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. Beyond their simple care routine, Chinese Evergreens are also pretty easy to propagate too.
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.
Why propagate a Chinese Evergreen in the first place?
Before we get into the specific details of Chinese Evergreen propagation, you might be wondering why plant parents want or might need to propagate them in the first place. Here are some of the main reasons:
Propagation is the best way to make more plants without having to spend any more money!
Propagating your Chinese Evergreen will multiply your plant collection and give you plenty of greenery to share with your friends and family too!
To save a dying Chinese Evergreen.
If you notice any issues with your plant (such as yellow or brown leaves), you might want to propagate some of the healthy parts of the plant in case your mother plant doesn’t make it.
To make your Chinese Evergreens fit their environment.
Although they aren’t the fastest growers, over time your Chinese Evergreen may become too big for the space and you might want to prune it. But instead of throwing away those gorgeous cuttings, why not propagate them and create new plants!!
What tools/equipment do you need to propagate a Chinese Evergreen?
Let’s start off with the easy part, here’s a list of all the things you’ll need to successfully propagate your Chinese Evergreen.
A healthy and mature Chinese Evergreen 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 Chinese Evergreen 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 Chinese Evergreen. 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 generally 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 Chinese Evergreen 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. The Chinese Evergreen plant is mildly toxic so be careful here.
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 and prevent a successful propagation. Although Chinese Evergreens 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
Chinese Evergreen plants should grow roots relatively fast so after a few weeks you may start to see some roots growing from the cutting.
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 Chinese Evergreen care
Now that your cuttings are pot nicely into soil, you can go back to your usual Chinese Evergreen 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 Chinese Evergreen 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 Chinese Evergreen out of its pot
To be able to propagate your Chinese Evergreen 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. Each section should have some roots attached so inspect these carefully to make sure there aren’t any obvious problems (mushy rotted roots is the main one you are looking out for here). If there aren’t any obvious sections of the plant to propagate, you can also slice the plant in two, making sure each section has a good amount of the root system. Chinese Evergreen plants adapt well to this and you shouldn’t notice any issues.
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). Then pot your new plant(s) into fresh potting mix. Make sure not to reuse old potting mix from other plants as there may be bad bacteria or pests lingering in it that will start to impact the health of your new plants.
Continue normal Chinese Evergreen care
That’s all there is to the division propagation method of Chinese Evergreens. Now that your plants are safely in their new homes, continue with your normal Chinese Evergreen care routine and enjoy your new plants!!!
Chinese Evergreen propagation FAQs
How long will it take for my Chinese Evergreen cuttings to grow roots?
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 propagation is never an exact science and sometimes things take longer than expected so be prepared for it to take a little longer.
What’s the best time of year to propagate Chinese Evergreens?
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 your Chinese Evergreen 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.
What soil should I use when propagating a Chinese Evergreen?
When propagating Chinese Evergreens, we recommend always using a high-quality potting mix to make sure your plants get the right amount and mix of nutrients. Try to choose a mix that contains perlite as this aids drainage and aeration of the soil, helping to avoid common problems such as overwatering.
Can I use a rooting hormone when propagating a Chinese Evergreen?
Using rooting hormone is completely optional when propagating Chinese Evergreens. 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. Rooting hormon comes in several forms, with the most popular being powder or gel. Gel is better for stem cuttings where you grow your new plants in water for several weeks.
Is it a good idea to use a grow light for my Chinese Evergreen cuttings?
Grow lights are great to use when propagating your Chinese Evergreen in lower light as it can help speed up the rate of root growth.
You can also use LED grow lights on more mature houseplants over autumn and winter when they don’t get as much light so they’re a great investment for all plant parents!
When should I fertilise my Chinese Evergreen cuttings?
We recommend staying away from fertiliser until the cuttings are at least 1 year old. Fertilising Chinese Evergreens when they are young can actually hinder the growth of new roots.
Is it possible to propagate a Chinese Evergreen from a single leaf?
Unfortunately, you can’t propagate Chinese Evergreens from just one leaf. There needs to be at least one node so that roots can form. If you do try to propagate a leaf, it will wilt and die within a week or two.
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 when propagating all houseplants as it can take a while for you to see anything happening. Although root growth can happen after about 1 week, it can take up to a month for anything to show. 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 Chinese Evergreen 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. Unfortunately, this means propagation won’t be successful for this cutting.
That’s it! That’s everything you could ever know about propagating Chinese Evergreen plants!. It can sometimes be a little unpredictable but propagating these plants tends to be a little easier, and more successful, than many other houseplants.
Check out our full Chinese Evergreen Care Guide that has all the information on how to continue care for your cuttings once they have matured.