Houses are tough on plants. Air in most homes is dry, light is low and temperatures can vary, depending on how many sweaters the human occupants of the house are willing to wear.

For these reasons, many people think they can’t grow houseplants. But here’s one plant these people should try: the cast-iron plant, or Aspidistra elatior.

The cast-iron plant has been popular since Victorian times, probably because it can keep growing with almost no care, even in dim light.

It is usually grown for its foliage, which is made of upright lance-shaped leaves that grow 2 to 3 feet tall, although it occasionally produces small dark purple flowers at its base. While you should make sure the soil is moist when you first plant it – in an 8- to 10-inch pot – you can let it dry out between waterings without causing any harm.

Sources differ on where the plant originated. Some say China; others attribute it to the islands off China, including Taiwan and Japan. Outdoors, the plant is hardy to Zone 6 or 7 (again, experts differ), and it is used as an evergreen ground cover in Southern states.

Once the dark days of winter are over, you can put it outside on your deck and continue to enjoy it.

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