Scientific name: Asparagus Densiflorus 'sprengerii'
Synonyms: Asparagus Fern, Asparagus Densiflorus sprengeri, Emerald Fern, Emerald Feather.
The Asparagus Fern is a lovely feathery foliaged houseplant loved for its low maintenance requirements. Although the foliage looks like a fern, it is not actually a fern. In reality, this plant is more closely related to the edible variety that graces many a dinner table, though it is not edible itself.
This beautiful fern-like plant will be a welcome addition to your plant family. Despite its appearance, it really is quite easy to care for! Plus, It doesn't take up a lot of space making it ideal for smaller spaces. In the home, Asparagus ferns should be kept well watered, bushy, and dense, so their lace-like foliage creates an attractive eye catching houseplant.
Asparagus Densiflorus 'sprengerii' are native to South Africa, and are often used as bedding plants, but have also been used as tropical accent pieces for many years. The reason for this is their long arching stems that cascade gracefully over the edge of the hanging planter, creating a fairy-like canopy.
Due to their natural habitat, which can often be hot and dry, the Asparagus Fern has adapted to survive drought. Nevertheless, if the plant is allowed to dry out too frequently, it may drop its leaves and begin to look bare. If possible, provide the Asparagus Fern with consistently moist soil, avoiding soggy soil. In general, this indoor plant can tolerate a variety of lighting conditions, but it looks best in bright indirect light. So be sure to choose a position where your plant will receive some adequate light. Overall, it can be used in a variety of environments including a protected Patio or Balcony. The ideal houseplant!
Note: Please be aware that the plant is not pet friendly and is harmful if eaten, so keep out of reach of children.
Asparagus Fern Common Symptoms
- Scorched yellowing foliage: Your Asparagus Fern is getting too much direct light, move to a more sheltered position.
- 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 or may need some feeding. Move to a brighter spot, if it is in a bright enough position, we recommend feeding with a diluted well balanced fertilizer.
- 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. Other causes can included overwatering or consistently soggy soil. Check how wet your soil is, and if wet, allow to dry out at least 75% of the way before watering again. Click for more on Identifying Over vs Underwatering.
- 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. Click for more on Identifying and treating Pests.
Plant collapse: This is often caused by root rot as a result of prolonged overwatering, especially in winter.
Asparagus Fern Care Instructions
- 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.
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