The nickname Cast Iron Plant tells you everything you need to know about Aspidistra elatior. Much like cast iron, this plant is basically indestructible. This leafy beauty is resilient and adaptable and will survive for an impressive amount of time, receiving limited care or all-out neglect. Also known as Bar Room Plant, the Cast Iron Plant is a member of the Asparagaceae family and native to Japan and Taiwan. Cast Iron Plants grow outdoors in zones 7 through 11, but this low-maintenance charmer also makes a wonderful houseplant. Here is what you need to know about Cast Iron Plant care.
Types of Cast Iron Plant
The lance-shaped foliage of the Cast Iron Plant gently arches along the midrib and features subtle striations or grooves that run from the stem to the tip. The dark green leaves emerge from thin stems that grow in a rosette form and have a glossy sheen. Some cultivars have cream or yellow variegation, but solid green is the most readily available variety.
The overall look is rather minimal, but this plant’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Mature plants stand two to three feet tall, and the leaves can grow up to 4 inches wide. Some of the more common Cast Iron Plants available include:
- Aspidistra elatior ‘Asahi’
- Aspidistra elatior ‘Hoshi-zora’
- Aspidistra elatior ‘Lennon’s Song’
- Aspidistra elatior ‘Okame’
- Aspidistra elatior ‘Vaiegata’
- Aspidistra lurida ‘Milky Way’
- Aspidistra yingjiangensis ‘Singapore Sling’
Cast Iron Plant Light Requirements
Medium to low light is best for proper Cast Iron Plant care. Light is important for all plants, but the Cast Iron Plant is one of the rare houseplants that can live in low light. Just two to four hours of sunlight keeps Aspidistra elatior growing. Locate this leafy plant near a north-facing window.
Cast Iron Plants are generally slow growers, but the amount of sunlight the plant receives dictates the growth rate. Plants in medium light will grow a bit faster than plants in low light. Spin the container a quarter turn each time you water the plant so each side receives sunlight and the stems do not begin to reach or lean towards the light.
How Often to Water Cast Iron Plant
Water Cast Iron Plants when the top couple of inches of soil are dry to the touch. Stick your finger in the soil to gauge the dampness. Overwatering is a serious problem that can harm the plant, so only water when necessary. Cast Iron Plants have a rhizome root system, and the plant stores water in its thick roots. It’s essential to wait until the plant has worked through its water reserve before giving it more water.
Plan to water Cast Iron Plants every seven to ten days during the summer but scale back to every other week during the winter.
Best Soil for Cast Iron Plant
Drainage is the only real soil requirement for Cast Iron Plant care. Rich soil is beneficial, and a slightly acidic to neutral pH will support growth, but it is not mandatory.
Temperatures between 60° to 75° F are best for Cast Iron Plant care. Most homes are comfortable for these plants but keep them away from heating or cooling vents because temperature swings could be problematic. If you move your plant to a porch or outdoor space in the summer, wait until the temperature is above 50° F, or err on the side of caution and wait until the temperature is closer to 60° F.
Average humidity provides excellent Cast Iron Plant care. This leafy plant can handle increased humidity, but decreased humidity is not good. Plants grown in dry conditions may need a boost from a humidifier or a pebble tray with water.
Cast Iron Plant Fertilizer
Cast Iron Plants are slow growers, so applying fertilizer will help these leafy plants become as full and lush as possible. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two to four weeks. Feed Cast Iron Plants when the plant is actively growing in the spring and summer. Apply fertilizer after watering the plant so the roots can better absorb nutrients and to prevent fertilizer burn. Stop fertilizing in the fall and winter when the plant is dormant.
Do Cast Iron Plant Bloom?
Cast Iron Plants are capable of blooming, but houseplants seldom do. Plants grown outdoors produce flowers with deep purple centers and cream borders. The flowers grow near the soil level and, while charming, do not stand out.
Pruning Cast Iron Plant
Remove brown leaves or damaged growth from Cast Iron Plants as it appears. Prune the plant in the spring to remove overgrowth as needed. Use clean, sharp shears to trim the plant and make cuts as close to the soil level as possible. Further help your plant look amazing and take your Cast Iron Plant care to the next level by rinsing the plant or wiping the leaves once a month. Clean leaves are better able to absorb sunlight.
When to Repot Cast Iron Plant
As slow growers, Cast Iron Plants do not need to be repotted often. Generally, plan to repot your plant every few years. When repotting, give the plant a one- to two-inch larger container with drainage and fresh soil. Unglazed or terra cotta containers let the soil completely dry out and aid in Cast Iron Plant care.
Cast Iron Plant Propagation
Prune Cast Iron Plants via division. Division is the process of separating one large plant into several smaller plants. It is often easier to divide a plant when repotting. Remove the plant from its pot, and gently work the root ball apart. You may need to trim some roots to separate the plants. Repot each new plant in a container one to two inches larger than the root ball.
Is Cast Iron Plant Pet Friendly?
The leafy Cast Iron Plant can safely share a home with pets. These plants are non-toxic. It’s clearly not ideal if your pet nibbles on houseplants, but you can rest easy knowing your furry friend is safe if they eat your Cast Iron Plant.
Cast Iron Plants are an excellent choice for low-light areas, so if you are looking for a lush, leafy plant for a dim corner, then your search is over. Small plants make wonderful tabletop plants, but get a plant stand to show this stunner off when it reaches full size. The upright growth habit means the container will be on display, so select a plant pot that matches your style and decor.
Cast Iron Plant Care Tips
The Cast Iron Plant has a well-deserved reputation for being incredibly easy to maintain. The ability to thrive in low light and a natural drought tolerance largely make this leafy plant easy to grow. If you are new to houseplants, looking for a gift, or want to add greenery to a dim hallway, then consider the Cast Iron Plant.