Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cast Iron Plant
Aspidistra elatior

Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Aspidistra (ass-pi-DIS-truh) (Info)
Species: elatior (ee-LAY-tee-or) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

47 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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24 positives
8 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive poeciliopsis On Feb 27, 2015, poeciliopsis from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Central Phoenix -- Aspidistra elatior is not a plant that would spring to mind when you think of things to grow in the desert. However, it does well in my garden. I have lots of it and it all came from a couple of original plants in the early 1990s. The plants in dense to moderate shade do best. However, some get several hours of afternoon summer sun and still grow well, with a lot of leaf-tip burn. It is not a water intensive plant -- most of mine receive every-other-week water from March to November and only natural precipitation in winter. The sunniest patch also gets every-other-day supplemental drip in summer. The blooms on this plant are so odd, but certainly not showy. In fact if you don't make an effort to look in early spring, you won't even notice them.

Positive chuck7701 On Dec 17, 2012, chuck7701 from McKinney, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

As others have said, this is one great, tough and decorative plant. Six stars for this plant outdoors or indoors. In the many years I have grown them, the only damage has been freeze burns under the drip line of the eaves from ice storms. Otherwise, snow and temps into the lower teens have not hurt them.

However, in the south, hot afternoon sun will burn the leaves if exposed too long. They do best in filtered light to deep shady areas, and are perfect for spaces under or around live oaks. Easily propagated, fast grower when established, transplanting time is best in late fall before new shoots develop. Bloom time is in December.

When pruning damaged or dead leaves, suggest cutting close to the root or ground to eliminate unsightly stalks. The remaining stalk(s) will remain green and do not die out for a long time. Dead tips or damaged areas can be trimmed off, but if leafs appears lighter or yellowing, cut the whole leaf off.

Positive nwaguy1966 On May 10, 2012, nwaguy1966 from Bentonville, AR wrote:

I just received a cast iron plant from a friend that lives in Dallas and has this plant growing in his flowerbeds. I put ina temporary pot to get it home and in a week or so even without repotting it has put on two new leaves. Guess it doesn't frow THAT

Positive JonthanJ On Feb 13, 2012, JonthanJ from Logansport, IN wrote:

I grow this as a houseplant in Zone 5. Even potted, aspidistra has an amazing ability to survive freezes down into the single digits with little damage. This is not a light touch of frost. The rootball freezes solid, and the plant recovers with very little damage. This is part of the 'Cast Iron' story. Many of the Victorian parlors they grew in were only heated when company came over, and very likely did freeze once in a while. For us, that means that for instance, they can be used to dress up a darker corner of an unheated sun room, an attached garage, or a vestibule.

Positive Apalmtree On Jan 23, 2012, Apalmtree from New York, NY wrote:

There is a good reason why they call this plant a "cast iron plant". I have seen then grow in California and Florida (2 completely different climates) and yes, they can even grow here in New York City!
Last year I put the top of a garbage bin over my clump of Cast Iron plants to keep the snow off of them and maybe provide some cold protection. It got down to 5F and they had no damage and it was a cold winter, with a duration of cold like I havent seen in years.
This winter has been a lot milder and I havent even protected them at all. I even have some that are in small plastic pots also unprotected. They all are still green and we got down to a cold 13F one night. I would definitely consider these good plants in zone 7 and up, but keep them in a protected spot in a zone 7 just in case.

PS, they are very very slow growing so get them a nice size because they maybe push up 2 leaves a year.

Positive SewNice On May 12, 2010, SewNice from (Zone 9a) wrote:

I received some Aspidistra in a plant swap in 2002 or 2003. They were in some gallon sized tin cans with drainage holes punched in the bottoms. I didn't get them planted very quickly; actually, I didn't get them in the ground until fall of 2009. If there is a plant out there that will take more abuse and neglect than the Aspidistra I do not know what it would be.

Positive ghopdap On Jan 23, 2010, ghopdap from Austin, TX wrote:

Let me first say I love these plants and they are beautiful. It seems they will grow just about anywhere. I know they are shady plants but I have them in my front yard which gets morning and afternoon sun for over 20 years and have always done fine. A second group is on the east side of my house doing well too. We had a very hot dry summer and an unusual few days and nights of very cold weather for the Austin area. The ones in the front yard now have burned leaf tips. I was wondering if I need to trim the tips or cut them back to the ground. Does anyone have advice? I've read about the salt in the soil burning the tips but I think the weather is the problem. One note of history these plants came from Nacogdoches TX, which is in East Texas, from my husband's grandparents place before a church bought the property and bulldozed all the beautiful plants, flowers and trees for a parking lot including several 30 foot tall paper shell pecan trees. Those were the biggest best tasting pecans I've ever eaten.

Positive texasflora_com On Nov 26, 2009, texasflora_com from De Leon, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

You just can't go wrong with aspidistra. I only have a handful of plants that were planted in spring of this year. They grow slowly but tolerate heavy shade very well. I've observed them for many years in my area and I've never seen them freeze back in winter. As far as using it as a houseplant, I think this is a much better choice than snake plant/mother-in-law's tongue. If anyone ever needs to get rid of their plants, I'll take them all, even bare root with no leaves and will happily pay your shipping and other costs.

Positive db2776 On Jun 15, 2009, db2776 from Austin, TX wrote:

This is by far the most resilient and tough plant I have encountered.
Five of these hardy plants live in my side yard, in complete shade.
Moreover, they get no water except for when it rains, which is rare here in Austin Texas as of late.

I tried to remove them once, cutting the plants back to the ground. Nothing was left, not a leaf and within 6 months ALL five plants were back and stronger then ever.

Now that I know what they are and how hardy they've proven to be I am considering planting more.

Great little plant.

Positive cazieman2 On May 16, 2008, cazieman2 from Seattle, WA wrote:

i had always seen this plant in the malls around seattle, and just thought it was a tropical. then they remodled this one mall and planted it out side. thought for sure someone didnt know about the plant and it would die. ended up that i was the one who didnt know anything! they have been there for a coupple of years now and are doing great looking green, and spreading. i see this now at nureries and plan to buy some, but have noted that it is never out side and kept inside with the tropicals.... i find this odd now given the knowledge. must be a common misconseption?

Positive nolafwug On Sep 7, 2007, nolafwug from Metairie, LA wrote:

We just moved into an apartment with a wild yard that was well cared for many years ago but has suffered flooding from Hurricane Katrina and years of neglect. The Cast Iron plants are thriving. I even found some in pots hidden behind the overgrowth and they are green and lovely though crowded. I've trimmed away the mangy, ripped leaves and much new growth is springing up in the shady, as-yet unfertilized courtyard garden I am trying to improve. The Cast Iron plants will be a nice backdrop for whatever I decide to put up front. Many leaves are two feet tall. They certainly deserve their name!

Positive laura10801 On Aug 11, 2007, laura10801 from Fairfield County, CT (Zone 6b) wrote:

I keep this one as a house plant and it definitely lives up to its name! I sometimes forget to water it for several weeks, I never fertilize it (really, NEVER), I basically neglect the darned thing, and yet it survives. A wonderful plant for brown thumbs!

Neutral SWMOZ6_J On Jul 31, 2007, SWMOZ6_J from Springfield, MO wrote:

. . . or maybe I should have posted "positive." I found this plant growing in a neglected (shaded, never watered, or tended) area near my house in Z6. I've lived here 8 years and never knew what this plant was until last year. This summer I bought several at a garden center in Tulsa. I'll keep you posted as to whether they survive or thrive in my Z6 garden.

Positive Hikaro_Takayama On Feb 12, 2007, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I bought two half-gallon plants from the houseplant section of a local nursery this past spring to plant outside as an experiment. During the past summer, they went through a 2 month long, record-breaking drought with no ill effects, and actually kept growing. During the same time period, I had to water all my other recently planted perrenials, trees and shrubs at least once a week to keep them from dying.

This winter, both plants have taken two weeks of temps below freezing (as well as multiple frosts and freezes before this latest one), and two nights of temps near zero (the official temp on my indoor/outdoor thermometor was 2.5 and 3.5 degrees, but they are in a shady spot under my bamboo grove in the woods, which is undoubtedly colder) with NO damage at all, so I can confirm that they are at least leaf-hardy to zone 7a, and they should be rood hardy throughout zone 6.

I'm planning on buying some more this spring to plant in some annoying dry, shady spots where other plants just won't grow, and I find that the ones I already have outside, once they spread, will make a nice ground cover under my bamboo grove.

Neutral SW_gardener On Feb 4, 2007, SW_gardener from (Zone 6a) wrote:

According to my information this plant may be grown as a die back perennial in zone 6 if well mulched and maybe even zone 5.

Positive speckledpig On Aug 29, 2006, speckledpig from Satsuma, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Many folks here on the gulf coast use this to surround their oak trees. It looks nice and fills in all the gaps if left untendered!

Neutral Bartramsgarden On Jul 23, 2006, Bartramsgarden from Trenton, FL wrote:

These plants are evergreen here in my zone 8b garden near Gainesville, Florida. I was slow to warm up to this plant, as my parents had a clump in their garden that always looked ragged. I have since learned that the trick to keeping them looking neat and attractive in areas where they do not die back naturally is to cut them back to the ground every 2-3 years.

I would also like to mention that while the solid-colored variety is most common around here, there are rarer varieties with white splotches or white striation in the leaves. In my opinion, these are far more interesting, which goes against my general dislike for variegated foliage.

Neutral greenbud On Jul 15, 2006, greenbud from Houston, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is very tough and durable in my garden. Unfortunately the previous owners of my house planted the cast iron plant in an area of full sun instead of partial shade as they prefer. They're sunbleached and burnt looking at the ends. The clumps I've moved into shade look much better - greener, healthier, no brown leaf tips. I'm slowly but surely trying to give away or relocate the plants exposed to full sun.

Positive growin On Jan 1, 2006, growin from Vancouver, BC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Tough plant that seems to do better in loose-dry soil in shade to semi-shade. Has endured snow, frost, wind, etc with ease. root-bound plants seem to do better than plants with lots of growing space.

Positive CastIronPlant22 On Nov 15, 2005, CastIronPlant22 from Lompoc, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I have a Cast Iron Plant collection, i currently have 14 different types of cast iron plants. I have been collecting for 2 years, and i want to share some things about them with you. They are very easy easy to grow, i have not seen any pest's on them at all. I water them about once every two weeks. I have them all in clay pots in Scotts Cactus Mix, it does very well for inside plants and keeps them very dry, unlike other potting soil that keeps inside plants soaking wet. I try and water with botteld water, because tap water may have lots of salts that burn the tips of the plants. I keep the window in the room " a room inside my house that has all my cast iron plants in and nothing else" open sometimes at night. Right now some of my Cast Iron Plants are blooming! I never knew of anyone that had them bloom inside. If you grow yours inside, take some advice from what i have typed and maybe you will get yours to bloom too. There are about 34 different kinds of Cast Iron plants.

Forgot to add that cast iron plants love organicly enriched soil. Dr. Earth All purpose fertailizer mixed in with the soil has always kept mine looking great! Cast Iron plants arnt picky, but it is always good to achive the needs of the plants. I had one in an 18 inch pot, it was very root bound, the rhizomes were exposed and the roots had taken up the whole pot, It was actually pushing itself up and out from the pot. I had a choice to divide this huge plant and get 4 plants our of it, or leave it. I left it the way it was and just found a 20 inch pot and re planted it. It has over 60 leaves and is very tall about 3 feet. It takes them a long time to reach that size and i didnt want to wait on it to grow back. Its very lush and dark green, i will upload a photo soon.

Neutral Ulrich On Oct 15, 2005, Ulrich from Manhattan Beach, CA (Zone 11) wrote:

We have this growing in our yard for over 40 years and it is doing very well. But it has never bloomed.

Positive brugmansialover On Jun 5, 2005, brugmansialover from Santa Maria, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I'm just here to tell you what I have learned from the Agriculture department, about Cast Iron Plant tip die back(leaf burn). Do you have a Cast Iron plant, and notice at the tips, that they are brown? Ever wonder what causes this? Well I took some leafs into the Ag. Department, come to find out, salt in the water/soil is the culprit. They suggested that I water now with drinking water that I can find at Wal-Mart/Albertsons/Von's, and so on.. Do not use distilled!!!! The salt in the tap water is what causes the burning edge's, and also stays in the soil.. So when you go get drinking water from the store, and you water your Cast Iron plant, make sure you water enough, so that the extra water comes out of the bottom of the pot, this will help leech out the salt in the soil.. If you can afford it, re-pot your Cast Iron plant with new soil and start him/her(Cast Iron plant) off with drinkin water, that will be a sure way to help him/her(Cast Iron plant)stay leaf burn free!!!

Positive TropicalLover21 On Apr 21, 2005, TropicalLover21 from Santa Maria, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is GREAT!!! WOW, i love it soo soo soo much, it is very nice looking in a terracota pot! I just love it, its so easy to grow, and it does respond well to fertalizer too.. I have it inside, next to a north facing window.. and its growing like crazy, well, its not that fast, but it sure is sending up new shoots.. I am thinking about buying another one for outside in the garden. If the soil isnt rich, and you dont water alot, it will turn varigated! Thats cool too, will live for many years in the same pot!

Positive hullabaloo On Mar 6, 2004, hullabaloo wrote:

We had two problems mowing the yard (in San Antonio) - difficult to mow between live oak trees growing close together and areas with roots, stumps and rocks protruding from soil. Planting iron plants in these areas solved the problems. We give them lots of water for about a month after dividing and replanting. Then just forget them.

Neutral littlemomma On Oct 31, 2003, littlemomma from Bognor
Canada wrote:

I live in central Ontario in Canada (zone 4a to 6b). I realize that an aspidistra would be unlikely to survive our winters. However, I have read that in Victorian times it was an extremely popular houseplant, although I can't find one here.

Positive nevadagdn On Sep 22, 2003, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have two Aspidistra elatior - one is 'Asahi', and the other is an unnamed variety I found at a nursery in Sacramento. They have done well since I planted them this spring.

Whether they will make it through the winter I don't know; my hardiness zone ranges from 6b in the more exposed parts of the garden to 8a in the sheltered areas (which is where I put the Aspidistras). They do well where little else grows.

Winter 2004 update: Aspidistra elatior DEFINITELY survives single-digit temperatures in a location sheltered from the wind with only minimal damage to the very tips of some leaves.

Positive htop On Aug 18, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
An excellent shade plant that requires little effort, the cast iron plant provides a tropical look to any shady setting. Disease abd insect free, it just keeps on growing and multiplying. Sunlight will burn the leaves so be sure it is not exposed at any time of the day in order to ensure its attractiveness. It is an evergreen here. A severe freeze (survived 20 degress in pots with little ill effects) will scorch some of the leaves, but just cut them off. If just the tip looks discolored, the ugly area can be trimmed leaving the rest of the leaf.

Use it in masses and as a contrast to fern, hosta, caladium, dwarf Mexican petunia, coleus, dwarf plumbago, impatien and begonia.

Positive suncatcheracres On Aug 18, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

Cast Iron Plants have grown in my grandparents' yard, (which is now my 97-year old aunt's yard), in southern Georgia (U.S.) since the 1950's. They are located under a large Oak tree and in front of Azaleas; they're attractive and virtually maintenance free.

I am currently looking for some Cast Iron plants to grow in my yard here in northcentral Florida (Zone 8b), as I have some areas of heavy shade, and the plants should stay evergreen here.

October 30, 2003: Finally found a big pot of cast iron plant last week, and planted it in front of 'Fashion' Glen Dale hybrid azaleas, which have pretty salmon colored flowers both in the Spring and the Fall, and under a large, spreading, native evergreen holly tree. I hope this plant will spread and make a nice, tall, deep green groundcover under this tree over the years. The leaves of my plant are quite tall and broad, so it must be an improved variety--I have never seen any cast iron plant so large, so I'm quite happy with it.

Positive Maudie On Aug 17, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

For a stunning effect, plant these around the trees in your yard. They are very attractive when planted very close to each other around a tree, so easy to grow and make quite a show.

Positive Azalea On Aug 16, 2003, Azalea from Jonesboro, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I live in Zone 7b near Atlanta, Georgia (U.S.) and find that this plant does well year-round, it does not die back for me. The leaves grow to about 30" and add interest to my Hosta/shade garden.

Neutral Mule On Jan 28, 2003, Mule from North Little Rock, AR wrote:

About 10 years ago, I took some rooted cuttings of Cast Iron Plant from my father's garden in Jackson, Mississippi (U.S.)

The plants there grew to 4-5 feet and had magnificient foliage on the huge twisting leaves. The plants in my garden in central Arkansas grow no taller than 24" and usually die back to the ground in winter. I have a large black plastic planter (36") crammed with plants that I take into a protected area for the winter and these plants make a nice accent piece in summer.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The Cast Iron Plant is named for its tolerance for poor growing conditions. It spreads in clump and is a good plant for those very shady spaces.

Propagation: Division in late winter, early spring.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama
Eight Mile, Alabama
Jones, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama (2 reports)
Saraland, Alabama
Satsuma, Alabama
Tuskegee, Alabama
Wetumpka, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Brentwood, California
Carlsbad, California
Granite Bay, California
Lakewood, California
Lompoc, California
Los Altos, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Merced, California
Sacramento, California
Stockton, California
Bartow, Florida
Brooksville, Florida (2 reports)
Clearwater, Florida
Deland, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (3 reports)
Lynn Haven, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Jonesboro, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Morven, Georgia
Moultrie, Georgia
Snellville, Georgia
Broussard, Louisiana
Leesville, Louisiana
Metairie, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Slaughter, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Ville Platte, Louisiana
Madison, Mississippi
Marietta, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Saucier, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Springfield, Missouri
Sparks, Nevada
Durham, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Rowland, North Carolina
Thomasville, North Carolina
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Greencastle, Pennsylvania
Bluffton, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina (2 reports)
Austin, Texas (6 reports)
Brownwood, Texas
Conroe, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Dallas, Texas
De Leon, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Ennis, Texas (2 reports)
Floresville, Texas
Houston, Texas
Humble, Texas
Kingsland, Texas
Longview, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas (2 reports)
Plano, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Waskom, Texas
Lake Forest Park, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Shoreline, Washington

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