Cast Iron Plant
Scientific name: Aspidistra Elatior.
Synonyms: Cast Iron Plant, Bar - Room Plant, Baran, Haran
The Cast Iron is truly an old-world charmer with its fabulous leathery deep green sword-shaped foliage and cast iron nature, hence the name. It was popularized by the Victorians who kept them in their hallways that were often dimly lit and murky.
As a native to China and Japan, they are a fabulous way to bring in some tropical charm to a lower light corner as they have the ability to tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions bar full sun and complete darkness, as well as having a low maintenance nature. They are however on the slower growth side and can take quite a few years to become a sizable plant.
Toxicity: Aspidistra has no known toxicity.
- Drooping leaves: This may be due to your houseplant receiving the incorrect amount of light. Even though Aspidistra are touted to be low light plants, as with many houseplants they will still need a certain amount of natural light and will not tolerate complete darkness. Another cause of drooping foliage can often be put down to frequent overwatering, be sure to allow the soil to dry at least 50% of the way before watering again and make sure your planter is draining sufficiently.
- Yellowing leaves: There are a few factors that can cause yellowing foliage on your Cast Iron plant, often overwatering is cited as being the main culprit. However, if you find that leaves turn yellow infrequently, this is not a cause for concern as this is the natural lifecycle of most plants, though if yellowing happens on mass consider your watering regime. Aspidistra do not like their soil staying wet and prefer drying out between each watering. If you discover your watering regime is fine, it may be that you have either repotted too often as this houseplant does not like its roots disturbed and frequent repotting can cause stress.
- Crispy leaf edges or Crisp brown patches: If you are experiencing brown crisp leaf patches or full leaves that are crispy then you may either not be watering sufficiently or your humidity is low. Cast Iron plants are often hard to kill but do not do well with prolonged periods of dryness and should be watered once at least 50% of the soil has dried, and should not be allowed to become bone dry. If the potting medium is moist yet you are still experiencing crisp leaf edges, then your humidity should be adjusted, this can be achieved by placing your plants on a pebble tray and avoid putting them in an airconditioned room. Other causes of brown patches on Aspidistra can be caused by direct sunlight scorching the foliage, adjust positioning if this is the case. Finally, browning leaf tips can also be a sign of over-fertilization, rectify this by flushing the soil with clean water and feed less frequently.
- Mushy brown leaf patches: This can occur when your Cast Iron Plant has been overwatered and root rot has set in. Often there will be large brown patches, that can on occasion smell putrid, this is a clear sign of a fungal or bacterial infection. Remove the affected leaf and spray the plant with a good quality fungicide such as Copper soap.
- Pests: The Cast Iron plant is extremely hardy and not often susceptible to pests but if care is not taken to keep your plant in its optimal conditions stress can occur. This will lead to pest infestations causing excessive yellowing fronds and leaf drop. Mealybug, scale and spider mites are common indoor plant pests and can weaken your plant relatively quickly if left untreated. Adjust environmental stressors for your house plant and treat infestations with an organic pesticide.
- Origin: China and Japan
- Height: Averaging 91cm, however, slow-growing so can take a few years.
- Light: Tolerant of a wide range of lighting, avoid direct sunlight or total darkness. If you have a Speckled or Variegated form, be sure to provide it with bright filtered light to avoid losing patterning.
- Water: Allow the soil to dry out two-thirds between watering, avoid prolonged dryness or excessive moisture.
- Humidity: Average room humidity is fine.
- Temperature: Ideal temperatures range from 18°C - 26°C.
- Soil: A well draining organic potting mix is sufficient.
- Fertilizer: Use a well balanced organic fertilizer once every month during Spring through Summer.
- Repotting: For small specimens, it is not recommended to re-pot more than once a year and for mature specimens, it is ideal to only re-pot once every several years as the Cast Iron Plant does not take well to root disturbances. When repotting be sure to choose a planter no larger than 3-5cm bigger than the previous. Transfer plant from one planter to another without touching the roots, unless rootbound, then one can tease a few lose. Backfill with fresh soil and replace in original positioning.
- Propagation: This is done via root division. When repotting you can gently tease apart a few stems from your plant and repot into a fresh potting medium, place in a bright warm position and be sure to keep the soil moist to the touch until new growth forms. Once established, treat as usual.
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