The cast iron plant is a hardy great beginner plant. This plant has attractive long narrow leaves and in some circumstances will flower. This tolerant easy care plant is recommended for new indoor plant parents.
The cast iron plant botanical name is Aspidistra elatior and it is native to Japan and Taiwan. It is also known as the Parlor Palm or Bar room plant.
The Cast Iron Plant moniker reflects the hardy constitution of this plant. It’s tough as cast iron. This notoriously hard to kill plant is incredibly easy to care for.
This lovely plant tolerates low light conditions, fluctuations in temperature, low humidity and is all around easy to get along with as a housemate.
You will also see it placed in bars, lounges and restaurants providing greenery where low lighting, infrequent watering and constant neglect won’t bother it. It is a good choice for offices, Malls and other commercial areas.
Aspidistra elatior is a small evergreen shrub with leafy foliage that grows to a maximum height of 3 feet and will get 1 to 2 feet wide.
That makes is just the right size for an indoor floor bush tucked beside your favorite table or chair. It can go anywhere you want to add fresh green color to your home.
The reason these plants are able to withstand longer periods without water is because they grow from a root structure called Rhizomes. These rhizomes can hold and transport water and nutrients throughout the plant making it a hardier plant than most.
Cast Iron Plant is able to grow in lower light conditions. Add that to its resilience and drought resistance and you have the perfect plant for busy individuals that want a set it and forget it plant.
Growing Cast Iron Plant Outdoors:
These are great shade plants for garden zones 7 to 11. It cannot withstand severe cold under 25 degrees or so. But if the top growth dies off it may come back from the roots, if heavily mulched, down to zone 6.
Plant Aspidistra elatior in well draining soil in a shaded area outside. Water occasionally until it is settled and growing. It will take care of itself after it is successfully established in all but the driest climates.
Keep it out of harsh sunlight or the leaves will burn, curl up and eventually die off.
Deer and rabbits may chew the leaves. Consider a wire enclosure until it grows large enough to withstand some snacking by the local herbivores.
This plant does flower in proper conditions. It sends up fleshy, 8-lobed cream flowers with maroon coloring on the inner surface. It flowers in early summer.
Cast Iron Plant Varieties:
Cast iron plants come in a few different varieties. The Hoshia-Zora variety has speckled leaves that are green with yellow or white dots. The Cast Iron plant also has a striped or variegated variety.
The variegated varieties are popular and set this plant apart from its plain green counterparts. Something to keep in mind. A variegated plant will need more light than the non variegated varieties.
This is pretty much the case for the marble queen pothos and all other variegated varieties of any plant species. Variegated needs more light than plain green leaves.
Non toxic Plant:
Another wonderful thing. The Cast Iron plant is non toxic to cats and dogs and humans. You can set this plant on a lower surface of your home, or even the floor, without needing to worry.
With a little love and care, you can keep this beautiful durable houseplant for decades. Read through the printable care guide below to learn more about how to keep it happy and healthy. What to do about pests and how to fertilize and propagate the Cast Iron plant.
Where to Buy Cast Iron Plant:
There are varieties of Aspidistra elatior available in most garden shops. If you have a particular variety in mind or want to see what types are interesting to you without shopping locally, we suggest Etsy. They are mostly small family run shops that care about their reputation. Be sure to check out the shop reviews.
Cast Iron Plant Care Guide:
Here is a quick care and information guide to the Cast Iron plant. Below this guide we have a more in depth Printable care guide.
|Familiar Names:||Cast Iron Plant, Bar room plant, Parlor Palm|
|Botanical Name:||Aspidistra elatior|
|Care Difficulty:||Very Easy and withstands neglect well.|
|Temperature:||Can survive from 24 degrees F to 85 degrees F. prefers 55 to 85 F|
|Watering:||drought resistant-cast iron plant needs water when dry down to the root zone.|
|Soil:||light friable well draining soil is best. 60% Potting soil to 40% perlite works well for containers and pots.|
|Lighting:||Cast Iron plants grows in low light indoors. Must be shaded outdoors. Bright harsh sunlight will bleach leaves. Brighter moderate lighting is welcome but never direct strong harsh sunlight.|
|Pests:||Mostly unbothered by pests. Scale and mites will occasionally infest it.|
|Growth:||In low light this Evergreen Perennial grows slowly. Eventually it forms a bush 12 to 20 inches tall.|
This is our Printable Care Guide. It will go over cast iron plant propagation, proper soil, watering, fertilizing, pest control and more.
- Pot (ceramic, plastic, or terra cotta)
- Potting medium (perlite, soil,)
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Cast Iron plants prefer well draining soil. The roots will rot quickly if they sit in moist soil.
- potting soil and perlite will keep the roots happiest.
- Make sure your pot has drainage at the bottom. Do not use a pot with no drainage hole for this plant.
- A heavy soil potting mix is not recommended for Cast Iron plants.
Pot Size and Type:
- The cast iron plant can grow in many different kinds of pots, I like to plant mine in ceramic pots with a drainage hole.
- Repot every second year or when roots come out the drainage holes on the pot bottom To the next pot size up. Don't jump to a huge pot from a small one. Just go to the next size up pot.
- The Cast Iron plant will grow faster in bright indirect light. It will also grow just fine in lower light conditions, but the growth will be slower.
- Some filtered sunlight from a window may be appreciated in this circumstance.
- Make sure the Cast iron plant isn't sitting in constant direct sunlight, the leaves can get burnt.
- If you have a variegated variety, the plant will need more light to hang onto the variegation. Otherwise it can revert back to green,
- Water your Cast Iron plant when the soil is dry at least an inch down. These plants are typically drought resistant and can withstand longer periods of dryness compared to other houseplants.
- Watering is best done on a regular schedule so the plant is not over or under watered. Both can cause stress on the plant.
- The recommendation for watering is every 2-3 weeks.
- In dormant winter months reduce watering to when the soil is dry.
- Never let this plant get wet feet. Heavy wet soils encourage root rot and Fungus Gnats.
How to Fertilize:
- Apply a good quality fertilizer (linked in materials) monthly through Spring and summer.
- Decrease feedings by late Fall and allow the Cast Iron plant to rest through the winter months.
- The Cast Iron plant will do best in temperatures between 55-85 degrees F.
- The Cast Iron plant is a hardy resilient plant. However all plants can get attacked by pests.
- Stress by longterm overwatering, poor light, extreme temperatures and soil conditions are contributors to plant stress..
- Spider mites, mealy bugs, scale, thrips and whitefly are the most common houseplant pests you will see.
- Read our post on How to get rid of aphids and other pests with our homemade pesticide soap recipe or neem oil.
- To minimize the possibility of pests be sure to check all nursery plants before bringing them home.
- Quarantine all new plants until you are sure no pests live in them.
How to Propagate:
- Divide plant when repotting
- Gently pull apart roots
- Choose roots with 2-3 stems attached
- Plant in moist soil
- Water frequently until plant acclimates
The Cast Iron Plant is a rewarding and perfect plant for a beginner. This plant will grow tall and beautiful with just a little bit of care.
More Easy Care Plants:
Looking for more durable plants to grow or gift to your friends? We have a whole list of easy care plants for new plant parents. Some of them are also included in our collection of low light indoor plants.
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History and more information on the the Cast Iron plant