Neither asparagus nor ferns, asparagus ferns are actually members of the lily family. They are named for their appearance, as new shoots resemble asparagus spears, and when mature, their fluffy, bright green foliage resembles fern fronds. Asparagus ferns look lovely in porch pots and hanging baskets during the spring and summer months, and can be overwintered indoors as houseplants. In warmer climates, they can be planted directly into the ground. Asparagus ferns are desirable plants for several reasons. They are easy to grow, drought tolerant, like most any soil, have fine-textured foliage and a graceful, arching shape. Here are some tips for growing and caring for asparagus ferns.
Asparagus ferns do best in partial shade. While they can handle more sunlight than true ferns, and are good substitutes for ferns in sunny locations, their foliage turns yellow if they get too much sun. On the other hand, they also turn yellow if the receive too much shade. Select a spot that gets some sun and some shade, and your asparagus fern will grow glossy, full and bright green.
While part of the asparagus fern's appeal is that it is not picky when it comes to soil, asparagus ferns do best in a quality potting mix that drains well. Look for a potting soil that contains some sand, perlite and peat moss, as these ensure proper drainage.
Asparagus ferns are quite drought tolerant, thanks to small bulb-like formations on their roots, which store water. Keep soil moist but not soggy during warm months, allowing it to dry slightly between waterings. Water less during winter, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Apply a quality water-soluble fertilizer once per week during warm months, and every two weeks in colder months.
Asparagus ferns grow best in warm-to-hot weather. They often die to the ground after a freeze, but recover nicely in the spring. Bring them inside and place them in a bright window, if desired. You can grow them inside all year long, or overwinter them inside so they'll still have their bright green foliage when spring comes back around.
To easily grow more asparagus ferns, start with the pretty red berries produced by your asparagus fern. First, allow the berries to dry up while still on the plant. When they are dried and begin falling off on their own, collect them for planting. Gently squeeze each berry, and a single, round seed will emerge. Plant the seeds in starter pots filled with quality planting mix that drains well. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Additionally, when your asparagus fern has become cramped in its pot, you may divide it into several plants when repotting. Asparagus fern root clumps are very dense and difficult to divide. Many gardeners find that a saw or a sharp shooter work well. Although it may seem as if you are damaging the plant, chop the clump in half (or more pieces, if desired), then repot each section. The root clumps are so dense that a few damaged roots will not have an adverse effect.
Some warmer states consider the asparagus fern to be an invasive plant. Take care when planting this fern directly into beds, as it can take over your other plantings.