A Gardener’s Guide to Making the Best Soil Mix for Aglaonema

A Gardener’s Guide to Making the Best Soil Mix for Aglaonema

Aglaonema plants, or Chinese evergreens, thrive best in nitrogen-rich, well-draining, porous soil that retains moisture but doesn’t become waterlogged. They also prefer a slightly acidic pH within the 5.6 to 6.5 range.

In this guide, we’ll explore the key components of the best soil mix for Aglaonema plants and how to make the ideal mix. We’ll also discuss some of the most common signs of wrong soil use to let you know when to change your soil mix.

Things to Consider When Choosing Soil for Aglaonema



One of the most crucial characteristics to consider when choosing soil for an Aglaonema is drainage. It should have good soil drainage to prevent water from pooling in the root zone and causing root rot and waterlogged conditions.

Good drainage also helps control the salinity in the soil. As the water drains away, it takes salts out of the root zone.

Salt buildup can cause damage to the roots and impair the Aglaonema’s ability to uptake nutrients. That’s why it’s important to prevent it, whether it’s through good soil drainage or using low-salt water.



Adequate aeration in the soil ensures that your Aglaonema receives sufficient oxygen to support respiration and overall health. Hence, you must pick a porous soil mix.

A porous soil mix is less likely to compact, so the roots have enough space to grow and develop better. Water will also be able to infiltrate the soil better if the soil has good aeration.

Moreover, a well-aerated soil is a favorable environment for beneficial microorganisms like mycorrhizal fungi and earthworms.

Moisture Retention

Moisture Retention

Aglaonema plants can tolerate short periods of drought. Still, it’s more beneficial for the plant if the soil can retain moisture without being waterlogged. 

The plants are native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, so they’re used to a consistently moist and humid environment. Adding materials that can help the soil retain moisture helps maintain a more stable moisture level for the plant.

A reasonable moisture retention capacity can also lower the risk of underwatering, which can cause a lot of stress to your Aglaonema.

pH Level

pH Level

Choose a slightly acidic soil, preferably within the 5.6 to 6.5 range. A soil within this pH range will help your Aglaonema uptake nutrients more efficiently and effectively.

Highly acidic or alkaline soils make some nutrients less soluble and available, hindering the roots’ ability to absorb them. For example, phosphorus is usually less available in highly acidic soil, while iron becomes less soluble in alkaline soils. 

Inappropriate pH also makes your Aglaonema plant more vulnerable to certain diseases. Make sure to check the pH when buying commercial potting mix just to be sure that you’re providing the best-growing medium for your plant.

Nutrient Content

Nutrient Content

While all the essential NPK nutrients are important for Aglaonema, nitrogen is the most vital nutrient for its growth. Hence, you must choose a soil that’s nitrogen-rich.

Nitrogen is a key driver in your Aglaonema’s vigor and growth. It supports the development of new leaves and stems and contributes to lush and healthy Aglaonema.

Components of an Aglaonema Soil

Loam Soil

Loam soil is a well-balanced combination of sand, silt, and clay particles. It provides good drainage while retaining enough moisture to keep the roots consistently hydrated, making it a good base for your potting mix.

Loam is less prone to compaction and erosion, ensuring the roots are well-aerated and reducing the frequency of repotting needed.

If you don’t have loam soil, you can also use almost every commercial potting mix available in the market.


Clay is another type of soil that can be used as a base for your Aglaonema plant. While clay tends to have poor drainage, it can be improved by amending it with sand or perlite.

Clay soil is typically fertile and contains a variety of essential minerals and nutrients, like magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper. You can further improve its fertility by adding organic matter or using a nitrogen-based fertilizer.


Perlite is a type of volcanic glass that’s been expanded by heating. Its large size makes the soil mix porous and well-draining, making it one of the favorite soil amendments of many gardeners.

It creates air pockets in the soil that allow air to reach the root zone and water to drain away quickly. This helps prevent water from accumulating in the root zone and reduces the risk of overwatering.

Perlite is also extremely lightweight. It won’t add much weight to the pot, making it easier for you to move your Aglaonema whenever you please.

Coarse Sand

Coarse sand works the same as perlite when added to soil mix. It has large particles that create air pockets in the soil, making it more porous and improving its draining capacity.

When mixed with clay soil, coarse sand can help improve the soil structure by preventing compaction and creating a friable or crumbly texture. This allows for better root penetration and development.


Vermicompost is typically composed of worm castings; that’s why the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, vermicompost contains some decomposed organic matter and beneficial microorganisms, not just worm casting.

It contains many essential nutrients and micronutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and zinc. Adding it to the soil mix can promote healthy growth by providing your Aglaonema with a consistent supply of nutrients.

Peat Moss

Peat moss is composed of decomposing dead plant material, usually sphagnum moss. It’s naturally acidic, which is great for Sglaonema plants since they thrive in slightly acidic soil mix.

It has impressive water-holding capacity, making it an excellent choice for improving your soil mix’s moisture retention. It also helps prevent soil compaction despite its excellent moisture-retention capacity, so the roots won’t suffer from suffocation.

If you can’t find peat moss, use coco coir as an alternative. Just note that coco coir is pH neutral, so you might need to add sulfur to the soil to make it slightly acidic.

Soil Mix Recipes for Aglaonema

Soil Mix Recipes for Aglaonema

Recipe 1

  • 30% loam soil
  • 20% perlite
  • 25% vermicompost
  • 25% peat moss

This is a well-draining, porous soil mix with good moisture retention capacity, making it suitable for growing aglaonema plants. Loam soil has good moisture retention and drainage, so it’s one of the best soil mix bases.

The draining capacity of the mix is further improved by perlite, while its water-holding capacity is enhanced by peat moss. The vermicompost component, on the other hand, enriches the soil mix, creating a nutrient-rich growing medium for your aglaonema.

You may need to add more perlite or peat moss depending on your region’s weather and temperature. Warmer temperatures will dry out your soil faster, so you may need to add more peat moss, while soil mix for colder temperatures will need more perlite.

Recipe 2

  • 25% clay
  • 25% sand
  • 15% perlite
  • 10% peat moss
  • 25% vermicompost

This is a good soil mix for those with only clay at home. The 1:1 ratio of clay and sand, along with 15% perlite, creates a well-draining soil mix base for your aglaonema and prevents waterlogged conditions.

The amount of peat moss is significantly lower than in the first recipe since clay retains more moisture. Vermicompost will also stock more moisture, so there’s no need for a lot of peat.

This mix is recommended for experienced gardeners since clay tends to be harder to work with than loam.

Signs That Aglaonema Is in the Wrong Soil

Wilting or Drooping Leaves

Heavy or poorly draining soil can restrict root respiration, making it difficult for the roots to access air and water. This lack of air and moisture will impair the roots’ ability to absorb essential nutrients like nitrogen, leading to wilting or drooping leaves.

Poor soil structure also means higher chances of root rot since water is likely to pool around the root zone. If not addressed immediately, the leaves will start falling, and the plant may eventually die.

Stunted Growth

Similar to wilting or drooping leaves, stunted growth is typically caused by heavy compacted soil. This is because when the soil compacts, there is limited space for oxygen to enter and reach the roots, hampering respiration.

If the roots can’t respirate properly, your aglaonema won’t be able to convert nutrients and moisture into energy, which it uses to grow. This is why you’ll notice that the plant grows slower the more compact the soil becomes.

Additionally, if the soil is too acidic or alkaline, the roots can’t properly absorb nutrients even when they receive enough oxygen.

Lack of Flowers

While the flowers of aglaonema are the main ornamental feature of the plant, the lack of flowers during the blooming season can indicate that you’re not using the ideal soil for aglaonema plants.

An aglaonema that’s not producing flowers is typically stressed for various reasons. There may be a nutrient imbalance in the soil, or the pH is significantly out of the ideal range, forcing the plant to give up reproduction and focus on survival.

Moreover, if there’s a salt buildup in the soil due to poor drainage, the plant can also suffer from stress.