Flowers and leaves of aspidistra
The spear-shaped leaves are reminiscent of lily of the valley, but are much larger and more resistant. They have a 10 cm stem and reach a height of 30 cm to 50 cm. With an intense green colour on the upper page, lighter on the lower one, they have a full margin, a leathery consistency and are characterized by evident longitudinal veins.
The fleshy purple flowers appear at ground level at the end of the winter period, so they are not particularly evident because they are hidden by the thick foliage; however, the plants kept indoors only rarely bloom. Flowering lasts only a few days and, even if it does not have a particular decorative value, it shows that the plant is in good condition.
There are species of asphyxiator with leaves in different shades of colour, but they are less common and require positions in full light.
Aspidistra in brief
Type of plant
Interior, balcony, terrace, greenhouse or veranda
Height at maturity
From 30 cm to 60 cm
Speed of growth
Diseases and pests
Red spider, cochineals
Limited cold resistance
- The Aspidistra is a very rustic plant, which survives even in adverse conditions. In nature, it grows in the fresh, humid forests of China, where it can count on a regular supply of moisture. No…
The aspidistra elatior prefers very bright positions, even if it does not stand the direct rays of the sun, which cause a significant slowdown in growth and a rapid discoloration of the leaves; it adapts without problems even in positions in half shade or full shade, but, in this case, its growth will be very reduced.
The lead plant is very resistant to the weather and smog, as it tolerates without problems the high summer temperatures; in winter, it can easily tolerate rigid temperatures around the 5° C, but it fears the lower temperatures.
Do not expose it directly to sunlight during the summer period as the sun may burn the leaves.
It can withstand a wide variety of temperatures, but ideal temperatures are between 70 and 210 degrees Celsius. It can withstand cold temperatures as long as it is protected from frost.
Aspiditra indoor plant
Thanks to its ability to withstand sudden changes in temperature, cold, heat, and dry environments, it is one of the longest-lasting indoor plants. It does not need any special care; however, if you give it adequate attention, it will grow even more vigorously.
Often the aspidistra is used in compositions with evergreen or flowering plants because its leaves enhance the other plants. You will also notice that in flower arrangements it is generally the plant that lasts the longest.
As an indoor plan, it can be placed in any room, from the living room to the entrance, from the office to the veranda, or even in rooms with little light, but a correct exposure makes it even more beautiful. If placed in a properly lit place and has a well drained soil, the aspidistra flowers: the flowers appear at the end of winter and are very original. But it is not often that you see it bloom, if kept in an apartment.
Growth is slow because an adult plant produces only 4 or 5 leaves per year.
How to grow aspidistra
Aspidistra is an extremely resistant plant and can therefore be placed in places (such as cold rooms or an entrance with little light), where other plants would not resist. You can also keep it in a veranda, a winter garden or outside, as long as it is not directly exposed to sunlight.
It generally prefers shade or half-shade: only varieties with mottled leaves require greater exposure to light.
The cares to be given to the aspidistra are very limited: it is sufficient to remove the leaves and wilted flowers, spray fresh water on the leaves when it is hot, periodically clean the leaves with a damp sponge to remove dust, without using polishing products that would damage the proper oxygenation of the plant.
In spring and summer, every 20-30 days, apply either liquid fertilizer diluted in water or slow release fertilizer.
To prevent the plant from becoming too large, every two or three years divide it and repot it in several small pots with new soil. For repotting, use a pot that is not too large because the Aspidistra does not like too large a pot compared to the size of the root system. Repotting is not recommended for old plants: just remove the new shoots and add soil to the surface. If you want to extend the repotting time, remove soil from the surface every year and add new soil.
Cut the yellowish or dry leaves at the base.
The cultivation of aspidistra
Rich in humus
Removal of dried or yellowed leaves
Period of vegetative recovery
The aspidistra needs regular watering in the summer, but always moderate, so that the soil does not get soaked in water. Eliminate the water remaining in the saucer so that it does not stagnate, as excessive moisture would make the plant yellow. Always make sure the soil is dry before watering.
It can bear short periods of drought without any problems and during the cold months it is best to thin the watering. When the temperatures are rather high, it is advisable to intervene with water vaporisations on the leaves to maintain the right level of humidity.
We recommend to provide fertilizer for green plants every 20-30 days, diluted in the water of the watering; often the variegated varieties tend to lose the spots if the fertilizer is supplied in excessive quantity.
The soil must consist of light soil and a draining layer at the bottom of the pot. These plants are very resistant and adapt to any type of soil; however, it is recommended to use a compound consisting of balanced universal soil and coarse-grained material, to ensure excellent drainage.
In places where the winter lows are not too rigid, the aspidistra elatior can be grown in the garden, at the base of trees or shrubs, to ensure a fairly shady place; in this case it is advisable to place gravel or pumice stone at the bottom of the hole where you intend to bury the aspidistra elatior, to avoid harmful water stagnation.
The aspidistras are very long-lived, but grow very slowly, so, for plants grown in pots, it is not necessary to repot them too often, about every 2 or 3 years in spring, between March and April.
Multiplication and Propagation
The multiplication happens for seed, only in the case in which it has produced fruits, as the seeds are to be used fresh, in autumn. More frequently, in spring, when repotting these plants, we proceed to the division of the tufts, taking care to keep a part of the rhizome with vigorous roots for each portion done; the new plants are to be immediately placed in a single pot or in a garden, placing them, however, in a semi-obstructed place.
The propagation of the aspidistra is carried out by dividing the heads. The plant is extracted from the pot, the heads and part of the rhizome are cut off, being careful not to damage the roots. The resulting heads must be planted in a pot or in the ground. Normal soil is used for repotting. Do not add fertilizer after repotting.
Pests and diseases
Occasionally, aspidistras are attacked by fungal diseases, cochineals and aphids. Fungal diseases usually occur due to excessive humidity and the formation of water stagnation; it is therefore advisable to check that the chosen soil allows for correct drainage. If you notice the presence of cochineals, if the attack is not massive, you can intervene by manually removing the parasites with the help of a cloth with alcohol, or washing the plant with water and soap, to be rinsed carefully.
It is also possible that this variety is attacked by aphids, commonly called lice; to eliminate the problem there are special insecticide products, or, for a natural remedy, you can boil garlic in water, filter it and then vaporize on the leaves.
Dark spots on the leaves similar to burns are a sign that the plant is too exposed to sunlight.
Dark spots can also be a sign of too much watering: let the soil dry before giving more water.
If the leaves are split, reduce the amount of fertiliser.
The leaves of aspidistra are rarely attacked by parasites because of their leathery texture. It is possible that they are attacked by the red spider: its presence is evident from small canvases on the bottom of the leaves. An acaricide product can be used to remove the red spider.
The plant can be threatened by cochineals: you notice it from a sort of cottony and white mould. Remove them by hand and clean the leaves with cotton soaked in denatured alcohol or with a specific insecticide.
Mites can damage the plant by settling on the underside of the leaves: they first cause the formation of cobwebs, then the discoloration of the upper part and finally the fall. You can fight them by keeping the environment around the plant moist and, if they do not disappear, you need to use specific acaricide products.
Variety of Aspidistra
Aspidistra elatior o asphyristra lurida is especially appreciated for its beautiful decorative foliage. Its leaves can reach up to 70 cm in length and are very thick. It is particularly suitable for creating a green corner in the interior spaces either alone or in combination with other taller green plants.
Aspidistra elatior variegata has leaves with longitudinal white or cream streaks that are more or less thick and more or less numerous. It requires a limited amount of fertilizer, which could make the particular striations disappear.
Aspidistra elatior maculata is a variety native to East Asia and Africa. The leaves are dark green dotted with white or cream spots. It prefers mid-shade or shaded positions. Direct exposure to sunlight causes spots to appear on the leaves and fades the green colour. The soil should be rich and well drained and regular watering should be regular. Slow release fertilizer is recommended.
The calendar of the aspidistra
Any time of year
Any time of year
In regions with a cold winter climate, it is advisable to plant it in pots so that it can be protected during the cold season. If you keep it in a greenhouse, plant it in large planters and combine it with other plants with the same water needs.
You can plant it at any time of the year by choosing a pot that suits the size of the roots.
Prepare the pot by placing coarse sand or fine gravel on the bottom to ensure proper drainage. Place soil on the sand and place the plant in the middle. Fill in the lateral spaces. The upper part of the plant should reach 3 cm of the edge of the pot. Press the potting soil lightly and water, if necessary, add more potting soil.
It is possible to cultivate the aspidistra in the open ground, provided it is planted in a place protected from the coldest currents. In places where the winter temperatures are colder, a mulch is made around the plant as a precautionary measure to protect it from the cold.
It is advisable to administer the liquid fertilizer diluted in the water during the period of the vegetative recovery and to suspend it during the winter period. If you see that the leaves divide, suspend the fertilization and in the following year decrease the doses. Do not give the fertilizer when repotting because the Aspidistra does not like a soil that is too rich.
Aspidistra does not require pruning, it is sufficient to periodically dry out or damage the leaves to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for pests or diseases.
Lead plant – Aspidistra elatior: Curiosities
The cut and polished leaves of aspidistra, thanks to their beauty and leathery character, are suitable to be used to enrich bouquets or to create special floral arrangements.
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- Aspidistra is originally from China and belongs to the Liliaceae family. Its main characteristic is the fact that it is a
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