Asparagus Fern

OakleyAugust 8, 2010

Last winter I bought two small Asparagus Ferns. They weren't doing so good and in early summer I put them both on the porch and they're growing like weeds!

On the porch they're in 100 degree weather, get morning and evening sun, maybe a total of 5 hours direct sunlight, and I water them often.

Of course it's humid outside which I think is the key.

When I bring them inside in the fall, what can I do to keep them looking so lush?

It won't be humid inside so is spraying them often the key to good growth and no browning leaves? Along with good direct sunlight?

How many hours of indoor sunlight does your fern get?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There are a number of plants commonly called asparagus fern - which is yours?


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:51AM
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This is the one.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 3:24PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Bright light & keep it on the dry side over winter. I would cut it back hard and do a full repot into a free-draining and durable soil in the spring, just as this plant is really waking up, but you can repot it anytime during the summer. It won't need much fertilizer during the winter, and make sure you flush the soil regularly to avoid accumulating salts.

Another asparagus fern:


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 4:07PM
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The third picture down is my all time favorite plant, but I can't grow them, no matter how hard I try.

Since it will be dry in the house over winter, wouldn't keeping the soil on the dry side hurt it? Isn't that why the needles turn brown?

I had this one at an east window getting plenty of morning sun and bright light all day, and it started turning brown & dropping needles. That's when I took it outside where it gets the same light but more humidity & stays wet almost all the time.

Should I mist it often when I bring it inside?

BTW, I know there are a lot of Asparagus Fern's, but when I think of one I think of mine which basically looks like an Asparagus plant. :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 7:41PM
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I forgot to ask. Why should I cut it back when it's bushing out really good?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:55AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Actually, the plant in my pictures is extremely hardy. I've even over-wintered them in my unheated garage - check my zone. It grows in deep shade - the plant in the third picture is growing under a 4 ft overhang that is less than 2 ft above the plant. The other pictures were of the plant in a spot that gets full sun until 4-5, and they do very well there, too. If you want one, I'll save one of them when the frost comes & send it to you, along with some soil they'll do very well in. Lol - I will have cut it back to within an inch of the soil, so when it bounces back, all the foliage will be acclimated to your light levels.

Cutting a plant back hard (I said in the spring, btw) rejuvenates it. Cells closest to the roots are more vigorous than cells far away from the roots, so when you cut a plant back hard, you get vigorous juvenile growth - which is probably why it's called rejuvenation pruning. It's likely your foliage isn't going to look as pleasing in the spring as it does now, so a fresh start after eliminating the ratty winter growth is kind of refreshing.

How much water is in the soil has little to do with a plants ability to remain hydrated, unless the soil gets VERY dry. Plants are less efficient at absorbing water from wet soils than from soils that are barely damp. O2 is just as important as water to root function and metabolism, so a soil that holds lots of air when it's saturated is far superior to one that holds little air when it's saturated.

I would absolutely skip the misting. It raises humidity for only a few minutes, and generally, more harm than good is apt to come from the practice. Humidity trays aren't very effective either, but they're better than misting. Best is to use a whole house or room humidifier to keep humidity levels more comfortable for the plant. The root cause of most foliage appearance issues lies in the level of soluble salts accumulating in the soil from your tap water & fertilizer solution. Low humidity doesn't cause the problem it only makes it worse.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 2:59PM
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Thanks Al. If your ferns thrive in deep shade, would this fern do the same? When I bring it in for winter I need to know what type of light it should get.

One didn't do well in the east window. The other didn't do well in a south window. I have a west widow that's completely shaded but gets indirect light.

Whole house humidifier are out of the budget although I'd love to have one. A room humidifier doesn't do too well unless it's in a small room.

I have a lot of plants in my utility room which will get direct sunlight in a month, and I could put a humidifier in there if need be. But I keep my succulents in there so not sure what to do.

I just don't want to kill it over winter. lol

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 11:07AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Neither of the two plants we're talking about are true ferns. Yours is Asparagus densiflorus, with the exact cultivar unknown, and mine is A. plumosa. I also use densiflorus as fillers in many of my containers, and they do just as well in full sun as they do in full shade, so I really doubt that your troubles growing densiflorus stems from a light issue. It should do very well in an east window, or in the shaded west window. I'm guessing you have issues with the soil you're using, and/or your watering habits - possibly your nutritional supplementation program. I'm sure we could get it straightened out if you wanted to take the time to explore, but I'll leave that up to you. ;o)


    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 2:19PM
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Oh Al, that A. densiflorus is extremely wild in that it grows soooo lush!
I bought one when I was in Walnut Creek and planted it in a hanging basket then. When I went back to 'Nam, I divided the plant and brought a half with me. I planted the half in a hanging basket here and it grew so much that it broke the bottom out of its ceremic pot!
I repotted it and got a half of it in the ground. Boy, from there, it has been growing like mad! Once in a while I cut all the stems to the ground. What I've found about this "fern" is that... the new growths keep tight to the central root mass (which looks like small tubers) which is fine because if I don't want it there, I can just dig up and take it to another place.
I blooms for me and takes seeds, too.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 10:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes - it's genetically very vigorous, thus forgiving & easy to grow. Plumosa is much the same, just maybe not quite as tolerant of full sun.

Lol - with you tending it, I would EXPECT it to grow 'wild'. ;o)


    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 10:51AM
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My thumb isn't that green, Al. But thanks for saying so :-)


    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 11:06AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I know better! Many of us have seen your beautiful plants. Your modesty is noted, but you still can't fool us. :-)


    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 3:44PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I agree with Al~
I've seen many posts with your beautiful plants.:)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 4:35PM
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Many thank for your kind comments, Al and JoJo.
I really appreciate your taking the time to look at my posts on GW.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 4:59AM
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I love growing Aspargus Ferns. My ferns win first place during the State Fair competitions. I can tell you how I keep mine looking good. I give mine fish fertilizer or Azelea food spring and summer. They love acidic fertilizers. I give them morning sun and shade during the hottest parts of the day. Water everyday during the summer. In the winter I bring mine in and water them once every few days or so, I try to let them dry out between waterings...NO FERTILIZER... let them rest. Cut off the any poor looking stems so the nutrition goes to the good stems. I keep them in a room away from animals and most used rooms that way they are not harmed by any human, animal or object. I try to keep mine under a growing light or in a bright room but away from the cold windows. I hope this helps! Good luck with your fern!!!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 2:17PM
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