How to grow and care for Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') Indoors

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Houseplant, Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri', Emerald Fern

Botanical name: Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri'
Synonym: Asparagus sprengeri
Family: Asparagaceae
Sufamily: Asparagoideae

Emerald Fern also called Sprenger's Asparagus 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, 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 clusters of 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. This fern is ideal for a hanging basket; the stems can grow up to 3ft long. Emerald Fern 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. Avoid growing Emerald 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 'Meyeri' commonly called Foxtail Fern, Asparagus falcatus commonly called Sicklethorn and Asparagus asparagoides commonly called Smilax Asparagus, among others.

How to Grow Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri')

Light for Emerald Fern

Emerald 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. Check outthis guide on understanding light for houseplants

How to water Emerald Fern

Water your Emerald 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 as growth is minimal. Occasionally water the plant from below. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature for Emerald Fern

Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for your Emerald Fern. Though it can adapt to a wide range of temperatures, constantly high temperatures can damage the plant. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Emerald Fern

Emerald Fern has no need for high humidity. However, it benefits from occasional misting of the leaves especially when the temperatures are high.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Emerald Fern

Feed your Emerald Fern weekly during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to repot Emerald Fern

Repot your Emerald 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.

How to prune Emerald Fern

Pruning Emerald 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. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri')

Emerald 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 new Emerald Fern is well established, after which routine care can begin.

Common Problems in Growing Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri')

  • Why is the foliage of my Emerald Fern yellowing, brown-edged and dropping?
  • There are two reasons for yellowing, brown-edged, dropping foliage in Emerald Fern. One reason is too much sunlight; protect your Emerald Fern from direct sunlight.

    The second reason is that the soil has been allowed to dry out; water your Emerald Fern thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings. Read more on how to water houseplants correctly.

  • Why is the foliage of my Emerald Fern yellowing and dropping?
  • The causes of yellowing and dropping of foliage in Emerald Fern are too high temperature or too little light. Maintain an average room temperature and move your Emerald Fern to a brighter spot. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

  • Why is my Emerald Fern dying?
  • The cause for unexplained death of Emerald 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.

  • Which are the common plant pests in Emerald Fern?
  • Common pests in Emerald 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.

  • Which plant diseases attack Emerald Fern?
  • Common diseases in Emerald Fern are Crown Rot and Stem Rot and Root-rot which are prevalent in too wet conditions.

Is Emerald Fern toxic?

Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') 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.

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