Cast Iron Plant
Growing in large, leafy clumps, Cast Iron Plant is unsurpassable for dependable, dark green foliage in very lowlight conditions (Fig. 1). The glossy, coarse-textured leaves provide an excellent background for low flowering annuals or make effective mass plantings when allowed to spread by underground stems into a groundcover. It also makes a nice facer plant in front of a shrub border.
Scientific name: Aspidistra elatior
Pronunciation: ass-pid-DISS-truh ee-LAY-tee-or
Common name(s): Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra
Plant type: perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 7 through 11
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; ground cover; suitable for growing indoors; accent; edging
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range
DescriptionHeight: 1 to 2 feetSpread: 1 to 2 feetPlant habit: uprightPlant density: moderateGrowth rate: slowTexture: coarse
FoliageLeaf arrangement: most emerge from the soil, usually without a stemLeaf type: simpleLeaf margin: entireLeaf shape: oblongLeaf venation: parallelLeaf type and persistence: evergreenLeaf blade length: 18 to 36 inchesLeaf color: variegatedFall color: no fall color changeFall characteristic: not showy
FlowerFlower color: brownFlower characteristic: flowers periodically throughout the year
FruitFruit shape: no fruitFruit length: no fruitFruit cover: no fruitFruit color: not applicableFruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy
Trunk and BranchesTrunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stemsCurrent year stem/twig color: not applicableCurrent year stem/twig thickness: not applicable
CultureLight requirement: plant grows in the shadeSoil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loamDrought tolerance: moderateSoil salt tolerances: poorPlant spacing: 12 to 18 inches
OtherRoots: not applicableWinter interest: no special winter interestOutstanding plant: not particularly outstandingInvasive potential: not known to be invasivePest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant
Use and Management
Cast Iron Plant is tolerant of a wide range of soils, from very rich to very poor. The variegated version of this plant needs fairly poor soil to retain its coloration. While tolerant of low moisture conditions, Cast Iron Plant should be watered during periods of drought. Plant on 12 to 18-inch centers for quick ground cover effect.
Growing as far north as Raleigh, North Carolina, Cast Iron Plant should be sheltered from winter winds. In exposed locations, the leaves are very susceptible to winter burn, perhaps from the inadequate moisture conditions during the colder months. If desired, all the old foliage may be removed in spring to provide fresh growth each year.
The cultivar 'Variegata' has leaves alternately striped green and white in varied widths. Plants will tend to lose these stripes if planted in rich soil.
Propagation is by division of the matted clumps.
Very resistant to insect pests.
Pests and Diseases
Cast Iron Plant is susceptible to leaf-spotting diseases.
by Edward F. Gilman http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp053
Horticulture Agent IV
County Extension Director