Aglaonema commutatum ‘Treubii’: Ribbon Aglaonema
Aglaonemas are not only some of the loveliest but also the hardiest of house plants. More than forty species grow wild in south-east Asia and the Malay Archipelago, mostly in the undergrowth of the evergreen tropical forests on a thick layer of humus formed by decaying leaves. They often form part of the vegetation bordering forest streams and are also found at the edge of the forest, but mostly they are plants that do extremely well in the permanent shade of taller vegetation.
Aglaonemas are considered extraordinarily beautiful plants even in their native south Asian home, and not just the variegated species. Aglaonema simplex, for example, is grown for decoration even in the most primitive of homes and Aglaonema costatum may be seen in practically every city and airport in south-east Asia.
The most generally available at garden centres are the variegated species, such as the old cultivar ‘White Rajah’, incorrectly designated A. pseudobracteatum. Magnificent is the small A. costatum which is dark green with a white midrib and white blotches. Those with plenty of room can grow A. crispum, up to one metre high with large greyish zones alongside the midrib. The species from Java generally grows to a height of 50 cm (20 in) indoors (up to 1 m [3 ft]) in the wild and the leaves are 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 in) long.
Cultivation is simple. A mixture of peat and sand, with a possible addition of leaf mould, is sufficient. Bowls are preferable to taller containers. The plants are readily propagated by tip or stem cuttings.