Tuesday, December 11th, 2007...9:36 pm

Aspidistra: The Cast Iron Plant

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TheGardenLady received this question from Rachel:

I’m at college studying floristry and I’m trying to find the seasonal availability for Aspidistra but can not find it anywhere.  I was wondering if you could help me on that one please.

The Aspidistra is a plant that is a native of the Eastern Himalayas, Taiwan, China, and Japan.  In the US it is grown as a houseplant unless you live in Zones 7 (preferably 7b) and warmer climates.

In the warmer climates the Aspidistra plant is grown outdoors as an evergreen foliage plant.  (You can attempt to grow it in Zone 6b provided you don’t have temperatures dropping too low because a hard winter will knock the leaves off, or, although they probably will grow back by June because the root is so tough, will look ratty if frozen.) (In 6b you can attempt to grow Aspidistra outdoors if you put a wire container around it and fill it with a mulch of something like leaves or boughs of evergreens to a depth of a few feet during the winter.)

Aspidistra is a tough plant that will take lots of abuse and still live, especially as an indoor plant, thus the name Cast Iron Plant.  The people of the Victorian period loved this hardy plant and now it is making somewhat of a comeback in people’s homes. However, as indicated at this website, because it is such a slow grower, a lot of nurseries don’t want to raise Aspidistra plants.

If you want to buy the plant you can get it anytime if you buy it on line.  A great source is this site for buying aspidistra.  Asiatica Nursery owner Barry Yinger says that his Aspadistra plants are available anytime you see the photos on his website. Mr. Yinger is a lovely person to contact if you have any questions about Aspidistras or other Asiatic plants that he sells. He is extremely knowledgeable about the plants he sells and has traveled to Asia numerous times and knows many of the areas where the plants are native. Any questions you have about the Aspidistra plant not answered on his site, he will happily answer: for example, he told me that he divides his Aspidistra clumps in the late summer or fall, though he said they are so tough that you can probably divide them at other times.

Here is another website for the care of Aspidistra when you’re growing the plant indoors.

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1 Comment

  • Hi

    I have nutured an aspidestra for about 25 years, separating when leaves reach the edge of the pot and had no problems until we moved to a town house with no soil available and put it in John Innes which it hated and attempted to die. Have now repotted in good old earth and it has rewarded me with THREE new leaves.

    Believe the Victorians fed these lovely plants with cold tea. Is there any truth that they like this as I would like to give it a treat??

    Don’t know if you reply to emails on this site but thought it worth a go.

    Kind regards

    Faye Mustill

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