In appreciation of the actual awesomeness of Aglaonemas!
Plant trends can be notoriously fickle. Today, Calatheas and Hoyas are all the rage, never mind how anxiety inducing they may be to actually grow and keep them alive, especially here in Mumbai. Not too long ago, we waxed lyrical about Philodendrons, and tomorrow we'll be chasing the newest Anthuriums and Homalomenas. But there's one good ole, reliable, down-to-earth, value-for-money, no-fuss and absolutely drama-free species that's been around for centuries and continues to hold its own quietly through all of the hullabaloo - the Aglaonemas!
Also known as Chinese Evergreens, these tropical plants of the Aroid family are probably one of the world's oldest ornamental plants. They've been bred, propagated and gifted as good-luck plants for centuries in East Asia, and were introduced to the West in 1885. Their varieties and cultivars are numerous as you would imagine, and you can get them in multiple leaf colors, stem colors, plant sizes, leaf sizes, and variegation. Here's a snapshot of color varieties:
Green-stemmed Cutlass & Snow White to the left;
Pink-stemmed Butterfly Merah and Sapphire Suzanne to the right
They can vary in size too:
The petite Pink Panther suitable for a tabletop, and the statuesque Cory that grows several feet tall
The beauty of these plants is matched by their functionality. Aglaonemas are very stable, requiring moderate watering and moderate light, making them great for indoor growing and also for growing in semi-shade outdoors. They are disease-resistant, easy to care for and can tolerate a lot of neglect! If grown in a tropical climate, your Agalonema can be perfectly happy, as it's only nemesis is colder temperatures. Given a good soil-based potting mix and reasonable care, it will produce fuss-free foliage for years to come. For all these reasons, they make excellent office, house and gift plants. Yet folks rarely go overboard when they discuss Aglaonemas, do they?! Perhaps we are conditioned to adore the plants that are difficult to grow!
Here's another unconventional reason that I dig these plants - their roots! Aglaonemas have the prettiest, white, crisp roots that I have seen. A mature Aglaonema's roots will spin and swirl our from the base of the stem like a strange and spindly radish!! Here, take a look:
Which is my favorite Aglaonema? Well, with a collection of "only" twenty-one types, and acknowledging that there's a lot more that I'm going to get my hands on eventually, I guess it's got to be Sapphire Suzanne. Here she is up close:
Far less showy than many of the pink and red leafed hybrids, Ms. Suzanne shows up like a classy Dior-clad lady, dressed in a muted but dignified emerald green with just the right amount of red racing through her veins!!!
But hey, that's just me. What's YOUR favorite Aglaonema now?!
(Images in this post are sourced from the Internet. Please contact re objections/credits, thank you!)