A Beginner’s Guide to the Asparagus Fern

 Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern
Asparagus Fern

Growing a beautiful garden is fun and relaxing and today, you have the opportunity to grow a wide range of unique plants such as asparagus fern.  However, this plant which is native to South Africa is commonly grown for ornamental purposes so if wanted you could grown this fern in a container within the house.  This fern is also known as “Sprenger Asparagus” after Carl Ludwid Sprenger who made the plant a favorite choice throughout Europe.

The nice thing about growing the asparagus fern is that it is a perennial so after being planted initially it would continue to grow on its own each year, producing light pink or white flowers in the spring.  The leaves are also beautiful, which are more like cladodes that grow in groups of four or more from the stems and measure about one-half to one inch long.  Then in the summertime after the flowers have bloomed, tiny round berries appear which have a black seed in the center.  At first, the berries are green but by winter, they mature and turn red.

Although considered a popular plant in Europe and South Africa, the asparagus fern is actually considered a weed in the states of Hawaii and Florida.  While this fern is grown all over Europe, it is common in many parts of Australia.  The seeds of this fern should never be eaten by humans in that they cause problems with indigestion such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomachache.  Additionally, if the berries were to touch the bare skin, dermatitis might develop.  Dogs and cats should also avoid eating the seeds of the asparagus fern since they are toxic.  Interestingly, many birds that live on fruits love the seeds and suffer no ill effects.

If the asparagus fern were grown indoors, the plant would do best in a cooler environment.  However, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, this fern also grows well outdoors, whether in a conventional garden, urban garden, pots set outside on the deck or patio, or in rockeries.  Growing the asparagus fern is actually very easy because the plant is hardy.

To get started with growing the asparagus fern in a container, we recommend you choose healthy seeds although potted plants can also be purchased at any gardening center or nursery.  For species, both the Sprenger and Plumosus options are considered best.  Next, you would need to create a mixture consisting of one-third sand, potting soil, and peat moss.  After placing the soil in the container, create a well in the center and then place the seeds in the middle, covering them with soil.

You need to water the soil so it is moist but make sure the container in which the asparagus fern is grown has a drain hole so the water can drain well.  Watering would not occur again until the soil has completely dried.  If you decide to grow the fern inside, the plant would need to be placed where it would receive a lot of direct sunlight and for outdoors, choose an area where it would get half direct sunlight and half shade.  Although the asparagus fern needs shade while being grown outside, too much shade would actually cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Your potted asparagus fern also needs to be fertilized weekly starting in the spring all the way to the early part of fall.  When fertilizing this plant, any indoor plant food being provided should be cut in half.  Finally, once the roots of the asparagus fern outgrow its first container, the plant would need to be transferred to a larger container.  In fact, at this time you could split the root ball so you would have two plants if wanted.  Simply go through the process of creating the soil mixture and watering to establish the plants into the new containers.

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