Asparagus Fern – Care, Growing, Watering, Propagation
Only a relative of the asparagus vegetable, the asparagus fern plant (Asparagus densiflorus ssp) is a hanging-climbing plant that exudes elegance because of its gracious leaves that are thick and needle-like.
Whether you plant to cultivate the asparagus plant indoors or out, I’ll go over its cultivation requirements and offer easy-to-follow advice on how to successfully grow asparagus plants.
On the whole, this fern isn’t finicky, but it does have very specific watering, humidity, soil and light requirements.
Asparagus Fern Plant Care Tips
Before I detail each requirement for growing the asparagus fern, I’ll mention that this is not a cold tolerant plant. If temperatures are approaching 50 F, it’s vital to move your asparagus fern indoors.
The asparagus plant is a warmth loving plant that needs humidity and a well-draining soil.
At its mature size, the asparagus plant can reach a height of up to 150 cm, but most asparagus plants will average at around 80 cm or so.
Whenever the plant gets to a height that no longer works for you, pruning it will keep it at a manageable size and shape.
Whether you’re just getting rid of some unruly shoots or you’re giving the plant a major cut, it’s all the same for the asparagus plant as it doesn’t seem to be affected by pruning at all.
While this is a light-loving plant, it’s not recommended to expose it to excess direct sunlight, especially around mid-day when the sun is the strongest.
A bit of morning sun or afternoon sun will not harm it, but sun that is too strong will damage the vines and leaves, causing them to turn yellow.
Indoors, southern windows should be avoided unless the light is dimmed by curtains. Outdoors, it’s best to pick a location in half-shade.
A plant that doesn’t get enough light will become leggy and without much leaves.
Excess light will cause yellowing and dryness, so monitor your fern for these signs and find a location that works best for it.
Watering an asparagus fern is a bit of a balancing act and takes a bit of understanding of the climate of the tropical regions it originates from.
The asparagus plant has increased watering needs during the growing season, which decreases during the cold season, when the plant enters a state of hibernation.
Humidity is important to keep the plant happy but offering the plant the correct humidity levels can become a challenge in indoor growing conditions, regardless of the season.
Misting the plant regularly and keeping the soil slightly moist will help the plant thrive and keep it from drooping or becoming dried out.
Temperature & Humidity
As I mentioned, temperatures below 50 F are dangerous for the asparagus fern. The ideal temperature is around 70 F, which can be easily maintained indoors.
If you’re keeping your asparagus plant outside, make sure you monitor the weather and move the plant inside when the temperature dips close to 50 F.
Humidity levels for this plant should be at least around 60%, but a bit higher is even better. It can be difficult to maintain humidity at this level, especially in winter when most of our homes are dry.
Misting the plant regularly or using a humidifier can help manage low humidity issues.
If you get the quality of the soil right, your asparagus fern will develop beautifully and you’ll reduce the frequency of repotting.
Qualitatively, the soil of your asparagus plant should drain fast, should be permeable and should not easily become compacted. A soil mix that contains compost, natural clay, bark humus, cocoa fibres, perlite is ideal.
Supplement nutrients for the asparagus plant from April to September and cease adding fertilizer between October and March. Fertilize on a biweekly schedule and use a liquid fertilizer for green plants.
Both lack of nutrients and overfertilization can be harmful to the plant, so make sure to follow dosage recommendations.
It’s best to start with half-strength liquid fertilizer and see how the plant reacts and develops.
Potting & Repotting
Asparagus plant roots have a tendency to push through the soil in an upward direction if the pot is too small.
Therefore, choose a slightly larger pot that offers enough space for the strong roots system of the asparagus fern. If the pot is large enough, the plant will not need repotting for 2-3 years. Being slightly pot-bound is not harmful to the asparagus fern.
It’s best to schedule repotting activities to somewhere in March, just before the start of the new growth period.
Whenever you’re handling an asparagus plant, it’s best to wear gloves to protect yourself from skin irritations caused by the plant.
Asparagus Plant Propagation
The asparagus fern is propagated by dividing the tuberous roots and replanting them. Don’t try to propagate from stem cutting as these will not root.
Schedule the repotting and division to somewhere in February or March. Use a sharp knife to make these divisions and plant in an appropriately sized pot.
Dividing the tubers is the easiest way to create new asparagus fern plants that you can enjoy for years and years.
Different Types of Asparagus Plant
The asparagus fern comes in a few different varieties, but all have the typical lacy or airy feel to them. Differences can be found in size, growth pattern and fullness.
The most common one is the Asparagus sprengeri, which is fuller and fluffier than the other varieties. It’s also very popular as a hanging plant.
Another asparagus fern variety is the Asparagus setaceus, which can achieve a height of 10 feet and has a more lacy foliage compared to the other varieties.
The Asparagus plumosa is an aggressive climber and has a more airy and feathery foliage.
If you’re looking for a more “groomed” asparagus fern, the Asparagus densiflorus ‘myersii’ is a dense fern with upright stems that resemble a fox tail.
Asparagus Plant Diseases
Diseases aren’t common with the asparagus fern and most problems that do occur seem to stem predominantly because of a lack of proper care.
Dropping leaves are a sign of underwatering, yellowing leaves are usually a symptom of fertilizer issues or too much sun exposure, and a leggy plant with no leaves usually signals a lack of enough light.
Other than the issues related to the keeping conditions of the plant, scale insects are the only ones to target the asparagus fern.
Regularly washing down the plant in the shower and wiping down the leaves with a weak alcohol solution, or regularly using natural insecticides like neem oil will help get rid of these pests that decimate the leaves of the fern and leave behind white webs and brown spots.
Asparagus Plant FAQs
In this section you can find some more information about common problems and concerns related to the asparagus plant.
Is the Asparagus Fern Plant Toxic for Pets?
Unfortunately, the red-orange berries of the asparagus plant are toxic to cats, dogs and humans alike. Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal upset and even simple contact with the berries can cause skin irritation, so it’s wiser to avoid having this plant around if you have kids or pets.
How Do You Revive an Asparagus Fern?
Given too little water and kept in dry conditions, the asparagus fern will start to dry out. While the plant can appear as if it’s almost completely dried out, you can still attempt to revive it and you’ll often succeed.
Putting it on a correct watering schedule, offer it warmth and humidity by misting it daily or turning on a humidifier, and you’ll notice it bounce back to its former self.
What is the Lifespan of Asparagus Fern Plant?
With proper care, the asparagus fern plant can live for over 10 years in which they can continue to grow. Therefore, if you get up to speed with its keeping requirements, the asparagus fern will reward you with its lush greenery for many years to come.
Do Asparagus Fern Plants Bloom?
Yes, the asparagus fern produces white blooms that turn into the poisonous red-orange berries. The blooms aren’t impressive or significant, but the berries are more visible.
Why is My Asparagus Fern Turning Yellow?
There are several reasons why an asparagus fern may turn yellow. Chief among these reasons is that it’s dehydrated.
Dehydration can occur because of too little water or because its roots are so congested water runs off.
The best course of action is to replant it and add fresh compost to the soil, so it gets a nutrient boost as well. Asparagus ferns lacking in nutrients also turn yellow.
It’s not very difficult to grow an asparagus fern plant, but it does have very specific requirements that require that you raise to the challenge of caring for this plant.
But once you manage to set the plant up in terms of soil, pot and watering requirements, I am confident you won’t encounter issues in your endeavours.
It’s important to always remember the basic needs of this plant (warmth, humidity and good soil) whenever you notice that your plant is not as lush green as it should be.