Aspidistra elatior, commonly known as Cast-iron plant, Bar-room plant, and Haran or Baran in Japan, is a very attractive species of flowering plants. Member of the Asparagaceae family, this beauty is native to various regions of Asia, such as Taiwan and the islands of southern Japan.
Cast-iron plants are super popular ornamental plants around the world. Most growers appreciate these eye-catching buddies not only for their showy foliage but also due to their high tolerance for neglect. Cast-iron plants are one of the easiest species to grow and care for, thriving with little to no effort on your part.
Ready to learn more about these fascinating ornamentals? Keep reading to find out all there is to know about growing and caring for Cast-iron Plants as well as some fun and curious facts!
About Cast-iron Plants
- Cast-iron plants enjoy lots of fame in Japanese cultivation. Local people use these plants as training material for the Seika form of ikebana, the well-known Japanese art of flower arrangement.
- Cast-iron plants come along with plenty of cultivars to choose from. Some of these are ‘Asahi’ (chocolate brown to green leaves with white tips), ‘Hoshi-zora’ (faintly speckled with white or yellow dots leaves), ‘Lennon’s Song’ (dark green leaves with a central paler green stripe), and ‘Variegata’ (white stripes along the green foliage).
- The Aspidistra elatior species with the A. elatior ‘Variegata’ cultivar are the recipients of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
- The flowers of Cast-iron plants are truly unique and play an important role in interior design as they can easily spruce up any dull corner.
- The blooms of Aspidastra also attract several species of pollinators. However, their main pollinators are fungus gnats like Bradysia or Cordyla species.
- Cast-iron plants play a big part in traditional medicine. Their roots, stems, and leaves have tonic, styptic, and febrifuge properties. Likewise, these parts can strengthen muscles and bones and work well as a treatment against abdominal cramps, traumatic injuries, or digestive issues.
- A great thing about Cast-iron plants is that they are versatile ornamentals. They will look gorgeous in woodland gardens, borders, foundation plantings, massing, specimen planting, layering planting, containers, and even as ground covers.
- Cast-iron plants can make for excellent companions to several other species of plants. The companions include Columbine, Flax Lily, Foam Flower, Fuchsia, Sarcococca, or any other cute species that are shorter than them and have similar growing demands.
- These plants are good air purifiers. Still, they can be pretty toxic to humans or pets if ingested in large quantities. For safety purposes, place Cast-iron plants in a spot where your curious cats, dogs, or small kids cannot reach them.
Cast-iron Plants Features: An Overview
- These plants belong to the Aspidistra genus that contains around 100 accepted species of flowering plants. They share this genus with species like A. arnautovii, A. elegans, A. globosa, A. marasmioides, A. viridiflora, or A. xuansonensis.
- Cast-iron plants are herbaceous evergreen perennials. These plants can reach from 2 to 3 feet (60-90 cm) in height and 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm) in diameter.
- Cast-iron plants are rhizomatous species that develop at a fairly slow pace overall. Their foliage consists of long, arching, glossy, lance-shaped, and deep green leaves.
- Depending on the variety, the leaves of these plants can present creamy white, yellow, pale green dots or hypnotic variegated styles. The leaves usually grow between 12 and 20 inches (30-50 cm) long.
- Cast-iron plants will bloom throughout the spring and summer months. During these seasons, they produce super unique, fleshy, eight-lobed, and whitish flowers that feature purple dots on the outside and a deep purple center.
- Although pretty rarely in cultivated specimens, Cast-iron plants can bear fruits in autumn. The fruits are fleshy, spherical berries that contain only a single seed.
Growing Cast-iron Plants
In general, the lighting preferences of Cast-iron plants will vary depending on the setting you are growing them in. But keep in mind that they cannot tolerate at all any direct sunlight exposure. Outdoors, these plants can grow just fine in a shady location where they can also receive some indirect sunlight along the way. Indoors, place your beloved plants slightly back from north-facing windows to avoid burning their leaves due to excessive direct light.
Temperature-wise, Cast-iron plants are not the hardiest as they can be sensitive to extreme temperatures, so they are usually grown indoors. They can handle cold temperatures only in the USDA zones 8 to 10. If the outdoor temperatures in your area typically drop below 50 °F (10 °C), it would be wise to grow your plants in pots and bring them inside in autumn. As a rule, the optimal temperatures for Cast-iron plants range from 60 to 75 °F (16-24 °C) all year round.
Even if Cast-iron plants do not fall prey to pest infestations or fungal diseases too often, you will still have to pay some attention to your plants from time to time. Especially when you are growing them as houseplants. The most common intruders that may visit your plants are scale insects and spider mites. In case of infestation, you can get rid of the pests by rinsing the foliage of your Cast-iron plants. For severe situations, however, horticultural oil or insecticidal soap is mandatory.
- All of our listings have very representative pictures of what you will receive.
- This plant comes fully rooted in a 4" pot, ready to grow in your beautiful home or office!
- Enhance Your Environment
- California Tropicals
- Perfect gift for any occasion!
- Grown, packaged and shipped exclusively by Wekiva Foliage. This plant is as tough as its name! Excellent for those difficult-to-fill areas in deep shade, spreading gently by underground stems. A nearly fuss-free, lush, leafy evergreen that will tolerate a range of growing conditions including heat, aridity and dry shade.
- Unfortunately we're unable to ship to California and Arizona. For a gardener with a brown thumb, this sturdy, long lasting plant can be used in areas where all else fails; it is always green, and can handle deep shade under deck stairs or along foundations that receive almost no sunlight.
- Thrives in organically rich, well-drained soil, sited in bright shade; tolerates deep shade well. In containers, use a high quality, organic potting mix. Water deeply, regularly in first growing season to establish root system; once established, reduce frequency. Feed with a general-purpose fertilizer in spring.
- Native to the Osumi Islands of Japan, it inhabits forest floors and receives its common name of Cast Iron Plant due to its ability to survive under dark and neglectful conditions. New species of this plant are currently being discovered throughout East Asia.
- No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for mites and scale. Overwatering may cause root rot. Direct sun will bleach leaves.
- Commonly Known as the Sweetheart Hoya or Valentine's Hoya
- The plant is non-variegated which simply means it is a solid green color
- Its leaves feature a heart shape that tell the tale of the name
- They may produce small balls of nectar, colored red to brown
- Perfect gift for that special someone in your life
Planting Cast-iron Plants
Since Cast-iron plants tend to grow at a very slow pace, the perfect time to plant them is usually in spring. Doing this in spring will give your new plants enough time to settle in their new home. If you want to enjoy the eternal beauty of these plants indoors, choose clay pots or other containers that have drainage holes at the bottom. After the planting process, provide your Cast-iron plants with a nice drink to give them a good start.
Cast-iron plants perform best in well-draining soils that are also rich in organic matter and nutrients. Moreover, they prefer those substrates with a pH that is more on the slightly acidic to the neutral side. But! As long as their growing medium comes with excellent drainage, Cast-iron plants can do just fine in a wide range of soils, such as the loamy, sandy, or even clay ones.
During their seasons of interest, Cast-iron plants will benefit from regular applications of fertilizers. If you want to avoid burning the delicate leaves of your plants, make sure you fertilize them only after the watering process.
Feed your plants with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer once every month throughout the spring and summer months.
Due to their slow-growing habit, potted Cast-iron plants will not require frequent transplanting during their lifetime. In general, you will have to repot your plants once you notice some roots emerging from the soil. But do not worry! This will probably happen three to five years after planting, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your plant without worrying about a new pot. When the time is right, repot your Cast-iron plants in containers that are slightly larger than the current ones in spring.
Watering Cast-iron Plants
Cast-iron plants are innate lovers of moisture, but they will not appreciate soggy conditions or waterlogging. When these plants have their feet wet constantly, they become more susceptible to fungal issues like root rot.
The great news, though, is that Cast-iron plants can somewhat tolerate long periods of drought. However, they will look better if you provide them with regular drinks and will reward you with their attractive foliage.
So, how can we truly spoil Cast-iron plants? Well, it is much easier than you might think! All you have to do is always check the growing medium of your plants in-between waterings.
After a deep drink, make sure you allow the top few inches (cm) of the substrate to dry out completely. To do so, you can stick your finger into the soil of your Cast-iron plants and water them only if you do not feel any dampness at all.
Propagating Cast-iron Plants
If you want to enrich your collection with more Cast-iron plants, the best and most cost-free way to do it is *drum rolls* propagation. Propagating your plants through division is a great method to have more spectacular specimens around. However, it is also a super effective way to avoid overcrowding your plants with time.
Once the spring comes with its warmth, dig your Cast-iron plants out of their growing medium. After this step, look for rhizomes that have at least two leaves attached to them and cut them with a sharp knife. You can plant each tiny rhizome directly in the ground or in a container filled with fresh, well-draining potting soil.
For optimal results, make sure you provide your tiny Cast-iron plants with lots of indirect light and warmth. Moreover, lightly water their soil whenever it has dried out. If you are doing this right, you will see new shoots developing in several months or so. When this happens, the plants have already developed a strong root system and you can transplant them absolutely everywhere you want to.
With their exotic appearance and low-demanding nature, Cast-iron plants have managed to steal the hearts of many gardeners worldwide. And, without a doubt, you are one of their innocent victims! Now that you know everything about these friendly ornamentals, add them to your plant family and enjoy their beauty. Already growing Cast-iron plants? Share your experience in the comments!