Cast-iron plants are sometimes a gardener’s or homeowner’s dream plant and sometimes the brunt of jokes.
The hardy Aspidistra plant can take a lot of abuse and neglect, not to mention, they are able to survive harsher conditions than a lot of other plants.
But while these plants are drought-tolerant, they’re not able to live completely without water.
Likewise, too much water can cause serious issues.
So what’s the best way to ensure these hardy plants get the right amount of water?
Cast Iron Plant Watering
The simplest rule of thumb is watering a cast-iron plant when the soil has dried halfway down
However, caring for outdoor plants may not be as easy to check as a potted specimen.
Watering Potted Plants
The soak-and-dry method is perfect for potted plants.
- Simply stick your finger into the pot and water if the soil feels dry halfway down the height of the pot.
- Go slowly and thoroughly, working your way around the pot until you see water beginning to seep from the drainage holes.
Watering Garden Plants
Watering a plant in the landscape often seems more complicated due to the lack of a pot to measure with.
However, you can still use the soak-and-dry method by watering when the soil feels dry 2” to 3” inches down.
Again, go slowly and thoroughly, stopping when the soil begins absorbing water more slowly.
Does The Soil Or Water Type Matter?
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to use heavy clay soils without adding an aggregate.
When soil becomes compacted, it’s harder for water to pass through, which can not only cause the soil to become waterlogged but also hinder the roots’ ability to absorb water and nutrients.
By adding some coarse sand or perlite to your soil, you’re preventing the soil from becoming too compact and allowing the water to drain more efficiently.
As for water, cast iron plants are able to deal with harder water than a lot of other plants and won’t be harmed by tap water, although you should probably still avoid using it if the water contains lime.
A good rule to follow is to always use room temperature water.
Natural rainwater is the best, and you can add a little hydrogen peroxide to distilled water every few waterings to get a similar effect.
When Not To Water
Because cast iron plants are drought-tolerant, too much water can be quite harmful.
Use the finger method and never water your plant if the soil is damp or soggy.
Likewise, you won’t need to water an outdoor plant after it rains.
Generally speaking, if there are 2” inches of rainfall in a week, you probably won’t have to water these plants.
Avoid watering too often in winter, as the plants have a dormant period during this time and will be drinking less.
Symptoms Of Improper Watering
Too much water can lead to root rot, which may prove deadly to even these hardy plants.
While the plant is drought tolerant, excessive underwatering will often result in a cast iron with brown or yellow leaves.
When using tap water on your cast iron plant (or any other plant, for that matter), you will need to either treat the water or flush out the soil occasionally.
This is because tap water contains several chemicals and mineral salts that can become toxic over time and affect the ability of roots to absorb water and nutrients.
As a result, your plant may show signs of starvation or have discolored leaves.
Finally, watering on a set schedule can easily lead to overwatering or underwatering.
Factors such as humidity, amount of light or heat, and soil density can all affect how much the plant drinks at any given time.
This is why the soak-and-dry method is so important in maintaining a happy and healthy cast iron plant, regardless of where you plant it.