Cast Iron Plant

The name ‘cast iron’ gives you an indication of just how tough this plant is. Cast iron plant, Aspidistra elatior , creates a lush and tropical feel in warm climate gardens however is also ideally suited for growing indoors. It’s particularly good for dim rooms as it tolerates low levels of light, and beginner and time-poor gardeners will also enjoy growing cast iron plants, as they’ll still look lovely and leafy with minimal maintenance.

How to grow cast iron plants in a garden

  1. Choose a shaded spot with well drained soil. Enrich the soil with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser
  2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the plant from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
  3. Position in hole and backfill with soil, gently firming down. Water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes. Once established, it will benefit from regular watering, especially during dry conditions, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
  4. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as bark chips, sugar cane or pea straw ensuring to keep it away from the stems. 
  5. Feed with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser every 8 weeks from spring until mid autumn.  

How to grow cast iron plants in a pot

  1. Use a well-drained pot that’s at least 20cm in diameter or larger, depending on the size of your plant. Cast iron do best in a brightly lit spot, out of direct sunlight, however they will also grow well in low light areas. Fill with quality potting mix, such as Yates® Specialty Potting Mix Indoor Plants & Ferns.
  2. Remove the cast iron plant from its original container, and gently tease out the outer roots if they’re compacted.
  3. Position the plant in the middle of the new pot and backfill around the roots with fresh potting mix. Keep the level of new potting mix the same as the original level of mix around the plant, so that all the roots are covered. Water well to settle the potting mix around the roots.
  4. Keep the potting mix just slightly moist, though cast iron plants are usually forgiving if you occasionally forget to water them. Check moisture levels in the potting mix by inserting your finger into the top few centimetres of mix.
  5. To promote healthy growth, feed with Yates Thrive® Plant Food Spikes Plants & Ferns every 2 months from spring to autumn.

Growing tips

  • Remove any yellow or dead leaves by cutting their stems off at the base

  • The long leaves can accumulate dust, so give them a gentle wipe to keep them clean. To help the potting mix and root zone stay moist, cast iron plants can be gently and briefly immersed into a tub of water every month.

  • Dust the leaves regularly by gently dusting them with a small brush or feather duster.  Dust can clog up the pores of the leaves and make it difficult for the leaves to function.

  • Lightly prune in winter.

  • Divide plant clumps every couple of years to keep the plants happy and healthy. Use a spade or sharp knife to separate the clumps, ensuring there are a couple of leaves to each clump and re-plant else where in the garden. The best time to do this is in winter.
  • Propagation tip: Once the cast iron plant becomes congested in its pot, remove the entire plant from the pot, divide and separate the clump into a few smaller sections and pot each new clump into its own pot.

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