Schusterpalme, Aspidistra elatior - Care

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The Schusterpalme, also called Metzgerpalme, is one of the houseplants that have long since moved into our homes. The popularity and widespread use of the evergreen plant is mainly due to its simple care. Already more than 150 years ago, it stood in dim cobbler workshops or on the counters of butchers. That's where her unusual name comes from. She has a reputation for getting along in the darkest corners and almost without care. But the robust shoemaker palm does not manage to do so without light, nutrients and water.

Short profile

  • Botanical name: Aspidistra elatior
  • other names: butcher's palm, shield flower, shield scar, iron plant
  • belongs to the family of asparagus plants
  • Growth height: 50 to 70 cm
  • herbaceous growing plant without stem
  • Leaves: dark green, leathery, lanceolate
  • Flowers: purple, grow near the bottom
Shoemaker palms are native to East Asia, where they grow in the eastern Himalayas, China and Japan as evergreen herbaceous plants. Aspidistra species form long rhizomes, from which sprout directly one or two terminal leaves. The only species of aspidistra cultivated as an indoor crop is the aspidistra elatior. In frost-free areas, it is also known as a robust ornamental plant in gardens or parks.


A shoemaker prefers partially shaded locations without midday sun. Even a bit shadier places in the apartment tolerate the plant well. In this case, it grows a bit slower and significantly stockier, but still better than many other plants. South window with blazing midday sun does not tolerate the Schusterpalme, quickly their leathery leaves are burned and unsightly. If you would like to place your aspidistra in a south-facing room, you can easily do this by placing the plant a little further into the room so that direct sunlight does not fall on the leaves.
  • Light requirement: half shady to shady
  • also gets along with little light
  • avoid direct midday sun
  • Temperature: between 7 and 28 degrees
  • the humidity does not matter
  • draft-compatible
In summer, the butcher's palm also feels good on the terrace or on the balcony. The condition for this, however, is that the plant is not exposed there to the blazing sun. A shady spot in the field, however, appreciate them, because here they can gather strength for the cold season and is thus less sensitive to diseases and pests.


Since the Schusterpalme does not tolerate waterlogging, its substrate should be well water permeable. A high-quality tub plant substrate or palm substrate is ideal for cultivation. Even mixed substrates should contain the following components:
  • Flower or greenery earth
  • Humus or compost
  • Peat (small amount)
  • sand
  • Pumice, expanded clay or lava granules
  • pH value: 5.5 to 6.6 (slightly acidic)
tip: In pure potting soil the permeability to air and water is not guaranteed and the plant can not develop.

to water

A shoemaker's palm needs to be watered only moderately (but regularly). The root ball should never be wet, so much of the substrate should be dried before the next casting. If the root ball is damp and waterlogged, brown spots appear on the leaves, later the roots rot and the plant dies. As irrigation water is room warm rainwater or stale tap water. In winter, the casting is then slightly reduced again and only given in sips to the substrate. This is especially important if the plant is kept in a cool winter.


Although the Schusterpalme needs only a few nutrients, it shows up with an occasional fertilization more vigorous and thanks this with shiny, lush green foliage. During the growing season between April and August, either commercial green or palm fertilizers can be administered via the irrigation water, but also long-term fertilizers such as fertilizer sticks provide sufficient nutrients. As a rule, half the dosing quantity specified by the manufacturer is sufficient. Excessive nutrient supply can lead to tearing of the leaves (longitudinal cracks). It is sufficient to fertilize the Aspidistra only every four to eight weeks. Freshly replanted cobbler palms that have been planted in high-quality soil do not need to be fertilized at all for the coming year.


The butcher's palm is a very frugal plant that does not require much care. Since their leaves are quite large, they tend to attach a layer of dust. The dust is not necessarily harmful to the plant itself. With a very thick layer of dirt, the transpiration can be hindered by the leaf pores, so that brownish spots form.Therefore it is recommended to wipe the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth or to buffle briefly under the shower. This is how the shoemaker palm always looks attractive with its naturally shiny leaves.


Unlike many other indoor plants, the shoemaker's palm should not be repotted too often. Disorders, especially at the root, do not like the robust plant. Aspidistra elatior thrives best when allowed to grow undisturbed. It is therefore sufficient to give her a larger pot and fresh soil about every four years.
  • Repotting seedlings a maximum of annually
  • older plants only every three to four years
  • place potsherds on the bottom of the planter
  • Fill a layer of expanded clay or fine gravel as drainage
  • choose a sufficiently large planter
  • do not plant deeper than before

To cut

A shoemaker's palm does not need a regular cut. The plants have only one vegetation point on each rhizome. If you cut all the leaves in, do not drive them out again. Aspidistra grows extremely slowly, usually in the spring between two and four new leaves, which then grow out in the course of the summer. They change their color from a light green in the initial stage, until they finally have the familiar rich green color. From September, the growth cycle is complete. Once mature, the leaves do not change from year to year. Only rarely an older leaf turns yellow and dies. If individual leaves wither, you should wait until the leaf (including the petiole) has dried completely. Only then can it be cut off about three centimeters above ground level with a sharp knife.


A proliferation practicable even for beginners is possible with the shoemaker palm by the division of the rhizomes. The ideal time for this is the early spring. It is best to combine the multiplication with the repotting of the plant. The butcher's palm is taken from the old pot, the soil is carefully shaken off and the roots are pulled apart. The connecting pieces between the individual plant parts (rhizomes) are easy to recognize. These should preferably be broken by hand and cut only in exceptional cases with a sharp knife or the Gartenschered.
  • each section should have at least two leaves
  • It can also be equal to several pieces are planted together
  • this gives the new plant more fullness
  • Place rhizomes in a jar of fresh substrate
  • Do not forget drainage
  • do not plant too deeply
  • Planting depth as in the original vessel
  • Lightly press on and sprinkle soil
  • do not fertilize in the next few weeks
Tip: Young plants should be in a slightly warmer (18-22 degrees) place and protected from drafts.


Since the Schusterpalme is not hardy, it should spend the cold season in the house. Ideal would be a half-shady place with temperatures around 10 degrees. A cellar room with window, a bright garage or an unheated conservatory offers ideal conditions for the months between November and March. In the resting phase, the butcher's palm is poured only moderately, the fertilization completely adjusted. Only at the beginning of the new vegetation phase, the plant is warmed up again, poured more and fertilized again.
  • Temperature: 7 to 12 degrees
  • partially shaded (for example, at the north window)
  • pour little
  • do not fertilize
If you do not have a suitable wintering place for your butcher's palm, you can leave it at your usual location in the apartment. The plant is not particularly sensitive to dry heating air and tolerates drafts and temperature fluctuations usually problem-free.

Attractive varieties

From the otherwise completely green-leaved Schusterpalme there are also striped or dotted variants.
  • Aspidistra elatior 'Asahi': dark green leaves with white tips
  • Aspidistra elatior 'Snow Cap': green leaf with white tip
  • Aspidistra elatior 'Milky Way': small white dots on the leaves
  • Aspidistra elatior cv. variegata: white longitudinal stripes on the leaves
  • Aspidistra elatior 'Lennon's Song': white median strip
  • Aspidistra elatior 'Okame': green-cream-white striped foliage
  • Aspidistra elatior 'Ginga Giant': yellow dotted leaves
Tip: Variegated species must be slightly lighter than pure green-leavened butcher palms so that they can form their beautiful leaf color.
Buy cobbler palms
There are shoemaker palms in a variety of colors. The original species has dark green leaves throughout. Especially in darker rooms, the white markings on the leaves make a particularly positive impression, which shine like sunshine. Aspidistra grows very slowly, so it is a tedious task for growers to cultivate them until they reach a salable size. For this reason, shoemaker palms are usually relatively expensive, compared to other indoor plants. But with all the positive qualities that an Aspidistra has, the higher price is a worthwhile investment for plant lovers.

Diseases and pests

Although the Schusterpalme is considered a very robust plant, it can occasionally come to a pest infestation or a disease. For example, if the shoemaker's palm is too cold, it is sometimes attacked by the red spider. Wool and mealybugs can also hunt down the herbaceous plant. This is usually the case in too warm winter quarters, when the humidity has dropped significantly due to the heating air. Therefore, a regular check, especially in the winter months, is necessary in order to be able to take action against the pests as quickly as possible. In the initial stage, it is usually sufficient to rinse the plant in the shower and thoroughly clean the leaves with rinse water.
  • bleached, spotty and dry leaves: mostly indicate a sunburn, the plant must be placed a bit shady
  • Yellowing and withering of the leaves: indicates root rot. Too wet roots cause the plant to die sooner or later. Here, the old substrate must urgently be removed, lazy roots cut and fresh soil made available to save the shoemaker's palm.
  • Cracks in the leaves: possible over-fertilization
  • very short petioles: too little fertilizer or too dark location
  • Spider mites: mostly in dark locations
  • Mealybugs: recognizable on whitish leaves. Shower off the plant and wipe the leaves with soap solution (top and bottom)
The Schusterpalme is due to its robustness and easy care good for beginners among the plant friends. Even in draughty halls, shady northern windows and fluctuating temperatures, the plant thrives well. There are only two things that really harm a shoemaker's palm: the blazing sun and too much water.

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