A stunning plant, the Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah is popular with homeowners everywhere, and makes just about every “top house plants” list that has ever been made. It is easy to care for, beautiful to look at, and brings a good splash of color to any indoor space.
An Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plant needs moderate indirect light and warm temperatures to grow, but is otherwise easy to please. They will grow in most parts of the home, but won’t grow outside unless you live in a warm, humid place.
Indoor vs Outdoor Growing
These plants come from tropical regions in New Guinea and Asia, and they are also called Chinese Evergreens. They are adapted to tropical forest floors, so they like humid, tropical spaces. You will need to grow them indoors unless you live somewhere warm; they do not like cold weather.
Growing them indoors, you should find them easy plants that don’t need a lot of time and attention. They are generally not too fussy, provided you keep them above 59° F. That may mean moving them away from windows or doors in the winter, especially if your home is drafty.
They also don’t like too much sun, so if you are somewhere that allows you to grow them outdoors, make sure you plant them in a shady enough location to avoid their leaves getting burnt.
Best Location For Your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah
You can grow an Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah anywhere in your home that is reasonably warm and shady. These plants shouldn’t be put on the windowsills or in direct sunlight; they prefer indirect light, and not too much of it.
One of the great advantages of this plant is its high tolerance for shade, in fact, so it’s ideal if you have rooms that don’t get a lot of light, where other plants might struggle to survive. However, it won’t grow if the conditions are too dark, so don’t try to grow it away from all natural light unless you can provide a grow lamp.
Because these plants like humid conditions, they often do well in bathrooms. These rooms usually have low light, as well, so they provide an ideal environment for the plant. However, if you would rather put your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah somewhere that you can fully enjoy it, it should cope in a living room or office just fine as long as the light isn’t too strong.
You might be wondering how to tell if your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah isn’t getting enough light. The best way to check is to examine the foliage. If it seems to be losing its color or your plant is growing long, leggy tendrils that are reaching toward the light, it may be struggling with too much shade.
Try elevating it or putting it closer to a window, but don’t keep it in the direct sun. Medium to low indirect light is usually the best way to keep this plant happy. It will also enjoy fluorescent lights, making it a popular office plant.
Soil For An Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah
Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants like well-draining soil. They will cope fine with compost, but you should add some drainage material such as perlite or gravel to the bottom of the pot to ensure the plant’s roots don’t end up sitting in water.
Peat moss is a good addition to your plant’s pot. You may also want to include vermiculite. The soil should dry out a little between waterings, making sure the roots don’t stay sodden. Being constantly wet will make the plant vulnerable to rotting.
On the whole, Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants aren’t too fussy about their soil, and you can use any well-draining mix. Compost can be purchased from nurseries or garden centers, and you can stir in some perlite or gravel at home. Try to get this near the bottom of the container so your plant’s roots can grow freely.
Watering Your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah
Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants prefer to dry out in between waterings. As mentioned, they are vulnerable to root rot if they are not allowed to dry out a bit, and this will kill your plant amazingly fast; it won’t be able to take in any nutrients or water if its roots all die back.
You should only water your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah when the soil has begun to dry out. To check this, you can push the tip of your finger into the surface of the soil. Aim to go about an inch down. If the soil feels damp, your plant doesn’t need watering yet.
Another good way to check is to pick up the container. A container that feels heavy is still wet and the plant doesn’t need more water. If the container is light and easy to lift, it’s time to water it.
The plant’s foliage may go a little limp when it is thirsty, so keep an eye on this too. However, this can also be a result of over-watering, so use the other two methods to check if your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah needs a drink yet or not.
If the soil has got very dry, it might take a while to soak in new moisture. Stand your plant’s pot in a bowl of water for a while; this will allow time for the soil to soak it up. However, don’t leave it standing in water for more than about ten minutes or so.
If in doubt, err on the side of watering too little; this plant does not enjoy too much water. You should try to avoid splashing the leaves when watering. Aim to just water the surface of the soil, rather than getting the foliage wet. Damp foliage could attract pests and is more vulnerable to fungal infections.
Humidity For Your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah
Any plant that comes from tropical or sub-tropical regions will enjoy high levels of humidity, and if you have an Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plant, it will probably like humid rooms better than dry ones. On the whole, though, this plant will be happy even in drier conditions than its native home offers.
Because Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants are quite hardy, you will rarely need to increase the humidity level in order for the plant to thrive. It should manage quite happily unless it is in a particularly dry environment, so don’t worry about it too much.
However, in winter, your home is likely to be a little too dry for it. Indoor heating, closed windows, and cold outdoor temperatures can lead to a drop in humidity (and our homes are already unnaturally dry environments), and this is the time when you should consider offering a little humidity boost to keep your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah happy.
You can mist your plant using a spray bottle a few times a week if you think it would like some extra humidity. To do this, simply spray a little water onto the leaves or the soil in the plant’s pot early on in the day. Spraying the soil will allow the water to slowly evaporate upwards and dampen the leaves.
You should only humidify your plant in the morning. It needs time to dry out before the end of the day, as having damp leaves overnight can lead to problems such as pests and mold. If your plant has got wet late in the day, you may want to put it somewhere warm to dry off, or pat the leaves dry with an absorbent cloth.
Because these plants don’t need misting often, a spray bottle may be the easiest and cheapest method for keeping your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah humid. However, if you would like an alternative, you could buy a humidifier and just turn this on when you need it.
Another option is to make a humidifying tray at home. To do this, you need a shallow tray with no holes in it and a small bag of pebbles or marbles.
Tip the marbles into the bottom of the tray, and then pour in a small amount of water. Make sure the water level stays below the top of the marbles. You can then stand the plant’s pot on the marbles and as the water slowly evaporates over the course of the day, it will humidify the plant.
While this is a good, low-maintenance method, it’s important to check that your plant isn’t getting too wet, or staying damp overnight. Take the plant away from the tray and let it dry off before evening, and don’t just leave it standing above water/near an active humidifier at all times, or it will be vulnerable to rotting.
Fertilizing Your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah
During the growing season (spring and summer), your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah will benefit from being fertilized in low doses. It does not need to be fertilized once it has gone dormant for the winter, and most of these plants will go dormant. When your plant stops growing, reduce the frequency with which you water it, and stop fertilizing it entirely until next spring.
You shouldn’t fertilize your plant unless it’s actively growing, as doing so could lead to a buildup of fertilizer in the soil. This may burn the plant’s roots.
When it is time to add fertilizer, try diluting it to half the recommended strength before adding it to your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plant’s pot. This will help to ensure that the plant is not over-fed (which again, could damage its roots).
You should aim to fertilize once or twice a month in the summer; this should be sufficient to keep the plant fed and growing nicely, without the need for more. If you have recently repotted your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah in fresh compost, you may not need to fertilize it for a few months, as there will be plenty of nutrients in the new growing medium.
Unfortunately, Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants are toxic to both people and pets, so if you are growing one in your home or office, you need to make sure that children and animals are kept away from it and not given an opportunity to ingest any part of this plant.
Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants contain insoluble calcium oxalates, and these are toxic to people. If you suspect either a person or a pet has eaten some of your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plant, you need to seek medical advice from a licensed professional immediately.
The symptoms of eating this plant include vomiting, drooling, and problems with swallowing. The person or pet might also have a swollen mouth or tongue.
You should place an Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plant well out of reach if you do have children or pets around.
Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants are nice and easy to propagate, which is great if you want to expand your collection of these beautiful plants, or if you’d like a few to gift to friends. You can do this at home with very little equipment, so it’s worth a shot, even if you’ve never propagated a plant before.
You should try to do this in spring or summer, rather than when the plant is slowing down or has become dormant for the winter. This will give you the best chance of getting a successful cutting.
Stem cuttings are an easy way to propagate the plant. To take a stem cutting, sterilize your scissors and choose a nice, healthy stem with five or more shoots. You should select an older part of the plant, not a new shoot.
Cut the stem at about seven or eight inches long. You now have a cutting you can propagate. Prepare a pot with a well-draining potting medium, and bury the cutting three inches deep in this medium.
Water lightly and put in a spot with bright but indirect light. Keep an eye on the cutting and water it when the soil dries out. After a couple of months, roots should be developing. Wait a while longer, and then transfer the plant to a new pot, and you have a brand new Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah to enjoy.
If you would rather propagate your plant’s roots, you can do that too. Loosen the soil around your plant’s roots, and examine the root ball. You will probably find that it is quite tangled, but you should be able to locate individual clumps of roots, which are joined to the rest by just a few shoots.
Separate one of these clumps gently with your fingers, being careful not to tear either the clump or the main root ball. Use a pair of sharp, sterile scissors to cut the clump free from the main root ball.
Get a pot of fresh, rich growing medium and plant the root clump about six centimeters down.
Gently moisten the soil and place the pot in indirect light, keeping the soil lightly damp. In a couple of months, you should see shoots, which can be transplanted into new containers.
You can follow this same propagation method using water instead of soil. To do this, submerge the roots in a jar of water, and again place them in indirect light and wait for a couple of months. You will need to change the water every few days to avoid stagnation, but otherwise, the method remains much the same.
Once the roots have developed, lift the new plants out of the jar and pot them in fresh soil.
Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants don’t mind being somewhat root bound, so you shouldn’t need to repot your plant too frequently. About once every three years is a good rule of thumb, depending on your plant and the conditions it grows in. Don’t transplant it into a massive pot; it prefers to be slightly crowded.
When you are ready to repot it, choose a container that is just a couple of inches bigger than the current one. This will ensure the plant is comfortable in the new pot. Fill the pot with a suitable potting mix, and add perlite or gravel near the bottom of the container for additional drainage. Make sure the pot also has good drainage holes.
You don’t have to get a new pot if you’re worried that your plant is running out of food. Simply refresh the compost or add fertilizer, and replant it in the same pot. You should only increase the pot size if your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah has outgrown its current container.
We’re going to cover some of the common questions that you might have about your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah.
How Often Should I Prune My Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah?
An Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah can be pruned about once a year to keep it healthy and bushy. Cutting the top off the plant will help encourage it to grow leaves lower down, ensuring it fills out nicely.
Prune from the bottom of the plant, removing damaged or dead leaves. You should use sharp, sterile scissors to cut off these leaves. Don’t prune the plant too hard; you don’t want to lose that lovely, bright foliage!
What Pests Am I Likely To See?
Like many tropical plants, Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah plants are vulnerable to mealybugs, especially if you keep them in a humid environment. You should check the underside of your plant’s leaves regularly to see if it is being attacked by these bugs. They often look like tiny balls of cotton.
If you find a plant has been infested with mealybugs, move it away from any neighboring plants and check them for signs of infection too. Any affected plants should be quarantined until you have dealt with the problem.
Mealybugs can be removed with neem oil or with water and a mild detergent. Make sure you wipe the plant down thoroughly, especially on the undersides of the leaves, where these bugs tend to hide. Leave the plant in a cool place to recover, and check for fresh signs of infestation in a couple of days.
Mealybugs and many of the other common plant pests (such as aphids, blackflies, etc.) leave signs of their presence as a sticky residue on the leaves – honeydew. If you notice this residue, your plant is under attack by something, and needs attention.
Most bugs can be dealt with by wiping the plants with neem oil or soapy water, but you should keep an eye out and make sure the treatment has been effective. Repeat treatments may sometimes be required.
Why Might My Plant Have Brown Leaves?
There are a few potential explanations for brown, curling leaves, but the most likely is that your plant is thirsty or it’s not getting enough humidity.
You should check whether your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah needs a drink by checking how moist the soil below the surface is. If the soil is dry, give it some water, and consider lightly misting the leaves to boost the humidity. This should help restore the plant’s color and texture.
Conversely, the soil may be too wet, and this can also lead to leaf browning – unfortunately due to root rot. This is a big problem that could kill your plant. You should let the soil dry out to a couple of inches below the surface before you consider watering again.
Alternatively, brown leaves can be caused by transplant shock. If you have recently transferred your Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah into a new pot and it is still settling in, it’s not uncommon for a few of the leaves to turn brown while the plant focuses its energy on putting out new roots.
Trim off brown or discolored leaves so that the plant will grow new foliage, and don’t worry – this is totally normal, and as long as your plant isn’t losing a lot of leaves are lost, it’s no cause for concern.
How Fast Do Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah Plants Grow?
Growth always depends on a range of factors, like soil richness, space, light levels, and the individual plant, but on the whole, these plants are fairly slow growers.
With a winter dormancy period, they can be surprisingly slow, and it may take quite some time for a new Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah to establish itself. When you propagate the plant, don’t expect a new full size Aglaonema Sparkling Sarah for several years – it takes time for these beauties to get big!