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The aspidistra isn’t called ‘cast iron’ for nothing

It’s tolerance of shade, drought, drafts, pests and neglect makes the aspidistra virtually indestructible

If you want a truly indestructible houseplant, there are few that will survive quite such a high level of neglect as an aspidistra. It will tolerate more shade than pretty much any other, not to mention months of drought, the coldest of drafts and almost any pest going. Hence the Victorian common name for the species: “cast iron plant”.

But just how indestructible is indestructible? Well, when I was testing out plants for one of the tropical gardens I designed at Chelsea Flower Show, I had a specimen that the postman placed in a bin cupboard by my front door. When I eventually discovered this a month later, still in its sealed cardboard box, it emerged as if nothing had happened. No other plant I know of would not look like wet mush or a shrivelled skeleton after this treatment.

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