The cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) has a reputation for being a hard-to-kill houseplant as well as a beautiful outdoor foliage plant in its growing zones. This plant can withstand a great deal of neglect and growing conditions that would kill many other plants, such as low light levels. It has arching, lance-shaped, deep green, glossy leaves up to 2 feet long and 4 inches wide. When grown outside, it occasionally produces insignificant cream and purple flowers near the base of the plant, but the blossoms rarely appear when grown indoors. The cast-iron plant grows slowly, and spring is generally the best time to plant it.

  • Common Name Cast-iron plant, bar room plant
  • Botanical Name: Aspidistra elatior
  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Plant Type: Perennial, herbaceous
  • Mature Size: 2–3 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, shade
  • Soil Type: Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic, neutral
  • Bloom Time: Spring, summer
  • Flower Color: White/purple
  • Hardiness Zones: 8–10, USA
  • Native Area: Asia

Cast-Iron Plant Care

This sturdy, long-lasting plant can be used in areas where all else fails for a gardener with a brown thumb. It is always green and can withstand deep shade beneath deck stairs or along foundations that receive little sunlight. Furthermore, insects usually leave it alone, and disease rarely bothers it. Watering when the soil dries out and fertilising for part of the year is all that is required of cast-iron plants. The most common mistakes with these plants are overwatering (they dislike waterlogged soil) and placing them in direct sunlight. A hands-off approach is usually best with cast-iron plants.


Cast-iron plants should be kept away from direct sunlight, which can bleach and burn the leaves. A north-facing window is ideal for keeping one as a houseplant. Set it back from windows that get a lot of light to avoid direct sunlight. When growing cast-iron plants outside, choose a shady spot with indirect sunlight.


Cast-iron plants can grow in a variety of soil types as long as they have adequate drainage. They prefer organically rich soil with a pH range of slightly acidic to neutral. Can grow in sandy, loamy, and even clay soils outside. Simply use a standard quality potting mix for container plants.


While these plants can tolerate some drought, they prefer a moderate amount of soil moisture. Water young cast-iron plants regularly to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Too much water in the soil can cause root rot. Water established plants thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry a few inches down before watering again. A good rule of thumb is to water when you can stick your finger in the soil and feel no dampness.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for cast-iron plants. They are not cold hardy, and temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can harm or kill them. So, if you're growing your plant in a container outside, bring it inside before the threat of frost. Furthermore, cast-iron plants prefer a moderate humidity level, but it is not required for healthy growth.


During the spring and summer months, feed your cast-iron plant once a month with an all-purpose liquid fertiliser, following label instructions, or use a slow-release fertiliser. Fertilizer is not required during the fall and winter months. To avoid burning the roots, only apply fertiliser after watering the plant.

Types of Cast-Iron Plants

There are several varieties of cast-iron plants, including:

  • 'Variegata': This cultivar features green leaves with white stripes.
  • ' Asahi': This variety's green leaves develop white tips as they grow.
  • 'Hoshi-Zora: This plant's name translates to the starry sky, and its green leaves are speckled with yellow to white dots.
  • 'Lennon's Song': The leaves on this variety have light green or yellow stripes.

Propagating Cast-Iron Plants

Plants made of cast iron can be propagated by division. This not only gives you a new plant for less than it would cost at a nursery, but it also keeps mature plants from becoming overcrowded.

Take a piece of the rhizome (underground stem) with at least two leaves to start a new plant. Plant this piece in a pot with fresh potting soil or in the ground. Maintain a light moisture level in the soil while ensuring proper drainage. Also, keep the new plant warm but out of direct sunlight. You'll know your new cast-iron plant has developed its root system and hardiness when you see new shoots emerge. Then you can start treating it like a mature plant.

Potting and Repotting Cast-Iron Plants

It's critical to use a pot with plenty of drainage holes when growing cast-iron plants in containers. A container made of unglazed clay is also ideal because it allows excess soil moisture to escape through its walls. To begin, choose a pot that is just slightly larger than the root ball, as these slow-growing plants will not outgrow their containers quickly.

When you see roots emerging from the soil, it's time to repot your cast-iron plant into something slightly larger. This may not occur for three to five years. Ideally, re-pot in the spring and use one container size larger. Gently remove your plant from its old pot and place it in the new pot with the fresh potting mix at the same depth.

Common Pests

Cast-iron plants are resistant to pests and diseases, especially when grown in their natural environment. As houseplants, they are susceptible to common houseplant pests such as mites and scale. Rinsing the foliage can aid in the removal of pests and the control of a minor infestation. Consider an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil for more severe infestations.

Common Problems With Cast-Iron Plants

Cast-iron plants have few issues as long as they are grown in their ideal conditions. However, when the environment isn't to their liking, some common issues can arise.

Browning Tips

Overwatering or underwatering is a common cause of brown leaf tips, especially in cast-iron plants grown in containers. Before watering, always check the soil moisture and wait until it is dry a few inches down. Also, make sure that any excess water can drain out of the container.

Leaves Turning Brown

Too much sunlight causes parts of or even entire leaves to turn brown on cast-iron plants. Check on your plant throughout the day to ensure that it is not getting direct sunlight, and relocate it if necessary. Browning foliage can also be caused by draughts indoors, particularly from air conditioning vents, and cold temperatures outside. Make sure your plant is protected from extreme temperatures.