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Aspidistra 'Milky Way'
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)
Aspidistra 'Milky Way'



Origin and description

Aspidistra is a herbaceous plant native to China. It grows in poor soil and tolerates a wide range of temperatures, provided it is not too cold. Its partly buried rhizomes produce long lance-shaped, glossy, dark green leaves. This plant grows to 60 to 90 cm tall. It bears insignificant purple flowers at the base of the plant if given ideal growing conditions.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Aspidistra eliator 'Variegata' has foliage with creamy white stripes. This cultivar needs bright light.

Common name

Aspidistra / Cast-iron plant

Latin name (genus)

Aspidistra elatior

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Liliaceae

Growing conditions

Aspidistra is renowned for withstanding neglect, dust, heat, cold and irregular watering. While this plant does tolerate low light, it will grow more vigorously in bright light, especially the cultivars with variegated foliage, which require somewhat more light. Avoid direct sunlight, which can burn the leaves. Normal indoor temperatures (18 to 21ºC) are fine. In winter, the ideal temperature is 13ºC, but never as low as 7ºC. This plant tolerates dry air, but prefers good humidity. It enjoys being misted from time to time with room-temperature water.

Easy to grow?

Aspidistra is very easy to grow. This plant is especially tolerant of its environment.

Watering and fertilizer

Too little water is better for an aspidistra than too much. Water it in moderation and let the soil surface to dry out between waterings. You can allow the soil to dry out to a depth of one-half in winter. Fertilize it three or four times a year during the active growing period with a balanced indoor plant food or all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20. Do not fertilize these plants in winter or if grown in shade.

Pruning and maintenance

Use a damp sponge to clean the foliage.


Aspidistra is rather slow growing and is usually repotted every three or four years in spring in well-drained indoor potting mixture.


See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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