The beautiful Aglaonema Silver Bay, also known as the Chinese evergreen, is a tropical houseplant prized for its foliage. They get their name from the pattern on their leaves: silver-white centers, with shades of green and grey forming borders with uniquely striped and speckled variegation.
They are famously hard to kill, low-maintenance, and grow well even in low-light conditions. This medium-sized plant has very basic care requirements:
- Low to bright indirect light;
- Choose a well-draining potting mix;
- Water when topsoil is dry.
Read on for more information on keeping your Agalaonema in tip-top shape!
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Caring for your Aglaonema Silver Bay
The Aglaonema Silver Bay is native to the tropical regions of China and New Guinea and is adaptable to most light conditions. While it grows most rapidly under bright indirect light, it can also do well in lower light conditions.
Ideally, place your Silver Bay on an East-facing windowsill. Here, gentle morning light coaxes your plant to grow lush, and it basks in indirect sunlight for the rest of the day.
North-facing windows are fine, too, although you may choose to add a grow light to bring out the best in your Silver Bay. They take well to fluorescent lights!
Your Chinese Evergreen should be watered only when you feel that the top 2 inches of soil are dry. Just check the soil moisture with your fingers. Water slowly and deeply at the base of the plant to avoid wetting its leaves. Water until the soil is saturated. Then, leave to dry again.
Another clue that your plant may need watering is if it appears a little droopy. Its leaves may also start to curl and appear crispy. Just check the soil moisture to confirm, and water away.
This soak and dry method is our usual method of watering, as it helps us gauge precisely when the plant needs watering. Do note that:
- Using this method, the watering frequency will naturally reduce in winter when the plant is not actively growing. Your plant needs less water during this time!
- If you spot older bottom leaves turning yellow and dying off, this is normal. Your plant has a habit of aborting older leaves to make way for new growth!
- However, if leaves are starting to yellow throughout the plant and the soil is wet, the chances are that the Aglaonema Silver Bay is overwatered. The best way to avoid this is to only water when the topsoil is dry!
- If the damage is already done, check out our guide on rescuing your overwatered plant.
As with most tropical houseplants, the higher the humidity, the more your plant thrives. This is true of the Aglaonema Silver Bay, which prefers humidity levels >50%. All the same, your resilient plant can still grow in average room humidity.
If you choose to invest in a humidifier, check out our favorite one. We like the adjustable %humidity settings.
Otherwise, you can use a pebble tray to boost humidity levels.
Temperature-wise, average indoor temperatures of 65-80 degrees F (18-27 degrees C) are ideal for your plant.
Like many houseplants, stable temperatures are essential. They don’t enjoy sudden drops or increases in temperature, so keep the Chinese Evergreen away from air vents and drafts.
The Aglaonema Silver Bay is a medium-sized plant that can grow up to around 3 feet (91cm) tall and wide. This makes it perfect for indoor spaces – large enough to catch your attention but compact enough for smaller living areas.
We adore this plant for its simplicity – glossy leaves with creamy-silver centers and shades of speckled green along its edges. When mature, these long leaves can span up to 10 inches (25 cm) long.
They are fascinating to see grow – the leaves unfurl from the middle and extend outwards. Lower, older leaves may start to turn yellow and wilt away in time as your plant makes way for new leaves.
Under ideal conditions, this plant grows pretty rapidly, putting out a new leaf every week or so. Under lower light, you’ll notice slower growth.
While mainly grown for its foliage, this plant blooms and even forms red berries if left to develop. When blooming, you’ll spot an inflorescence consisting of a spathe and spadix, similar to Anthuriums. Flowers are tiny and numerous, residing along the spadix.
While these flowers are not considered significant, it’s up to you whether you like them or not! Some people choose to cut off the inflorescence so that your plant can focus on doing what it does best – producing more lush leaves. 🙂
Soil or Growing Medium
You don’t need a special potting mix to keep your Aglaonema Silver Bay happy. Most well-draining potting mixes will suffice.
We like to make our own, using:
Perlite and coconut coir lightens the soil mix and enhances drainage qualities. That’s it! Instead of perlite, you can also opt for orchid bark or vermiculite.
We don’t fertilize the Aglaonema Silver Bay. We find that if you are using a high-quality potting mix and refresh the soil every time you repot, there’s really no need.
Generally, we repot our Aglaonema Silver Bay every two years, in the spring. However, you should only repot if the plant is root-bound. The most obvious sign is when roots peek out from the drainage hole or swirl above the soil’s surface. This means that your plant has outgrown its pot!
Here’s how to repot your plant:
- Water your plant the day before repotting; this reduces transport shock.
- Gently place your plant on its side.
- Use your fingers to tease away compacted soil.
- Remove your plant from its pot, being careful not to damage its roots.
- Use a new pot that is 2 inches larger than the original (any larger, and there is too much unused soil that holds moisture, leading to overwatering).
- Use fresh soil as nutrients deplete over time.
- Don’t water your plant until a week after repotting.
Additional Care: Wiping down leaves
As with many large-leaved plants, your Aglaonema Silver Bay benefits from the occasional wiping down its leaves with a damp cloth. This wipes away dust and grime that gathers on your heavily-foliaged plant.
Like clogged pores, dust and grime hinder your plant from absorbing light and exchanging gases efficiently.
So, wiping down leaves supports better photosynthesis and transpiration! Just remember to wipe it dry afterward, as wet leaves encourage fungi growth.
Unfortunately, your plant is toxic to animals and humans when ingested, including dogs and cats. Like most plants from the Araceae family, your plant has insoluble calcium oxalates in its stems and leaves. These sharp crystals act as defensive spikes, causing skin burns, nausea, and vomiting.
If you prefer a non-toxic houseplant, do check out Hoyas and Peperomias. The Hoya Bella and Peperomia Hope are beginner-level non-toxic plants.
Propagation through stem cuttings is easy and has a high success rate. You can use either water or soil as the propagation medium.
- Identify a length of healthy stem that has a few leaves.
- Using clean garden shears, cut below the node.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
- Place the stem cutting in a jar filled with room-temperature water, and place it in a warm spot with plenty of indirect light.
- Replace with fresh water every few days.
- In a few weeks, you should see the roots developing.
- After a month, the roots should have grown an inch or two. Plant the stem cutting into its permanent pot.
- Treat as you would any other Aglaonema Silver Bay.
Alternatively, you can plant the stem cutting directly into the soil (Step 4). Wait a month and give the plant a very gentle tug – some resistance means that the plant has rooted.
Division is another easy method to propagate your Chinese Evergreen. When repotting, you can opportunistically divide your plant into two. Instead of upsizing the pot, look for pots that are just slightly larger than the individual rootball.
Here’s how to propagate by Division:
- Water your plant the day before dividing it.
- Place your plant on its side, and gently use your fingers to tease away any compacted soil.
- Remove your plant from its pot, and examine its roots.
- Look for sections that have their own root systems, and separate these. This may take a while, as the roots on an Aglaonema Silver Bay are quite dense.
- Plant each rootball as individual plants in separate pots.
There’s minimal upkeep that you need for your Chinese Evergreen, but occasional pruning is a good idea to encourage faster growth. Do use sterilized garden shears (we like to dip ours in 70% isopropyl solution) to prevent contamination.
- Trim off any wilted or yellow leaves so that your plant to focus on new growth.
- Older leaves tend to wilt and die away. When they are completely dry, you can pluck them off with your fingers or use garden shears.
- Cut a few inches off the stems for a compact, bushy look. Make sure to cut just above the node.
Common Pests and Diseases
While your plant is relatively trouble-free, it is not immune to the occasional pest or disease. Here are the most common issues your Aglaonema Silver Bay may face.
If your plant is overwatered, root rot may become an issue. This is when waterlogged soil drowns out your roots. As roots do not have enough air to breathe, they start to decay.
Root rot can be prevented by watering only when the topsoil feels dry to the touch. Overzealous watering, while it may feel like giving your plant “extra love,” does the opposite!
Consult our step-by-step guide on how to remedy root rot.
Spider mites are sap-sucking insects that pierce plant tissue and deprive your plant of nutrients. They leave a tell-tale webbing on the underside of leaves, giving it its name.
As many infestations are due to cross-infection from other plants, it’s important to inspect your plant before introducing it to your home. Early detection is key, as these mites reproduce rapidly.
To kill off these mites, you have a number of options. We like using either a neem oil spray or, in more severe cases, applying an Insecticide Soap spray. Both are natural and environmentally friendly options.
We usually keep a bottle of Insectidical Soap in our home to be ready for an infestation!
Mealybugs look like little bits of cotton wool. While easily recognizable, they do like to cluster together in hard-to-reach corners of the plant.
For this reason, inspecting your plants regularly is essential!
Thankfully, mealybugs can be eradicated exactly the same way as spider mites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does an Aglaonema Silver Bay purify the air?
A NASA Clean Air study in 1989 investigated plants that naturally removed impurities such as benzene and formaldehyde from the air. One of the plants with these air purification qualities is the Chinese Evergreen.
So according to this NASA study, the Silver Bay purifies the air. However, there is some discussion now that the levels of purification are not significant… unless you have loads and loads of these plants! I guess that’s one way to justify buying more plants. 🙂
Is the Aglaonema Silver Bay rare? Where can I buy one?
No, it is not rare. While this houseplant is undeniably popular, it is also readily available. You should be able to find them at most local gardening centers.
You can also check out reputable sellers from Etsy. Expect to pay around US$20-35 for a small plant.
What’s the difference between the Aglaonema Silver Bay (Chinese Evergreen) and the Dumb Cane?
A lookalike, the Dumb Cane, Dieffenbachia Amoena, has similar leaf coloring and variegation to the Chinese Evergreen. However, they are unrelated. The Dumb Cane is from the Dieffenbachia genus, while the Chinese Evergreen is from the Aglaonema genus.
To tell them apart, look closely at its leaves. The Aglaonema Silver Bay has a larger proportion of silver-cream on its leaves, while the Dumb Cane has more yellow and green variegation.
What are the origins of the Aglaonema Silver Bay?
Aglaonema Silver Bay is a hybrid between two Aglaonemas: the Aglaonema Manila Whirl and the Alagaonema nitidum Ernesto’s Favorite. The Silver Bay is native to the tropical regions of China and New Guinea, which give it its nickname, the Chinese Evergreen.
Other Aglaonemas we love
Aglaonema Silver Queen
The Silver Queen is another variegated Aglaonema that is sometimes confused with the Aglaonema Silver Bay. You can tell the two apart from the leaf shape – the Silver Queen has thinner, more elongated leaves, while the Silver Bay has rounder, more oval foliage.
Aglaonema Pictum Tricolor
The Aglaonema Pictum Tricolor plant has such a unique army camouflage variegation that it’s hard to look away! Boasting patterned foliage with two shades of green and one shape of cream, this compact plant has a slightly pixelated look. This one is a conversation starter for sure!
The Aglaonema Silver Bay is a beautiful houseplant that is insanely easy to care for. Perfect for beginners, this hardy plant requires little maintenance, a well-draining potting mix, and indirect light.
- For best results, place your plant in bright indirect light.
- Any well-draining potting soil is fine for your plant; we like using indoor potting soil with added perlite and coconut coir.
- Water only when the topsoil is dry.
- Fertilizer is not necessary.
- Wipe down leaves occasionally.
- Most plant problems arise from overwatering or pests like spider mites or mealybugs that can be killed with a neem oil solution.
Love the Aglaonema Silver Bay? Check out its cousin, the Aglaonema Pictum Tricolor, next!
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.