Plant Care

How to Care for Aspidistra Plants

The Aspidistra is a popular foliage house plant. It’s very tough so it doesn’t require intensive care. This leathery plant is mainly kept for its beautiful foliage. It’s a great houseplant for cooler areas of your house. With these plants, you can have a bit of tropical charm inside your home.

The Aspidistra is an old favorite: it was one of the most popular plants during the Victorian era, along with the Kentia palm. These plants were great for Victorian houses – these houses were not really bright and airy so they required tough plants. The Aspidistra was popular long before some of today’s favorites, such as lily plants or Aglaonemas. Aspidistra plants can be commonly found today throughout Southern Unites States (such as Louisiana) where they grow carefree in dense, dark shade as groundcover.

Basic Information

This plant (The Aspidistra elatior) is native to the Eastern Himalayas, Taiwan, China, and Japan. It’s commonly known as the “cast-iron plant” or “iron plant”. It’s one of the rare plants that helped inspire an entire novel: George Orwell’s “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” (published in 1936).

However, since it’s known as a “folk” plant, it’s not always readily available in nurseries. It’s probably due to the fact it grows slowly so it’s not really appreciated.

The Aspidistra is commonly grown in azalea pots, 6″, 8″ or 10″ in size. This is a bushy potted plant and it can grow about 12 to 24 inches in height and width. It is a very unique plant and a perfect one to kep indoors. It prefers cooler area of the house and it doesn’t require much care.

Although this plant is in leaf all year, it can occasionally bear flowers and fruits just beneath the soil line.

A Tough Plant

As stated above, the Aspidistra is a tough plant. It doesn’t require much light or perfect aeration. In addition to this, it can tolerate many other unfavorable conditions:

  • Dust. It will not only tolerate dust but also cold, heat, wet soil, drought and dimply lighted places.
  • Neglect. Th Aspidistra can readily tolerate general neglect, so it’s a great plant for beginner gardeners.
  • Low temperatures. This plant can tolerate low temperatures well, without any injury to the foliage.
  • Low light levels. The Aspidistra can tolerate light as low as 10 foot candles.
  • In addition to this, the Aspidistra makes a great addition to any cut flower arrangement since its foliage can last for weeks.

These plants make a great addition to cut flower arrangements; the foliage often lasts for weeks. Pests and Diseases free.

Aspidistra plants are slow growers so they are very expensive to purchase and produce. However, it has so many positive attributes and it’s a very beautiful and effective foliage plant that it’s well worth its price. It will offer you a long-ter, enjoyment and it will make your house more beautiful without requiring much care.

Aspidistra Plants


There are several popular Aspidistra varieties. Aspidistra elatior is known for its cornlike, shiny, dark green leaves. These leaves can grow to about 24 inches in length. This variety occasionally produces small, purple-brown flowers near the base of the plant.
There is also a variegated form. It has white markings and they are ideal for lighting up a dark corner in the house.

Aspidistra minor or Aspidistra “Milky Way” is a dwarf form. It has white spotted black-green leaves. When growing these plants, it’s best to buy 3 and display them in beautiful, decorative pottery or containers.

Additional Tips and Information

Here are some additional tips and information about the Aspidistra plants and care:

  • These plants got their name “Cast Iron” from their ability to tolerate certain extreme conditions, such as lack of light, low temperatures, dust accumulation and other bad conditions. The only other indoor plants capable of growing under these conditions are Aglaonemas.
  • Despite their high tolerance of poor conditions, Aspidistra plants thrive under proper conditions so you shouldn’t place them in harsh conditions on purpose. It will look more attractive and it will be healthier under proper care.
  • These plants prefer temperatures between 50-55 degrees F at night and 70-75 degrees F during the day. Ideal light levels are between 50 and 500-foot candles.
  • The best way to water these plants is to keep them evenly moist but not constantly wet. While it can survive forgotten waterings, it’s best to provide them with adequate care.
  • When kept outdoors, the Aspidistra plants thrive in a good quality garden soil. It’s best to plant them in a soil with decayed manure. It’s also good to add up to 1/3 part peat or humus to the soil.
  • If you keep them indoors, it’s best to use a good quality potting soil mix. Soil mixes made for African Violets will work perfectly.
  • Aspidistra plants require fertilization. It’s best to fertilize them every 3 to 4 months. Fertilize in low light conditions using a half-strength house plant fertilizer. Once per month you can add a fertilizer at high light levels. Fertilization is very important and it will help your Aspidistra thrive.