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How to Grow Cast-Iron Plant — Aspidistra

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Aspidistra–commonly called the Cast-iron plant–is a good choice for tough growing situations. Broad dark green leaves are upright; they need minimal care apart from regular water.

Aspidistra has stiff, glossy, evergreen leaves. They can withstand heat, dust, poor soil, and dim light. The flowers are dark-colored and borne close to the ground where they are hidden by the foliage; they are not effective and usually not noticed.

Aspidistra is propagated by dividing the roots in early spring.

A variegated variety is occasionally seen, but the variegation rapidly disappears if the plant is given rich soil.

Get to know Aspidistra

  • Plant type: Subtropical evergreen perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: outdoors in 8-11
  • Hardiness: Good choice for shady places
  • Height and width: 24 to 36 inches (60-90cm) tall and wide
  • Foliage: Upright growth habit; leaves grow to 30 inches (75cm) and 4 inches wide; dark green leaves
  • Temperature: Best with an average temperature of 50°F (10°C)
  • Flowers: Small, bell-shaped purple blooms form at the base of the plant
  • Uses: Grow in the landscape in the South; grow as a groundcover beneath trees; grow in containers indoors
  • Common name: Cast-Iron Plant
  • Botanical name: Aspidistra elatior
  • Family: Aspleniaceae
  • Origin: The Himalayas, China, and Japan

Where to plant Aspidistra

  • Aspidistra outdoors grows best in medium light and dislikes direct sun.
  • Grow indoors in average indoor temperatures and average household humidity.
  • Aspidistra adapt easily to poor soil. Plant in soil except one that is soggy and wet.
  • Sandy soil enriched with organic matter.

Planting and spacing Aspidistra

  • Aspidistra spread slowly into thick clumps of large, dark green leaves.
  • Space Aspidistra 24 to 36 inches (60-90cm) apart.

How to water and feed Aspidistra

  • Allow soil to dry slightly between waterings; dislikes constantly wet soil.
  • Water when dry and temperatures are high.
  • Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer in spring and again in summer.
Cast-iron plant, Aspidistra
Cast-iron plant, Aspidistra

Aspidistra care

  • Rinse or wipe off the plant’s broad leaves once a month or so with water.

Growing Aspidistra as a houseplant

  • Aspidistra requires little care and can survive under adverse conditions.
  • Aspidistra grows best in a cool temperature, medium humidity, and bright light, but can adapt to low light.
  • Keep the soil relatively dry.
  • Fertilize Aspidistra regularly in spring and summer.

Aspidistra common problems

  • Too much sun and lack of moisture can turn leaves crispy brown on the edges.
  • Spider mites occasionally attack the foliage; control pests by washing the leaves monthly with plain water

Aspidistra propagation

  • Divide the roots in early spring and replant in fresh mix; plant two or three pieces together in each pot.

Aspidistra varieties to grow

  • Aspidistra elatior, cast iron plant. Dark green leaves grow to 30 inche long and 4 inches across. Variegated cultivar is Aspidistra elatior ‘Variegata’, green leaves with creamy or white stripes.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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