Botanical name: Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyeri'
Synonym: Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii'
Foxtail Fern also called Plume Asparagus is an evergreen fern-like plant whose erect stems are densely packed with needle-like foliage. The evergreen foliage grows in clumps giving the plant a spiky appearance. Foxtail Fern can grow to a height of 2 ft and 4 ft wide. Though commonly called a Fern, it is not a True Fern, it is much easier to grow than true ferns. The 'leaves' are really needle-like branches. The Fern adapts well to indoor growing conditions. When provided with the right growing conditions, the plant may produce small white flowers which are followed by bright red berries. However, it is mainly grown for the beautiful foliage and texture. The Fern can also be grown as an outdoor container plant. Foxtail Fern is native to southern Africa from Mozambique to South Africa. Avoid growing Foxtail Fern in the ground as the plant is invasive where it grows vigorously, spreading across and scrambling up other plants.
Other Asparagus Plants commonly grown indoors include; Asparagus plumosus commonly called Common Asparagus Fern, Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' commonly called Emerald Fern, Asparagus falcatus commonly called Sicklethorn and Asparagus asparagoides commonly called Smilax Asparagus, among others.
Foxtail Fern prefers semi-shade to bright light conditions. However, keep it away from direct sunlight as direct sunlight causes the leaves to loss their deep-green color turning them yellowish instead. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants
Water Foxtail Fern thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Occasionally water the plant from below. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for Foxtail Fern. Though it can adapt to a wide range of temperatures, constantly high temperatures can damage the plant. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.
Foxtail Fern has no need for high humidity. However, it benefits from occasional misting of the leaves especially when the temperatures are high.
Feed Foxtail Fern weekly during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Find out more on feeding houseplants.
Repot Foxtail Fern at the beginning of the growing season when the fleshy, fibrous roots push up the potting mixture. Use a pot which is 1 size larger and loose free-draining soil. A large plant can be divided to propagate new plants.
Pruning Foxtail Fern requires cutting back of the old stems to make room for new growth and trimming of dead leaves and branches to keep the plant neat and tidy. Find out more on how to prune houseplants.
Foxtail Fern can be propagated by division or from seeds. The easiest method of propagation is by division. During repotting, divide the tuberous roots into sections by cutting with a sharp clean knife or a pair of scissors. Pot each division into individual pots in moist potting soil. Place the pots in a shaded place, maintain the soil moist until new growth begins and the plant is well established, after which routine care can begin.
There are two reasons for this. One is too much sunlight; protect Foxtail Fern from direct sunlight. The second reason is that the soil has been allowed to dry out; learn how to how to water houseplants correctly.
The cause for unexplained death of Foxtail Fern is root-rot disease which is due to waterlogging of the soil. The thick, tuberous roots store water, soggy soil will cause root-rot.
Common pests in Foxtail Fern are Spider Mites, Aphids, Mealy Bugs and Whiteflies due to either overwatering or underwatering. They can be avoided by maintaining the soil moderately moist while avoiding overwatering or underwatering.
Foxtail Fern is mildly toxic to humans and pets. The berries if ingested will cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If handled with bare hands, they may cause contact dermatitis. The foliage of mature plants can develop sharp spines on the branches which can cause skin irritation if handled with bare hands.