How to Care for a Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)

cast iron plant plant

Are you looking for a plant that will invite the tropics to your home or office? The evergreen cast iron plant or Aspidistra Elatior, a native of Japan and Taiwan, will transform your indoors with its leathery flowers and up to 3 feet (0.91m) long leaves. What’s more, the plant doesn’t mind your indoor plant care mistakes as you try to figure out how to care for other, more complex, houseplants. The beautiful cast iron plant allows you to create a beautiful botanical corner even without experience.

Here are the basic requirements for your cast iron plant to thrive:

  • Water: The cast iron plant requires moderate watering without soaking the roots. The soil should be moist-towards-dry by the next watering session.
  • Light: keep it under indirect bright light.
  • Soil: cast iron plant requires sandy, or clay soils that are well-draining yet able to retain necessary nutrients.
  • Temperature: the cast iron plant will thrive in areas between 45oF and 85oF (7oC – 29oC).

The cast iron plant produces a beautiful lush of deep-green foliage held together by stalks, leading to pointed leaves. It’s definitely one of the easiest plants to grow as you sharpen your indoor gardening skills. If you master the care routine and the plant likes you, it will develop light vertical stripes, adding a new dimension to your indoor garden.

Basic Care Guidelines for Cast Iron Plant

The cast iron plant allows you to create a foliage spectacle where you thought it was impossible like dark corners and cold areas.

In this article, we will look at the essential elements of care for a cast iron plant; for example, lighting, temperature, soil, potting, and propagation. These basic steps are everything you need to help you to get the most out of this easy-to-care plant.

cast iron plant leaves


The Aspidistra Elatior enjoys a wet and humid environment but will still thrive with less than average water. Sprinkle water at least once a week, ensuring that it drains sufficiently before the next watering session. Your finger should feel the moisture a few inches deep once  run them into the soil,

Use rainwater or allow tap water to stay overnight before sprinkling, since chemicals in the water could alter the pH of the soil and eventually damage the roots. If the plant is in a dry room, sprinkle the water on the leaves like a shower to enhance humidity while still providing sufficient water to the roots.

Too much water will be disastrous for your Iron Cast Plant. It makes it difficult for the roots to absorb fertilizer from the soil and will also cause root rot. If the water is too little, the plant experiences stunted growth and will eventually wilt.


The cast iron plant can tolerate both dry and humid conditions. Due to the tolerance, the shiny leaves will remain glorious in dusty conditions. However, if you want your aspidistra elatior to thrive, you should aim to enhance humidity around the pot.

If the soil is fertile and receives the right water quantity, the foliage will create a fantastic bush. This bush plays the role of plant grouping where humidity is trapped within the area, eliminating the need for constant misting or the use of a humidifier.

Remember, do not allow the leaves to remain wet for too long because they will attract fungal diseases and infections.


The Aspidistra Alatior is very sensitive to the type of soil you use for potting. A healthy and robust cast iron plant requires a compost-based mixture with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. The soil must also drain well to prevent waterlogging and facilitate the natural absorption of nutrients by the roots.

To create the best potting mixture, combine 1 part quarts with 1 or 2 parts lava granulate or expanded clay. Use leaves, mold or turf to control the pH of the soil.

Because the cast-iron plant is a robust grower, use a large container that can accommodate a sufficient amount of soil to hold the roots.


The deep colored leaves will appear exceptionally beautiful in bright light. However, the leaves also allow the plant to thrive in poorly lit areas. With such diverse lighting needs, it almost means that the plant can survive and thrive in any lighting condition.

Bright light also comes with direct sunlight. The hardy aspidistra elatior can handle direct sunlight as long as it is not intense. Once you balance watering, humidity, and fertilization, the amount of light will cease to be an issue.

Too much light without necessary humidity and soil fertility will scorch the leaves. Allow the plant to enjoy sunshine up to 11 am and from 3 pm onwards. Indoors, the plant can stay near the window or at the corner under the stairs without losing its brilliance.


Aspidistra elatior prefers temperatures between 45oF and 85oF (7oC and 29oC). This is one of the most temperature tolerant plants you can have indoors. However, shallow and very high temperatures should not be prolonged.

The cast iron plant will thrive in temperatures between 45oF (7oC) and 75oF (23oC) at night. If the temperatures go below this level, the leaves could be scorched. The roots will also freeze because of very low temperatures.

High temperatures will also promote the robust growth of the cast iron plants. It increases metabolism rate resulting in vibrant and healthier foliage. However, it must be complemented with high humidity, fertile soil, and adequate watering.

cast iron plant foliage

Advanced Care Guidelines for the Cast Iron Plant

Aspidistra elatior is not a demanding plant and will survive with a little neglect. However, it has excellent rewards for owners who pay special attention to such minor details. They include:

  • Pest control
  • Propagation
  • Repotting
  • Fertilization
  • Pruning

In this section, we will look at how elegant care can give you a cast iron plant that exceeds your expectations.


Rich and fertile soil will produce plush foliage with deep green color and an elegant appearance. If the soil lacks the essential nutrients, the plant is likely to turn yellow and eventually wilt. Luckily, aspidistra elatior is not too selective about the use of compost or commercial fertilizer.

The best fertilizer for the cast iron plant is compost. It is mixed with soil during potting to enhance aeration and soil drainage. It is also easier to control the sensitive soil pH using compost compared to chemical-based fertilizer.

Nitrogen-rich foliar is a thoughtful addition to sprinkling water to promote robust leaves and fast growth. Overall, be cautious about the chemical composition of the fertilizer you use because it could change the pH of your soil. If the fertilizer changes the pH to anything below 5.5 or above 6.5, the growth of the plant will be affected.

Apply fertilizer between April and October when the plant is experiencing robust growth. The soil should be wet enough to dissolve the fertilizer and make it available to the roots. Wait for a year to apply fertilizer after planting or repotting.


Dead and diseased leaves can be removed at any time of the year. However, major pruning should be done between the spring and summer months. Pruning aims to remove the leaves and aid in enhancing the health of your cast iron plant.

Pruning may also be done to control the growth of aspidistra elatior. Clear dead leaves to enhance the beauty of your plant, and to control pests or diseases by providing adequate aeration. Use a sharp knife to give a clean cut that will be easier to heal.

The excessive growth and unwanted leaves should be cut at the base of the stem. You may eliminate whole shoots to provide more space for young foliage and enhance the aeration. Do not prune during the dormant months because it could lead to total wilting.


As a houseplant, the cast iron plant will grow slower than it does in the wild. It will, therefore, take two to three years before filling the pot with roots and hence, requiring repotting. Further, repotting will only be necessary if the soil is contaminated with chemicals. This plant does not require excessive fertilizer application.

Aspidistra elatior is one of the easiest houseplants to repot. It will easily handle the transfer from one pot to the other without the danger of wilting. Nevertheless, it requires you to clear all the soil from the roots by dipping the plant in water.

Prepare a fresh potting mix and provide an appropriate size of the container. Place the plant in the middle with as little soil as possible and pour the mixture into the vase. Fill the vessel up to two-thirds its size, ensuring that all the roots are covered.

Repotting is best done in the spring and summer months because the plant is thriving and can handle the shock. The warm weather also helps to speed up rooting. Within 2-4 weeks, the plant will have absorbed the shock and continued with robust growth.


As with many others in the Aspidistra family, the Cast Iron Plant will propagate by division. From a cluster of plants in one pot, separate a rhizome with at least two leaves. Pot these pieces of rhizomes in a new container. The potting mixture should be fertile, moist, and warm to facilitate regrowth.

The best time to propagate the aspidistra elatior is during spring and summer. Propagation is also more relaxed and more successful during summer when the plant is growing vibrantly.

If you are repotting to treat the soil from chemical overuse or sogginess, the new mixture must enhance drainage. Future care should also avoid the use of chemical fertilizers.

Pest Prevention

The cast iron plant is vulnerable to mealy bugs, scales, and spider mites. The pesky insects will mainly attack when the plant is exposed to prolonged dry conditions. Maintaining the right humidity and guaranteeing aeration will protect the plant from these pests.

You should also watch out for leaf blotch disease. You will recognize the condition by dry leaf patches that eventually grow big, causing the leaf to dry and fall off. Prune the affected leaves and apply fungicides to control further spread.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cast Iron Plant

Does the cast iron plant purify the air?

Yes. Cast iron plants will improve the quality of air indoors. It absorbs such chemicals as formaldehyde and benzene that are typical office and home settings. It will result in cleaner air and improved health for people living in the house or visiting your office.

Why does my cast iron plant have brown tips on leaves?

The most common cause of brown tips on cast iron plants is water. If too much water is applied, the plant releases the excess through the leaves. If you allow the soil to be too dry, the tips of its leaves will also turn brown. The water you are using could also be laden with chemicals that are interfering with the soil pH.

Cast iron plant leaves also turn brown because of overfeeding. The plant only requires fertilization once or twice a year and not during the winter season. It is even better if you can use compost manure instead of chemical-based fertilizer.

Why are cast iron plants so expensive?

The plant gives one of the best returns on investment. It is a beautiful addition to any interior space, whether home or office. It grows slowly and will accommodate diverse conditions, making it a preference for amateurs and house plant pros alike. It is also an evergreen plant that creates a spectacle indoors and rewards you by cleaning the air.

Are cast iron plants toxic to humans?

The cast iron plant is not toxic to humans unless it comes into contact with an open wound or is ingested in large quantities.

Is cast iron plant toxic to dogs?

No. The cast iron plant is not toxic to dogs or even cats. This adds to its benefits of beauty and air purification when choosing a house plant.

Do cast iron plants spread?

Cast iron plant will grow to be 3 feet (0.91m) tall and 2 feet (0.61m) wide. The rate of growth and the extent of spreading will depend on the quality of care you provide.

Do cast iron plants bloom?

Strangely, the cast iron plants bloom, but the small-sized flowers appear near the base. They are often overshadowed by the thick foliage such that you might not even notice. The plant blooms in early summer producing a cream flower with a  maroon inner part.

What are the best companion plants for an Aspidistra?

The best companions for an Aspidistra, include the Sarcococca bush. The leaves of this bush are tough and provide a good contrast to the plant’s delicate foliage. A Fatsia Japonica or a Flax Lily also make an excellent addition as they produce showy flowers in springtime that will bring some life into your garden.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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