Scientific name: Asparagus sprengerii
Synonyms: Asparagus Fern, Asparagus Densiflorus sprengeri, Emerald Fern, Emerald Feather.
This beautiful fern-like plant will be a welcome addition to your plant family. Even though it looks like it should be difficult to care for… it really is easy going! As the plant matures, it develops soft drooping stems that can create a jungle look in your home. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and is adaptable and happy in a number of different environments.
Note: Please be aware that the plant is not pet friendly and is harmful if eaten, so keep out of reach of children.
- Scorched yellowing foliage: Your Asparagus Fern is getting too much direct light, move to a more shady spot.
- Brown edges on foliage and dropping leaves: This can occur when the compost has been allowed to dry out. Asparagus Ferns don’t like inconsistent watering, so increase watering frequency but don’t allow the plant to sit in water or become saturated. Dry air can also be a culprit; your plant won’t like being near a heat source, air conditioner or draught.
- New growth is small: If the leaves are continuously small, your houseplant might not be getting enough light/humidity. Move to a brighter spot.
- Yellowing foliage: If the plant isn’t dropping leaves, but is yellowing, the possible causes are that temperature might be too high or the plant isn’t getting enough light.
- Pests: Incorrect care and lack of humidity are the main reasons pests may appear, red spider mite, mealy bugs and scale are ones to be particularly aware of in warm, dry conditions. Keeping the humidity up is the main deterrent, but if pests are present, this houseplant can be treated with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Repeat weekly and keep plant in isolation until completely pest-free. You can trim the plant back to the base and start over if bugs are persistent.
- Plant collapse: This is often caused by root rot as a result of prolonged overwatering, especially in winter.
- Origin: Native to the Cape Provinces and Northern Provinces of South Africa where it grows in shady subtropical conditions.
- Height: up to 0.8 metre height / 0.6 metre spread indoors. Outdoors in its natural habitat it has a tendency to spread as ground cover.
- Light: Ideally, moderate indirect filtered light, can cope with lower light too. Protect from harsh sun which can scorch the fronds.
- Water: Water when the top layer of potting mix has dried out; this Emerald Fern stores water in its tuberous roots so doesn’t need watering too often, especially in a more shady spot. From Spring to Autumn keep soil moist using water at room temperature, but do not allow the plant to sit in water. Avoid letting the compost dry out. Be sure not to overwater in winter.
- Humidity: Moderate humidity and regular misting will be beneficial and promote healthy growth.
- Temperature: This houseplant will grow happily in temperatures of 12-25°C, try to avoid sudden drops in temperature and be wary of draughts and open windows.
- Soil: A free-draining organic potting mix with added perlite will be ideal for this plant, allowing breathability for the roots.
- Fertilizer: Asparagus sprengerii enjoys regular fertilising; twice a month during the growing season (Spring and Summer). Use a balanced fertiliser at half the recommended dilution level for this plant. If the potting medium is particularly dry, water lightly before feeding to avoid fertiliser burning the roots.
- Repotting: These plants grow best when slightly root-bound, so don’t need to be repotted regularly. Annual repotting in early Spring when the plant had a period of active growth ahead is ideal. Roots ‘circling’ around the bottom of the nursery pot is an indication that repotting is needed. Increase pot size by just a few centimetres at this stage, no drastic jumps.
- Pruning: If required, you can prune your houseplant when the stems get particularly long. You’ll want to use a sterile blade and trim a few centimetres above the base of the plant. If there is a lot of dense growth, you can trim this to allow more air movement around the stems.
- Propagation: Asparagus sprengerii is best propagated by division, ideally during active growth (but this is not essential), so separate the tuberous roots of crowded plants into smaller pots in early Spring. This is also a fun plant to grow from seed if that’s your kind of thing.
If in stock, shop for Asparagus Fern here.