Aspidistra is a perennial plant from tropical latitudes, belonging to the Asparagus family. The homeland of the plant is East Asia.
Aspidistra has existed on Earth since ancient times. They have a developed creeping root system and smooth long leaves of deep green color. In this case, the stems of plants are completely absent. Each leaf is located on a long petiole, covered with a kind of scales – a protective layer of small leaves. The leaf blade itself is often bent outward.
Aspidistra rarely blooms as a home plant. Usually, this happens only in the summer, while its sometimes imperceptible leathery flower lasts only a day.
Features of aspidistra
Aspidistra is unpretentious and hardy. It is able to grow even in shady and cool places, and is also undemanding to the purity of the air: smoke and soot will not confuse the flower. At the same time, this plant cannot be called miniature. The average length of aspidistra leaves reaches half a meter. Despite its slow growth rates, with proper care, aspidistra can last for many decades and gradually grow in size. In addition, the ornate leaves of the plant can be used for cutting. They are able to remain decorative for about a week.
Since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this flower has been an invariable feature of the interior in semi-dark hallways and living rooms. Today, aspidistra is also used by many designers in the design of the interiors of retro-style rooms, as well as office premises. The flower can also be seen in places of establishments designated for smoking. It is cool enough there, the air is full of smoke, but nothing to him – a truly “cast-iron flower”, as it is also called.
In addition to the fact that the flower is unique in terms of vitality and unpretentiousness, it is also a rather curious plant. After all, it refers to plants of ancient origin, such as chlorophytums and ferns, in the wilds of which saber-toothed tigers and majestic mammoths wandered.
The plant has another interesting property: it attracts snakes. In countries where there are thickets of aspidistra, by the stirring and rustling of their leaves, one can notice from afar the approach of poisonous reptiles. It is to them that the plant owes its name. Literally it means “snake pointer”. In addition, the long rhizome of the flower looks like a snake.
Home care for aspidistra
The popularity of the plant in indoor culture is due to its unpretentiousness and decorative appearance. Finding a houseplant that is also unpretentious to care for is very difficult. Even a beginner or too busy florist can grow an aspidistra. In addition, due to its slow growth rates, this plant will not need to be transplanted annually.
The main varieties of aspidistra can grow normally even in a poorly lit area. Northern windows and other places with insufficiently bright lighting are suitable for them, although it is not recommended to put a flower in deep shade.
In this case, variegated forms will need more light, otherwise they may lose their beautiful color: it can fade or disappear altogether. For such plants, a bright place, but not too open to the sun, is suitable. The plants must be protected from direct rays, especially in the summer.
The only thing to consider is the size of the flower. In principle, aspidistra grows slowly, but even a young plant can be quite impressive in size and will take up a lot of space in an apartment with a small area.
Aspidistra feels good in normal room conditions. The optimal summer temperature is about +22 degrees. In warm seasons, it can be moved to an open place: a balcony, a veranda or even a garden, choosing a moderately shady corner, protected from the wind, for placement. In the subtropics, the plant is able to winter outdoors.
In autumn and winter, when aspidistra is resting, it can be kept in a cool (about + 15 degrees) place. Such conditions contribute to more active growth of leaves in the next season. The plant is able to survive a greater drop in temperature, but frosts can be fatal for it.
If you cannot provide a cool room for the flower, this will not greatly affect its health. But a room that is too warm, where it is kept above +20 degrees, will require an increase in air humidity. For this, the plant must be periodically sprayed. If the house is not hot, there is no need for spraying: in this case, the level of humidity does not play a big role in growing.
For aspidistra, well-settled water is used without excess lime and chlorine. Watering is carried out as needed, waiting for the topsoil to dry out. In spring and summer, 2-3 waterings per week will be enough for a flower. In winter, the volume of moisture must be reduced, during this period the aspidistra is watered only once every 7 days, trying to wait a couple of days after the top layer begins to dry out. But if the room is hot, you will have to water the plant a little more often. Although the flower tolerates a small lack of water better than overflow, the complete drying out of the soil coma can become no less dangerous for it.
Aspidistra leaves, attracting dust, are recommended to periodically wipe or wash. Do this with plain water – artificial foliage cleaners can cause foliage to turn yellow. The wiping procedure will help remove impurities and improve the health of the flower.
The state of the air does not affect the aspidistra and it is indifferent to spraying. But still, once a week it is worth wiping the leaves with a damp cloth and sprinkling the plant, so it will grow and develop better. Only no chemistry, the flower does not like it.
For aspidistra, ordinary garden soil or universal store soil rich in nitrogen is suitable. You can make a mixture for a plant yourself. Aspidistra will thrive in soil that includes turf, humus, and leafy soil with half the sand. The acidity of such soil should not exceed 7.5.
Aspidistra can be fertilized only in spring and summer. The number of dressings depends on the illumination of the place where the plant is located. The more light falls on it, the more often you need to apply fertilizer. So for a plant in a shady corner, only two dressings per warm season will be enough: once every 3 months. A specimen growing in the sun will have to be fertilized monthly.
For aspidistra, universal soluble formulations containing nitrogen are suitable. You can use ready-made mixtures for plants with beautiful leaves. In this case, the dosage recommended by the manufacturer should be reduced by 2 times. It is not recommended to use fluorine-containing compositions: the plant is sensitive to an excess of fluorides.
When watering, it is important to try so that drops of solution do not fall on the undeveloped young foliage that appears at the roots.
Important! Striped and variegated varieties do not need feeding. Due to fertilization, their leaves may acquire an ordinary green color. If necessary, they are fed no more than once a month.
Due to the fragility of the root system, aspidistra is not recommended to be transplanted unnecessarily. This is done when the roots of the plant fill the entire pot and begin to look through the drainage holes. The recommended transplant frequency is every 3 years. Spring is best suited for the procedure.
The new aspidistra container should be slightly larger than the previous one. Drainage is laid on its bottom and sprinkled with a small amount of soil. The plant is carefully removed from the old pot, trying to move it along with the earthy clod. After the lump is in a new container, the voids are filled with fresh earth and compacted a little, and then watered. At the same time, it is not recommended to deepen the upper part of the basal neck.
If the size of the plant allows it to be left in the old container, the top layer of the soil is simply replaced in it, being careful not to damage the roots.
The new aspidistra brought from the store is kept in special conditions for several days. Such a plant is not fed, but also not overdried, so that it quickly adapts to the new environment. After passing the acclimatization period, the bush can be moved to a new container, which is 4-5 cm higher than the old one.
As the aspidistra develops, it may begin to lose its elegant appearance. This is usually due to the drying out of old leaves or accidental damage to the flower. If the plant is not cleaned of old foliage in a timely manner, this can lead to the appearance of fungal infections or the reproduction of pests.
Dried, leaky, or unhealthy foliage should be regularly and carefully trimmed at the root. It is convenient to do this by slightly pulling out the sheet to be removed. Thanks to such procedures, the growth of fresh leaves is stimulated and the health of the plant itself is improved.
As a rule, aspidistra blooms only in the natural environment. This period falls on the rainy season – the first months of the year. At home, it is possible to observe its flowering only if the ideal conditions of detention are observed. In this case, flowers appear in spring or summer.
The flowering of aspidistra has interesting features. Its buds are on the roots. The opening flowers are star-shaped and burgundy or purple in color. A day later, in place of the flower, a large berry fruit is formed with one grain inside. You can get it using artificial pollination by transferring pollen from the flower of one plant to another.
Moreover, the seed propagation method of such a plant is considered the most impractical. In this case, the development of a full-fledged aspidistra can take decades. This method is used only by experienced plant lovers seeking to obtain new varieties. Seeds are sown in spring in a container with warm and moist soil, being careful not to burrow them too deeply. The emerging seedlings dive.
Plant care in winter
Although aspidistra can adapt even to cold weather, it must be protected from frost. In addition, the plant should be placed in a corner that does not get cold drafts. For winter placement of aspidistra, you need to choose a moderately lit place. Excess shade during this period can lead to a slowdown in development and a deterioration in the decorative qualities of the flower.
In early spring, the aspidistra, coming out of hibernation, is fed to give the plant strength for the new season.
Breeding methods for aspidistra
Dividing the bush
An easy and fast enough way to propagate aspidistra is to divide its bush. An adult plant that has completely filled its pot is suitable for dividing. The procedure is usually performed in the spring and is often combined with a transplant. The plant is removed from the pot, after which its rhizome is divided into parts. Each cut should have a rhizome segment and at least 3-5 leaves: the larger the part, the faster it will take root.
The sections are treated with charcoal, after which the cuttings are seated in separate containers. They can be small. Then the seedlings are covered with transparent caps and placed in a moderately shady place, where they keep about +18. In such conditions, the seedlings are left until fresh leaf blades appear – this will mean that the plants were able to successfully root. Such aspidistra can be fertilized only a month after planting.
It is recommended to divide the aspidistra in this way no more than once every 5 years.
Reproduction by a sheet plate
You can try to root a leaf cut from a bush. This method of reproduction takes a little longer but is considered more effective and also allows you to preserve all the varietal characteristics of the plant.
In order to get a new aspidistra, a healthy adult leaf with a long (about 7 cm) petiole is cut from the mother bush. There are also options for rooting a leaf without a petiole – in this case, the leaf is cut so as to preserve the fleshy area at the base. After drying the cut, the sheet is placed in a high container with water. In this case, the neck must be closed with a film so that air does not get inside. The container is placed in a warm and bright place. The sheet is kept in such conditions until the roots are formed. They usually form within two weeks. To make the roots appear faster, you can first add growth stimulants to the water. If the leaf begins to rot, the affected areas are cut off and put back in freshwater.
The finished stalk with roots is planted in an individual pot with soft fertile soil and watered abundantly. Until the seedling takes root in a new place and begins to release new leaves, you can keep it under a transparent bag or jar to create the effect of a greenhouse.
Possible growing difficulties
Mistakes in the care of aspidistra can lead to unpleasant consequences. Among them:
- Yellowing of foliage. Under normal conditions, it is associated with its aging, but it may also indicate putrefactive processes at the root. A slight decay of the plant can be dealt with by stopping watering for a while and treating the leaves of aspidistra with fungicides, and the ground with a solution of potassium permanganate. For prophylaxis, the flower must be planted only in sterilized soil with a good drainage layer and try not to overmoisten it by pouring excess water out of the pan. If the foliage loses color but retains its firmness, it is possible that insufficient clean water is being used for irrigation.
- Withering leaves. Most often, the reason lies in the drying out of the soil or, on the contrary, in the stagnation of water at the roots. Adjustment of the irrigation regime is required.
- Drying of leaves. Hot weather and low humidity levels dry out the plant’s foliage. To avoid this, it should be watered and sprayed more often with a spray bottle.
- The leaves will fade from lack of light. The pot with the plant is gradually moved to the light or the lamps are turned on for it.
- The change in color of the leaves also occurs due to a lack of lighting or due to an excess of fertilizers. To remedy the situation, feeding is stopped, and the pot is transferred to the light.
- Slow growth of leaves indicates a lack of nitrogen. To achieve the fastest effect, the plant is watered with a urea solution (1 g per 1 l of water)
- Dark spots on foliage are a sign of hypothermia or a consequence of a cold draft. In combination with lethargy, it is a sign of overflow. If the trunk begins to darken, the roots of the flower may have begun to rot.
- Brown spots on the leaves can appear both on the blade itself and around the edges. If the flower stands in the bright sun, this is how sunburn appears. In this case, you should change the position of the plant and remove it from direct light. Red-brown watery spots on young foliage can be caused by fungal infections. To avoid this, do not moisturize the green part of the plant in cool weather. Too slow drying of water on the leaves can lead to diseases. Treatment consists in treatment with drugs for fusarium.
- The plant turned yellow , and even the flower petals began to acquire an unnatural color, probably, it is affected by infectious chlorosis. Such an aspidistra will have to be destroyed so as not to infect other plants.
The main pests of aspidistra are the red spider mite and the palm scale. The mite can be recognized by the numerous light specks on the obverse of the leaf blades. From the inside, they can be covered with cobwebs. Affected leaves can be treated with soapy water and rinsed in the shower. The scaled palm feeds on the sap of the plant, their presence manifests itself in the yellowing and death of aspidistra leaves. The scale insects can be collected from the bush by hand, and then thoroughly rinsed the foliage with plain water. For severe lesions, an appropriate insecticide must be used. This is usually done twice, once a week.
Types and varieties of aspidistra with a photo
The most popular type for home cultivation. The name comes from its size. In nature, such aspidistra can grow up to 80 cm in height. Indoor specimens reach a height of 70 cm. They have oblong foliage up to half a meter long. Glossy leaves are colored green and slightly pointed upwards. Despite the slow growth rates (up to 5 new leaves per year), over time, the bush of such an aspidistra grows and thickens.
Flowering time for indoor specimens is very rare. It usually falls in the summer. During this period, small (up to 3 cm in diameter) eight-lobed flowers of a red-violet or yellowish-brown color are formed on the aspidistra.
Aspidistra Milky Way
The dark green foliage of this variety of aspidistra is covered with many light specks, reminiscent of star deposits. It was this feature that gave the variety the name Milky Way (“Milky Way”). The height of the “stellar” aspidistra can reach 60 cm, but, like other species, it grows rather slowly. Flowering periods are very rare. At home, they fall at the very end of February or early March. The flowers are purple in color and have pointed petals.
The variety is drought-resistant and is able to survive short periods of cold snaps.
Shrub up to half a meter high. It is considered one of the most capricious varieties of aspidistra. The plant requires special care with the observance of certain lighting and humidity levels. The timeliness of dressings also plays an important role. The work on growing variegated aspidistra is compensated by its attractive appearance. On the foliage of such plants, there are vertical light stripes of a cream shade. If the flower is not maintained correctly, they disappear. This is usually caused by overflow or excessive fertilization.
The leaves of this species resemble the enlarged foliage of a lily of the valley. They have a similar shape and are colored deep green. The length of each sheet can reach half a meter, and the width reaches 15 cm.
This aspidistra blooms very rarely. The flower, like other species, is formed at the roots, but has a yellow or crimson color. Each flower has 8 petals.
The leaf plates are distinguished by long petioles reaching 30 cm. The dimensions of the leaves themselves reach up to half a meter. The leaf blades are covered with a scattering of light spots. The species is notable for its unpretentiousness, its representatives can grow well even in cool corners. They will not be confused by areas with dirty air. Over time, perennial bushes can grow significantly.
Flowering occurs once a year, in early summer. Aspidistra forms a small (about 3 cm in diameter) basal purple flower.
A recently discovered species that is gaining more and more popularity among florists. The homeland of this aspidistra is Vietnam. The variety is notable for oval foliage up to 80 cm long with contrasting spots. It is also interesting for its large (up to 5 cm) flowers. They are not similar in shape to compact flowers of other species and have very thin and long petals of pink-purple color. Rare periods of flowering of domestic specimens occur in mid-summer. At this time, up to 5 buds are tied on the main root, forming buds.
Unlike other varieties, the bush does not grow too much over a period of time.
The flower owes its name to the place of growth – the high-mountain open areas of the bamboo thickets of China. There, this species of aspidistra can grow, forming real plantations. A pot-grown specimen turns into a dense bush over the years. The length of the leaves of this species reaches 30 cm, and the width is about 8 cm. The foliage is green with light longitudinal stripes of an arched shape, but there are specimens with a uniform dark green color.
The flowering period is in late winter or early spring. Buds form on the roots, turning into small, deep purple six-petalled flowers.
Another Chinese variety with narrow (up to 3 cm wide) dark green leaves. There are varieties with variegated foliage, decorated with yellowish specks. The bush grows to a height of 60 cm. Flowering is observed in early spring. Small bright red flowers-stars appear on the plant.
The species is distinguished by wide, relatively small (up to 20 cm) leaves on long petioles up to 40 cm long. Dense leaf blades are covered with small yellowish spots. The roots of this plant are especially thin. The flowering of such an aspidistra occurs in May; at this time, pairs of buds appear on its roots, from which large purple or violet flowers with thin threadlike petals develop.
The healing properties of aspidistra
In Asian countries, aspidistra is widely used as a medicinal plant. It can be often found in alternative medicine due to its special composition. The flower contains substances that have a disinfecting and hemostatic effect. They can also remove tumors. Aspidistra is also used as an anticonvulsant. At the same time, all parts of the plant have certain medicinal properties.
Fresh leaves of the plant can be applied to bruises or abrasions, like plantain foliage. With bleeding gums or periodontitis, such a leaf can be chewed periodically. Decoctions of aspidistra leaves are used to treat stomach or intestinal diseases, they help with diarrhea, cystitis and even angina. Aspidistra is also used for preventive purposes, for example, for the preparation of tonic infusions. For this, the crushed leaf of the plant is added to a glass of lukewarm water and insisted for at least an hour. The resulting product is taken in 2 tbsp. spoons for breakfast and lunch for three days.