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Chinese Evergreen – Maria Plant

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Chinese Evergreen Maria has a retro-chic quality having been an interior design staple since the 1970’s. It will tolerate more shade and cooler temperatures than other varieties, making it a useful, decorative addition across homes and offices. It has glossy, dark green leaves that are strikingly marbled with silvery green chevrons. They grow relatively slowly and take a long time to outgrow their pots, meaning ongoing maintenance is minimal.

I have heard people say that plants are therapeutic and I have come to learn that it rings true for me. The time and care that they require have become an active meditation for me. Plus, in my past, I was heavily armed with a type “A” personality. Those with type A personality tend to be perfectionists, overachievers, and workaholics. Check, check, and check! I know there are benefits to these traits but for me, I became very rigid.

So how did plants help me with my type “A” personality? Oddly enough the organic free-flowing forms of each plant brought a sense of calmness and stripped away the need for everything to be in perfect form. I used to decorate with artificial plants because I could control the color, size, and shape. You can’t really do that with real plants. They are living and have a personality of their own. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, let’s get on with what these lovelies require for a happy life.

Light Requirements

These lovely plants will thrive in low to bright light levels. The lighter the leaf color, the higher the required light levels (this rule applies to most plants). Plain, dark green varieties will thrive in near shade, whereas the lighter, variegated types need well lit, bright conditions. Avoid direct sunlight as this will scorch the leaves. I have one that sits about four feet away from a North facing window.

Water Requirements

It has been my experience that these particular plants like to dry out between waterings, so feel the soil with your finger a few inches down to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface.

If your plant is in a bright location, then you will want to water it when the soil is dry halfway down the pot. If you have your plant in fluorescent or lower light conditions, then it’s best to let the soil dry out almost all the way to the bottom of the pot before watering thoroughly.

Look out for overwatering with this plant as it can be prone to root rot. The key signs of overwatering are yellowing or mushy stalks or leaves. If you find this occurring, then it’s best to let the soil dry out completely before watering again.

Temperature Requirements

It’s best to keep your plant away from hot and cold air drafts, which includes window breezes, heaters, and air conditioning. They prefer a temperature of 70 and 85 degrees (F). Nighttime temperatures should not vary more than a 10 degrees drop.

Humidity Requirements

Chinese Evergreens can tolerate less humidity than some other plants, yet it will still appreciate your efforts to improve surrounding humidity levels, either via regular misting or using a pebble tray.

Fertilizer – Plant Food

Fertilize roughly every six weeks during the growing season (Spring-Fall) with a 1/2 strength diluted complete fertilizer. If you overfeed a plant, you can remove the houseplant from its current soil and repot it in fresh soil. This technique is undoubtedly the best way to get rid of the excess nutrients affecting your plant. Alternatively, you can flush the soil, which involves drenching the soil with water and letting it drain out. Repeat this several times to help the soil get rid of excess fertilizer.

Additional Care

Plant Characteristics to Watch For

Diagnosing what is going wrong with your plant is going to take a little detective work, but more so… patience! First of all, don’t panic and don’t throw a plant out prematurely. Take a few deep breaths and work down the list of possible issues. Below, I am going to share some typical symptoms that can arise. When I start to spot troubling signs on a plant, I take the plant into a room with good lighting, pull out my magnifiers, and begin by thoroughly inspecting the plant.
The stalks are turning yellow and brown.

Yellow or brown leaves.

The leaves are drooping.

A combination of yellow and brown edging

Crispy, fully yellow or brown leaves.

My plant is bushier on one side than the other.

Common Bugs to Watch For

If you want to have healthy house plants, you MUST inspect them regularly. Every time I water a plant, I give it a quick look-over.  Bugs/insects feeding on your plants reduces the plant sap and redirects nutrients from leaves. Some chew on the leaves, leaving holes in the leaves.  Also watch for wilting or yellowing, distorted, or speckled leaves. They can quickly get out of hand and spread to your other plants.
IF you see ONE bug, trust me, there are more. So, take action right away. Some are brave enough to show their “faces” by hanging out on stems in plan site. Others tend to hide out in the darnedest of places, like the crotch of a plant or in a leaf that has yet to unfurl.

Toxicity

These plants can cause irritation if eaten, and the sap is a skin and eye irritant. Keep out of the reach of children and animals. Be sure to wash your hands after any pruning or cleaning of this plant. Best to be safe than sorry.

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