Cast Iron Tough

Now that winter is giving us a sneak preview of what’s in store for the next few months,  the evergreen plants in the garden are really starting to shine without all those pesky deciduous perennials. Aspidistra, or cast iron plants, are one of our favorites, and they really look so good in the garden now. Many folks in more northern climates are relegated to container culture, but for those of us in Zone 7b and south, they are amazing perennials. 

Aspidistra ebianensis ‘Flowing Fountains’ should be in all shade gardens where the climate allows. He’s our nine year old clump this month, now 2′ tall x 6′ wide.

Aspidistra retusa ‘Nanjing Green’ is a smaller clump with a different form.

And here is a photo of Aspidistra elatior ‘Asahi’ from the garden last week. 

We’ve also grown quite a few aspidistra from seed to see what kind of new forms might arise. Below are some photos of some of our 2 year old offspring. Like hostas, variegation in aspidistra arises from streaking in the L2 layer (center of the leaf).

What fun!

3 thoughts on “Cast Iron Tough”

  1. I only know the Cast Iron Plant as a houseplant; thanks for all this info and the photos.
    I have never heard of the term L2, very interesting. If you’d like to explain L1 or any other L’s ( which I am just assuming exist), I’m all ears!

    1. Plant meristematic tissue has three histogenic layers, 1,2,and 3 or L1,L2, and L3. In monocots (plant that germinate with a single leaf), the L2 layer is in the center of the leaf. This is what determines the leaf color of the maternal offspring. In other words, if the center of the leaf is green, the offspring will be green. If the center of the leaf is variegated, then there is a good probability that the offspring will be variegated. Here is a link to an article that provides more detail.

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