Cast Iron Plant

Cast iron plants along a bamboo fence

Cast iron plant is a tough perennial that’s great for shady spots.  


Common names often say a lot about a plant, and cast iron plant is no exception. This tough-as-nails plant makes a reliable accent plant or groundcover in any shady corner of the landscape. 

Cast iron plant can be grown outdoors in all regions of Florida and does equally well in filtered and deep shade—just don’t plant it in full sun.

The lance-shaped leaves of this evergreen perennial grow upright and reach 12 to 20 inches tall. They’re traditionally a rich, glossy green but a number of improved cultivars have variegated leaves that delight gardeners with cream- or yellow-colored stripes or spots. These variegated cultivars tend to be less vigorous than those with solid green leaves.

Over time, a single plant will spread via its rhizomatous roots to create a larger clump. This slow, spreading habit is what makes cast iron plant such an effective and easy-care groundcover.

This versatile plant can even be grown as a bulletproof houseplant, and it’s especially suited for homes and offices that don’t receive much light.

Cast iron plant is known scientifically as Aspidistra elatior and is hardy to USDA plant hardiness zones 7-11.

Planting and Care

Cast iron plant prefers a rich, fertile soil, but it will tolerate a range of soil conditions.

If you want to use cast iron plant as a groundcover, space the plants 12 to 18 inches apart to leave them room to grow. Water them initially to help them get established. After that they’ll be quite drought-tolerant, though they will perform better if watered periodically.

Likewise, your plants won’t require regular fertilization but will respond well to feeding in spring or summer.

For more information on cast iron plant, contact your county Extension office.

UF/IFAS Publications

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