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Rhizomatous perennial herbaceous variety, native to East Asia and Africa, widespread in many parts of Asia from the Himalayas to Japan. It appears as a dense tuft of long dark green leathery leaves, which grow directly from the roots, thick and fleshy; some varieties have variegated or dotted leaves, usually white or cream. The flowers of this plant of lead are very particular, and often escape the sight, in fact they sprout directly in the ground, between the leaves, they are of purple color, tending to brown, often dotted with light, they bloom in summer and can be followed by a single blackish berry containing the seeds. It is also known as the lead plant.
The aspidistra is an evergreen ornamental plant native to eastern Asia. For a long time it was a highly appreciated plant, in fact it could be seen very often on balconies, landings or city gardens. Then it fell into disuse perhaps because it is present everywhere or for the aspect not particularly sought after, but recently it has returned to fashion thanks above all to its particular resistance and to its "minimalist" character.
The aspidistra is characterized by a thick foliage that develops from a fleshy rhizome.
Flowers and leaves of the aspidistra
The spear-shaped leaves resemble those of the lily of the valley, but they are much larger and more resistant. They are equipped with a 10 cm stem and reach a height that varies from 30 cm to 50 cm. With an intense green color on the upper side, lighter in the lower one, they have an entire margin, have a leathery consistency and are characterized by evident longitudinal ribs. The fleshy purple flowers appear at ground level at the end of the winter period, therefore they are not particularly evident because they are hidden by the dense foliage; however the plants kept in the apartment only rarely bloom. The flowering lasts just a few days and, even if it does not have a particular decorative value, lets understand that the plant is in good condition.
There are species of aspidistra with leaves with shades of different colors, but they are less widespread and require positions in full light.
Aspidistra in brief
|Type of plant||Perennial|
|Use||Interior, balcony, terrace, conservatory or veranda|
|Height at maturity||From 30 cm to 60 cm|
|Diseases and pests||Red spider, scale insects|
|Temperature||Limited resistance to cold|
The elatior aspidistra prefers very bright positions, even if it does not bear the direct rays of the sun, which cause a noticeable slowing of the growth and a rapid discoloration of the leaves; it adapts without problems even in half-shade or full-shade positions, but, in this case, its growth will be very reduced. The lead plant is very resistant to weather and smog, as well as tolerating high summer temperatures without problems; in winter it can easily tolerate cold temperatures around 5 ° C, but it fears lower temperatures.
Do not expose it directly to sunlight during the summer as the sun could burn the leaves.
It can withstand very different temperatures, but the ideal ones are between 70 and 210 degrees. It also bears cold temperatures as long as it is protected from frost.
Aspiditra indoor plant
Thanks to its ability to withstand abrupt changes in temperature, cold, heat and dry environments, it is one of the longest-lasting indoor plants. It does not need special care; however, if you pay proper attention to it, it will grow even more vigorous.
Often the aspidistra is used in compositions with evergreen or flowering plants since its leaves enhance the other plants. You will also notice that in flower arrangements it is generally the plant that lasts longer.
As an indoor plant, 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 blooms: the flowers appear at the end of winter and are very original. But it doesn't often happen to see it flourish, if kept in the apartment.
The growth is slow because an adult plant produces only 4 or 5 leaves each year.
How to grow aspidistra
The aspidistra is an extremely resistant plant and can therefore be placed in places (for example cold rooms or a low-light entrance), in which the other plants would not resist. You can also keep it on a veranda, a winter garden, or outdoors, as long as it is not exposed to direct sunlight.
In general it prefers shade or half shade: only varieties with mottled leaves require a greater exposure to light.
The care to be given to the aspidistra is very limited: it is sufficient to eliminate the leaves and withered flowers, spray fresh water on the leaves when it is hot, periodically clean the leaves with a damp sponge to remove the dust, without using polishing products that would damage the correct oxygenation of the plant.
In spring and summer, every 20-30 days, administer liquid fertilizer diluted in water or slow release fertilizer.
To prevent the plant from becoming excessively wide, every two years or three years divide it and repot it in several small pots with new soil. For repotting, use a vase that is not too large since the aspidistra does not like containers that are too large compared to the size of the root system. Repotting is not recommended for plants that are already old: simply remove the new shoots and add some soil to the surface. If you want to extend the repotting time, remove the soil from the surface every year and add some new one.
Cut the leaves yellow or dried at the base.
The cultivation of aspidistra
|Ground||Rich in humus|
|Cleaning / Pruning||Elimination of dry or yellowed leaves|
|Composting||Period of vegetative growth|
The aspidistra needs regular watering in summer, but always moderate, so that the soil is not soaked with water. Eliminate the water remaining in the saucer so that it does not stagnate, since excessive humidity would make the plant turn yellow. Always check that the ground is dry before watering.
It can withstand short periods of drought without problems and in cold months it is advisable to reduce watering. When the temperatures are quite high it is advisable to intervene with water vaporisations on the leaves to maintain the right degree of humidity.
It is advisable to supply fertilizer for green plants every 20-30 days, diluted in the water used for watering; often the variegated varieties tend to lose the stains if the fertilizer is supplied in excessive quantity.
The soil must be composed of light soil and a draining layer at the bottom of the vase. These plants are very resistant and adapt to any type of soil; however, it is advisable to use a compound consisting of balanced universal soil and coarse-grained material, to guarantee excellent drainage. In places where the winter lows are not too rigid you can cultivate the aspicistra elatior in the garden, at the base of trees or shrubs, to guarantee it a fairly shaded place; in this case it is advisable to place gravel or pumice stone on the bottom of the hole where you intend to bury the elatior aspidistra, to avoid damaging water stagnation. The aspidistre are very long-lived, but they grow very slowly, therefore, for plants grown in pots, it is not necessary to repot them too often, approximately every 2 or 3 years in the spring period, between March and April.
Multiplication and Propagation
The multiplication takes place by seed, only if it has produced fruit, since the seeds must be used fresh, in autumn. More frequently we proceed, in spring, when these plants are repotted, to the division of the tufts, taking care to maintain a part of the rhizome with vigorous roots for each portion practiced; the new plants are immediately placed in a single pot or in a garden, but placed in a semi-shaded place.
The propagation of the aspidistra is carried out by dividing the tufts. The plant is extracted from the pot, the tufts and part of the rhizome are cut off, taking care not to damage the roots. The tufts obtained should be planted in a vase or in the open ground. Normal soil is used for repotting. Do not add the fertilizer after repotting.
Pests and diseases
Occasionally the aspersters are attacked by fungal diseases, cochineal and aphids. Fungal diseases usually arise due to an excessive presence of humidity and the formation of water stagnations; it is good, for this reason to check that the chosen soil allows proper drainage. If you notice the presence of scale insects, if the attack is not massive, it is possible to intervene by manually eliminating the parasites with the help of a cloth with alcohol, or washing the plant with soap and water, to rinse carefully. It is also possible that this variety is attacked by aphids, commonly called lice; to eliminate the problem there are special insecticidal products, or, for a natural remedy, it is possible to boil garlic in water, filter it and then vaporize on the leaves.
Dark spots on burn-like leaves are a sign that the plant is too exposed to sunlight.
Dark spots can also be the sign of over-abundant watering: let the soil dry before giving more water.
If the leaves are cracked, reduce the amount of fertilizer.
The leaves of the aspidistra are rarely attacked by parasites due to their leathery consistency. It is possible that they are attacked by the red spider: its presence is evident from small canvases on the lower part of the leaves. To eliminate the red spider it is possible to use an acaricidal product.
The plant can be threatened by scale insects: you notice it from a sort of white and cottony mold. Remove them manually 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 determine 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 don't disappear, you need to use specific acaricide products.
Aspidistra elatior or aspidistra lurida It is especially appreciated for its beautiful decorative foliage. Its leaves also reach 70 cm in length and are very thick. It is particularly suitable for creating a green corner in interior spaces either alone or associated with other taller green plants.
Aspidistra elatior variegata it has leaves with longitudinal white or cream streaks that are more or less thick and more or less numerous. It requires a limited supply of fertilizer that could make the particular streaks disappear.
Spotted elatior aspidistra It is a variety native to East Asia and Africa. The leaves are dark green dotted with white or cream spots. Prefers half-shadow or shaded positions. Direct exposure to sunlight causes spots to appear on the leaves and cause the green color to fade. The soil must be rich and well drained and regular watering must be regular. It is advisable to administer a slow release fertilizer.
The calendar of the aspidistra
At any time of the year
|Planting||At any time of the year|
In regions with a cold climate in winter, it is advisable to plant it in a pot so that it can be sheltered during the cold season. If you keep it in a greenhouse, plant it in large planters associating it with other plants with the same water requirement.
You can plant it at any time of the year by choosing a pot suitable for the size of the roots.
Prepare the jar by placing coarse sand or thin gravel on the bottom to ensure proper drainage. Place some soil on the sand and place the plant in the center. Fill the side spaces. The upper part of the plant must reach 3 cm from the edge of the vase. Lightly press the soil and water, if necessary, add more soil.
It is possible to cultivate the aspidistra in full ground, as long as it is planted in a place sheltered from the colder currents. In places where winter temperatures are more rigid, mulching is done around the plant as a precaution to protect it from the cold.
It is advisable to administer the liquid fertilizer diluted in the water during the vegetative growth and suspend it in the winter period. If you see that the leaves divide, suspend the fertilization and in the following year reduce the doses. Do not feed the fertilizer when repotting because the aspidistra does not like too rich soil.
The aspidistra does not require pruning, periodically the leaves are dried or damaged to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for pests or diseases.
Lead plant - Aspidistra elatior: Curiosity
The cut and polished aspidistra leaves, thanks to their beauty and the coriaceous character, lend themselves to be used to enrich bouquets or to realize particular floral compositions.
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The Aspidistra is native to China and belongs to the Liliaceae family. Its main feature is dovu