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If you have been discouraged by the number of yellow or brown leaves in your garden, instead of counting the dead, look for the survivors. Then, consider replacing your dead plants with more of those that came through the freeze unscathed.

Master Gardener Judy Haldeman told me she was most impressed with her cast iron plants (Aspidistra elatior). Hers were covered in snow while the ones in my garden were encased in ice. Both came out without a mark, looking the same the day after it thawed as the day before the front came through. I also have some that I purchased but have yet to plant, so their roots were protected from the cold only by a sheet of black plastic, and still, they look unscathed. I was expecting to have to cut them all to the ground, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Cast iron plants are tough, but not foolproof. They cannot handle full sun, so be sure to plant them in shade. They are often planted around trees, where they protect the trunk from string trimmers and make a tall, striking, leafy ground cover. They will spread through their roots, but at a slow rate, so there is no need to be afraid of cast iron plants taking over where you don’t want them.

Cast iron plants can also be planted in pots either outdoors or inside as a house plant. I have several in pots on my front porch, adding a bit of drama since cast iron plants grow to around two feet tall.

There are variegated forms of cast iron plants. They are usually shorter and less vigorous. Still, mine also came through the freeze without a mark. In addition to being able to withstand cold temperatures, cast iron plants are hardy in zones 7 through 11, so they can take our summer heat. Evergreen in winter, they are also a cool, refreshing green in summer.

Cast iron plants do flower, but you might miss their blooms if you are not extremely observant, since the flowers form right above the ground. Still, what you miss in an extravaganza of blooms, cast iron plants make up in dependability and ease in growing, all with the tropical look of lush leaves that last throughout the year, even after a snowstorm.

For more information, call 903-675-6130, email hendersonCMGA@gmail.com, or visit txmg.org/hendersonmg.

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