Are you looking for a maintenance-free plant that can survive in less-than-perfect conditions?
Aglaonema or Chinese evergreen might be what you’re looking for.
This plant works for beginner gardeners and homeowners who forget to water their plants regularly. Moreover, it’s not that picky about its growing conditions.
But choosing suitable soil and feeding this plant properly guarantees that it will live for years.
This Chinese evergreen soil and fertilizer guide will help you create the perfect conditions for this beautiful plant. So, let’s dive in.
Chinese evergreen plants can survive in different soil types as long as it’s well-draining.
When choosing the right soil or any plant, you need to consider the drainage and pH level.
The poison dart plant, or Aglaonema, thrives in loose, nutrient-rich soil that allows the roots to breathe. Loose soil doesn’t retain moisture for extended periods, as this plant is prone to root rot water accumulation around the roots.
You’ll notice that the plant is experiencing slower growth as the roots aren’t absorbing nutrients from the soil. The leaves will start to yellow, wilt, and look distorted, and you might notice a rotten foul odor when you approach the plant.
If you dig your plant out, you’ll notice that the white roots have turned brown and mushy. These roots can’t absorb any nutrients, and eventually, the plant will die.
Compact soil harms this plant, so add some well-rotted manure or compost to improve drainage and keep the Chinese evergreen plant healthy.
Any loose potting soil mix will work for the poison dart plant, as it can’t grow if the potting mix is too compact. You can mix in some perlite or sand with some general-purpose potting mix to improve ventilation and drainage.
Although this plant can tolerate various pH levels, it prefers neutral to acidic soil. It can’t tolerate alkaline soil with high levels of salt, as it prevents the roots from absorbing salt and water.
Growing these plants in alkaline soil leads to nutrient deficiency, especially zinc and phosphorus deficiency, and even boron toxicity, so the plants’ roots don’t develop properly.
Applying compost compost and manure will increase the acidity of the soil. If the soil is too alkaline, you can apply coffee grounds directly to boost the acidity over a short period.
Although Chinese evergreen prefers acidic soil, too much acidity can cause phosphorus deficiency. The foliage can develop a purplish tint, and the leaves might begin to curl and look distorted.
Chinese evergreen plants aren’t heavy feeders and can survive without feeding if the soil is rich in organic matter.
In most cases, when you grow Chinese evergreens in the garden, you don’t have to worry about feeding your plant.
When grown in the garden, the plant can access organic matter and nutrients from decomposing plant and animal matter. As a result, you don’t have to fertilize your plant using liquid fertilizer.
However, most homeowners grow Chinese evergreens in containers and as indoor potted plants. They only have access to the nutrients in the potting mix or soil in the container.
Over time, the nutrients get depleted, and the plant will suffer because of the lack of nutrients. You might notice that the plant is experiencing stunted growth and is more prone to diseases and infections because it’s weak.
When feeding this plant, gardening experts recommend using slow-release pellets because they provide essential nutrients over an extended period.
You can also apply diluted liquid fertilizer regularly.
Although these plants appreciate fertilization, they can suffer when you overfeed them.
This is why you don’t want to cause a sudden increase in the nutrient level in the soil, and this can shock the plant and make the leaves curl and wilt.
Ideally, you should follow the fertilizer’s dilution instructions.
If there are no instructions, you can dilute it to one-fourth of its strength before applying it to your poison dart plant.
You can feed this plant once or twice during the growing season, from spring to summer.
Ideally, you should apply the diluted fertilizer at the beginning and end of the growing season.
Seedlings should be allowed to grow a little bit before feeding them. After that, you should feed them during the growing season.
You should avoid feeding this plant in the winter or colder months when the plant isn’t actively growing.
The plant needs to rest during this period, and the excess nutrients will harm it.
With regular feeding, your Chinese evergreen can live for more than 10 years. As it depletes the nutrients in the soil, you should feed the plant more often.
Coffee grounds represent a potent and healthy fertilizer used to boost the growth of Chinese evergreen plants if you use them correctly.
These grounds enrich the soil and potting mix with nitrogen and magnesium, so they will enhance the health of your Chinese evergreen. They can also increase the soil’s acidity, keeping this plant healthy.
But that’s not all.
Coffee grounds represent a good source of calcium that strengthens plant cells’ walls, making your Chinese evergreen immune to infections and diseases.
They also contain sufficient amounts of potassium, which boosts your plant’s growth as it improves the process of protein synthesis.
However, if you apply the coffee grounds directly to the soil or potting mix, they can harm your plants.
They retain moisture, making the soil stay wet for a longer period by creating a layer that prevents water from evaporation.
Chinese evergreens prefer slightly moist soil but struggle in wet soil that retains moisture for longer periods.
You should also avoid using these coffee grounds too often. When applied regularly, coffee grounds can make the soil too acidic, harming the Chinese evergreen plants.
They suit old and mature plants, as the younger plants can’t tolerate them. As a matter of fact, they can stunt the growth of young Chinese evergreens.
When you go overboard with using coffee grounds as a fertilizer, you can make your Chinese evergreen plant more prone to pest infestations and fungal diseases.
To gain the benefits of using coffee grounds, you should learn how to use them properly.
This is the easiest way to use coffee grounds for your Chinese evergreens.
Put some water in a bowl and allow it to simmer, then add your coffee grounds.
Leave this for a few days until the coffee grounds break and then strain your tea.
Use this tea once or twice a month, as it can make the soil too soggy.
If the soil is too alkaline or your plant is severely underfed, you can add coffee grounds directly as mulch.
However, you shouldn’t add too many coffee grounds as they can drastically decrease the pH level and make the soil too acidic.
Mix the grounds with dry leaves, straw, and dead branches to nourish your plants.
Compost is the best way to nourish your Chinese evergreens. This compost won’t retain too much moisture in the soil or increase its acidity.
While preparing compost, you should mix the coffee grounds with paper filters and other compost components for balance.
A balanced compost should contain three or four parts of brown materials like leaves and branches with one part of coffee grounds.
Chinese evergreen plants thrive in loose soil and potting mix as these plants can’t tolerate growing in water-logged soil.
If you’re using a general-purpose potting mix, you should add perlite or sand to improve drainage.
These plants can benefit from regular fertilizing during the growing season, but this fertilizer should be diluted.
If you use coffee grounds, you shouldn’t apply too much of them as they can significantly increase the soil’s acidity.
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.