Aspidistra Elatior

Cast Iron Plant

The Cast Iron plant (Aspidistra Elatior) receives its common name for its ability to withstand neglect. A nice and easy to care for foliage house plant.

Even the worst plant neglecter can keep the A. elatior alive and well with its tolerant attitude to light, dry air and lack of watering.

There are still a few conditions a grower has to provide and take care of, which are very easy. Over-watering and re-potting too often seem to be the main problems that can cause this species problems.

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Picture of a cast iron plant

A native to Japan and Taiwan the Aspidistra elatior is a hardy garden plant and very easy to grow ornamental plant for indoors. It has been known to bloom tiny flowers near the base of the foliage, although this seems to be a very rare occasion for growers - so its mainly grown for its foliage.

How it looks and leaves: There is a green foliage type and a variegated that displays cream colored stripes along the outer edge and/or the center of each leaf. The base of the leaves are rolled, then opens out and narrows in to a point. The linear leaves grow over a foot long and 5 inches wide - which display prominent ribs.

Each of the leaves are grown from a stem that can be separated with its roots for growing new plants. You may also want to clean the leaves with a soft sponge (and water) to keep them looking attractive and dust free.

Did you know?: Your probably too young to remember Gracie Fields (very famous), well she created a hit song called the "biggest aspidistria in the world" back in the 1930s. Some of you may remember the Parkinson show (if your from the UK ), well Gracie Fields sang it on the show.


Origin: Japan & Taiwan.
Names: Cast iron plant (common). Aspidistra elatior (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Height 36 in (91 cm).
Poisionous for pets: Non-toxic to cats and dogs.
aspidistra picture

Cast Iron Plant Care

Temperature: Average warmth is fine of approximately 60-75°F (15-24°C) and no lower than 45°F (8°C). They will tolerate much lower temperatures.
Light: A brightly lit room is good but not essential. They're fine with low levels of light, but it's best to keep them out of direct sunlight which will damage the leaves.
Watering: Water once the top one inch of soil becomes dry. Water less during winter and do not over water. Over watering to the degree that the soil becomes soggy for a period of time - can cause the plant to die. The Aspidistra elatior is drought tolerant so if it misses being watered even for a month it will look unwell but be right back with you once care and water is given again.
Soil: Most well draining potting mixes will suffice and good drainage holes at the bottom of the pot is advised.
Fertilizer: During the main growing season (spring - summer) feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer which is diluted, once a month.
Re-Potting: Re-pot only when needed (spring) or once every 2 - 3 years.
Humidity: Average house humidity is advised but the cast iron plant can tolerate dry air conditions.
Propagation: Propagate by division when its re-potting time.
Pruning: Prune leaves at the stem (near to the soil as possible) when they are deteriorating. When you have too many stems and the plant becomes oversized the plant can be divided (roots and stems). Divisions can be re-potted to create new cast iron plants.

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