Asparagus Fern Enhances With Feathery Foliage

Asparagus fern bears small star-like white flowers followed by round blue-black fruits, though indoor plants may not bloom regularly. It will grow in the ground outdoors in warm regions, but it’s known to be a garden thug—or downright invasive—and is best kept as a houseplant, where its graceful form can be appreciated close up.

Asparagus fern’s airy, fine-textured appearance leads to its other common name, plumose (plume-like) fern. This vigorous South African plant forms a spreading clump of wiry, upright stems; some stay a few feet tall while others grow as twining, vine-like stems that can stretch for many feet (though they can easily be pruned back). Side stems divide into large, flat, triangular fronds composed of tiny, bright-green stem sections that look like tiny pine needles.


Common name: Asparagus fern, plumosa fern

Botanical name: Asparagus setaceus (syn. A. plumosus)

Plant type: Evergreen perennial (grown as houseplant)

Zones: Indoors: all zones; Outdoors: Zone 9 to 12

Height: 3 to 8 feet

Family: Asparagaceae


Growing conditions

  • Sun: Bright indirect light
  • Soil: Well-drained potting mix
  • Moisture: Water when soil surface is slightly dry.


Care

  • Mulch: None
  • Pruning: Cut back stems to reduce size as needed.
  • Fertilizer: Apply diluted soluble fertilizer monthly from spring to fall.

Propagation

  • Division
  • Seeds

Pests and diseases

  • No major problems

Garden notes

  • Asparagus fern’s delicate greenery is a staple for florists and is useful in homegrown bouquets, too.
  • Stems of asparagus fern typically develop sharp triangular spines, so use caution when moving or pruning your plant.
  • The foliage of asparagus fern is actually stem tissue, while its true leaves are reduced to almost microscopic scales on the stems.


All in the family

  • Asparagus fern is a member of the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). It’s sometimes listed as a member of the lily family (Liliaceae).
  • A related plant that’s also called asparagus fern is Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’. It, too, is commonly grown as a houseplant.
  • Other houseplants in the asparagus family include spider plant, aspidistra and dracaenas.

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