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Asparagus Fern Complete Growing and Care Guide

Do you desire to attract the most beautiful birds in your garden? Well, then the Asparagus setaceus is the right fern for you! Growing the Asparagus Fern may just be one of your favorite experiences and there are countless reasons why.

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Asparagus Fern Complete Growing and Care Guide

What is the Asparagus Fern?

What is the Asparagus Fern

The Asparagus Fern is native to South Africa and has migrated all around the world. This magnificent perennial craves to be in a warm and humid climate that is around 70 degrees to 53 degrees Fahrenheit before needing to be placed indoors. 

The fast-growing fern can extend its reach up to 2ft tall and spread itself as far as 6ft wide; the leaves are very small branchlets which is known as invasive in Hawaii, Texas and Florida, however with good care and fine pruning, the Asparagus setaceus will not only bring you eye-catching berries but exotic birds too.

The Asparagus Setaceus Family and Nicknames

The Asparagus Fern belongs to the Polypodiaceae Family or the Pteridophytes Family known as the Family of Ferns. This family has an abundance of different species ranging from an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 different ferns. 

It is well known among the fern community as the Asparagus Densiflorus (Kunth) Jessop. Otherwise known as the: climbing Asparagus, common Asparagus fern and or the Asparagus grass.

The Asparagus setaceus is related to the Lily family or the Lilicaceae family which consists of species like: shrubs, herds and quite shockingly, lilies. 

This plant is called “Asparagus Fern” as the fronds on the top of the stalk looks identical to the vegetable, Asparagus. Do not mistake the Asparagus vegetable as the Asparagus fern is toxic and poisonous to both humans and dogs. 

Types of Asparagus Ferns

Types of Asparagus Ferns

There are 4 different beautiful types of Asparagus setaceus:

  • Asparagus densiflorus Nana: provides us with its blood red berries and emerald green foliage.
  • Asparagus meyeri (Foxtail Fern): with its perfect firm foliage and adorable tail tip. The Myeri fern offers gardeners with the perfect white flowers and cherry red berries without the worry of it taking over the garden. 

    Here is our how to grow & care guide for Foxtail ferns.
  • Asparagus sprengerifeatures fluffy foliage that bonds very nicely with other indoor plants. The long stems and full form submits a hand in marriage with any other fern, blessing your home with extravagant shades of green. 
  • Asparagus sprengeri Compacta: is the essentially copy and paste version of the original Sprengeri, however being the dwarf version. 

We personally adore the Sprengeri Fern as it’s shockingly easy to take care of. The fern invites a range of other family ferns that bond with it like cousins when together.

How to Grow Asparagus Fern

When thinking of growing an Asparagus setaceus, you need to take in mind multiple factors that can build a strong foundation leading to good growth down the line.

This can be: time of year, preparing the perfect area for the fern, companion plants, type of fertilizer and so on. The process of planning can be intimidating nevertheless with some guidance you will be up and running in minutes. 

How to Grow Asparagus Fern

How to Care for Asparagus Setaceus

Firstly, choosing the time of year is crucial. Depending on the climate you are in, this hardy fern can tolerate the cold, however when temperatures drop and it gets cold enough for a second layer of clothing to bring the fern inside, if not already inside. 

The Asparagus can spread extremely quickly when in humid and warm climates. Therefore preparing the perfect area for the fern before planting is important, it should and will bloom in the perfect conditions. The fern will survive in different climates but will not grow as fast as the 9-11 hardiness zones in the USA. 

Secondly, planning how the fern is united with the earth is critical as the type of fertilizer, what pH level the soil has, the drainage of the soil and how much water it receives can be the deciding factor for the life of the fern. 

The Asparagus setaceus, if planted outdoors and in the earth, are very picky as they need the right drainage, pH level in soil and the amount of water it receives. 

The fern needs to be in well-drained soil which is rich in minerals and nutrients, that is slightly acidic. 

The Asparagus setaceus requires the earth around it to be at a pH level of 6.0-6.7, it can take a slightly less than optimal acidity, however the ideal acidity will allow the fern to grow much quicker. 

Check out our guide on how to adjust the pH of your soil

Like any other green friend in the garden, if given too much water the roots will rot and pass away, even though the soil is well drained different fungal diseases attack the roots of overwatered plants as they are already weakened. 

If the fluffy fern is planted in a pot inside your home, it can go without a transplant for up to 2 years as they are slow spreaders. 

The fern can be planted anywhere in your home as long as there is sun. The Asparagus setaceus appreciates any location in your home, as long as they receive love. 

The Asparagus setaceus is loved throughout the green kingdom and most flowers want to be near the fern, although the fern can grow over other plants.

If the right Asparagus Fern care is used most of the time the fern will barely be noticed by other plants. The fern can be accompanied by plants like the barren strawberry, black lily turf and European ginger. 

Pruning Asparagus Fern

The fern will be needed to be pruned when the needle leaves get particularly long. Pruning the Asparagus setaceus will allow it to stay small without becoming invasive and a pest to the garden or house.

The needle leaves can hook onto passing clothing and cause unnecessary problems. To prune the fern, take a sterile blade or secateurs to trim a couple of inches just above the base of the plant.

If the fern has thick growth, trimming the dense foliage off can allow more air through the stems. 

Propagating Asparagus Fern

Propagating Asparagus Fern

Propagating asparagus fern can be done in two ways: the use of the seeds or the use of the roots. The use of the roots is the easier and quicker option as all one needs to do is unearth the roots of the fern and carefully divide the roots into groupings.

When pots are ready with the right amount of potting soil, pick out a portion of roots and growing shoots and place into the pot and cover up then water thoroughly and place pot in direct sunlight for about 6-8 hours a day.

Tend to them every day with water. The additional option is to collect the seeds from the white berries and plant them manually. 

Before you organize some potting soil together and start the process, pick the red berries off the fern and open gently, then soak the Asparagus setaceus seeds overnight. 

Once they are ready to be planted, dry off the Asparagus seeds and get some growing trays ready to then make a 1/4 inch deep hole.

When you are happy with that, place the dried seeds in the holes and keep them indoors, make sure the soil temperature is +-70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If done properly you will see the little Asparagus setaceus piercing the soil in 4 to 8 weeks. 

How to Identify and Treat Common Asparagus Setaceus Problems 

how to care for asparagus fern

Although the Asparagus Fern may seem perfect, there are certain problems that can arise. However once these problems are taken care of you will be well on your way to reaping the benefits of the fern.

Common Pests 

The spider mite, aphid and mealybug are the main press that can damage the fern. The aphid can be treated the same way the spider mite and mealybug was treated. 

Mealybugs, spider mites and aphids can be the culprit of ruining the fern. These disgusting little critters are given away by the size and the color on their body, they can get 1/10-1/4 big so noticing them will not be a problem. 

The neem oil can be used for spider mites, aphids and mealybugs, just add 1 oz/gallon of water to the neem oil and spray every week or second week until they are gone.

Preventing Pests

Preventing pests is the easiest way to save the fern. All you need to do is to take a leaf shine liquid with neem oil in it and wipe the foliage or spray very lightly.

If neem oil is not accessible, use force from the water pipe to gently spray the leaves, ensuring that no pests are able to stay on the leaves. 

Brown Leaves 

If your Asparagus Ferns leaves are starting to turn a soil brown and start to look a bit demotivated, get some water in their root system to remedy that under-watering problem.

If the brown leaves are dried up and withered just snap off or cut off and the fern will start the revival process  

Yellowing Leaves 

If the ferns leaves are starting to turn yellow, it could mean that there: are pests, too much fertilizer, too much or not enough light and not enough humidity. 

Though these problems seem like a pain to deal with, they can be solved with the right care. Spider mites could be the reason why the ferns' leaves are turning yellow. 

Red spider mites create light colored dots that are formed along the leaves, but they can be removed easily with a Biogrow Pyrol, neem oil or diluting alcohol with water and spraying all over the leaves.

If the ferns leaves have none of these pests and it's just because of not enough water or not enough light, that can be fixed in no time. If the fertilizer is strong then it could be overfertilized and all one needs to do is to fertilize less.

Once checked of all problems and have treated the fern with the required solutions the Asparagus fern should go back to its old self. 

The Asparagus fern offers amazing shades of emerald green to your garden and home. The red berries and the white flowers feature beautiful unexpected colors that break the monotony of green of the foliage. 

The sharp needle leaves spread out and explore the space around it, leaving a visible adventure that can be followed by the eye.

With the right Asparagus fern care guide and the right amount of time, you can grow your very own Asparagus fern right in your garden, or in your home. 

Asparagus Fern FAQs

How do you maintain an Asparagus fern? 

Asparagus ferns achieve great results when planted in organically rich soil that is well drained. The fern should be placed and or planted in blotched sunny areas that maintain the most atmosphere.

The fern will become prone to drought times as it becomes more established. 

Is the Asparagus fern an indoor plant?

The Asparagus is not a common indoor houseplant but with the light, fluffy foliage, it can offer attractive characteristics. It can be grown indoors successfully with the right conditions.

In warm and humid climates, the fern can be grown indoors with a bright spot without direct sunlight. 

How often should I water Asparagus fern? 

Like any plant overwatering can be crucial as it can flood the roots which can cause root rotting but underwatering won’t cause as much damage as the fern is dough tolerant once established. Water the Asparagus fern once or twice a week if planted in the ground or in a pot. 

If potted and not watered enough, the ferns' soil will shrink and start to dry out, you can however save the fern, water every second day until water starts to hold more, then go back to the regular watering by easing out watering every second day. 

How much light do Asparagus ferns need? 

Asparagus ferns are fast-growing houseplants that are not demanding. They need to be in a bright indirect light area that does not receive full sun.

However insufficient light can result in the ferns leaves turning yellow that will crumble and fall away. 

When should I cut down my Asparagus ferns?

Asparagus ferns should be cut back and pruned in the fall but make sure that you wait until all the ferns foliage has turned brown and yellow and died back.

The foliage will normally do this naturally after the frost however it can die back without areas that receive frost. 

How do Asparagus ferns spread?

Asparagus fern spreads by bird-dispersed seeds and vegetatively by tubers. This means that these seeds will sprout far from the main plant.

These seeds can be found alongside roads and being an invasive plant, in secondary forest systems. 

Is Asparagus fern poisonous to humans and dogs?

Asparagus ferns are toxic to humans as well as dogs. Wash hands thoroughly when finished working with the fern. Wear protective gear such as: gloves, long-sleeve T-shirts and long pants with closed shoes.

Keep children and animals away from the Asparagus fern. The berries are not edible and will do damage. 

How do you keep Asparagus fern from spreading?

To keep the Asparagus fern from spreading one should mow it repeatedly. Use pruning shears and string trimmer to cut the fern back down to the soil level.

If done repeatedly, it can help control it as it prevents the fern from producing berries which contain the seeds. Doing this will stop the spread of the fern. 

Start Growing Asparagus Fern in Your Garden Today

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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