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Bar Room Plant Aspidistra elatior

Phonetic Spelling
ass-pih-DIS-trah eh-LAY-tee-or
Description

Cast iron plant is an evergreen, rhizomatous perennial reaching up to 2' in upright clumps. It is a good specimen for planting in dense shade.  It makes a good evergreen "hosta substitute", especially for low light areas as well as indoors in pots. There are some variegated cultivars. It is called barroom plant because of its ability to withstand spittoonish conditions and iron plant due to its ability to withstand neglect. It is frequently utilized in exterior landscapes down south.

Cast iron plants prefer partial to full shade and are intolerant of direct sun.  It needs rich, well-drained soil and is drought tolerant, though it can tolerate dry and nutrient-poor soils as well as a variety of soil textures.  Water regularly spring to autumn, during droughts, sparingly in winter. Keep sheltered from winter winds.

These plants grow well in containers and will spread if planted in the ground within their hardiness zone.  They can be used as an accent or groundcover to fill in shady spaces.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: There are no serious pest problems. This plant is resistant to damage by deer and is slightly salt tolerant.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Erect, gigantic, coriaceous leaves with parallel** venations
  • Evergreen ground cover, it spreads by rhizomes
  • Petioles 7"-12" long, hosta-like leaves

VIDEO Created by Laura Barth for "Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti", a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Front Shade Garden Shade Garden Coastal Shady Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Asahi'
    White, air-brushed tips
  • 'China Star'
    Heavily speckled 8 to 10' long by 2.5' wide leaves
  • 'Goldfeather'
    Yellow-gold striping across the length of the leaves
  • 'Goldspike'
    A single yellow stripe down the upper-middle of each leaf
  • 'Milky Way'
    Small white spots
  • Okame
    Irregular white streaks along the length of the leaves
  • 'Variegata'
    White striping on leaves
'Asahi', 'China Star', 'Goldfeather', 'Goldspike', 'Milky Way', Okame, 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#drought tolerant#perennials#easy to grow#salt tolerant#shade garden#low light#tough plant#interiorscape#low maintenance#pet friendly#upright form#dappled shade#cpp#deer resistant#adaptable#rhizomes#herbaceous perennials#groundcover#fantz#poor soils tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#perrenial#non-toxic for cats#heavy shade tolerant#easy to grow houseplant#hsc#hsc-f
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Asahi'
    White, air-brushed tips
  • 'China Star'
    Heavily speckled 8 to 10' long by 2.5' wide leaves
  • 'Goldfeather'
    Yellow-gold striping across the length of the leaves
  • 'Goldspike'
    A single yellow stripe down the upper-middle of each leaf
  • 'Milky Way'
    Small white spots
  • Okame
    Irregular white streaks along the length of the leaves
  • 'Variegata'
    White striping on leaves
'Asahi', 'China Star', 'Goldfeather', 'Goldspike', 'Milky Way', Okame, 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#drought tolerant#perennials#easy to grow#salt tolerant#shade garden#low light#tough plant#interiorscape#low maintenance#pet friendly#upright form#dappled shade#cpp#deer resistant#adaptable#rhizomes#herbaceous perennials#groundcover#fantz#poor soils tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#perrenial#non-toxic for cats#heavy shade tolerant#easy to grow houseplant#hsc#hsc-f
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aspidistra
    Species:
    elatior
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Insignificant
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Description:
    A single-seeded, fleshy berry. Rarely goes to fruit.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Blooms very rarely, though will bloom in early summer if it does. The 8-lobed cup-shaped flowers are fleshy and grow close to the ground. It needs higher light levels in order to flower.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Variegated
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Basal, erect, long-petiolate, solitary, evergreen leaves. The shape is ovate to lanceolate to elliptic, apex acute, margins entire, surface glabrous with 16-20 parallel veins. The texture is leathery and the color is dark green to reddish-purple to variegated. Petioles are up to 7"-12" long, and the entire leaf often reaches 20"-24" long. Leaves extend directly out of the ground.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Acaulescent; what appear to be stems are actually the petioles of the leaves.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade
    Poor Soil
    Salt