Aglaonema crispum (syn. A. roebelinii)

This species from Mexico has leaves with finger-like lobes, whereas most anthuriums have leaves with entire margins. It is usually grown in a greenhouse or conservatory, rather than in a living room because it is so big.

The genus Aglaonema includes about 50 species distributed throughout tropical Asia, where they are usually found in the undergrowth of forests. A. crispum is admired for the lovely markings on its leaves. Indeed, it was the foliage that aroused interest in growing this tropical, Malaysian species as a house plant. It is a perennial, reaching a height of about 1 m (39 in). The stems are thickly covered with short-stalked leaves. The tough, leathery leaf blades, 20-30 cm (8-12 inch) long and 8-13 cm (3-5 in) wide are beautifully patterned in dark green and silvery grey. The inflorescences are relatively long, greenish and inconspicuous. They attract greater attention when they have developed into red berries. These remain on the plant for a long time.

It requires warm conditions throughout the year and diffused light or partial shade; it does not tolerate direct sunlight. Water liberally so that the root ball is permanently moist but not muddy. The compost should be nourishing and free-draining; a mixture of leaf mould, peat and sand is suitable. Bowls are preferable to taller containers. The plant can easily be propagated by dividing clumps or by stem cuttings. It can also be propagated by seed which germinates reliably.

Aglaonema

Ribbon Aglaonema may reach a height of 1 m (39 in) but, commutatum because the leaves on the lower part of the stem drop leaving (syn. A. treubii) only a cluster at the top, specimens that grow too tall are usually unattractive. They should, therefore, be cut back and the old stems left in the pot. They soon make new growth (this applies to other species as well). The cuttings should be put either in water or moist compost to root. This species is readily identified by the narrower leaves which are up to 30 cm (12 inch) long, with ash-grey markings on the upper side. Conditions for growing are the same as for A. crispum .

Aglaonema costatum

This species is native to southwestern Malaysia. It has a very short stem with crowded leaves. The leaf blade is pointed ovate, about 12-22 cm long, and 7-12 cm wide. The leaves are dark green with a white midrib and blotches. The flowers are tiny and arranged in a spadix – the typical inflorescence of aroids – enclosed by a whitish-green spathe. The one-seeded ovoid bright red berries are more spectacular than the flowers. They may remain on the plant for several months.

Its indoor cultivation is very easy, but it must be provided with a high level of humidity. It is a long-lived plant. As soon as it begins to grow too tall, it should be cut back. Put cuttings in water and plant in compost after they have produced roots. Put several cuttings in one pot so the new plants will make a richer display.

Aglaonema pictum

This Aglaonema is native to Sumatra and Borneo. It has been cultivated since 1880. The lower part of the stem is branched and prostrate. The leafstalks are 3-5 cm (1-2 inch) long, the leaf blades 10-20 cm (4-8 in) long and 4-5 cm (l.5-2 inch) wide. The irregular white blotches stand out in sharp contrast to the deep green of the leaves.

As a house plant, it is not only hardy but also extremely decorative. It has no special light requirements and so can be grown quite far from a window. Cultivation and propagation are the same as for the preceding species of Aglaonema.

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