Monday, November 4, 2013

Houseplant of the Week: Aspidistra

Aspidistra is one of those botanical plant names that's just fun to say. It's fun to grow too, because it requires so little of you and its environment. It's a low-light plant, which almost always makes for a good houseplant specimen.

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It's commonly called "cast-iron plant," which should tell you about its ability to endure a fair amount of benign neglect. You do have to at least water it every couple of weeks or so, but even then, if you forget, it's forgiving. Its classic form fits in just about any decor, making it a social butterfly of the houseplant world.


Common Name: Cast-iron plant
Botanical Name: Aspidistra elatior
USDA Hardiness zones: 7-11
Size: 2' - 3'
Light Requirements: Low to medium
Water Requirements: Low to average (do not overwater)
Soil Requirements: Well-drained
Flower: It does flower, but not usually as a houseplant.  It isn't grown for its flowers though, which appear at soil level in the spring and are cream with burgundy on the inside.
General Description: Aspidistra is a native of eastern Asia, with wide, strappy dark green leaves which grow at ground level.  There are variegated varieties that are especially attractive.  It's rarely bothered by common houseplant pests and is known for being a very tough plant that's easy to grow, though somewhat slow.  It was used often in Victorian parlors, and was a plant commonly handed down from generation to generation. When grown outdoors, it's just as tough, as long as it stays out of direct sun.

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