How to Save a Dying Aglaonema

How to Save a Dying Aglaonema

No gardener wants to see their beloved houseplants on death’s doorstep! If you are troubled by brown or yellow leaves on your Aglaonema that do not seem to improve despite all your care and attention, then it might be time to do some deeper investigation.

There are many possible reasons your Aglaonema may be dying. Inappropriate watering and a lack of proper care are the leading causes, but external stressors such as cold drafts, too much sunlight, and pests might also come into play.

If you are searching for tips on how to save a dying Aglaonema, you should find this guide helpful. Read on to learn about common Aglaonema plant issues and how you can solve them, one by one!

Why is my Aglaonema dying?

Aglaonema is actually a very easy plant to grow! Also known as Chinese evergreen, this beautiful, hardy plant can survive low light conditions and is highly resistant to common plant diseases. No wonder it is such a popular houseplant for both experienced and novice growers!

Sometimes, though, despite being tough and disease-resistant, the Chinese evergreen might still suffer from issues that require immediate attention. Drooping, browning or yellowing of the leaves are just some of the early signs of plant distress. If the underlying issues are not resolved, the condition can progress to irreversible damage that may eventually kill the plant.

Undoubtedly, root rot and fungal disease are the leading causes of a dying Aglaonema. These conditions are triggered by overwatering, the use of poorly-draining pots or soil, watering at night, regular misting, and incorrect pot size. 

Plant roots are delicate and can easily suffocate in waterlogged soil. Without proper aeration, the roots will not be able to breathe enough oxygen to carry out their vital functions. Eventually, they will start to decompose. At this point, bacterial and fungal pathogens can hasten the rotting process, sending your Aglaonema to an untimely demise.

Aside from root rot, your Chinese evergreen can also be killed by other environmental stressors, especially if it is neglected for too long. These include:

  • Underwatering
  • Frost or exposure to cold temperatures
  • Sunburn caused by direct sunlight exposure
  • Overfeeding
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Lack of proper sunlight
  • Severe pest infestations

After reading all these possible issues, you might be wondering how to begin saving your dying Aglaonema. Unfortunately, there is no single solution for this – every issue requires a different treatment approach. So, going by your plant’s symptoms, you will need to determine  the specific culprit before deciding on which possible fix will help your Chinese evergreen recover.

Tips to save a dying Aglaonema

As mentioned, there are many ways to save a dying Aglaonema, depending on the problem. It is therefore important to understand what your plant is going through before applying any of the solutions below:

1. Avoid overwatering

Overwatering your Aglaonema can drown its roots and severely limit the oxygen and nutrients available for your plant. Hence, as with all plants, you should never overestimate the water requirements of your umbrella plant, or you risk water stress and root rot. 

The symptoms of an overwatered Aglaonema include mushy stems and roots, deformation and discoloration of the leaves, stunted growth, and decomposing roots.

How do you save an overwatered Aglaonema?

Prevention is always the best route when it comes to plant care. First, know the correct time to water your Aglaonema. Since your watering schedule might depend on certain factors like the weather conditions or the season, it is always best to check the soil’s moisture before watering. You can do this by pushing your finger into the soil or through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot to get a better idea of how damp or dry the soil really is before you go ahead and water.

In the event that you have overwatered your plant and want to reverse the damage, here are the steps you need to follow to revive your Aglaonema:

  • Gently lift the overwatered Aglaonema from its pot.
  • Using sterilized pruning shears, trim away any damaged roots, stems, and leaves.
  • Place the plant on some old newspapers and leave it overnight to dry.
  • Repot your Aglaonema in a new pot that has adequate drainage holes. Make sure to use a breathable potting mix to prevent too much water retention. 
  • You can also add some stones to the bottom of the pot before adding the soil. This will also help the excess water drain away when you water the plant.

2. Protect your plant from cold drafts

The ideal temperature range for healthy growth in Chinese evergreens is between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If you notice your plant’s leaves turning yellow or developing dark patches, it is possible that it has been exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Frost and cold temperatures are a weakness for Aglaonemas; if left in cold environments for too long, these plants will simply stop metabolizing and will eventually die.

Here are some quick fixes to help save your plant from dying:

  • Move your Aglaonema to a new location with warmer temperatures.
  • Trim the damaged leaves but make sure not to cut more than three leaves at a time. Remove only the worst parts to avoid stressing your plant.
  • Never place your Aglaonema near an open window or in a space that gets cold drafts.
  • Also do not place your plant near any heating device.

3. Avoid over-exposure to sunlight

Like all plants, your Chinese evergreen needs sunlight to survive. However, exposure to full sunlight will absolutely burn its leaves. You will notice the foliage curl and turn pale as the Aglaonema reacts to the sun’s scorching heat.

Here is how to save your dying Aglaonema from sunburn:

  • Trim off the yellowed or browned leaves. Do not remove droopy leaves, as these will return to their usual shape once your plant recovers.
  • Move your Chinese evergreen to a shadier area. Windows facing the north or east are usually ideal; avoid south-facing windows as they tend to receive too much sunlight.

4. Treat pests infestations immediately

Pests can leave your Aglaonema weakened and yellow. If you notice these crawlers on the undersides of the leaves and along the stems, you need to act right away to get rid of them.

Unfortunately, if the pests have severely damaged your plant, it can be challenging to save it from death. At this point, it may be best to discard the infested plant and plant a new one. 

If the infestation is light, you have a better chance of saving your plant. Here are some tips:

  • Isolate the infested Aglaonema right away to prevent the bugs spreading to your other houseplants.
  • Clean the leaves and stems one by one using a cloth or cotton wool dipped in warm, soapy water. You can also use isopropyl alcohol diluted in water to remove the insects.
  • Treat your plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Continue the treatment for a couple of weeks until all the pests are gone.

5. Look for signs of copper deficiency

Copper is an essential micronutrient responsible for enzymatic activities and chlorophyll production in your plant. If your Aglaonema is struggling with copper deficiency, its leaves will become small, yellow, and deformed.

Nutrient deficiency is often a result of damaged roots, inadequate fertilizing, root-bound issues, or poor soil quality.

Aglaonemas suffering from nutrient deficiency can be saved by:

  • Feeding with liquid fertilizers for faster absorption. We highly recommend products like 13Essentials Foliar Spray Fertilizer to ensure your plant receives the macro and micronutrients essential for stronger growth. Make sure to fertilize your plant every month during the growing season, but restrict your application during winter. 
  • Repotting your Chinese evergreen every two years, or when it becomes root-bound. Use a well-draining potting mix to ensure better growth.

Will my Aglaonema bounce back?

Your Aglaonema requires basic plant care, including indirect sunlight, proper watering, nutrient-dense soil, and the right temperatures, to thrive. As long as your plant grows under these favorable conditions, it should bounce back fairly quickly.

However, plants that are severely damaged or infested might struggle to recover. If all the leaves have turned brown or yellow, then it might be too late to save your plant. Hence, it is best to protect your plant from such irreversible damage before it happens, so that you can enjoy its beautiful foliage for years to come.


Most problems in Chinese evergreens, provided they are caught early, are fairly easy to fix. If you have made an effort to correct your plant care routine, this hardy houseplant should bounce back to life in no time! However, it will be a lot more difficult to save a plant that has lost all of its leaves or is severely infested. At this point, disposing of the heavily damaged plant is probably your best option. Start over with a fresh, new plant and apply the lessons you have learned to prevent future problems.

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