Aspidistra: An Easy Indoor Plant

The cast iron plant is a common indoor plant. It is called cast iron because it is nearly indestructible. This feature is what makes the plant so ideal for indoor environments.

The cast iron plant provides lush, green foliage that is easy to care for. It should be a staple in any interior landscaper’s repertoire.

Cast Iron Plant

A Lush Cast Iron Plant

The Aspidistra elatior is native to Taiwan and Islands in southern Japan. It has broad, green leaves that narrow to a point at the tip. The plant grows up to three feet tall and three feet wide. It also produces small white flowers with maroon centers in the late spring and summer. The flowers are rather inconspicuous and appear right at the surface of the soil underneath the foliage.


While the cast iron plant is most common as an indoor plant, it can also be used in landscapes in moderate climates. The plant can tolerate temperatures down to 23 degrees, but much colder will cause significant damage to the leaves. If it is planted outside, it should be placed in a partially shady location. Too much sun will bleach the leaves.


When placed indoors the cast iron plant requires very little attention. It will thrive in low light conditions. It also requires very little humidity, unlike most other indoor plants. The cast iron plant can withstand broad temperature swings as well. This is the perfect plant to place near doors, windows, heating or cooling vents and any other drafty places.


Cast iron plants are not particularly eye catching. However, the simple, but lush green foliage is a nice green backdrop for more colorful focal pieces or a hardy way to add natural color in office or home environments that do not support other living plants.

While most cast iron plants are a dark green glossy color there are a few other varieties. ‘Okame’ which is also often referred to as ‘Variegata’ has cream colored stripes running vertically down the leaf. ‘Hoshi-zora’ has speckled leaves. ‘Asahi‘ has chocolate colored leaves that turn green as they mature.


Cast iron plants are easily propagated as well. They can simply be separated at the root and repotted. The plants grow slowly but will fill out eventually. They should be potted in a well draining potting mix. However, the plants will also tolerate a broad range of soil types.

Clean Air

Another advantage to the cast iron plant is its ability to improve air quality. An extensive study by NASA proved that indoor plants can absorb harmful chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde found in office complexes and homes. The cast iron plant is listed among the plants that are particularly good at absorbing these harmful chemicals. These plants can create a healthier environment for your clients.

The Perfect Placement

If you have been searching for a plant to place in an impossible spot, the cast iron plant will not disappoint. It will provide lush foliage with hardly any attention. When displayed in an attractive container the cast iron plant is a beautiful plant to include in an indoor landscape. What is your favorite indestructible plant for those hard to plan for places?



Aspidistra elatior.” Wikipedia
“Cast Iron Plant-Gardening in a Minute” University of Florida
“Aspidistra elatior (Cast-iron plant)” Fine Gardening
“Common houseplants do more than look pretty — they purify the indoor environment.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Image: “Cast-Iron Plant” Jim the Photographer

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