If you’re a total beginner to caring for houseplants, the cast iron plant should be on your short list for houseplants to try out. As the name implies, this plant is tough and perfect for beginners!
Yes, the cast iron plant is hardy, but it does require some care. And this is one of those plants that’s more likely to die from being loved to death (i.e., overwatered) than neglected, so it’s important to know what they need (and don’t need) to thrive.
Here’s a rundown of how this amazing plant works and how to care for it!
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Meet the Cast Iron Plant
Not only is this plant super tough, it’s attractive as well! Its oblong, deep-green leaves and graceful stems blend perfectly into any decor style and provide a touch of life and nature to a space. These lovely leaves can grow up to 2 feet long, and the entire plant can reach 2-3 feet in height. It works well as an indoor plant, growing large enough to make a statement without taking over your whole living room.
The cast iron plant also tolerates low light conditions very well, which makes it perfect for indoor spaces.
As an added bonus, the cast iron plant is nontoxic, so it’s a great choice if you have curious cats, dogs, or children who might take a bite out of your plant!
How to Care for a Cast Iron Plant
The main thing to remember with cast iron plants is to keep them out of direct sunlight—which means the sun’s rays never shine directly on the leaves—and to avoid overwatering them. That’s it! The cast iron plant thrives on neglect, so a light touch works best. (If this sounds like your plant parent style, you might also want to consider snake plants.)
Let’s break down the ideal cast iron plant care so you can get off on the right foot, and you’ll be ready to go!
Soil and potting
Since cast iron plants don’t like to sit in water, you’ll want to find a fast-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes. Try a nice, light cactus mix and a pot that’s about 2 inches wider than the root ball of your plant so it has a little room to grow.
To pot your plant, place a few inches of soil in the bottom of the pot, tip your plant sideways and gently work it out of the grower’s pot, then sit it upright in the new pot. Fill in the sides and top with soil, leaving about 2 inches of headroom at the top. Water generously so that the excess drains out the bottom of the pot. (Do this in the sink or immediately empty the drainage tray.) Add a little more soil on top to compensate for settling. That’s it!
As we mentioned earlier, cast iron plants don’t like direct sunlight, but they tolerate low light conditions very well. So you can place your plant pretty much anywhere you want as long as the sun won’t shine directly on it! As long as there’s a window somewhere in the room, you really can’t go wrong.
The secret to properly watering a cast iron plant is to let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Poke your finger into the soil and if it feels dry, you’re probably good to go. If you really want to make sure, poke a wooden stick like a chopstick down into the soil. If it comes out dry, it’s time to water!
Slowly add water to the soil until the excess just starts to drain out the bottom, then empty the drainage tray. That’s it!
Pruning and Propagating
You won’t have to prune your cast iron plant much. Just cut or pull off any dry or yellowing leaves you see so the plant can redirect resources to healthy growth. If you notice a LOT of dead or dying leaves, make sure you aren’t over- or underwatering and that your plant isn’t in direct sunlight.
You can propagate your cast iron plant (or control its size) through division.
To do this, simply unpot your plant by tipping it on its side and gently working it out of the pot. Then massage most of the soil out of the roots and untangle the roots to separate the plant into two or more smaller plants. If you need to break or cut the roots apart to divide them, that’s fine.
Then plant the new sections separately into new pots. That’s it!
Your cast iron plant needs nutrients to grow, so make sure to use a gentle liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer when the plant is growing.
I love to use Indoor Plant Food on all my houseplants, including my cast iron plant. It’s gentle enough to use with each watering, so you won’t have to remember a fertilization schedule like you do with other liquid fertilizers!
That’s it! Cast iron plant care is a snap, and a great place to start your journey into houseplant parenthood.
Read our other houseplant guides for beginners!