A herbaceous perennial native to China and Japan, the Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a popular houseplant that belongs to the lily family. The cast iron plant is well known for its pleasant aesthetics with its deep green arching foliage and merits its name due to its capability to survive a wide range of extreme temperatures and harsh conditions, unlike many other plants. 

The leaves of aspidistra elatior are long, stiff, pointy, and glossy; whereas the flowers of this plant are bell-shaped and lilac in color (sometimes even brown or green) which are borne at its base. Aspidistra also bears small berry fruits. 

The iron plant has a slow pace of growth not showing much maturation over time. The plant grows up to two to three feet tall upon maturity, with a span of one to two feet.

Types of Aspidistra Elatior

cast iron plant

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The aspidistra plant has a classification of three types:

  1. Ashahi – As the plant grows, the leaves of this variety develop white tips.
  2. ‘Okame’ also called ‘Variegata’ – This type of aspirada has variegated foliage of white and green leaves, instead of the uniform deep green herbage. 
  3. ‘Lennon’s Song’ – The leaves of this variant are adorned with a pattern of yellow or light green vertical stripes. 

Irrespective of the variant, all aspidistras have the same requirements for their care and growth. So continue reading till further down to get a deep insight on how to nurture your cast iron plant step by step and troubleshoot its common problems.

A Complete Guide to care and growth of Cast Iron plants

cast iron plant

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Light

The cast iron plants grow wonderfully in dim and airy spaces. Although they can survive in direct sunlight, keep the plant away from direct sunlight as it may burn the leaves. While using the aspirada as an indoor plant, you may place it near north-facing windows, but further away from other windows. When placed outside, the plant should be kept in shady areas hidden away from direct sunlight. 

Water

Although the cast iron plant is wondrously drought-tolerant, it thrives well in humid environments and does need some water, especially when the top inch of its soil becomes dry. However, don’t overwater the plant as it may cause root-rot which can further result in the death of the plant. You can reduce the frequency of watering the aspirada during winters. 

Soil

In outdoor environments, sandy or clay soils are suitable for the plant’s growth. While using the cast iron plant as a houseplant, the potting soil in the compost base should maintain a ph value between 5.5 to 6.5. 

Humidity

Although the aspirada elatior enjoys humidity, it is not an important factor for the plant. 

Temperature

The cast-iron plants aren’t too fussy about temperatures. However, the suitable range of temperature for their growth is 7 to 9 degrees Celcius /45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When the plant is being grown outside in a container, it is advisable to bring it back indoors when the temperature drops so it can continue to grow comfortably in a relatively warmer environment. 

Fertilizer 

In the months of summer and spring, fertilize your aspirada plant every fortnight with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. You can skip the fertilization step during the fall and winter months. To avoid the burning of the plant roots, the fertilizer should be applied only after watering the plant. However, it is important to remember that even after fertilization the growth of the plant remains slow and steady. 

Maintaining a healthy cast-iron plant

cast iron plant

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Here are some more tips to continue nurturing your cast iron plant over time-

Cleaning– Use two separate soft tissue cloths to sandwich each leaf between them and clean it till the top point to reveal its healthy luster. Doing this once every month will help the leaves to absorb more light and in keeping away the pests from your precious plant. 

Pruning– It is advisable to carry out the significant pruning procedure during the months of summer and spring, while you can continue removing the dead or dry leaves throughout the whole year. Make use of sharp and clean shears while pruning your aspirada to get rid of any unwanted growth and foliage at the stem base. 

Repotting– Being from the rhizomatous family and a slow pace of growth, cast iron plants do not require frequent repotting and can go up to four to five years without potting. You can re-pot the plant as per the requirement every other year, preferably in the springtime. 

  • When to repot-Watch out for when the plant starts to outgrow the pot or its roots are extending over the edge. The young plants should not be repotted more than once annually, while for the mature plants the same can be done once every three or four years. 
  • Soil and Size of pot – For repotting use standard potting soil and a somewhat bigger nursery pot, say 2” larger in diameter than the present one.

Propagation of a healthy cast-iron plant

cast iron plant

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Below listed are the instructions that you can follow to easily propagate your cast iron plant through division.

  • Pull out a mature aspirada from its pot.
  • Gently remove a rhizome with your hands that include at least two leaves for propagation. 
  • Take a small pot with some fresh potting soil and place the rhizome in it. Furthermore, cover it with some more soil to 2 cm below the rim of the pot and press it down firmly from the top. 
  • Keep the soil warm and moist through watering until your plant takes root and new shoots begin to sprout. 

Common problems associated with Aspidistra Elatior

cast iron plant

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aspidistra elatior

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aspidistra elatior

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aspidistra elatior

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aspidistra elatior

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Browning or yellowing of leaves

This change in the color of leaves occurs mostly due to waterlogged soil or exposure to direct sunlight. Keep it in mind to not overwater your plant and place it away from direct light. Furthermore, use clean scissors or blade to cut off any damaged leaves from the base of the stem. 

Brown tips of leaves

The most likely cause for the browning tip of the iron plant is under-watering. Although known for its resilience, the plant should not be neglected for too long. Another probable reason for the brown tips can be mineral accumulation, especially in the areas where the mineral content of the tap water is too high. To solve this problem, leave a watering can out overnight before you water the plants.

Speckles or discoloration of leaves

The cast-iron plants are susceptible to pests such as spider mites that result in the appearance of small speckles on the leaves. You can save your plant by washing it with cold water to shed off the webs and mites and further treating the infested areas with neem oil or any other natural pesticide. 

Conclusion

aspidistra elatior

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aspidistra elatior

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aspidistra elatior

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Cast-iron plants are highly attractive, resilient, and reliable. They are low maintenance and not easily affected by any disease, which makes it nearly indestructible.  aspirada can be used in numerous places around the house as per your choice and are indeed one of the best pet-plants you can possess.

I hope you like this blog and keep coming to Homedesignnow for more interesting tips and ideas on home improvement and decoration.