How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Aglaonema Silver Bay
The aglaonema silver bay might have an interesting name, but this sturdy houseplant has become quite a bit more popular in recent years. This Chinese evergreen plant is easy to care for and grows well in indoor settings. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton talks through how to plant, grow, and care for aglaonema silver bay as your next houseplant.
Variegated houseplants are becoming more popular by the day. Joining the various Monsteras and Philodendron varieties on the long list of collectibles is the Aglaonema Silver Bay. Better known as the Chinese Evergreen, this stunning little plant deserves a spot in every home, despite not being as rare or unusual as a few other sought-after houseplants.
The Aglaonema Silver Bay gets its name from the silvery-white centers of its leaves. While its variegation isn’t as over the top as a few other house plants, its simplicity makes it stand out. Its shiny leaves add a dash of glamour to any space, while also actively purifying the air around it.
The Chinese Evergreen is an easy-going plant, rewarding you two-fold for little care. So, if you are considering adding one of these to your home, you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading to find out how to plant, grow, and care for Aglaonema Silver Bay!
Plant Type Houseplant
Native Area Tropical Regions of Asia
Exposure Bright Indirect Light
Height 1-2 feet
Pests and Diseases Scale, Mealybugs, Spider Mites
Soil Type Airy and Well-draining
Aglaonema Silver Bay: What Is It?
Aglaonema Silver Bay is a tropical plant belonging to the Aglaonema genus, which is just one group of plants in the Araceae family. The most prominent members of this family are houseplant favorites, like Monsteras and Philodendrons.
The Chinese Evergreen – as it’s more commonly known – is a simple, yet unique, plant that makes a perfect addition to any houseplant collection.
Aglaonemas vs. Dumb Cane
Aglaonemas often get confused with another popular, silvery-leafed houseplant – the Dieffenbachia, despite them being completely different plants. Both come from the Araceae family and have similar variegation on their leaves. But that’s where the similarities end.
The Dieffenbachia, also known as Dumb Cane, sports wide, elongated leaves with large patches of yellow and lime green, depending on the cultivar. The leaves on the Chinese Evergreen, on the other hand – and particularly Silver Bay – are smaller, more oval, and have a lot more silver. The veining of the leaves is also very different, with Chinese Evergreens having far less than Dumb Canes.
Dumb Canes also grow significantly taller, reaching heights of more than 4 feet or more.
While both plants are toxic if ingested, Dumb Canes are significantly more harmful. Like most members of the Araceae family, both plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals act as small defensive spikes that cause severe pain and irritation. While Chinese Evergreens don’t contain the harmful enzymes that Dumb Canes do, they can do some serious damage.
The genus Aglaonema gets its name from the Greek words aglos, which means ‘shining,’ and nema, meaning ‘thread.’ ‘Shining thread’ perfectly describes this plant’s silvery patterned leaves.
While its origins aren’t too clear, it did make its way from the tropical regions of Asia to the western world in the late 1800s, when they were brought to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
While it would later become a popular houseplant for its good looks and air purifying abilities, in its native areas, the Chinese Evergreen was a highly symbolic plant. It was often given as a gift as a symbol of good fortune and luck.
In 1989, during NASA’s Clean Air Study, the Chinese Evergreen would get its big scientific break. The study aimed to find which plants were the best at filtering out harmful toxins from the air.
It found that Aglaonemas were amongst the greatest air-purifying plants, and they are particularly good at filtering out benzene and formaldehyde. Both are common household pollutants, making the Aglaonema Silver Bay a great and helpful addition to houseplant collections.
This study may have been ‘debunked’ in recent years in the sense that you would need hundreds of plants to replicate the air-purifying effect in your home, that is just all the more reason to buy masses of these beauties.
Aglaonema is native to tropical regions across Asia, hence its common name, Chinese Evergreen. However, these striking plants can be found growing in the wilderness of New Guinea.
Thanks to their native habitat, they love warm temperatures and high levels of humidity – conditions we are accustomed to indoors. Most tropical plants and members of the Araceae family make great houseplants as they thrive in the same conditions we do.
The interesting, yet simple, variegation of Aglaonemas is what makes this plant so popular amongst houseplant parents. While Silver Bay is one of the very many cultivars out there, they all share the same basic characteristics.
Aglaonemas sport large, glossy pointed leaves, with some sort of colored variegation. Some Aglaonema varieties are silver, while others have touches of pink or red.
This plan gets its name from its silvery-white variegation that dominates the center of its oval leaves. Patches of greens, ranging from dark or yellow, and grey border the center in unique striped patterns.
This interesting border creates a stark contrast, making this plant even more eye-catching. These beautiful leaves unfurl from the center of the plant, making a spectacle from the start.
Adding to this houseplant’s allure is its relatively small height. In most cases, this plant only grows to about 2 feet, making it perfect for smaller indoor spaces.
Mature plants can produce a stunning white flower that resembles a Peace Lily. In the right conditions and if given the right care, this plant may reward you with this pretty bloom one summer or spring.
Where To Buy One
The Aglaonema Silver Bay is not a rare plant and it’s become increasingly more popular over the years, making it a relatively easy plant to find. It should be readily available in most nurseries and garden centers.
While your local nursery may be the best spot to get all your plants, they too can make mistakes sometimes and mistake the Aglaonema Silver Bay for the Dieffenbachia. Both plants make wonderful additions to any houseplant collection, but you don’t want to be disappointed – always double-check your plants before buying them.
You could also opt to purchase this plant online. There are several online nurseries, but Amazon and Etsy are great sites to start your search for the perfect plant.
When online shopping, you might be tempted to buy smaller, younger plants because of their cheaper price tag. However, it’s always best to purchase larger, more established plants. It may cost a little more, but these have a far better chance of survival after shipping.
This plant is also extremely easy plants to propagate. If your local nursery doesn’t stock one, or you’re not willing to wait for online delivery, ask a friend or nice neighbor for a cutting. This is also a great way to learn how to propagate your plants – an invaluable skill to have as a plant parent.
How to Grow
This plant is extremely easy to care for, thriving in most indoor conditions. They need very little fuss and most times, your only focus will be pruning some of its extra growth. This silvery beauty’s needs line up with other houseplants, making it perfect for newbie plant parents and seasoned green thumbs alike.
This plant’s tropical background calls for plenty of indirect sunlight. However, this plant does stand apart from others, as it can tolerate low light conditions. It will even continue to thrive under fluorescent light – making it perfect for offices.
However, the best way to keep the leaves bright and lush is to place the plant in a spot that gets plenty of indirect sunlight. Try east-facing windows that receive morning light, or south or west-facing windows filtered by a curtain to protect the leaves from intense direct sunlight.
Thanks to their tropical roots, these plants love moist soil. However, they should never sit in soggy or waterlogged soil, which encourages root rot. The right watering methods are imperative to keeping your plant happy. Luckily, these methods are simple and easy.
Often, too little water will result in the leaves drooping and curling. Too much water, on the other hand, not only leads to root rot but can also cause the yellowing of leaves.
The best way to avoid these issues is by watering correctly. You should only water this plant when the top layer of soil is dry. Test this by simply sticking your finger in the soil. You should only water this plant, and all other houseplants, on a strict schedule. The conditions surrounding your plants change daily, affecting how quickly the soil dries out.
When you do water your Chinese Evergreen, do so slowly and deeply at the base of the plant. This allows the water to evenly soak the soil, without drowning the roots.
As is the case with most houseplants, this plant needs specialized soil to thrive in indoor environments and potted homes. These houseplant soil mixes contain just the right amendments that allow them to drain well while staying moist enough to keep your plants happy. They’re also lightweight and aerated enough to not suffocate the roots.
Houseplant soil mixes are readily available online, at your local nursery or garden center. These mixes have the correct ratios for most plants. Some are even mixed with fertilizer, giving your plants a growth boost in the right season.
However, it’s sometimes easier (and cheaper) to make your own, especially if you have a lot of houseplants. Making your own houseplant soil mix also allows you to tailor the soil to your plant’s specific needs and the environment in your home. The best soil mix for most houseplants, is a combination of potting soil, perlite, and peat moss or coconut coir.
Perlite is small white rocks of volcanic glass that increase the space between soil particles, which improves drainage and exposes the roots to oxygen. Coconut coir or peat moss hold on to plenty of water while remaining light and airy.
Combine two parts of potting soil with one part perlite and one part coconut coir or peat moss whenever planting, repotting, or refreshing the soil. Depending on your plant’s environment, add more or less of each material as needed.
Temperature and Humidity
Aglaonema Silver Bay is a tropical plant that prefers conditions that best replicate these warm and humid environments. They cannot handle the cold or drafts and will struggle in dry regions.
Luckily, most indoor conditions are very similar to the jungle environments that this plant thrives in. They grow best temperatures ranging between 65F and 80F. Anything below this range is too cold, resulting in stunted growth. Anything higher, on the other hand, can reduce moisture levels in the leaves and soil, resulting in heat and water stress.
It’s also best to keep this plant away from drafts, hot or cold. Sudden temperature changes can also stress the plant out.
Like most houseplants, they are fussier about the levels of humidity in their immediate environment. This plant should be happy with levels of at least 50%, but will always appreciate more. The higher the humidity, the more striking its foliage will be.
There are several easy ways to make sure your Aglaonema Silver Bay’s humidity needs are met. Bathrooms are great spots for these striking plants, as they are typically the most humid rooms in the house. They can also get away with being on top of your refrigerator, depending on the location and provided it has enough sunlight.
If you’d rather have your plant in the front and center of your home, you can try misting it frequently. This is a go-to trick for many. While it can help, its effects don’t last long and it can be time-consuming. The extra water and moisture around can also result in diseases, which is obviously a big negative.
Another trick is to place the pot on a tray filled with water and pebbles. As the water from the tray evaporates, the humidity around your plant increases. This trick does work but doesn’t increase the humidity by much if it is well below 50%.
You can also place your houseplants close together to increase humidity levels within the immediate area. Ensure there is still plenty of airflow between your plants to avoid the growth and spread of disease.
The best and most reliable way to increase the humidity levels in your home is to use a humidifier. While it can be a pricey investment, it’s worth it. Humidifiers replicate their natural environments best and give you more control.
This plant is a fast grower, especially in the right conditions. Once it’s established and after repotting, you may need to fertilize to replenish nutrients, keeping your plant happy.
There are several nutrients in fertilizers, all split into different groups – macronutrients, micronutrients, and secondary nutrients. All are necessary, but the macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium- are required in the largest amounts.
Like other houseplants, they thrive on a balanced fertilizer, with an equal NPK ratio. This leafy beauty can also benefit from a fertilizer mix with a slightly higher nitrogen value, which encourages foliage growth.
It’s always best to fertilize your plants during the peak growing season – spring and summer. But, how often you feed your Aglaonema Silver Bay depends on the type of fertilizer you use.
Liquid fertilizer gets absorbed quickly by the plant’s roots and gives you control over how much nutrients your plant receives. However, it’s easily washed away when you water your plants, meaning you’ll have to fertilize more often.
Slow-release fertilizers are becoming more popular, coming in sticks you simply bury in the soil. As you water, the nutrients are released into the soil over time, meaning you need to fertilize less often.
Whichever fertilizer you choose, it’s important to apply them correctly. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer exactly to avoid over- or under-fertilizing.
This easy-going plant requires very little maintenance and upkeep. But there are a few things you can do to keep your plant looking its best. While pruning is an optional task, it can be done occasionally to keep the stems a manageable length and get rid of dying leaves.
To prune, cut a few inches off the ends of stems, just above a node, leaving the node on the existing plant. This encourages the production of new growth at the site of the cut, making it bushier, but more compact. You can save any cuttings you make for propagation later.
The stunning variegated leaves not only attract the eye, but also dust and debris.
Every month or so, wipe down the leaves using a damp cloth. This keeps your plant looking spotless and improves evaporation and gas exchange through the leaves. It also improves sunlight absorption and photosynthesis. While you’re cleaning, check for any signs of pests and diseases and remove any debris around the base of the stems.
Remember, this plant can irritate the skin, so wear gloves when pruning or handling the plant.
Propagating the Aglaonema Silver Bay is extremely easy and the perfect way to increase your stock at no extra cost. You can either propagate by taking stem cuttings, or through division.
Propagating through stem cuttings is quick, easy, and highly effective. The new cuttings are also easy to root in either soil or water.
Before making any cuts, always start with a clean knife or shears and choose a healthy, strong stem. The healthier the stem, the stronger the new planting will be.
Cut the stems just below a node. You can cut the stems at an angle to increase the surface area and prevent the roots from sitting flat against the glass when rooting in water.
Remove any leaves growing at the base of the stem before placing the stem in a glass of distilled water or a container filled with propagating mix. After about a month, once these cuttings produce long enough roots, your new little Aglaonema Silver Bay can be transplanted into pots filled with soil mix.
Dividing Aglaonema Silver Bay is just as easy as propagating through stem cuttings. This is best done when your plant needs repotting to complete two tasks at once. If your plant has outgrown its pot, you can make one plant two through this simple method.
Simply take the plant out of its pot and gently remove as much soil as you can. Then, gently untangle the roots and check for areas of natural division. These are perfect spots to separate and divide your plants.
Pull them apart and plant the separated pieces into their own pots filled with the right soil mix. Water your new plants well and watch them carefully for any signs of transplant shock.
The fast-growing nature of this plant means it may need to be repotted every one to two years. This may differ depending on the environment, care, and age.
The best time to repot them is at the beginning of its growing season. Choose a pot that’s approximately one or two sizes bigger than the current pot. Don’t opt for an extremely large pot as it can retain too much unnecessary water, leading to several issues, including root rot. Ensure the new pot has sufficient drainage holes and is clean, especially if it had another plant in it.
Remove the plant from its current pot and gently shake off the soil and untangle the roots. While the roots are exposed, check for any signs of rot and damage. Trim away any damaged roots and rinse away diseased and or degraded soil. Now is also a great time to divide your Aglaonema Silver Bay if you want to increase your stock.
Fill your new pot with fresh soil so that the crown of the plant sits at the same level as before. Gather the roots and gently place them in the soil. Fill the gaps with soil until it reaches a few inches below the edge of the pot.
Press down the soil around the base of the plant to secure it in place and water thoroughly. Stick your plant back in its original spot so it can continue to thrive.
As easy and low maintenance as the Chinese Evergreen is, it’s not without its problems. You can face several issues, from strangely colored and deformed leaves to pesky little pests. Luckily, these problems are easily fixed and preventable with the right care.
Leaves Changing Color
Yellowing and browning leaves are common issues that houseplant parents face. Several reasons cause the discoloration of leaves, but the main culprit is often water – or the lack of it.
Yellowing leaves are often the result of overwatering your Chinese Evergreen or letting it sit in soggy soil for too long. Browning leaves, on the other hand, are usually from underwatering your plant.
The best way to avoid underwatering or overwatering is to use the correct watering methods. Only water your Chinese Evergreen once the top layer of the soil is dry to the touch.
Depending on conditions, weeks could go by between watering. When you do water this plant, do so slowly and deeply to ensure the water reaches every inch of soil without waterlogging it.
Older leaves tend to discolor and dry out as they age and will eventually fall off the plant. This isn’t anything to worry about, it’s part of the plant’s natural processes.
Watering correctly not only keeps the striking variegated leaves looking their best, but also prevents root rot, another common problem. Root rot is caused when the soil has too much water and bacteria begins to grow, eventually infecting the plant.
The best way to prevent root rot is to use well-draining soil and make sure that water drains fully at each watering. The water should not puddle up in the pot or around the base of the plant.
Unfortunately, pests love the Chinese Evergreen as much as we do. The most common ones to keep an eye out for are spider mites, mealybugs, and scale. These pests are common with many different types of houseplants, and this plant is no different.
Seasoned houseplant parents are probably very familiar with spider mites as they make several plants their home. Luckily, they’re easy to get rid of and prevent.
A key symptom of a spider mite infestation is webbing, all over the plant’s leaves. Increase the humidity around your plants using the tips above to deter spider mites that prefer dry air. You can also eliminate spider mites by spraying with an insecticidal soap mix.
Scale, like aphids, are sap-sucking insects that can be found on the stems and undersides of leaves of Chinese Evergreen. These pests cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves. Scale infestations can spread between plants quickly, so you’ll need it to act quickly too.
Isolate infested plants and wipe them down with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. Larger infestations usually call for the pruning of infected foliage and stems, as well as spraying with insecticidal soap.
Mealybugs are another common house plant pest that can quickly wreak havoc on most houseplants. They feed on leaf tissue and plant sap, laying eggs as they do.
A mealybug infestation can go from small to unmanageable very quickly. Luckily, neem oil is an effective and natural pesticide that suffocates mealybugs, and several other pests, including aphids.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Chinese Evergreens easy to care for?
Chinese Evergreens are famous for their easy-going, low-maintenance nature. They’re not demanding and will flourish if they receive plenty of indirect sunlight and regular watering. They don’t need a lot of TLC and most of its issues are easy to rectify and prevent.
How fast does the Chinese Evergreen grow?
These plants are fast growers, often outgrowing their pots within a year in the right conditions.
Chinese Evergreen and Dumb Cane: What’s The Difference?
These plants are often mistaken for each other because they have very similar variegation. However, they’re from completely different genera. This plant is part of the Aglaonema genus, while the Dumb Cane belongs to the Dieffenbachia genus.
Chinese Evergreens often have more silvery leaves when compared with Dumb Canes, which sports variegation patterns that have more yellows and light greens.Their leaves are also smaller and oval-shaped, while the Dieffenbachia’s are elongated and pointed.
The Aglaonema Silver Bay is not as striking as other houseplants such as the Polka Dot Begonia or Pink Princess Philodendron. But its simplicity makes it a unique and elegant addition to houseplant collections. It’s also extremely easy to care for and effectively purifies the air in your home. Pretty and useful – this plant is the perfect plant for all.