The Cast Iron Plant, or Aspidistra elatior, has been a favourite houseplant since Victorian times due to its incredibly hardy, or 'cast iron' constitution - hence its common name. It is tolerant of very low light levels, dust, fumes and general neglect. However, it is more than just a plant for difficult locations.
Aspidistras have long, dark green ovate leaves held upright on quite long stalks. The large leaves, which can grow as long as 75cm, are quite tough and the plant is also slow-growing.
In Victorian houses, the plant was often displayed in special pots, or jardinieres, that had a characteristic shallow urn shape, and they were often highly decorated.
An especially unusual feature of the plant is its rarely-seen flowers. They grow close to the ground and resemble small fungi - and they are pollinated by fungus gnats, which are usually considered a nuisance when found among houseplants.
Aspidistras are found on the forest floor in dense shade in temperate areas of Southern Japan. The species is hardy to approx. -5C, so is ideal for unheated spaces or even outdoors in milder parts of the UK as long as it is kept in shady spots.
The plant is tolerant of very low light levels and should be kept out of direct sunlight
Aspidistras can tolerate irregular watering, and do not like to be kept wet
The plant should not be pruned, but dead leaves should be cut back using a sharp knife or secateurs as close to the base of the plant as possible
A weak solution of fertilizer should be added to the water at every watering
Pest & Diseases
Mostly pest free, but you may find the occasional mealybug or scale insect, which should be removed when seen.
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