The Aspidistra. Your invincible houseplant
Words by Georgie Sinclair
Illustrations by Elena Boils
Latin name: Aspidistra Elatior
Nickname: Cast Iron Plant and Ballroom Plant
Native to: Japan and Taiwan
Spotted in: George Orwell’s 1934 novel, “Keep the Aspidistras Flying”
Life cycle: Perennial
Soil: pH-value between 5.5 and 6.5
Special feature: Almost indestructible
It’s not afraid of dark apartments
The Cast Iron plant is often used to furnish dark corridors and poorly lit basements. This is because the species is not at all picky. So long as it is not in direct sunlight it’ll be comfortable in dark or brightly lit rooms.
There are tonnes of reasons why a plant’s leaves might turn brown. But when it comes to the Cast Iron, it is most probably because you are overwatering it. In the winter it can last up to a month without any refreshment. But during spring and summer, it’ll require more frequent watering. Just make sure the soil dries out between watering sessions. You can also lightly spray its leaves to increase the humidity if the air in your apartment is particularly dry.
It can handle the cold
The Aspidistra will flourish in temperatures between 7 – 29 °C, so it is hard to go wrong. As it is typically cultivated outdoors it can also withstand quite low temperatures and has been known to survive in minus figures.
Be patient and don’t disturb
The leaves of your Cast Iron plant can grow up to 1.2 metres, but it won’t happen overnight. So be patient and try not to disturb it. Repot it every few years in the springtime. You can use this moment as an opportunity to propagate some of its leaves, by ‘division’. Carefully separate one of the larger roots – leaves attached – from the main plant. Re-pot it in a pot with moist soil and maintain moisture levels until new roots have grown. Then treat it as normal.