The Cast Iron Plant is a hardy house plant native to Asia. Aspidistra elatior features beautiful foliage, yet beneath that beauty is a plant that’s considered hard to kill. That feature makes it a great choice for both beginners and busy people.
Cast Iron Plant Appearance
The Cast Iron Plant is a drought tolerant plant that features deep-green, glossy leaves with a lance-like shape.
The leaves grow up to a length of 2 feet (61 cm) and a width of 4 inches (10 cm). Cast Iron Plants will grow 2 to 3 feet (61 cm to 0.9 meters) tall and 1 to 2 feet (30 cm to 61 cm) wide. Indoor blooms are rare but if grown outdoors, small, cream blooms appear during spring and summer.
Cast Iron Plant Care: Light Requirements
The foliage is sensitive to excessive sunlight and will burn. Place your plant in a North-facing window, set a foot or two back, for ideal exposure. When moved outdoors, choose a place with shade or dappled shade to protect the leaves.
Watering Cast Iron Plants
Watering a Cast Iron Plant depends on the plant’s age. Young plants prefer moist soil and regular waterings, but never soil that’s soggy.
With mature plants, let the soil’s top 2 to 3 inches dry out between watering. Insert a finger into the soil and, if you feel no moisture, go ahead and water.
Ensure the moisture runs through the pot’s drainage holes to provide enough water for the entire root system. Collected water in the saucer needs to be disposed of so the roots are not saturated.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
Grow your Cast Iron Plant in a potting soil with some compost or peat moss added for nutrients.
Ensure the mix is balanced so the soil is well-draining and no water pools on the top. Water the plant before fertilizing to prevent root or foliage burn. Use a liquid fertilizer, once per month, during the spring and summer. The plant does not require fertilizer during the fall and winter.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
For proper Cast Iron Plant care, keep indoor temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 23.8 degrees Celsius). Avoid temperatures below 50F (10C) as the plant is not cold hardy. Supplemental humidity is not required as average household levels are sufficient.
Propagating the Cast Iron Plant
Division is the best way to propagate your Cast Iron Plants. Remove a section of the plant’s rhizome with two or more leaves attached.
Fill a small to medium-sized pot with potting soil amended with perlite for increased drainage.
Water the soil enough to keep it moist and place the pot in a warm place with no direct sunlight.
Once new shoots appear, that signifies the development of a healthy root system. Care for the plant, from this point on, as you would a mature plant.
Common Pests and Diseases
Spider mites and scale are infestations to watch for with your plant. Scale are round or oval insects with a hard outer shell. This shell makes it difficult to rid your plant of the pests with common insecticides. Scale sucks the sap out of plants, causing wilting, yellowing, and eventual death to the plant. Prune the affected leaves to eliminate the majority of the pests. Remove any remaining insects by wiping away the scale with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Spider mites, which also feed on the plants, are controlled with treatments of neem oil.
Common diseases of the Cast Iron Plant are root rot and leaf spot. Both diseases are caused by fungus growth when too much moisture is present.
Fungal leaf spot presents as lesions on the foliage, while root rot presents as wilted leaves, stunted growth, and eventual death of the plant if not corrected. Treat leaves with an antifungal spray designed for houseplants.
Root rot, which causes the roots to become dark and mushy, requires removal of the affected roots. Follow up by repotting the plant in fresh soil.
The Cast Iron Plant combines beautiful foliage with a tough plant that doesn’t need constant attention. As long as the plant is kept in warmer temperatures and not over watered, this house plant will be around to enjoy for years to come.
Cast Iron Plant FAQ
Brown leaf tips indicate the plant is either over watered or not receiving enough water. Follow watering best practices for this plant to ensure optimal health.
Browning of more than the tips of leaves is often caused by either scorching from too much sun or contact with cold drafts. Move your plant to a place where it is exposed to neither of these.
Cast Iron Plants will grow outdoors in USDA zones 8 to 10.
Remove dead or yellowing leaves any time of the year for optimal health. Pruning to control size and shape of the plant is best done in the spring and summer.
No, the plant is not considered toxic to pets or humans.