How to Grow the Cast Iron Plant
During the Victorian Era, the Cast Iron plant was one of the most popular houseplants. With it’s draping green leaves, it’s an ideal way to add a tropical flair to any room, although it isn’t a tropical plant. It’s available in both a dark green and variegated variety. This plant is very hardy and once the plant is established it can even tolerate drought.
It’s a slow growing plant, so if you want one of any substantial size, it’s best to just purchase it. These plants can reach just over 3 feet in height. The variegated variety generally costs about twice as much as the standard green variety. But, the white contrast on the dark green leaves might be worth paying extra for. It’s a really pretty plant that doesn’t require a lot of care.
Occasionally, the Cast Iron plant will flower when kept indoors, but this is very rare. When it does, the plant produces groups of small flowers near, or slightly under the top of the soil that are purplish brown in color. Because of the location of the star shaped flowers, often they aren’t even noticed.
This plant will do well in any lighting environment except for total darkness or bright, direct sunlight. This makes it an excellent choice for both a houseplant and for shady areas of the garden or yard. The soil should be allowed to dry out to around one or two inches of the surface before watering. In low light areas, it’s not uncommon for the plant to only need water every few weeks.
The main reason that houseplant hobbyists fail with the Cast Iron plant is too much water. Like many other types of plants, the Cast Iron plant is very susceptible to root rot. Make sure that you provide good drainage so that the plants roots are never sitting in water. The ideal solution is to use a plant with a drainage hole which allow the excess water to drain into a saucer. However, the saucer should be emptied to prevent the soil from remaining to wet.
The plant needs to be fertilized on a monthly basis with a high quality liquid fertilizer. One that is designed specifically for houseplants is ideal. However, if you have the variegated variety, make sure that you don’t over feed it. Too much fertilizer will literally cause the plant to lose it’s variegation. The leaves will all end up dark green.
Propagation of this plant is done through root division. When the plant is well established with lots of leaves, you can separate it into several plants. Take the plant out of the pot and carefully separate the root ball into sections. Place each section in a pot filled with a good quality potting mix and water thoroughly. After a few months, you should begin to notice some new growth.
Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2010 HousePlantsForYou.com