The key to growing a strong asparagus fern indoors is to keep it bushy and dense so that its lace-like foliage forms an attractive mound. Only in name and appearance is asparagus fern a fern. Tulips, daylilies, amaryllis, and hostas are all members of the lily family.
The asparagus fern has a lot of advantages, but it also has a few drawbacks. When planted outdoors in warm, humid climates, asparagus ferns can spread quickly. In Florida, Texas, and Hawaii, it is considered an invasive species. Children and pets are also poisoned by asparagus fern.
Care for Asparagus Ferns
Asparagus fern can be grown as a perennial outside if you live in hardiness zones 9 and up. It can be grown as an annual or kept as a houseplant in all other climates. It's also well-liked as an outdoor container plant, where it's frequently used as a spiller. When the weather turns cold, you can bring the container inside.
The "leaves" of the asparagus fern are tiny branchlets called cladophylls that are flat and resemble leaves. Mature plants become woody and their branches can develop sharp spines, so use caution when pruning older specimens and wear gardening gloves if you plan to prune one. The asparagus fern can produce small flowers and berries if it is happy in its current location. These berries can be used to propagate the fern.
Although asparagus fern is relatively trouble-free outdoors, it can succumb to the same diseases that affect most houseplants indoors, particularly mites and aphids. In most cases, insecticidal soap is effective.
Although it can acclimate to more light, the asparagus fern prefers dappled shade. Keep it away from direct sunlight.
Plant asparagus ferns in loose, well-drained potting soil in pots or containers. Plant it in slightly acidic, rich, well-drained soil outside. It tolerates less-than-ideal soil conditions in general.
It takes some effort to keep an asparagus fern hydrated, and this plant thrives in humid environments. Dry indoor growing conditions are common, especially in the winter. Daily mist the plant, concentrating on the arching stems.
If the plant appears to be browning and drooping, it will most likely require more water. The asparagus fern can dry out to the point where it appears to be dead, but it isn't. It will be revived by warmer, humid air and daily misting. Keep asparagus ferns well-watered outside to prevent the soil from drying out completely.
Humidity and Temperature
Maintain a warm temperature (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and do not allow the temperature to drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period. If you have a shady porch outside or a greenhouse, your indoor plants will likely grow rapidly during the summer.
Liquid or water-soluble all-purpose plant food, diluted to half strength, should be fed to asparagus fern. During the summer, weekly feedings may be required; otherwise, feed the plant once a month.
Asparagus Fern Types
- 'Myeri', also known as foxtail asparagus, has dense foliage on upright stems.
- 'Sprengeri': This variety has long stems and a full, almost fluffy form, and is also known as an asparagus emerald fern.
- 'Sprengeri Compacta': a dwarf variety with the same characteristics as its namesake.
- 'Nana' is another compact variety with bright green foliage.
Because asparagus fern grows quickly, you may want to trim yours to keep it tidy. On the other hand, if you want it to look wild and shaggy, that's fine. To shape your plant, use clean garden shears or sharp scissors.
Asparagus Fern Propagation
While the seeds found in the berries can be planted to propagate this plant, the easier and faster method is to dig up and divide the tuberous roots.
Dig up the entire plant in the spring and divide it into sections, each containing a portion of the root and growing shoots. Replant the pieces in their pots or their gardens. Keep the plant in the shade until new growth appears.
Growing Asparagus Ferns From Seed
The seeds of asparagus ferns come from their berries. Soak seeds overnight before planting. Then, indoors, start seedlings by planting them 1/4 inch deep in pots or trays. The temperature of the soil should be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It should take four to eight weeks for the seeds to germinate.
Asparagus Fern Potting and Repotting
Plant asparagus ferns in loose, well-drained potting soil in pots or containers. Plant it in slightly acidic, rich, well-drained soil outside. It tolerates less-than-ideal soil conditions in general. Asparagus ferns tolerate being slightly pot-bound for up to two years before requiring repotting.
Divide the plant into large clumps for the most successful repotting, and be sure to take multiple underground roots when dividing. To maintain the tight growth habit, divide the plants into similar-sized pots. Asparagus ferns do not require large pots because they spread slowly indoors.
Bring your asparagus ferns inside (if they aren't already) if the temperature outside drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep them away from draughts and radiators and in bright light. Overwatering can result in root problems.
Common Plant Pests and Diseases
Spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs like to hang out in the leaves of this plant; use insecticidal soap to get rid of them. Root rot can be caused by excessively wet conditions.
Asparagus Fern's Most Common Issues
While asparagus fern is pretty easy to cultivate, it does have a few difficulties that can be quickly resolved if you know what you're looking for.
- Yellow leaves
If your asparagus fern has pests like spider mites or mealybugs, or if it doesn't get enough humidity, the leaves will turn yellow. Remove the pests and mist your plant to see if the problem goes away. If this plant is over-fertilized (the cure is to fertilize less frequently), or if it receives too much or too little light, its leaves may become yellow.
- Leaves of Brown Color
It's possible that you've drowned your asparagus fern if it's turning brown and appears to be drying out. Remove the dark, dry portions and water more frequently.