Very Tough Houseplant
If thriving on neglect is your houseplant’s way of life, then Aspidistra should be the mainstay of your collection.
It’s common name of “Cast Iron Plant” is well deserved. Its greatest feature is the quite low light that it will actually survive in. Aspidistra elatior
is its proper botanical name and it is a member of the amazingly diverse Lily family. It has no stems but rather its erect leaves grow from thick underground rhizomes. This growth habit also allows it to tolerate rather poor soil and a poorly regulated watering regime. You can neglect it for some time and it will probably not wilt or die and will just be happy to see you and your watering can,
whenever you return.
Does It Flower? Well, technically yes. It is a lily so it does produce a flower. The flowers are brown in colour and borne at soil level under the leaves. Don’t buy a new camera. Just enjoy the rich green colour of the leaves The variety in the picture is Aspidistra elatior 'Lennons Green.'
Are They Just Plain Green? No! There are several different cultivars of Aspidistra. Some have white variegations on the leaves in different patterns and some have leaves that are different shades of green. The plain green variety is the most readily available but some specialty nurseries have more. Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh NC has more than twenty varieties. When I visited there I was amazed at the range of colours and variegations. Some I would take home; others were just interesting. They all share, to some degree, the reputation for toughness.
How Big Will They Grow? Their height is restricted by the fact that there are no stems. The largest leaved varieties may be as tall as 50 cm. They will slowly fill any size pot that you put them in as the underground rhizomes keep looking for a new place to grow and put up leaves. In the very restricted light that it will survive in, their growth will be quite slow. More light equals faster growth.
If you are a sporadic indoor gardener with limited light then Aspidistra is the plant for you. It waits patiently for whatever attention you remember to give it and rewards you by staying alive and green despite your minimal efforts.
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