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Botanical name: Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri'
Synonym: Asparagus sprengeri
Common names: Emerald Fern, Sprenger's Asparagus, Sprenger's Fern
Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') also called Sprenger's Asparagus or Sprenger's Fern is an evergreen fern-like plant whose arching stems are sparsely covered with clusters of soft needle-like foliage.
The trailing stems bear bright green 'leaves' hence the common name 'Emerald Fern'.
The name 'Sprenger's Fern' is attributed to Carl Ludwig Sprenger who made it popular in Europe as an ornamental Plant.
Though commonly called a fern, Emerald Fern is not a True Fern, it is much easier to grow than true ferns. The 'leaves' are really needle-like branches.
Sprenger's Fern is mainly grown for the beautiful foliage and texture. It adapts well to indoor growing conditions.
Sprenger's Asparagus is ideal for a hanging basket or pedestal where the stems can cascade downwards beautifully. The Fern can also be grown as an outdoor container plant.
When provided with the right growing conditions, Emerald Fern may produce clusters of small white flowers which are followed by bright red berries.
Emerald Fern habit can be dense and compact to wide-spreading with the stems growing up to 3ft long. This wide-spreading nature of this fern makes it perfect for a hanging basket.
Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' is native to the Cape Provinces and the Northern Provinces of South Africa where it grows in rocky slopes and coastal scrub in dry areas.
As outlined by Mark Tancig (University of Florida), Asparagus Ferns have been found to be invasive in some regions.
Avoid growing Asparagus Ferns in the ground and dispose them by burning as they grow vigorously, spreading across and scrambling up other plants.
Would you like to add this plant to your collection? Various Asparagus Ferns are available online on Etsy. Buy beautiful Asparagus Ferns online from Etsy.
Photo Credit: Bloombox Club Ireland
Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') thrives in semi-shade to bright, indirect light, cool to average warmth and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soils coupled with regular feeding during the growing season.
Sprenger's Asparagus requires regular pruning to keep it neat and tidy as well as minimize pest and disease infestations. It only requires repotting when pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.
Emerald Fern grows best in semi-shade to bright light conditions away from direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves.
If Sprenger's Asparagus does not recive adequate light the leaves will lose their color and turn yellowish.
Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' will also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.
Water Emerald Fern thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings and keep the soil moderately moist.
Cut down on watering in the cold period as growth is reduced at this time but do not let the soil dry out completely.
Occasionally water the Sprenger's Fern from the bottom to ensure that the soil ball is thoroughly wetted. Read more on how to water houseplants.
Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the fern.
Average warmth within the range of 12-280C is ideal for Emerald Fern. Though it can adapt to a wide range of temperatures, constantly high temperatures can damage the plant.
Emerald Fern has no need for high humidity. However, it benefits from occasional misting of the leaves especially when the temperatures are high.
Feed Emerald Fern with a balanced, liquid fertilizer once a week during the growing season to encourage a lush growth. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal.
Repot Emerald Fern at the beginning of the growing season only when it becomes root-bound, that is, when the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.
Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one and ensure that it has a drainage hole to avoid soggy soil which can lead to root-rot.
Divide the large Sprenger's Asparagus Ferns during repotting to propagate new plants.
The best soil for Emerald Fern should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal. Purchase quality Potting Mix for Sprenger's Fern online from Etsy.
Pruning Emerald Fern requires cutting back of the old stems to make room for new growth.
Trim the dead leaves and branches to keep the Sprenger's Asparagus neat and tidy and also discourage pest and disaese infestations.
Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from seeds, cuttings or by plant division (splitting). The easiest method of propagation is by plant division (splitting).
During repotting, divide (split) the Emerald Fern rhizome into sections by cutting with a sharp, clean knife or a pair of scissors.
Pot the sections into individual pots in moist, potting soil and ensure that each pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.
Place the pots in a warm, brightly-lit place and maintain the soil moist until new growth is observed.
Allow the new Sprenger's Fern to be well established, after which you can begin routine care.
Photo Credit: Bosco's Garden Center
Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') problems indoors include yellowing and dropping leaves, plant death, diseases and pests among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
Yellowing and dropping leaves in Emerald Fern are caused by several varied reasons. One possible reason is too little light.
Move the Sprenger's Asparagus to a brighter spot where it will receive medium to bright, indirect light or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.
The second possible reason for yellowing and dropping leaves in Emerald Fern is a prolonged period of underwatering.
Water the fern thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings and maintain the soil moderately moist.
Decrease watering in the cold period as growth is reduced at this time but do not let the soil dry out completely.
The third possible reason for yellowing and dropping leaves in Emerald Fern is too high temperatures due to exposure to hot drafts.
Keep the fern away from hot drafts like heating units and other hot surfaces to maintain an average room temperature within the range of 12-280C.
Read more on 12 Reasons Why Asparagus Fern Leaves are Yellowing and Dropping (with solutions)
Sudden death of Emerald Fern is due to root-rot disease which is enhanced by soggy soil brought about by poor drainage of the soil.
The thick, tuberous roots in Sprenger's Asparagus store water, therefore, soggy soil will cause them to rot which will lead to the death of the plant.
Make sure that the soil is loose and free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil. Read on how to treat root-rot disease in houseplants.
Besides root-rot disease, Emerald Fern is also prone to crown-rot and stem-rot which is prevalent in poorly ventilated and overwet conditions.
Isolated the affected plant to prevent spread of the disease to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for crown-rot and stem-rot disease.
Improve ventilation and ensure that there is free air circulation for the Emerald Fern.
Common pests in Emerald Fern are Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Spider Mites and Whiteflies whose infestation is enhanced by either overwatering or underwatering.
Maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing period and slightly moist in the cold period but never let the soil dry out completely to keep these pests away. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.
Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') like other Asparagus Ferns is toxic to humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA.
If the berries are ingested, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If handled with bare hands, the berries can cause contact dermatitis.
The foliage of mature plant can develop sharp spines on the branches which can cause skin irritation if handled with bare hands. Therefore, always wear gloves when handling Sprenger's Asparagus.