Asked on Mar 24, 2012

Last fall I bought a bunch of shade plants for my front yard. One was an iron plant, which I was told by the Pike's

PaulKatie PriceBrian Zaragoza-Larsen


fellow would do fine. However, it looks pretty bad -- a little brown and just not vibrant. A neighbor told me if we'd had a normal winter and not our very mild one, it would NOT have survived. Should I dig it up and let it be a houseplant?
My not-so-pretty iron plant
14 answers
  • Paul M
    on Mar 24, 2012

    You could put it in a pot but you really don't have to. If your plant looks bad then there may be some soil condition that is causing that. Read this link I found and it will give you some information about this plant so you can make a better decision about what you want to do.

    • RoseMary Wells
      on Jun 27, 2014

      It may be the photo, but it looks like it could be planted too deeply. It could be struggling because of that. It also looks scorched. I have always used aspidistra as a shade plant, so I'm not sure whether it does well in too much sun.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Mar 24, 2012

    The hardiness of cast iron plant, or aspidistra, depends on the species. A few are hardy to zone 7, but others are only hardy in zones 8, and some only 9 and 10. I'm not sure exactly which one you have, but if you know the name you could look it up. Also, plants tend to toughen up as they are in the ground, so yours may do better as time goes by.

  • Louise, is your Cast Iron plant in full shade or part shade? sometimes the sun will burn the leaves if it has to much. This plant tends to like shade and it will look "ratty" looking around the edges if not pruned. We take scissors and keep ours in shape. The soil maybe an issue as well...the GA red clay tends to be a challenge. You could pot it and use it as a focal point for a container on your porch or somewhere. We have used them in containers and they look great! Hope that helps!

  • Walter Reeves
    on Mar 24, 2012

    In my experience aspidistra looks MUCH better in full shade.

    • Barbara
      on Aug 2, 2014

      @Walter Reeves @I have a row of them behind the garage. They get plenty of shade very little sun yet they have never bloomed.What to do? I am near Athens, Ga. Thanks.

  • Louise
    on Mar 24, 2012

    This plant gets nearly all shade with a tiny bit of sun during parts of the day. The tag that came with it says: Zone 6 - Hardy to 0 to - 10 (F), Partial Sun. Milky Way Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra elatior "Milky Way." My yard has almost no red clay. Over the years, so many leaves have dropped on it and decayed that, in my rather uneducated estimation, the soil is pretty decent. When I planted it I put E.B. Stone organic fertilizer in the holes. I actually divided the plant into three and put it in three separate but nearby spots. All of them look like the picture above. So, based on this info, should I try it in the ground a bit longer or what?

  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson)
    on Mar 24, 2012

    Even though the Cast Iron plant takes a lot of water and shade it is possible that you have planted it too deep. I can't really tell from the picture but it looks like the mulch is up to high on the base of the plant. That could be causing some decline. My Cast Iron in the nursery in pots have not lost their winter look yet, so I would not give up hope.

  • Jeanette S
    on Jun 26, 2014

    I have them in full shade and they still look awful. I personally think they are not happy plants no matter what you do.!!!!! HA!!!!

  • Louise
    on Jun 26, 2014

    This past winter all of the iron plants seemed to have died but now they're all back and look fine. IMO, they probably should be house plants.

  • RoseMary Wells
    on Jun 27, 2014

    It could have been the incredibly hard winter we had this year, but I also think it might help to replant, a little further up in the soil. They don't really need fertilizing, either, so maybe the fertilizer burned them.

  • Berniece Knotts
    on Jun 28, 2014

    My rule of thumb is that if the plant's not happy, move it. This could mean putting it in a pot, or a different spot in the ground. Even if you followed all the rules, something's not right. I've had plants I've moved 2 or 3 times before they got glad again!

  • Myrna Engle
    on Jun 29, 2014

    Dig the plant up. Wash it's roots gently, clean all the leaves. Dig the hole that it was in deeper and truly loosen the soil. If sticky add some gypsum. Put in a bit of Epsom salt in tiny layers. Check the roots while you have it up. If they are growing in a circle you need to slowly straighten them out. Return to hole with roots flared out to the sides, not straight down. Then replant a bit higher in the prepared soil. Make sure it only gets a little bright shade. No direct sun at all. It will probably take off.

  • Brian Zaragoza-Larsen
    on Jul 11, 2014

    These plants are commonly referred to as cast-iron or iron plants due to their hardiness and ability to rebound from near-death. From the photo you provided yours looks pretty good(in apsidistra terms) except for the necessary dead/damaged leaf removals. I'm not sure what you expected but they aren't very beautiful, they're tough. I noticed the mulching you have is alot of pine needle and woodchips. These can be problematic for plays especially if the woodchips are from freshly cut trees and have not been cured. Also aspidistra grows and looks best in large clumps/grouping. I spent two years caring for it on my college's grounds and it was never something I regarded as pretty but there was always plenty to harvest for the floral arranging classes(of which it is a long-lasting cutting). I dont recommend it as an indoor plant tho it would surely survive there as well.

  • Katie Price
    on Aug 14, 2014

    I live in Zone 7B and have several large clumps of Aspidistra in my landscape. We had a record-breaking cold winter this year and all the large leaves turned yellow and then died. I cut them all off in the spring and by June new leaves had emerged. They are smaller than the old, mature ones, but the plants survived and will recover their vigor over time.

  • Paul
    on Sep 8, 2014

    I have both and it some how seems the speckled shorter variety as shown in this pic needs more water and is more finicky

Your comment...