Dictionary of Flowers: Asparagus Fern

Delicate Asparagus Fern used as an accent is also edible. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Anika Malone and Flickr
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Delicate Asparagus Fern used as an accent is also edible. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Anika Malone and Flickr

  • Asparagus 
  • Common name: asparagus fern
  • Family: Liliaceae
  • Category: Annual, frost sensitive, indoor plant
  • Height: 16" to 36"
  • Width: 18" to 36"
  • Sun to shade, filtered light
  • Blooms: grown for foliage
  • Growth habit: mounding for some species, upright for others. Used as filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, moist, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, shade garden, woodland garden, indoor plant
  • Diseases: drought stress
  • Pests: spider mites, aphids

Asparagus fern is not a fern, but rather a species of the edible asparagus grown for its lacy, ferny leaves on arching stems.

The flowers are white and small, but they do produce red berries that can offer some interest.

Asparagus fern is a native of South Africa, mostly grown as a container plant for indoor use, but it enjoys spending summers outdoors.

It grows from bulbous tubers.

It prefers growing in fertile, moist, well drained soil. Dappled light is ideal, though it can handle more light if watered consistently.

It's best to water asparagus fern from the bottom, dunking the pot in a container full of water.  

Asparagus fern needs to be repotted every two or so years, but it doesn't mind being somewhat pot bound.

When repotting, divide the plant and pot the divisions in the same size container, watering them well the first few weeks.

The new divisions' crowns need to be set even with the level of the potting soil. Keep them in shade for a few weeks after repotting, to avoid plant stress.

Asparagus fern is difficult to start from seed. Germination is uneven and can take a month or longer. They need to be sown up to 24 weeks before last frost date. It is best to purchase starter plants or to propagate by division.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Although not prone to disease, asparagus fern can get stressed if not watered properly or if the drainage of the container is not sufficient.

Leaf yellowing is due to either too much sunlight or drought stress. Keep soil consistently moist, watering when the first inch of soil feels dry.

Aphids and mites can be a problem. Treat with insecticidal soap.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Asparagus fern is poisonous to pets. It can produce stomach upset in humans if the berries are ingested.

Popular varieties:

  • Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' - looks soft and open with arching stems
  • Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii' - upright growth habit, fine foliage
  • Asparagus setaceus - light and airy. Used by florists as filler. Do not plant on the ground, as it can become invasive in hot zones

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

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