The aspidistra is a variegated or dark-green foliage plant. The leaves can grow 2 to 3 feet and the plant has whitish to purplish flowers, which are about 1 inch across and close to the soil in the spring. The plant is known by its common name, the cast iron plant. The perennial is native to China and grows very well in a greenhouse or indoors as a houseplant. The aspidistra is good for removing benzene and formaldehyde from the air inside a home or greenhouse.
Water and Lighting
The soil for the aspidistra needs to be kept moist. The plant will thrive with a once-a-week watering and low humidity, but must be kept out of drafts. The plant should have full sunlight from a north or east location. However, the plant can survive in low-light areas.
Aspidistra does not do well when temperatures are extremely hot. The ideal temperature is between 50 and 85 degrees F with good air circulation. Indoor plants can be set outside in areas with partial shade when all chances of frost are gone and the night air does not drop below 50 degrees F.
A slow-release granular fertilizer can be added once a year in early spring or a water-soluble fertilizer with a 5-5-5 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio can be added to the soil once a month during the growing season. During the winter, no fertilizer should be added to the soil.
The plant can be divided in spring to make new plants when the plant is overgrown. However, the plant is a slow grower and division may not be needed more than once every five years. The new plants can be planted in an all purpose soil that has good drainage. A homemade soil mixture would be one part humus, one part perlite, one part coarse sand and one part garden soil with a dusting of lime.
The leaves of the cast iron plant can be kept shiny by wiping them with a damp cloth when dust accumulates. The damp cloth should not have any soap or cleaning chemicals on it.