Aspidistra elatior
Common Name: cast-iron plant
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Creamy purple
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade


Easily grown as a houseplant in St. Louis because, among other things, it tolerates a wide range of temperatures, does not require a humid atmosphere, may be grown in low light, will tolerate less than regular watering and is easily maintained. Best grown with a well-drained, peaty potting mixture. Best sited in bright indirect light, but tolerates full shade. Avoid direct sun. Water regularly from spring to fall, but reduce watering in winter as plant rests. Regular temperatures in summer and minimum 50F in winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Native to China and Japan, cast iron plant gets its common name from its ability to survive significant cultural abuse. It is an easily-maintained, stemless, evergreen foliage plant that typically grows to 3’ tall. Arching, lanceolate, glossy dark green leaves (to 24” long and 4” wide) rise up directly from its fleshy rootstock on long stems. Insignificant creamy-purple flowers may appear at soil level in spring, but usually do not form on houseplants. Leaves benefit from occasional washing. A. elatior ‘Variegata’ has green leaves variegated with white striping.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for mites and scale. Overwatering may cause root rot. Direct sun will bleach leaves.

Garden Uses

Rugged houseplant for shady areas of the home.