HOW TO GROW AGLAONEMA

10 deg C/50 deg F

Several aglaonemas have attractively variegated spear-shaped foliage and make neat, compact houseplants for warm rooms. They will survive at the recommended minimum temperature. but grow more vigorously if kept a few degrees higher, and produce arum-like flowers. However, the flowers (spathes) are not particularly showy. Aglaonemas grow especially well in peat-based potting composts, which should be kept moist. A 13 cm (5 in.) pot is adequate, and their general preferences are warmth, shade and good humidity. rather like calathea and maranta. with which they can be grouped to make pleasing foliage combinations. Most popular is A. commutatum, which has yellow-banded foliage. A. crispwn ‘Silver Queen’ and A. commutatum Treubii’ have bold, silvery variegation. The spathes of both A. commutatum and A. c. ‘Treubii’ are often followed by red berries, which gives them an added attraction.

From Malaya and Borneo comes A. oblongifotium, which is notable for its size if given freedom of growth in an ideal environment. In its native habitat it forms a trunk and the Ieavesexceed45cm (11ft) in length. However, grown in a pot it never reaches such a size. The plants are best propagated by taking suckers or rooted basal shoots in May and setting them in a similar potting compost. These should be kept covered and warm (a polythene bag can be used to enclose the pot) at a temperature of about 21 deg C (70 deg F) until they begin making active growth, which is a sign new roots are forming. A chill will cause leaf deterioration. Otherwise, the plants have few troubles. If winter temperatures tend to be low. keep the compost only slightly moist.

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