Another word (or two) about Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior). I would encourage gardeners with shade to consider this striking plant. It’s a great staple for the shade garden because it adds graceful vertical structure for background and definition.
Aspidistra is evergreen, deer resistant and heat, drought and cold hardy. I’ve never had any insect problems with this plant. It’s pairs beautifully with Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium),
Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus),
and Giant Lirope (Liriope muscari).
During the winter months when the herbaceous perennials have frozen and are pruned to the ground, it’s nice to have the deep green, wide, strappy leaves to give a garden form and structure. During the growing season, Aspidistra compliments flowering perennials with additional, tropical-like lushness. According to literature about the plant, there is a bloom associated with it, but I’ve never seen one in any of my plants.
The blooms occur at the base of the plant, at ground level. I never saw them either until I dug up a clump early one fall and got a good look.
Yes, that’s what I understood. I guess I’ve never separated the plant at bloom time. I’ll keep an eye out this year.
A “dry shade” plant for an area that was once lawn is what is on my mind lately. I had cast iron at my previous house and it WAS ridiculously easy, but that cast iron was watered regularly with the automated lawn sprinklers- so I had wondered how it would do (once established) in dry shade at this house….and how it might jive with ornamental grasses and cacti – if that is the look I’m going for. Thanks for the tip; good to have options. I’ll keep reading your blog.
Thanks for reading! And, try the aspidistra again and combine with whatever other plants you love/can grow. You’ll be happy with it–perhaps not the most exciting plant, but a very reliable, tough and lovely addition.
I love cast-iron for its solid, evergreen presence, tropical-looking large leaves, and ability to hang on even in drought. It’s not fussy, except, as Tina points out, it needs shade to look its best. Because it’s seen as a bit of a “Grandma’s garden” plant, it doesn’t get much respect, but the reason Grandma had it is the reason I love it: it’s tough and pretty.
Absolutely! Grandmas knew/know stuff!