It was a long search that took me more than ten years but finally I found it – the indoor house plant that will brighten up the end of a corridor 5 metres from my front door.
The Aspidistra, commonly known as the Cast Iron plant, has graced the drawing rooms of many an otherwise drab Victorian English manor, and now graces my barn out in Milland, Hampshire.
Many gardening experts (not that I claim to be one) describe the Aspidistra as one of the toughest and most adaptable house plants. Its long blades of slender dark green or variegated dark green and white leaves shoot straight out from the soil but in clumps and up to 75 cm in height and 15 cm wide, great for a floor pot plant or on a desk if you have the space.
It is such a low maintenance plant and has no overly special requirements. It needs very low light, average temperature and humidity and just occasional watering.
Low-light plants are usually defined as those that can survive in 25 to 75 foot candles – that is, a spot that is 4 to 5 metres from a bright window, just enough light to read by comfortably, but where artificial lighting switched on by day would give a brightening effect.
You can easily find the Aspidistra in your local garden centre or nursery. In addition, five other plants that will suit very low light situations are:
Aglonema (Chinese Evergreen) which are among the few plants that prefer only moderate light and adapt well to low light. It has large dark green oval then tapering leathery leaves later developing a caney base.
Drachaena deremensis varieties (also know as Happy or Fortune Plants) which are slender leafed and usually white variegated. The Drachaena family are caney plants crested with decorative rosettes of straplike foliage.
Holly fern which adapts to low light and Boston fern a fishbone type of fern that will remain in low light for many months but need a spell in brighter light to rejuvenate.
Neanthe Bella or Parlor Palm which is more suited to low light situations than most palms.
Sanseviera (also known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue) which stands low to very bright light has waxy, erect straplike leaves usually with cream-colored margins and an unusual banding of the grey-green center.
If you are finding it difficult to find a plant that will brighten up that dark corner, as we’ve found so many are, try one of these hardy and attractive plants to ensure you buy something that will succeed!