Tuesday, January 26

Living up to its name!

About 30 years ago my grandma gave me what was left of her once thriving aspidistra saying, “See what you can do for that!"

It was already at least 50 years old and had been reduced from its former glory to one poorly looking leaf set in smelly, soggy compost. My grandma had been told that it was beneficial to feed the plant with tea and so she had tipped the dregs from cups of tea complete with milk and sugar into the compost.

Taking the plant home I didn’t really fancy my chances of restoring it but was keen to try my best as this wasn’t just a plant but a piece of family history.

The plant was removed from the pot and all compost was washed away from the roots. After being planted in fresh compost it was then left to make an effort to regenerate itself. Within weeks new leaves were sprouting and I soon had a healthy looking plant with several large leaves.

It later even flowered which came as a bit of a surprise as I didn’t know they did! The flower was really unusual, a purplish daisy shaped flower sitting on top of the compost hidden under all the leaves. Flowering was a once only occurrence as in spite of keeping a watchful eye on my plants I have not seen another flower since. Apparently the flowers are pollinated by slugs and snails which doesn’t surprise me as these pests do like to munch at the leaves. Maybe that should come as no surprise as aspidistras are related to hostas and we all know how much slugs love hostas.

The plant itself grew so strongly that it eventually burst its pot so I split it and ended up with about five new plants. Some of which were given to other members of the family.

At present I have four plants which are really too many for any average household so having read that aspidistras can be planted in the garden a couple of years ago I placed two pots outside popping them in the cold greenhouse to overwinter. This winter I decided to leave one outdoors to see just how well one of the plants would live up to its popular name of the “Cast Iron Plant”.

It has been out in the recent period of prolonged freezing temperatures, at times under a thick covering of snow but yesterday I noticed it was still looking healthy and green. Just a bit of nibble damage so it really is a cast-iron plant in all senses.


  1. I'm afraid I deleted one comment as it appeared to be posted with the intention of advertising a commercial link. Sorry

  2. wow...I never knew that these plants were so hardy....I'm not one for having house plants as I think plants should be able to thrive in the outdoors so I am very happy to see this one doing so well outside throughout the freezing weather!!!

  3. I have to admit the one left outside was an accicent really as we forgot to take it into the greenhouse!


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