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How to Care For Asparagus Fern (Asparagus Setaceus)

Last Updated on September 3, 2022 by Plant Mom Care

Asparagus setaceus or Asparagus Fern is a plant from the genus Asparagus that is indigenous to South Africa. It may look like a fern and is commonly called that, but it isn’t as it flowers and produces berries.

It is an easy plant for newbies to grow and its green and featherlike foliage gives it a unique airy appearance, although it has become an invasive plant in some areas.

It is generally grown as a perennial or as ground cover, growing to 2 feet high and 5 feet wide. The leaves are long, featherlike, and spill from the stem clumps in the shape of an umbrella.

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It produces white flowers in warmer months and green berries (black when ripe) with seeds. Growth slows down in winter.

It is relatively a hardy plant that will thrive nicely indoors. 

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Asparagus Fern Sunlight

It doesn’t need plenty of sunlight and thrives with bright shaded light, also tolerating rather low light conditions. Direct sunlight will make the leaves turn yellow and suffer burns. 

Mimicking natural growing settings of shaded light will help it grow and thrive nicely. They make an eye-pleasing display when grown under trees or in hanging baskets in the shade. 

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Asparagus Fern Watering

It is a heavy drinker and needs watering more frequently than other plants as it has a relatively high water transpiration rate through its leaves. Water it when the topsoil turns dry. 

Under-watering it will rapidly lead to shed a major part of its leaves and turn the stems brown. While it may appear to be dead, it is still much alive due to its tubers and will soon become green again once you provide it with sufficient water again. 

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Asparagus Fern Humidity

This plant loves high humidity and will grow rapidly in levels over 70%. Average indoor levels of humidity are insufficient for this plant and need added help by providing artificial sources of humidity such as misting or a humidity tray or a humidifier.

Asparagus Fern retro pot plant mom

This is a crucial part of caring for this plant. The leaves’ edges might get brown in low humidity conditions. 

The high humidity in a bathroom is ideal for this plant to thrive. 

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Asparagus Fern Temperature

Average indoor temperature ranges of 65-80°F are the best temperatures for this plant. It prefers an environment where there are no drastic temperature fluctuations. It is somewhat cold-hardy, tolerating low temperatures of 20-30°F, the foliage might die if exposed to frost. 

It can also handle temperature highs of 95°F although growth will slow down if temperatures are higher than this.

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Asparagus Fern Soil

The plant will thrive well in well-aerated, loose, and moist soil. It will tolerate most soil types, but will not grow well if aeration and drainage are compromised.

Regular potting soil mixed with rich organic matter and perlite is perfect for it. The organic matter provides the plant with a slow release of nutrients as well as storing excess water along with the perlite, ensuring steady moisture levels and reducing the threat of under-watering and over-watering.

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Asparagus Fern Repotting

When repotting, use a small to medium size pot to grow, as it likes to be a bit root-bound. A good pot is preferably a terra cotta one for the benefit of preventing over-watering issues.

Hanging pots are also a good option for the visual display of the plant. Prepare its new home by adding pebbles or perlite to line the bottom of the pot will help maintain good drainage and prevent drainage holes from clogging. Next add fresh soil filling the pot to about a third full.

At this point, it would be a good time to consider dividing the plant for propagation. Watering the plant well will help loosen the roots. Take the plant out from the old pot by inverting it while holding the stems. Gently give it a shake to dislodge any old soil and transfer it to its new home.

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Asparagus Fern Propagation

The plant can be propagated by seed and by plant division. That is, if you happen to get a hold of the seeds, given the fact that the plant rarely flowers and fruits indoors. It will bloom and fruit if it is grown outdoors under the appropriate conditions. 

The seeds can be sewn into a soil mix to germinate. Keep the soil damp and wait for a new plant to germinate in 2 weeks. 

Plant division involves separating clumps of stems and roots from the plant and transplanting them into a new pot. 

Water it well to help loosen the roots and take the plant out from the old pot by inverting it while holding the stems. Gently shake the plant to dislodge any old soil and decide how many sections you want to split the plant into – it will help if you gather and tie up clumps of stems to easily identify the sections.

Insert your blade/knife into the root ball and cut away the selected sections so you end up with separate new plants, each with foliage and roots. Transplant these into new pots filled with well-draining aerated soil and water well. 

It is important to make sure your blade/knife is sterilized to prevent bacteria or fungus infections. Take a cotton ball saturated with alcohol and carefully rub the blade/knife and wait for it to dry before cutting the roots

Additional Care

Feed the plant with slight doses of fertilizer during spring or summer to boost growth, although it doesn’t require to be fertilized. Too much fertilizer can lead to the leaves turning brown, root tip burn, and even death so always make sure to feed it a diluted solution. 

Watering the fern before feeding will help prevent over-fertilization.

This plant can rapidly grow out and will have to be pruned to keep its size and shape. Pruning the plant every year also encourages healthy growth.

Dead or damaged foliage should be cut away to preserve its appearance. 

Asparagus Fern Common Problems

This plant is generally not prone to pest infestation or diseases as the leaves are not fleshy to attract pests. While it is not vulnerable to fungus or bacterial problems, root rot from overwatering or improper drainage can affect the plant and can be fatal.

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