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Aspidistra elatior

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Kemper Code:  B579

Common Name: cast-iron plant
Zone: 8 to 10
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Liliaceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: China
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer  
Bloom Color: Creamy purple
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Ground cover Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown as a houseplant in St. Louis because, among other things, it tolerates a wide range of temperatures, does not require a humid atmosphere, may be grown in low light, will tolerate less than regular watering and is easily maintained. Best grown with a well-drained, peaty potting mixture. Best sited in bright indirect light, but tolerates full shade. Avoid direct sun. Water regularly from spring to fall, but reduce watering in winter as plant rests. Regular temperatures in summer and minimum 50F in winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Native to China and Japan, cast iron plant gets its common name from its ability to survive significant cultural abuse. It is an easily-maintained, stemless, evergreen foliage plant that typically grows to 3’ tall. Arching, lanceolate, glossy dark green leaves (to 24” long and 4” wide) rise up directly from its fleshy rootstock on long stems. Insignificant creamy-purple flowers may appear at soil level in spring, but usually do not form on houseplants. Leaves benefit from occasional washing. A. elatior ‘Variegata’ has green leaves variegated with white striping.

Problems: Click for detailed list of pests and problems.

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for mites and scale. Overwatering may cause root rot. Direct sun will bleach leaves.


Rugged houseplant for shady areas of the home.

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