cast iron plantsAspidstra elatior is one of the traditional houseplants favorites for gardeners across the globe. It is tough as nails, giving rise to its common name of cast iron plant.

Aspidstra elatior can easily withstand blasts of chewing tobacco juice in saloons or legislative chambers. The plants even survives potentially caustic solutions.

It is a reliable and long-lived deep shade plant. Although somewhat slow growing, aspidistra takes extremely little care that by the time you recall that you have planted it some time back and you do notice it, it has filled the container completely grown.

The solid shiny green leaves of aspidistras around offer many choices for homeowners.  Gardeners however, should take notice of the hardiness zones listed for any new cultivar/species they try. They come with variegated blotches on the leaves, stripes of lighter color, or even randomly spotted dots giving rise to names that suggest the night skies. Some of these are slower growing (with less chlorophyll they produce fewer carbohydrates) but if placed thoughtfully can brighten and enhance an otherwise drab spot year round with their showy, evergreen foliage.

All you have to do is plop a clump of this very forgiving and tolerant foliage plant in well-drained soil. Aspidstra needs almost 80 percent shade – that’s really, really shady. Nothing is sadder than a long planting of burned-up cast iron plant leaves.

The tough leaves of Aspidstra don’t easily disintegrate as they age but tend to hang on, and giving a very shaggy and sad appearance to neglected clumps. You should cut all the clumps to the ground. It is critical for the new leaves to emerge.

Down among the leaf litter are small purple vessels, pollinated by slugs, they add another layer of mystery to these sentinel-like leaves in the garden.

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