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The cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a perennial member of the lily family that is native to China. It does best when it is grown in shade and well-cultivated, rich soil, but it can survive even in poor conditions and with little to no attention. The cast iron plant is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 through 10, but it can also be grown as a houseplant in cooler regions. It benefits from occasional trimming to thin the foliage and maintain an attractive appearance.
Mix a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water. Dip your pruning shears into the solution before you begin trimming the cast iron plant.
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Cut back old leaves, which are those that have brown edges and are beginning to curl, all the way to the base of the plant.
Remove damaged and broken branches to keep the plant from wasting energy trying to repair the wounds.
Clip off any branches that are diseased, discolored or weak. Diseased branches are those whose leaves have spots on either the top or underside. Weak branches are smaller, thinner and more pliable than those around them. Avoid spreading disease to other branches by dipping the pruning shears in the bleach solution after removing diseased foliage.
Thin the plant by removing inner branches in the middle of the plant that cross over each other. This will allow more air to circulate and prevent fungal disease.
Prune to control the size of the plant as necessary by cutting the tallest branches until they are slightly lower than the rest of the foliage. Remove as little foliage as possible to avoid damaging the plant.
Make clean cuts and use very sharp pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.
Dead or damaged foliage can be removed as often as necessary.
Do not prune the plant heavily more often than once each year.