Identification: A tropical plant with large green leaves, a "Japanese Evergreen"?

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by EDNY, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. EDNY

    EDNY Member

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    Brooklyn, NY
    I have three questions about this plant with large foliage. See attached photos.

    (1) What kind of plant is this? The Chinatown florist called it a "Japanese evergreen", which she said was similar to a Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema. I could not find such a plant on Google. The local Citibank branch had larger grown specimens of this plant with thick trunks (maybe 4-5 ft. tall).

    (2) What are the brown splotches on the plant? When I got the plant in the flower shop two weeks ago, the leaves were perfect. I placed it in an office with moderate light (about 30 feet from a large window facing the south) at moderate room temperature and low humidity. The next day brown and yellowish splotches started appearing on a smaller leaf. I treated the whole plant with Schultz houseplant spray in case there were any insects (like spider mites). The small leaf has since died and these worrisome splotches have appeared on the grown leaves, eating holes in them. I don’t see any insects. What are these splotches?

    (3) How should I take care of this plant? I’ve watered it once a week and placed it away from a window but under fluorescent lights in an office. Does it need more light and/or moisture? I have not fertilized it. Is this necessary?

    Thank you.

    Attached Files:

  2. lhuget

    lhuget Active Member

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    Calgary, Alberta, Canada Zone 3a
    Hi EDNY. Your plant is a dieffenbachia and unfortunately it looks like it has anthracnose which is a fungal disease. You can prevent the spread to healthy leaves by applying a fungicide and I would remove the infected leaves and dispose of in the garbage but someone else may but someone else may have alternative solutions. Dieffenbachia like filtered sunlight and humid conditions. I used to put a tray of stones filled with water under the pot to increase humidity. Mine liked alot of water but I allowed the top couple inches of soil to dry between waterings.

  3. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    The previous post is certainly correct, this plant is not an Aglaeonema but is a Dieffenbachia, very likely a hybrid form. Dieffenbachia are aroids and as such prefer damp yet fast draining soil. I can't be certain there is a fungus involved but it will certainly do no harm to protect against one by spraying the plant with a fungicide. You can buy good ones at almost any garden center or store selling plant supplies. Also good advice to remove the damaged leaves.

    To keep the plant healthy, give it bright indirect light. A place near a bright window will do nicely. The soil needs to be porous and composed of a soil that will not stay soggy. A good mixture would include both a moisture control potting soil along with peat moss and Perlite™. Make sure the pot will drain quickly and keep the soil mix evenly damp but never soggy wet.

    Although I rarely make the standard over used warning regarding aroids and calcium oxalate crystals often given by many websites, Dieffenbachia is a bit different since there is a combination of chemical compounds in the plant's structure. This is one aroid species that has been documented to cause at least one death from chewing on a leaf or other plant part. In most cases, calcium oxalate crystals requires the ingestion of a large quantity to do damage but in the case of plants from this genus one taste can paralyze the mouth and tongue. That's why it has a common name of "dumb cane". Don't allow a child or a pet to chew on the plant. If an individual or pet gets the plant in their mouth seek medical attention but be certain and inform the physician the plant involved is Dieffenbachia.

    These plants can grow quite large and I've personally seen them as tall as 4 meters (12 feet). Given proper care, they live for a very long time and make a beautiful houseplant provided you don't get any part of the plant near your mouth. In nature, they are found in very humid parts of the tropical world.

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