February 22, 2004

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra eliator)

To begin, let's talk about the Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra eliator). It is an evergreen that grows in two forms: a dark green foliage and a variegated foliage (Aspidistra elatior 'Variegata).

The Cast Iron plant is native to Japan. This is truly a great plant. It is not called Cast Iron for nothing. It is extremely tough and drought tolerant (once it is established). A real cold winter will fray and brown the tips of the leaves and they will look pretty bad. Cutting away the bad and leaving the good can solve this problem. New leaves will be coming up from the ground in the middle of spring.

The height of the plant is 24". In addition, the spread (area of coverage) is 24". When planting, spacing should be 18"apart. This is what the gardening books tell you, but with my yard, the 'Variegata took ten years for a single plant to spread 24". Flowers are an inconspicuous brown and they bloom very low to the ground. The Cast Iron plant does not like a lot of fertilizer. Organic fertilizer, compost, and leaf matter is the best fertilizer. This plant can be used as an accent or tall ground cover and has the ability to thrive in the adverse conditions and low light of shade. The Cast Iron plant can be grown from Zone 7-9 with no difficulty. North of Zone 7 it can be grown in pots and used inside the house or in the greenhouse.
The 'Variegata' form of Cast Iron is really something to see. The variegation runs in stripes of white on the dark green leaf. Too much fertilizer will cause this plant to lose it's Variegation and the leaves will turn back to green. It is beautiful in the back of a dark garden bed or in an area you need to brighten up. It costs more than the standard Cast Iron Plant, usually double the price. It is definitely worth a try and is clearly a keeper.

So to sum it all up if you are looking for a plant to put into a dark garden area and you just want to plant it and forget it this is a must. Darwin himself would be a happy Gardener with this plant…………..

Posted by angie at February 22, 2004 06:32 AM