Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema) are one of the most low-maintenance houseplants out there! They adapt to most homes and don’t need a super-specific care routine to keep them happy.
In this post, we will guide you through the whole propagation process, including a step by step of both methods, all the tools and equipment you’ll need as well as a run-through of all the common problems that you might face and how you can fix them.
What tools/equipment do you need to propagate a Chinese Evergreen?
A healthy and mature plant
Clean, sharp scissors/shears
Spare pot(s) (make sure these have drainage holes)
Fresh soil and water
Newspaper or plastic sheet if you are propagating indoors
Rooting hormone (optional)
What methods can you use to propagate a Chinese Evergreen?
There are two main methods of propagation, stem cuttings and division. There are pros and cons to each method so we hope that going through the step by step of each method will help you to decide what’s best for you and your plant. Whilst stem cuttings are more exciting to do and don’t require you to take as much off your mother plant, division is a quick and simple method.
How to propagate a Chinese Evergreen using stem cuttings
This is the most common method of propagation when it comes to Chinese Evergreen plants. This is because it’s suitable for all maturities of plants!
Locate some healthy Chinese Evergreen stems
When taking a stem cutting it’s important that you are using a healthy part of the plant. If you take a stem cutting that is displaying signs of unhappiness/disease (eg. brown or yellow leaves), it can sometimes hinder your chances at a successful propagation.
All cuttings must include at least one node. Nodes are stem joints and it’s where the roots will grow out from when you grow the cutting in water.
Make the cut(s)
Use your clean scissors to cut off one or more stems. You want to make sure that you have at least 2-3 leaves on your cutting as this ensures you have a few good nodes from which roots can grow out from.
Keeping your tools clean avoids passing on bacteria or pests to your plant and also is important when dealing with toxic plants.
Fill up a transparent container with water
Now that you have taken your stem cuttings, you need to grow them in something to encourage root growth. You can pot them directly into soil as Chinese Evergreens grow roots pretty quickly but we always recommend water as a middle step as it tends to have a greater success rate.
Fill up your container with temperate water (avoid using hot/cold water as this will shock your cuttings and can cause them to wilt and die pretty quickly). Place your cuttings in so that the lowest third is covered by the water. If too much of the cutting is submerged in the water, it can increase the risk of the stems rotting.
Place your cuttings in bright but indirect light
It’s super important your cuttings aren’t exposed to too much intense direct light as it will very quickly burn the cutting. Although they are pretty low maintenance houseplants, cuttings with less mature root systems are more sensitive to their environment and care.
Refresh the water regularly
One of the most important steps in the Chinese Evergreen propagation process is to refresh the water every 2-3 days. This will help to avoid bacteria building up in the water as stagnant water can be quite harmful for your new cuttings.
Now just be patient
Root growth can be a little unpredictable though and some cuttings will be a lot faster than others. But the process is definitely a lot quicker than with some other common houseplants, where you can be waiting months for anything to happen.
Plant your Chinese Evergreen cuttings into fresh potting mix
Once the roots on your Chinese Evergreen cuttings are a few centimetres long it’s time to pot them into soil. Place your cuttings a few centimetres into the soil. You can also pop the cuttings back into the mother plant so it becomes a little fuller – it’s totally up to you!
It’s important that you use a high-quality potting mix to make sure your cuttings are getting the right mix of nutrients.
Resume usual care
Now that your cuttings are pot nicely into soil, you can go back to your usual care routine. Before you know it, these cuttings will be mature enough for you to propagate them again and the cycle starts over!
How to propagate a Chinese Evergreen through division of the mother plant
This method of propagation only really works if your plant is quite bushy and mature, otherwise, they can be left looking a little straggly and empty. If you do have a big enough Chinese Evergreen that you don’t mind dividing then this method is great for those who don’t want to wait for new roots and leaves to grow – instead, you get new plants in minutes!
Carefully take your plant out of its pot
To be able to propagate your plant properly using the division method, you need to separate the different offshoots/stems on your plant. Carefully lift your plant out of its pot. Luckily the leaves and stems are quite robust compared to a lot of other plants so you can tug on them a little if the plant isn’t coming free easily.
Separate out the root system
You may have to trim off the odd root to detangle the different sections in the plant but you should be able to pull them apart eventually.
Place each new plant in fresh potting mix
Pop your mother Chinese Evergreen back into its original pot (or downsize slightly if you have taken away a substantial amount of the original plant as this will decrease the risk of root rot).
Continue normal care
Now that your plants are safely in their new homes, continue with your normal care routine and enjoy your new plants!!! You can find more information on how to care for your plants after propagation below.
Chinese Evergreen propagation FAQs
Luckily, Chinese Evergreen cuttings grow roots a little quicker than most other houseplants and aren’t so sensitive to environmental factors. If everything goes well you should start to see some growth after only a week or two but it can take longer than expected so be patient.
We always recommend propagating houseplants in spring (after the last of the cold weather) as this means they are growing in the sunniest and warmest months of the year. However, if you choose to propagte through division, you can do this at any point during the year.
Using a heat pad, or LED grow light can help provide ideal conditions all year round.
Using rooting hormone is completely optional. What they do is help speed up root growth as well as promote the growth of stronger roots. But you can still have plenty of success without using any rooting hormone at all so it’s completely your choice.
Common problems when propagating Chinese Evergreens
What’s causing my Chinese Evergreen cutting to not grow new roots?
Patience is the number one thing you need as it can take a while for you to see anything happening.
As long as you are giving your Chinese Evergreen cuttings the care that they need and they’re in a good spot in your home then it is just a waiting game.
Why is my cutting turning mushy?
If your cutting has started to turn soft and mushy then chances are it is rotting. This can happen if too much of the cutting is placed in water or the water has not been switched out for a while.
How to care for your Chinese Evergreen plants after propagation
Hopefully, the main propagation process was a success and you have come away with it with one or more Chinese Evergreen plants. However, plants can be quite sensitive after propagation, even if done through the division method. So for a while, you’ll have to pay special attention to make sure their care and environment are checking off everything they need to properly thrive. For new Chinese Evergreen plants propagated through stem cuttings, this is especially crucial as their root systems will be quite small and particularly sensitive for a while.
The first thing to monitor is the amount of light that your new plants are getting. Whilst Chinese Evergreen plants are quite adaptable to their environment and can survive in a range of light levels, it’s important that your newly propagated plants are getting enough sunlight to aid new root and leaf growth.
As they won’t have as many leaves to take in that sunlight, you want to place them somewhere with bright but indirect light rather than medium or low light levels.
Avoid direct light at all costs as your young plants won’t be able to take it very well and it could dry them out and burn the foliage which is irreversible.
In terms of their watering requirements, you want to prevent their soil from drying out for extended periods of time. However, you don’t want the soil to become too soggy that it is waterlogged as this can rot the roots of your new plants and your propagation efforts may be destroyed. You also want to cut back on watering during winter as the soil won’t dry out as quickly in lower temperatures and this can risk root rot.
The other important environmental factor to consider is temperature. Your new plants will thrive best in warmer environments as this helps to aid new growth. Keep them far away from any drafts, this includes both drafty windows and external doors but can also be caused by air conditioning units in summer so be wary of these. Whilst the cool air might be a nice rest bite from the warmth for you, it can be quite harmful to your plants (and especially young plants).
There are two things that you don’t need to worry about so much when it comes to caring for your Chinese Evergreen plants after propagation and they are humidity and fertiliser. Your newly propagated plants will be fine with the natural humidity level in your home so you don’t need to worry about misting, showering or buying a humidifier for your plant. And when it comes to fertiliser you must stay away for a while. Newly propagated plants can become quite damaged if fertilised too early so wait at least one year after propagating. Only then should you think about feeding your plant and even then it’s a totally optional thing. Chinese Evergreen plants can have plenty of new healthy luscious growth without any fertiliser.
Check out our full Chinese Evergreen Care Guide which has all the information on how to continue care for your cuttings once they have matured.
Written by Billy Dawson