ASPIDISTRA ELATIOR – Parlor Palm, Cast Iron Plant

ASPIDISTRA ELATIOR - Parlor Palm, Cast Iron Plant

A particularly tough house and greenhouse plant with long, broad, evergreen leaves. It is a suitable plant for planting outdoors in shady places where winters are mild. Even at New York City it has been known to live outdoors for several years, but the winters there are too severe for it to thrive. It is a native of China and belongs to the Lily family, Liliaceae. The word Aspidistra alludes to the form of the flowers and is derived from aspidiseon, a small, round shield, and probably refers to the shape of the stigma.

A Favorite House Plant

Aspidistra is the most easily managed of all house plants and may be kept healthy and vigorous for years with minimum attention. During the winter it should be placed in full light. In summer the leaves must not be exposed to bright sunshine for long or they may lose their rich green color, which is their chief attraction.

Hints on Management

During the hot summer weather, a shady window or a shaded location outdoors is the best place for Aspidistra. The leaves benefit by being sponged occasionally with warm soapy water.

When to Repot

March is the best time to repot or to separate old plants into several pieces and repot them. The pots must be clean and drained by a layer of crocks (pieces of flowerpot) in the bottom; a compost of loam two thirds, leaf mold one third, with a scattering of sand and crushed charcoal, should be used. It is not necessary to repot Aspidistra annually but in March some of the surface soil should be removed with a pointed stick .and replaced with fresh compost.

Watering is an important detail in the management of Aspidistra. Water ought to be given only when the soil is moderately dry. The curious flowers of the Aspidistra, which are occasionally produced by large, well-established plants, appear low down among the leaves and are purplish-brown.

The variety with variegated green and pale yellow leaves (A. elatior variegata) is an attractive plant.

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