How to Care & Grow an Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern is a houseplant known for its light feathery foliage and calming aesthetics. It’s not a traditional houseplant but can be grown indoors with minimal care, especially in warm regions. The soft, fluffy appearance of asparagus fern can make it a beautiful decoration for your living room or patio.

Another thing that makes asparagus fern an excellent choice for a houseplant is growing them in any space. They can be grown on a raised bed or a tiny hanging basket.

Here’s a complete growing and care guide on asparagus fern to help you raise a healthy plant.

how to care for an asparagus fern

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Background

Contrary to what it’s common name may suggest, Asparagus fern (Asparagus aethiopicus syn. Asparagus densiflorus) is not really a true fern. It’s a variety of evergreen climbing plants in the Liliaceae family. It got its name because of its leaves that moderately resemble ferns.

Asparagus fern is native to South Africa and cultivated as an ornamental plant for gardens, backyards, and flower arrangements. Most asparagus ferns are grown to add a pop of green to indoor garden scapes. Sometimes they may even sprout delicate tiny white flowers and berries.

It’s an incredibly hardy house plant, often considered an invasive species in Hawaii, Florida, and Texas. These plants thrive in hot conditions with high humidity, where they can grow like creepers and wrap everything nearby in their foliage.

There are a couple of things you should be aware of before you purchase asparagus fern:

  • Asparagus ferns spread the most when planted in well-drained, organically rich soils.
  • The leaves, flowers, and berries of asparagus fern can be toxic to children and pets. Plant them where they cannot be easily accessible by small children and pets.
  • Asparagus fern cannot withstand temperatures below 55ºF for an extended period. They grow best when placed in a warm environment.
  • The leaves can reach several meters in length given the right conditions.
  • Some fern species can turn into noxious weeds that are detrimental to the growth of surrounding plants.
  • Some asparagus ferns can have thorny spurs. Use gloves when handling them.

Water

As a general rule of thumb, water your asparagus fern does best with regular watering, once or twice a week, enough to keep the soil moist.

asparagus fern

As a tropical plant, the asparagus fern has strict water-related requirements to achieve the best growth. This can be particularly tricky when growing them indoors because of how dry they get during the winter. It’s best to move your asparagus fern plant indoors if the temperature outside ever drops below 55ºF.

One important thing to remember is the soil needs to be kept moist. If you live in a warm climate or keep your indoors extra warm with a thermostat, you may need to water the plant more often. But assuming you’re keeping them at room temperature, water your asparagus fern plant at least once or twice a week.   Mist the arching stems and leaves once a day.

Asparagus ferns are pretty resistant to drought, so they won’t die if you’re ever out of town and miss a few waterings. But not receiving enough water from the soil will likely prevent new growth from forming. A healthy and well-hydrated asparagus fern plant will have a medium green airy plumage of soft, needle-like leaves spraying out in all directions.

Light

Asparagus ferns are better outdoors because they can withstand full sun however do best with some partial shade. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can turn the leaves into an unsightly pale shade of yellow.

For optimal growth, place the asparagus fern in an area with bright indirect light. You’ll notice that they’ll have the best color when given the right lighting conditions.

Soil/Fertilizer

Asparagus fern needs well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH. Some gardeners add peat moss or use a peat moss planting mix to induce proper drainage. To test the drainage, poke a small hole, pour water through it, and check if it adequately drains at the bottom of the pot. Remember to keep the soil moist but not too wet. Waterlogged ferns can cause root rot. For best results, apply a good quality fertilizer.

Temperature/Humidity

As mentioned earlier, asparagus fern needs a warm, humid environment to beautifully grow its foliage. Most indoor plants tend to show symptoms of stress when the humidity levels drop below 40%.

If you don’t own a hygrometer to check your room’s humidity level, mist the plant regularly or provide a water-filled pebble tray to keep humidity levels. Left in arid environment, you’ll notice that their leaves will wilt. The leaves of asparagus fern are small, so it might be too late not notice if they are stressed out or not.

asparagus fern

Pruning

Your asparagus fern won’t necessarily need regular pruning however older plants could benefit from the occasional pruning of dead stems to encourage new bushy growth.

It’s best to do this during the growing season or early spring and to wear gloves to protect your hands.

Repotting

When you plant asparagus ferns,, remember they grow quickly! Their tuberous roots can quickly outgrow your pot so repotting will be necessarily on the regular.

Keep an eye out for roots that are popping out at the top of the soil or out through the drainage hole.

Varieties

There are several variants of the Asparagus fern plant. The most common ones include:

Foxtail Fern

foxtail fern

It’s the most widely available kind of fern. Foxtail Fern (Asparagus Densiflorus ‘Meyer’) has dense, upright stems that grow out to resemble the bushy plumes of a fox’s tail. They grow fast and are incredibly resistant to drought.

When they flower they create cluster of tiny white flowers followed by bright red berries.

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Sprengeri Fern

Sprengeri Fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’) is another widely available variant of Asparagus fern. It sprawls out with long, arching ferns that look like a cluster of dark-green needles.

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Plumosa Fern

Plumosa Ferns (Asparagus setaceus) looks almost exactly like ordinary fern and has a rich-green feathery spray. The asparagus plumosus is also called lace fern and asparagus grass.

It produces small green berries that gradually turn black, resembling tiny plums.

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Ming Fern

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Ming Fern (Asparagus Retrofractus) has a fern-like flattened spray somewhere between ordinary fern and shrubs. The leaves look soft but are actually sharp spines that grow in small tufts or clusters.

These are also called pom-pom asparagus ferns and zig-zag shrub.

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Wild Asparagus Fern

Wild Asparagus Fern (Asparagus acutifolius) are distinguishable by their thorny leaves, green berries, and clusters of tiny white flower buds. They’re native to the Mediterranean region but easy to care for indoors at room temperature.

Most of these ferns follow the same care as any asparagus fern.

Common Problems And Pests

Fortunately, asparagus ferns are pretty resistant to disease and free from bugs. The only house insects you may have to look out for are mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites, and blackflies. They may be hiding under the leaves or soil.

Since the leaves of asparagus ferns are small, you may need to carefully examine the foliage before the infestation gets out of hand. If you want to get rid of them without commercial pesticides, try organic neem oil, insecticidal soap, or rubbing alcohol.

Once grown in proper conditions, asparagus ferns can become a nice addition to your home garden to give it a tropical and exotic vibe.

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