-root these tips are worth it. I’m attaching a picture. Thankful for any help you can give. & Please don’t say to pitch it. Ha!

Answer:

Thanks for posting the photo; that makes my diagnosis more accurate and helpful to you.

There are hundreds of Aglaonema varieties, so it is difficult to tell exactly which variety of Aglaonema commutatum you have. However, the care of all varieties is pretty much the same, although the lighter variegated varieties require a bit more sun and the darker varieties hold up better in low light.

In the photo the leaves are wilted and I assume that is not because the soil is too dry. If the leaves do not perk up after watering, then that means the roots are not absorbing water because they are mostly dead. The root damage is most likely the result of the over-potting and the soil in the root zone not drying out sufficiently between waterings. In addition, if the potting mix used was not sufficiently porous, then that would also contribute to root rot. None of this would have happened if the plant had stayed in its original plastic nursery pot.

The thinness of the upper stems suggests that the plant did not receive adequate light in recent months. Your Aglaonema requires very bright, but indirect sunlight such as you get very close to a north facing window that is completely uncovered.

I am quite sure if you carefully un-pot your plant you will find that many of the stems below the soil are very soft and very few healthy roots remain. If so, moving the plant to a smaller pot will not help nor will anything else. You can cut off the tops of the stems, leaving about 3 inches of bare stem below the lowest leaves. Try rooting all of them together in a bunch in a vase or glass of plain water. Once the cuttings have roots at least an inch long, they can be potted together in a small (6-inch) pot.

On the slim chance you find a significant number of healthy roots, then remove excess soil not in immediate contact with the healthy roots and then move them into a pot that is just barely large enough to accommodate the healthy roots and enough potting mix to barely cover them. In this case, I also suggest pruning off the tops as I described above. If the roots are healthy, they will produce new stem shoots from just below the pruning cuts.