Botanical name: Asparagus plumosus
Synonym: Asparagus setaceus
Asparagus Fern also called Asparagus Grass, Lace Fern, Climbing Asparagus or Ferny Asparagus is grown for the graceful feathery foliage, which is often used in floral arrangements. Though commonly called Fern, it is not a True Fern, it is much easier to grow than true ferns. The 'leaves' are really needle-like branches. Asparagus Fern adapts well to a wide variations in light, heat and frequency of watering and does not demand a humid atmosphere like true ferns. It is also easy to propagate. The foliage of mature plants can develop sharp spines on the branches which can cause skin irritation if handled with bare hands; use garden gloves when handling. The cascading growth habit makes Asparagus Fern ideal for a hanging basket. Ensure that the arching branches are not impeded by other plants so that they can beautifully display their beauty. The Fern can also be grown as an outdoor container plant. Asparagus Fern is native to Southern Africa. Avoid growing Asparagus 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 falcatus commonly called Sicklethorn Asparagus, Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyeri' commonly called Foxtail Fern, Asparagus asparagoides commonly called Simlax Asparagus and Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' commonly called Emerald Fern, among others.
Asparagus Fern adapts well to semi-shade or 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 Asparagus 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 Asparagus Fern. Though it can adapt a wide range of temperatures, constantly high temperatures can damage the plant. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.
Asparagus Fern has no need for high humidity. However it benefits from occasional misting of the leaves especially when the temperatures are high.
Feed Asparagus 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 Asparagus 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 Asparagus 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.
Asparagus 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 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 after which routine care can begin.
There are two reasons for this. One is too much sunlight; protect Asparagus 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 Asparagus 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 Asparagus 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.
Asparagus 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.