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Aglaonema
Aglaonema  
I'm trying to revive my sisters plant. It's not the Chinese evergreen variety. It may be the A. Pseudobracteatum variety? Creams, grays & greens. I think she potted it in too big a pot too soon. It's very leggy & straggly looking. Approx 14 plants in this 14" pot. Stems very skinny. What should I do with it? I'd like to repot it in a smaller pot & cut all the stems off & hope it'll throw new shoots off sides of old stalks. But I'm afraid that would shock it. I'm also not sure if trying to reroot these tips are worth it. I'm attaching a picture. Thankful for any help you can give. & Please don't say to pitch it. Ha! Lisa

Answer
Hi Lisa,

Thanks for posting the photo; that makes my diagnosis more accurate and helpful to you.

There are hundreds of Aglaonema varieties, so it is difficult to tell exactly which variety of Aglaonema commutatum you have. However, the care of all varieties is pretty much the same, although the lighter variegated varieties require a bit more sun and the darker varieties hold up better in low light.

In the photo the leaves are wilted and I assume that is not because the soil is too dry. If the leaves do not perk up after watering, then that means the roots are not absorbing water because they are mostly dead. The root damage is most likely the result of the over-potting and the soil in the root zone not drying out sufficiently between waterings. In addition, if the potting mix used was not sufficiently porous, then that would also contribute to root rot. None of this would have happened if the plant had stayed in its original plastic nursery pot.

The thinness of the upper stems suggests that the plant did not receive adequate light in recent months. Your Aglaonema requires very bright, but indirect sunlight such as you get very close to a north facing window that is completely uncovered.

I am quite sure if you carefully un-pot your plant you will find that many of the stems below the soil are very soft and very few healthy roots remain. If so, moving the plant to a smaller pot will not help nor will anything else. You can cut off the tops of the stems, leaving about 3 inches of bare stem below the lowest leaves. Try rooting all of them together in a bunch in a vase or glass of plain water. Once the cuttings have roots at least an inch long, they can be potted together in a small (6-inch) pot.

On the slim chance you find a significant number of healthy roots, then remove excess soil not in immediate contact with the healthy roots and then move them into a pot that is just barely large enough to accommodate the healthy roots and enough potting mix to barely cover them. In this case, I also suggest pruning off the tops as I described above. If the roots are healthy, they will produce new stem shoots from just below the pruning cuts.

I have written detailed articles on repotting, propagation and on Aglaonema care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com. I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

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Will Creed

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I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.

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I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

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BA, Amherst College

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