Monday, December 26, 2011

Plant Find: Latest Aglaonema Additions

Aglaonemas are known for their patterned foliage with several shades of green, white and silver.  In Thailand, breeders are constantly creating new Aglaonemas with pink and red in the leaves.  Personally, I'm not a fan of these hybrids and I don't collect any of those.  These hybrids get their red coloration from a natural species, Aglaonema rotundum.

My collection is made up of the more natural-looking Aglaonemas, even though many of them are hybrids.  One of my most recent finds is a variegated form where there are white patches overlaying the green pattern.  The plant was sold to me as variegated Aglaonema 'Silver Queen.'  However, the leaf pattern does not match the common 'Silver Queen', which has lanceolate leaves with a primarily silver coloration and thin streaks of dark green mixed in.

variegated Aglaonema, possibly Aglaonema 'Manila'
variegated Aglaonema, possibly Aglaonema 'Manila'

Most Aglaonemas have green petioles (stems).  Some have white and then there are a few that have either pink or russet.  I believe that russet is a mix of pink and green - kind of a brown potato color.  I think these petioles are really neat looking and this is the first Aglaonema I have had with the russet petioles.  (See the image below.)  This is yet another clue that this plant does not come from the common 'Silver Queen', but from something else entirely.  Most likely this mystery will never be solved for me.

Aglaonema Queen - variegated petioles
Russet petioles of variegated Aglaonema

There are many Aglaonemas in my office building, maintained by a company that checks on them regularly and switches the plants out when they start to look ratty.  There is one Aglaonema that I have admired for a while and I recently got a stem of it to grow myself.  I have no idea what the name is.  The distinguishing features are the dark coloration of the leaves, which are somewhat lanceolate.  It looks similar to a plant I saw at the IAS show called 'Shades.'  The lighter shades of green are also in an unusual pattern.

Aglaonema - dark from work
unidentified Aglaonema from my office, possibly Aglaonema 'Shades'

The last recent addition to my Aglaonema collection is one which grows as a creeping rhizome, which is different from my other Aglaonemas, which grown on an upright stem.  This plant was sold to me as Aglaonema costatum f. immaculatum.  I sent a photo to my friend, Peter Boyce, who is a career taxonomist in Malaysia.  He told me the plant is actually Aglaonema brevispathum, a member of the Chamaecaulon section, which has this characteristic growth habit.  He studied these plants in the field from Myanmar through Thailand to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, in lowland dry dipterocarp forest, often along on river banks.   How lucky am I to have Peter to answer my questions!?!  That's one of the great things about the IAS.  There are people who have very extensive knowledge and a great willingness to share that knowledge.

Aglaonema brevispathum
Aglaonema brevispathum

I was a little worried that I would have trouble growing this particular plant, since it differs from the ones that I know grow well in my care.  But it seems to be doing well, enjoying the environment of my greenhouse and putting out some new leaves.


  1. I really like Aglaonemas, but my main issue with them has been how to keep them from getting really leggy and scraggly. Do you have any suggestions?

  2. I've never been big on ags (I can't keep them alive for the life of me) but when I clicked on that link to the breeder I can't help but drool. I don't know why I love the pink and red ones but I really do. Even better though are the caladiums! Those colors are insane!