The Casting Iron Plant or Aspidistra elatior is a hard-to-kill indoor plant. This plant has gained this name because it can grow and survive in almost every condition and even negligence. It has arched, crossbow, dark green, shiny leaves that can grow up to 3 feet long and 4 inches wide. When planted outdoors, a Cast Iron Plant produces petite creamy and purple flowers around its base. However, there are fewer chances of seeing any blossoms in this plant when planted indoors. It is a slow-growing plant that can be grown in the spring season.
That being said, it is pretty straightforward to grow this Asian native plant. You can go for it since it requires minimal maintenance and can withstand low light, low humidity, sporadic watering, and temperature fluctuations. To be precise, if you are looking to grow a plant that doesn’t require much attention and aftercare, the Cast Iron Plant is for you.
Doesn’t it sound appealing? We’re certain it is. So, let’s look at cultivating and caring for these plants at home.
But before we jump to that section, let us explore some essential facts about this hardy plant.
Essential Facts About Cast Iron Plant
|General Name||Cast Iron Plant; Bar Room Plant|
|Botanic Name||Aspidistra elatior|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA zones 8- 10|
|Sunlight||Partial and shade|
|Soil pH level||Acidic to neutral|
|Maximum Height||2- 3 feet|
|Blossom Color||Cream and purple|
Types of Cast-Iron Plants
There are a few distinct varieties to consider when growing this plant.
#1. Alishan Green Giant
You can easily grow Alishan Green Giant indoors. Getting its name from Taiwan’s Mt. Alishan produces all-in-all green foliage without yellow fleckings.
#2. Lennon’s song
This variant grows long golden or white flame-shaped leaves.
Asahi, translated to the morning sun, grows long leaves with white streaks. If you want to grow a plant that brightens up your garden or room, this variant is for you.
#4. Hosi Zora
If you dream about a plant with leaves decked in stars, grow Hosi Zora. This variant produces bright green leaves with yellow star dots.
Another gorgeous Cats Iron variant, this one hails from the enchanting land of Japan and produces dark green leaves with vertical white stripes.
An extremely easy-to-grow variant, Variegate, can grow in adverse conditions like poor soil, bad lighting, and so on. In addition, its high adaptability makes it a good choice as an indoor plant.
Growing Cast Iron Plant
The Cast Iron Plant is a slow-growing plant that does not exhibit many changes over time. That said, growing them can be pretty easy and less time-consuming.
If you want your plant to grow and flourish, follow the below points. Then, we can ensure that you will reap the best-looking Cast Iron Plant with very minimum care and maintenance.
Although this plant is hardy and can survive any condition, you must not neglect its growing spot. By apt spot, we mean to choose an area that is debris-free, clean, and has well-drained and acidic to neutral soil.
Inside the home, you can choose a location that receives indirect sunlight. Then, place it gently downward from windows that receive direct light to avoid direct sunlight.
It is best to keep Cast Iron Plants in a partially shaded area. Although it does not mind bright sunlight, it is advisable not to keep it under direct scorching sunlight to avoid scorching the leaves.
Hence, you can plant your Iron Cast under a canopy or shade outside. But indoors, the plant container can be kept in a spot that receives partial light, like the near north-facing windows.
The ideal soil to grow your Cast Iron is moist and well-drained soil. Using good potting soil can be apt in this regard.
Check the soil and ensure that it is acidic to neutral. In this soil type, your plant will flourish and blossom. However, we would suggest aiming for a balanced pH range rather than extremes in either way.
Temperature & Humidity
This perennial herbaceous plant grows best in the USDA zones 8- 10. Climates of northern California and the southern United States are best to grow this plant.
It is ideal for growing your plant in a spot that receives daily temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Cast-iron plants are hardy to practically everything else, but they can’t flourish in cold weather. That being said, temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can be lethal to them.
As far as humidity is concerned, you don’t need to worry, as your plant does not need any specific humidity level to grow.
Caring for Cast Iron Plant
As we said, the Cast Iron Plant can be grown in any ambiance, and the plant can stand negligence. But this should not encourage you to neglect your plant, as doing so may cause issues like leaf drop, browning of leaves, root rotting, etc.
There’s good news- with the Cast Iron Plants, you do not need to spend much time watering.
Although your plant can withstand some drought, they prefer a reasonable moisture level in the soil. Therefore, you should water it regularly during its growing period. However, don’t over-water, as this plant needs moist soil but not a soggy one. Also, remember that root rot can be caused by damp or soggy soil for an extended period.
The golden rule is to check the soil’s moisture level by sticking a finger into it (for at least 1- 2 inches). Water only if you find the soil dry without the presence of any trace of water.
Maintaining a proper moisture level is necessary to give this plant the scope to flourish. And apart from watering regularly, you can also think of mulch around the root area. Mulching can help retain the soil’s moisture and keep the weeds at bay.
Your Cast Iron Plant is not a heavy feeder. So, you can fertilize it once a month. However, this frequency may depend on the type of fertilizer you are using.
If you are using a high-quality liquid fertilizer, you may need to apply it every month. On the other hand, every 2- 3 months will be apt in case of a slow-release fertilizer application.
That said, remember to fertilize only in the spring and summer months, and avoid doing it during the winter season. Also, to avoid scorching the roots, fertilize if the plant has been watered.
You can prune your plant to keep it in good shape. This process also helps in removing pests and dead leaves.
However, since this plant is self-maintaining, you don’t need to spend much time pruning it. Instead, what you can do is search out the older leaves and pinch them off. And if you notice any pest infestation, you can clip off leaves, though it would be a rare occasion.
As stated above, Cast Irons cannot stand freezing temperatures, and temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can be deadly for them. So, if your region receives cold to freezing months, it is advisable to bring your plant inside.
On the other hand, if you have indoor Cast Iron, move the container to a warmer place or receive sunlight most of the day.
#5. Pests & issues
Hardy plant means this plant can maintain itself, and on a rare occasion, you will find it infested with pests. Still, ruling out the possibility of pest infestation is not possible. That being said, your plant is susceptible to pests like spider mites and scales.
These pests can kill your plant if not removed. So, suppose you ever find any of these insects affecting your Cast iron. In that case, you can adopt a few steps, like whipping the leaves, spraying all leaf surfaces with neem oil, or applying a good insecticidal soap.
Other than pest infestation, this plant can also face some diseases when its environment and climate aren’t of their liking.
- Root rotting:
Aspidistra elatior cannot stand soggy soil. So, if you keep the plant’s soil too wet consistently, chances are high that its root will rot. Ensure that the top layer of the soil is dry for at least 2 inches before rewatering.
- Browning of leaves:
Aspidistra elatior is susceptible to the browning of leaves. Leaves can turn brown in case of high sun exposure. Monitor your plant during the day to ensure it is not exposed to direct sunlight and, if required, reposition it.
Also, make sure not to place the container air-conditioning vents to prevent exposure to high temperatures. The thumb rule is to safeguard your plant from extreme temperatures to keep its foliage evergreen.
- Browning tips of leaves:
Browning tips can be the consequence of overwatering or underwatering. So, as stated above, always water your plant only when it is dry at least 2 inches below the topsoil.
Propagating Cast Iron Plant
So, if you have fallen in love with Casting Iron Plants, you may want to propagate them. And the good news is that it’s quite simple to do so.
You can propagate these plants by division. Propagating would not only give you new plants at a much lower cost than what you can get from a nursery, but it also prevents overcrowding of mature plants.
Rot division of Cast Iron Plants is a relatively easy process to be undertaken. That being said, try to propagate during the spring months to give new plants time to establish and thrive.
Follow the steps below to propagate your Aspidistra elatior by division.
- If planted in a pot, remove your plant from it.
- If planted in the ground, loosen the surrounding soil before lifting it from beneath the root system.
- Lay the clump on a newspaper.
- Using your fingers, gently pry the roots apart.
- Get the clumps with 2- 3 stems at least.
- Take pots for individual clumps.
(Note: Make sure to use a pot at least 2 inches bigger in diameter than the previous pot.)
- Fill the new pots with a potting mix.
(Note: You can directly plant the new clumps in the ground.)
- Replant the parent Cast Iron Plant in its original pot after the root division.
- Don’t press the new clumps too deep in the soil to prevent root suffocation.
- Keep the baby plants in a warm ambiance but away from direct sunlight.
- Water the new plants to keep the soil moist.
- Wait for a minimum of a month before noticing any developed root system. Once you see it, you can consider your baby plants as regular Cast Iron Plants and treat them accordingly.
Remember that house plants tend to grow much slower than plants in the wild. So, your Cast Iron Plant would not need frequent repotting. Only when you see the plant’s roots grow out of the soil should you think of repotting it. Such instances, however, can arrive 3- 4 years after the initial potting of the plant.
Transplant in the spring if possible, and use a container size one size bigger than the current one. Pull your plant from its old pot delicately and place it in a new pot with fresh soil mix at about the same depth.
That’s it! Your plant is good to go for the next 3- 4 years.
Benefits of Planting Casting Iron Plants
By far, we have discussed the beauty of the Casting Iron Plant. Undoubtedly this plant can brighten up your surroundings. But do they have any benefits as such?
Well, yes, they do.
Apart from being a resilient beauty that requires much less maintenance, this plant helps in purifying indoor air. As per the reports of a study conducted by NASA, this plant effectively absorbs dangerous pollutants in the air, like formaldehyde and benzene.
Do you need any more reasons to grow a Cast Iron Plant?
Ans. Your Cast Iron Plant would need moist and well-drained soil. You can use a potting mix to grow this plant in a container. Make sure to check the pH balance, as this plant grows best in acidic to neutral soil.
Ans. Yes, it is safe to grow Aspidistra elatior inside your home. There is no report of toxicity available in this plant’s context, and it also helps in purifying the indoor air.
Ans. It is best to grow Aspidistra elatior during the spring months to flourish throughout the summer season.
Ans. Pruning is not always necessary for Aspidistra elatior. But if you want to keep it in a specific shape, you can clip it off from time to time. That being said, you can pinch off the old leaves whenever you see them.
Ans. A Cast Iron Plant is a houseplant and has a slower growth rate. Therefore, it can take several years for this plant to reach its mature state.
Before wrapping up our article, we would like to state that the Cast Iron Plants are ornamental. With its large green foliage, this plant looks happy. Also, since it is resilient, it does not need to be babysat.
Take care of its basic needs, and it would be happy to grow and flourish. Perhaps aptly, this plant, much like cast irons, are almost indestructible. And the above tips should help you keep yours for decades!