Can you please identify this house plant?

Asked November 3, 2015, 1:01 PM EST

I need to identify this plant so I can figure out what is wrong with it. Leaves keep turning brown and the tips are brown. It seems very sad! It was my mom's so it is very sentimental to me. Please help!

Kentucky houseplants plant identification home horticulture kentucky aglaonema

4 Responses

You're right..it's looking pretty sad. How long and wide are the leaves? Are they slightly thick--not succulent-thick like jade plant leaves, but thicker than most houseplant leaves? Once we identify it, we'll be more able to help you save it, and possibly propagate new plants to back up the one you have that's growing older.

The leaves are about 2 inches wide at the widest part of the leaf. They are around 4 inches long. The thickness does seem slightly thick I suppose. I have never had another houseplant that I could keep alive for long except this one. I really don't even know basic care. I have managed to keep it alive(barely) by just watering it with about 2 cups of water when it seems completely dry, maybe about once a week..I have it about 12 feet from a window with a mini blind that doesn't get opened often, I was afraid to give it much sun for fear of burning the leaves. It gets a little sun through the mini blind but not alot. I was thinking maybe it needs new soil but I am terrified I will hurt it more if I do anything! Do you know if I am even watering it properly and giving it too much/too little sun. Thank you so much for responding, I really appreciate it! I would love to know how to propagate new plants too! I can send more pics too if that would help identify.

I think your plant is Aglaonema, probably Aglaonema commutatum. Here is how to care for it.

The plant needs bright diffuse light, but NOT direct sun. If grown without bright light, perhaps near an east window, it will get "leggy," like your plant is currently. Check your plant weekly--do NOT overwater. If you have it in bright light as suggested, you want to water it when the potting soil is dry to a depth of about 2-3 inches. Put yourself on a weekly schedule (put it on your calendar)--check the plant weekly, and see if it needs watered. If you do this a couple weeks in a row, you will figure out the right interval for watering. Water thoroughly until water runs out from the bottom of the pot, but DO NOT let the bottom of the pot sit in water or the excess water will suffocate the roots and kill the plant. You can use a houseplant fertilizer when you water, following directions on the label, beginning in the spring, and continuing through autumn. Do not fertilize in the winter, and allow the plant to get a bit dryer in the winter before watering.

On your weekly plant check-ups, remove any yellowing leaves. You can also pinch off new leaves to promote a bushier plant. Or, since you want to bring your mother's plant back to healthy life, you can cut the growing tip off the end of the plant, just below a node, and root it to create a new plant. While Agaoema are an easy plant to root in water, water roots do very poorly when planted in soil (that is if they don't break off in the process). Detach a 2- to 6-inch piece of stem, including the terminal leaf bud. Make the cut just below a node (node = where a leaf attaches to the stem) . Remove lower leaves that would touch or be below the medium (I would suggest a 50:50 peat/perlite mix-check your local nursery). Dip the stem in rooting hormone. Gently tap the end of the cutting to remove excess hormone. Make a hole in the medium with a pencil or pot label, and insert the cutting deeply enough into the media to support itself.

Make sure that the soil doesn't dry out. In a couple of weeks you should see the leaves start to perk up again as their new roots are now able to draw up water. You can then plant the rooted cutting in its own pot, or plant it at the base of the original plant.

Thank you so much for taking the time to identify this. I Googled the name and pictures popped up that have identical leaves! I will open the blinds and keep it sunnier in the room and follow your watering instructions. I guess I should wait until it gets a little healthier before I cut anything off to propagate a new plant. I cut off the yellow leaves today though. Thanks again!!!