Aspidistra elatior feature image

Guilty of serially murdering houseplants? This plant is said to be impossible to kill! It’s well-suited to almost any home – plus, it makes a positive impact to your work-from-home space. What’s not to love?


How to grow Aspidistra Elatior

Flowering time: flowers on this plant are unusual and very rare. Flowers grow at soil level and have no scent. They are pollinated by slugs and snails which is why they are so low to the soil.

Location: anywhere.

Soil: everyday general potting compost.

Light: will cope with any light level, but keep out of bright, direct sunlight.

Water: water sparingly, waiting for the soil to dry out before watering again.

Care: easy to look after and slow to grow, so will not require repotting any time soon.


Aspidistra elatior


Aspidistra elatior, or the Cast Iron Plant, is native to China and Japan. It gets the name Cast Iron Plant from the fact that it is near indestructible. This plant is fully capable of dealing with low light, as well as poor air quality, warm or cold temperatures. Meaning you can pop it anywhere in your home and leave it. It does not have any complicated care requirements. In fact, you can even pop this plant outside, so long as it is in the shade to protect it from direct sunlight, and it is kept above -5 °C.

The Cast Iron Plant was brought to Europe during the 1820s. It became popular in Victorian homes, often being spotted in drafty Victorian entrance halls, where other plants would struggle with the fluctuations in temperature. The Aspidistra became such a popular houseplant in Victorian Britain it even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary where is was stated as “a symbol of full middle class respectability”. Many portrait photos of the time featured people posing with their prized Aspidistra.

It once again became popular in the 1930s due to a book by George Orwell, titled; “Keep the Aspidistra Flying”. Orwell used the plant as a symbol for middle-class Victorian society. The book was made into a film in 1997, released under the title A Merry Way and stared Richard E. Grant and Helena Bonham Carter.

Since then, the plant has fallen slightly out of favour with houseplant enthusiasts. For no reason other than some deem it to be ‘old fashioned’. But like all good trends it will always come back into fashion. 2021 is set to be the year the Aspidistra becomes a sought-after houseplant once again.

The Cast Iron Plant is a beautiful houseplant, offering lots of lovely dark green foliage. It will live happily in your home with minimal effort and has been known to live for upwards of 50 years.


Aspidistra elatior

What’s different about this plant?

The large paddle shaped leaves of a Cast Iron Plant are often a dark shade of green. They are slow to grow and it will produce a few new leaves a year. This can be a benefit as it means that it will not outgrow its pot or its chosen location in your home anytime soon. It will thrive on neglect – making it a great plant choice for those with busy lifestyles.


Aspidistra elatior

Where you can get hold of a Aspidistra elatior?

Due to their slow-growing nature, Aspidistra can sometimes be hard to come by. They are often spotted in DIY stores for a sizeable price. However, it is worth shopping around to see which online stores have stock.

Pretty Cactus Plants ( currently has stock of these hardwearing houseplants and can be ordered online for direct delivery to your door.

About pretty cactus

Aspidistra elatior


Pretty Cactus is run by Donna and her lovely team from the shop in Brooke, South Norfolk.

Donna started the business in 2018, growing a passion into a business. Donna had always been a plant lover, spending hours in the garden centre and DIY stores picking up sad and reduced pants – nursing them back to health. The homegrown plants were sold at country fayres and craft markets. Before long, Donna was so busy she decided to give up her corporate job and run Pretty Cactus as a full-time venture. Opening her very first shop and website to sell online.

Donna now works with a team or growers and distributors in the UK and Holland to source plants, trying, where possible to get hold of more unusual cacti, succulents, and houseplants.

Donna and the Pretty Cactus team are always looking for new ways to style plants. Displaying these ideas in the shop and on Social Media. The Pretty Cactus shop has become an inspirational hub for plant lovers near and far who love to visit the store for ideas, plants, pots, and a bit of friendly plant chat too.

  • Amanda Jane Davies

    Can I just say it lives up to its name of Cast Iron plant as when ours got too big for the house we put it in the garden under a maple tree. It’s been outside for around 18 years and still living. It’s had -10°c in an extreme winter and 36°c in an extreme sumner, (Was the first time in that heat we had to water it.) The slugs and snails occasionally attack it, but it’s always shrugged it off. I don’t know if this is unique or just lucky!

    December 30, 2020
  • Patricia Sutcliffe

    Oh NO it isnt….I have an orchid here that I can grow but can’t grow this so called “indestructible!!!” plant. I just tried a few minths ago and the cuttings died. I tried these back in the 70’s and they still died.

    August 23, 2021
  • Paula

    Hi I have an Aspidistra that belonged to my Great Grandmother who passed it on to my Grandmother who passed it on to my Mum and now me! We believe it to be approx 100 years old and healthy. Does anyone know of a heritage society or someone to take her in and look after her as we have no room and a good home only.

    September 30, 2021
  • Terry

    Like Paula we had one from my great grandmother who passed it to my grandmother ands then to my mother. In Australia it lived outside in a shaded area of garden for most of its life. It required absolutely no maintenance and grew quite large My mother ended up in a nursing home and the house rented. I found at a change of tenant the previous tenants had removed it to grow vegetables. It was lost after being over 100 years of age. In its lifetime it had been transferred from place to place. sadly no ,more. .

    January 18, 2022
  • Mary Norman

    I had an also had a aspidistra which lived around 150 years. It first belonged to my G Grandmother or even her mother. It then passed to my Great Aunt before my mother inherited it. When I got married she divided it , we both had half. I had my bit for over 30 years before it finally died around 3 years ago. It got little flies in the roots which we got rid of but it just couldn’t put up more shoots anymore. The same happened to my mother’s bit shortly afterwards. Sad to see it go. I was hoping to pass it on to another generation.

    December 11, 2022

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