Grown for their highly ornamental foliage, these tropical plants are made for low light. In most areas, they are grown strictly indoors. A. modestum, the most popular species, will thrive in an interior room lit only by a fluorescent light. In the Tropical South, aglaonemas can be used outdoors in shady plantings.
With the recent arrival of colorful selections from Thailand, aglaonemas have been transformed from the familiar green-and-silver houseplants to specimens splashed with color like a croton, coleus, or caladium. These new spangled plants have the same leathery texture to the leaf and grow well indoors. Look for names such as 'Sparkling Sarah', 'Siam Aurora', 'Valentine', and many more.
Potted plants need rich, well-drained soil mix. Let soil go slightly dry between waterings; in spring and summer, fertilize every other week with general-purpose houseplant fertilizer. Plants growing in dim light will require less frequent watering and feeding. Mealybugs are the most common pests.
A. commutatum. Grows to 2 ft. tall and wide. Deep green leaves to 6 in. long, 2 in. across, with pale green markings on veins. Flowers followed by inch-long clusters of yellow to red berries. A. c. maculatum, with many irregular gray-green stripes on leaves, is the most common. 'Pseudobracteatum' grows 12 ft. tall, has white leafstalks and deep green leaves marked with pale green and creamy yellow. 'Treubii' has narrow, bluish green leaves heavily marked with silvery gray.
A. costatum. Slow-growing plant to 2 ft. tall and wide, with leaves to 8 in. long, 4 in. wide. Leaves are bright green, with white spots and a broad white stripe along the midrib. 'Foxii' is similar or identical.
A. crispum. PAINTED DROP-TONGUE. Robust plant to 4 ft. tall and broad. Leathery leaves to 10in. long, 5 in. wide, dark green with pale green markings. Sometimes sold as A. 'Pewter'.
A. 'Key Lime'. Striking leaves marbled with deep green, yellow-green, and gray-green. White leaf stems.
A. modestum. CHINESE EVERGREEN. A tough-as-nails, easily grown plant, in time forming substantial clumps with several stems 23 ft. high. Shiny, dark green leaves grow to 1 ft. long and 5 in. wide. Often sold as A. simplex.
A. 'Silver King' and 'Silver Queen'. Both grow to 2 ft. high and wide and are heavy producers of narrow, dark green leaves strongly marked with silver. Leaves of 'Silver King' can reach about 1 ft. long and 4 in. wide; those of 'Silver Queen' are a little smaller.