Help with Chinese Evergreen!

Plant Parent

I have a large Aglaonema Silver Bay that I got earlier this summer, so it is my first winter with it. It’s been yellowing/drying out on the larger older leaves toward the bottom. It’s lost around 5 mature leaves in the past two months, but it is also pushing out 4 new leaves (albeit very, very slowly).

I just want to know if this is normal? Or if there is something I can do to help it. It gets watered every 3 or so weeks now that the weather is colder, and my apartment stays around 71-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Any help would be greatly, greatly appreciated as I love this plant very much! Thank you so much for your time and help.

Darryl

Could you please show me the overall space so I can assess the lighting situation – doesn’t have to be during the day; I just need to see the size of the window and where the plant lives relative to the window. If you could also give me an idea of how many hours the sun shines directly onto the plant, that would be helpful. I’ll do my best to help!

Plant Parent

Here’s my Aglaonema under a SW facing window. Now that the days are shorter here in Massachusetts, it gets about 7-8 hours of bright indirect light (the room is very well lit during the day). No actual sun touches the plant though, and I forgot to mention I mist it about once a week.

Darryl

Thank you for sending me the photo of your space! Yes, it is normal for the oldest leaves to yellow and fall off the plant to some degree because the current light situation is drastically lower than the place where the plant was grown. If you measured the light with a light meter pointed straight up directly above your plant, I would estimate the brightness to be 200-300 foot-candles during the midday hours (so probably for 3-4 hours) – take note: 200 foot-candles is very comfortable light by which to read a newspaper, so it FEELS bright. The commercial nursery would have given this plant 1200-2400 foot-candles for at least 6 hours in order to achieve this leaf density.

The reality is, all plants grown indoors will equalize their leaf density to suit the current light situation.

As such, you should expect lower SOME lower leaves to fall off as new ones grow. Continue to fertilize if you see active growth. Repot in about a year or when you notice roots have encircled the base of the pot and are peeking out the drainage hole. Your plant is doing its best given the current lighting situation!

And regarding misting: don’t bother. Aglaonema can tolerate dry air and misting barely raises the humidity by a few percent for a few minutes – like trying to warm up a room by lighting a match.

Mist if you find it therapeutic otherwise, don’t bother because it doesn’t actually do much AND humidity is not a life & death plant issue.

Plant Parent

Thank you so much for your in depth reply! You’ve really put my mind at ease, I was very worried because this plant started my houseplant love affair and has a special place in my heart. I will follow your fertilizer advice to hopefully help those new leaves fully emerge. Thanks so much again!

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