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Avatar for JoshKH92
Apr 28, 2018 1:18 PM CST

Hi everyone,

I joined the forum today hoping to get some advice on my Cast Iron Plant. It had only 7 big leaves when I purchased it from my local nursery about 3 months ago, however, the leaves are curled up and twisted, particularly towards the lower end (it was like this when I brought it home - I did not question until I compared it to online images). The Nursery keep all their house plants together in one big room with a glass roof so it could have gotten too much light. I have had to battle spider mites on a couple of occasions using a mild soap solution and *fingers crossed* have not seen them since.

I keep it on my desk away from the window where it receives only a small amount of indirect light. On the one hand it seems to be doing very well, I have 6 shoots already, but the original 7 leaves are still twisted and all bent in one direction. Are these leaves beyond repair, and if so, will the plant have a better chance if I remove them?

Thanks in advance for your help!

- Josh


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Apr 29, 2018 11:04 AM CST
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Annuals Houseplants Herbs Cat Lover Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Butterflies Birds Hummingbirder Garden Sages
Welcome. Where do you live? Give the poor plant more light than that! Make your pictures a little bigger next time. Overall it is a very hardy plant. If you are getting new shoots I think it will look better in a while. The older leaves probably suffered much before you bought it and may not recover. Be nice, give it a good home and it will reward you long term. Gene
Avatar for JoshKH92
Apr 30, 2018 12:35 PM CST

Hi Gene,

Thank you for your advice. I live in the UK. I'm relatively new to house plants and have tried to choose ones on the more forgiving end of the spectrum whilst I'm still learning. My room only has 1 window (west facing) and I've read that Aspidistra's aren't too keen on having sun rays directly on them, so I was hesitant to put it anywhere where that might happen (hence why it is on my desk). Guess I'll have to do a plant reshuffle, though I will miss having some greenery in my eyeline whilst I'm working Smiling
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Apr 30, 2018 1:17 PM CST
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Annuals Houseplants Herbs Cat Lover Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Butterflies Birds Hummingbirder Garden Sages
Yes, in Florida they are grown as a ground cover almost in the shade. They would not like Florida sun at all. However, a west window in the UK may or may not enough light. Give it all you can. Change of subject. I collect Obelisks. There are many decorative things you could have next to your computer. Gene
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Apr 30, 2018 2:58 PM CST
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
The best light for your Aspidistra is as close to the window as possible, but just beyond the rage of the rays falling directly on the foliage in the afternoon.

Allow the top half-inch of soil to dry before watering thoroughly.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
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May 3, 2018 10:41 AM CST
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Amaryllis Region: United Kingdom Houseplants Frogs and Toads Foliage Fan I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Container Gardener Charter ATP Member Garden Photography Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Annuals Bee Lover
Your plant looks fine. They're not called "cast iron plants" for nothing and were famous for tolerating all kinds of neglect in Victorian times. Of course given more favourable growing conditions they do much better. I've got two plants which I've had for years and neither get any direct sun and do fine.
I wouldn't worry about the twisting leaves.
They're beautiful plants and much under-appreciated.
Avatar for JoshKH92
May 3, 2018 11:56 AM CST

Thanks all.

Unfortunately I spoke too soon regarding the spider mites. This morning I woke up to find a dozen or so on the fresh new leaves which I promptly squished with an unforgiving finger. I'm going to hunt down some neem oil at the weekend as the soap solution doesn't seem to get rid of the little buggers permanently. Are there any other measures I can take to stop them reappearing? For instance, where are they all hiding out during the day? are they in the soil? I can go over each of the leaves thoroughly and not find any - even under the twisted edges. I'm misting almost every other day as I know they prefer dry conditions.

Any further advice on this would be greatly appreciated - I really don't want the new leaves to be damaged before they get a chance to full develop Sad
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May 3, 2018 12:10 PM CST
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Annuals Houseplants Herbs Cat Lover Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Butterflies Birds Hummingbirder Garden Sages
Yes they can hid on the pot and in the soil. I use Azamax. Works! Gene
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May 3, 2018 12:54 PM CST
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Are you sure they are spider mites? Mites are so tiny they would be pretty hard to squish.

The key to eradication of any plant pests is not so much what you use as how thorough you are in getting complete coverage. You cannot limit your treatment to what you can see. Spider mites are so tiny they can easily escape your attention and survive between spray droplets. Most non-toxic treatments require direct contact with each mite.

Liquid dish soap alone works just fine, but only if you spray all of the leaf and stem surfaces until they are literally dripping wet and the solution gets down into all crevices. It is a messy task, but one treatment is all that is usually necessary if done correctly.

Spider mites do not survive in the soil or on the pot.Fous on the green plant tissue.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Avatar for JoshKH92
May 3, 2018 1:14 PM CST

I believe them be some kind of mite. I have never found any webbing but what I do find are very small (about the size of a grain of sand) brown specs that are definitely living. I have observed them crawling across the leaves to be sure it isn't dirt. When I press them with my finger, they leave a blood-like smear. When the plant was kept on my desk I found a definite red spider mite crawling on my Wacom tablet which made me check the plant in the first place. They don't look red on the leaves but that could just be the green washing the colour out.

I have been using a liquid soap/lukewarm water solution applied thoroughly to each leaf (including stems and underside) with a toothbrush until they are visibly wet with soap running down them to the soil. This seems to work for a short while but they do tend to re-emerge after a week or two. This is why I feel like I must be missing some place...
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May 3, 2018 1:38 PM CST
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Spray thoroughly and wipe with a sponge or soft cloth. Brushing is not particularly effective and might damage the leaf tissue.

The presence of plant pests is often an indication that the plant is under stress for other reasons. Spider mites are particularly attracted to plants that are experiencing drought stress. I see yours is tightly potted so that means it is more vulnerable to inadvertent under watering. Water it very thoroughly as soon as the surface of the soil feels dry rather than allowing the top half-inch of soil to dry as I suggested previously.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
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