I’ve always had a special place in my heart for vibrant, long-lasting, and low-maintenance houseplants, like the Chinese evergreen. It’s my number one recommendation for beginner plant owners, next to the equally hardy ZZ plant.
Although Chinese evergreens are capable of surviving under most lighting conditions, I often find myself wondering about the type and amount of light that’s necessary to bring out the best and healthiest version of these plants.
In my research, I’ve discovered plenty of tips, interesting facts, and telltale signs that indicate whether my plant is getting the light that it needs. Lucky for you, I’ve gathered them all together in this ultimate guide to Chinese evergreen light requirements. Let’s dive right in!
Yes, just like any other plant, Chinese evergreens require sunlight to grow, bloom, and thrive. Sunlight is a key energy source that fuels the processes that are necessary for their survival.
Without sufficient light, your Chinese evergreen will eventually lose its vibrant color, experience stunted growth, and have yellow or white leaves. It won’t be able to perform photosynthesis, resulting in poor health and possibly death.
Meanwhile, strong direct sunlight and heat can dehydrate and damage your plant’s leaves, causing them to burn, turn brown, and die. The right amount of indirect sunlight is essential to a happy and healthy Chinese evergreen plant.
What makes Chinese evergreens so popular in both home and office environments is their minimal need for sunlight. Generally, they prefer low to medium indirect sunlight, but they can also tolerate bright indoor light.
If you plan to grow your Chinese evergreen inside your home, it’s best to put it in a draft-free spot in a room with a bright window. To protect its leaves from scorching, add a sheer curtain or position your plant a bit further so that it receives just the right amount of light.
Chinese evergreens can also thrive outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 10, 11, and 12, as perennial plants that grow year-round. They’ll need a garden spot that has partial shade, no direct sunlight, and a temperature that doesn’t dip below 55°F or 12.7°C.
Yes, Chinese evergreens can grow in low-light areas, dimly lit spaces, and even windowless rooms. This characteristic makes them ideal low-maintenance plants, perfect for beginners.
Note that varieties with darker green leaves and stalks are able to tolerate dimmer conditions better. They include:
- Silver Bay: Has predominantly green and glossy leaves with silver streaks
- Maria: Bears long and narrow dark green leaves with minty green blotches
- Cutlass: Features long, slender, gray-green leaves with dark margins and streaks
On the other hand, Chinese evergreens with light and colorful variegations will need a brighter light for them to maintain their beautiful colors and patterns. Some examples are:
- Red Zircon: A striking variety with bright pinkish leaves and green edges
- White Rajah: Bears broad green leaves with bold white markings
- Frasher: Has milky green leaves, cream variegation, and white petioles
Yes, a Chinese evergreen can thrive in spaces with artificial light, including offices with fluorescent lighting. If you choose to grow your plant in these conditions, ensure that it receives at least eight hours of artificial light daily to remain healthy.
You can use a timer to help you keep track of your plant’s daytime and nighttime hours. Keep an eye out for your plant’s growth pattern, leaf colors, and length of stems to make sure that it’s getting enough light.
You can also use artificial lights as a supplement when natural light levels are low, such as during the winter months. Houseplants, including Chinese evergreens, grow best when they’re within 12 inches of the light source.
Hardy and easygoing Chinese evergreen plants are able to tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions, but they can still develop health issues when the lighting doesn’t meet their needs.
These signs indicate that your plant is getting too much direct sunlight and heat. Consider moving it to a shadier spot with indirect light when you observe the following:
- Dry, crisp, or curling leaves
- Brown spots and dry soil
- Scorched or burned leaves
You’ll notice these issues in a Chinese evergreen that isn’t getting enough light:
- Pale, drooping, or yellowing leaves
- Slow growth
- Stems leaning toward light
- Leggy plant with long stems and few leaves
Wiping your plant’s leaves with a damp cloth or a soft sponge will remove dust buildup and allow your plant to absorb sunlight properly.
Chinese evergreens like warm room temperatures, around 65–80°F is ideal. Keep your plant away from cold drafts, fireplaces, heating vents, air conditioning, and areas with extreme temperatures.
These plants prefer average to high humidity, so try putting them on pebble trays or placing a humidifier nearby. You can also mist your plants regularly and position them in humid areas of your home, such as your kitchen, bathroom, or alongside other indoor plants.
Adequate air circulation is also important to prevent bacterial growth, fungi, and other problems caused by stagnant air.
Water your Chinese evergreen thoroughly, as it loves moist but not waterlogged soil. Allow the top two inches of its soil to dry out before watering again.
If you miss a watering session, don’t worry, as Chinese evergreens are able to bounce back quickly. Your plant will need more water during the growing seasons, which span from spring to summer.
It won’t require as much hydration in the winter when it’s semi-dormant, so you can water less frequently during this time.
Chinese evergreens aren’t that picky when it comes to the soil that they’re planted on, as long as it’s well-draining and slightly acidic. A mixture of potting soil, perlite, and sand yields some of the best results when it comes to these plants.
See to it that your plant’s pot has sufficient drainage holes at the base to help prevent root rot. Use a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer to give your Chinese evergreen a nutrient boost twice a year, but avoid fertilizing during the winter months.
Did you know that Chinese evergreens prefer to be slightly potbound? Repotting them every two to three years is enough to provide them with fresh, nutrient-rich, and non-compacted soil.
Follow these tips to help your hardy house plant thrive and survive throughout the seasons:
- Chinese evergreens are susceptible to common pest problems, including mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. You can treat them using neem oil or a commercial insecticide.
- It’s best to wait until the weather is warmest to propagate your plant via stem cuttings or by dividing them when repotting.
- Remove dead leaves from your plant to encourage healthy growth and prune off flowers if you want your evergreen to grow faster.
- Rotate your plant by 90 degrees weekly to give each side enough exposure to sunlight. This also ensures that your Chinese evergreen will grow in a nice and even shape.
- Keep your pets away from your Chinese evergreen, as it’s toxic to both cats and dogs.
Chinese evergreens are among the easiest houseplants to grow. Their tolerance to drought and low lighting conditions practically make them indestructible—even windowless rooms are no match for this super plant!
When choosing a variety for your home, consider Chinese evergreens’ lighting requirements, which vary based on the plant’s appearance. Remember, the lighter the leaves and variegation, the more sunlight it will need.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.