It’s always good to find plants that tolerate low light and won’t wither up in dry, indoor air. Get to know asparagus ferns, one of the hardiest houseplants around.
Despite its name and feathery bright green foliage, asparagus ferns are not ferns at all, though it is a relative of the asparagus vegetable (Asparagus officinalis). If you’ve ever grown asparagus in your garden, you’ll definitely notice the similarities between the two. Asparagus plants are marked by soft, graceful, fern-like foliage with small white or pink flowers and berries in spring. The plants are perennials when grown outdoors and remain green year-round as houseplants.
There are many varieties of asparagus ferns, but the one you’re most likely to encounter is Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’. It has fine, soft needles on long stems that trail nicely down the sides of a hanging basket. Another popular variety is Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myersii’, commonly called foxtail fern. Foxtail ferns look similar to Sprengeri, but have long upright stems, so they look best in a pot rather than a hanging planter.
Asparagus ferns’ foliage and berries are poisonous to pets and humans, so keep it in a hanging basket that’s high out of reach if you are worried about nibblers.
As houseplants go, asparagus ferns are fairly indestructible. They don’t succumb easily to those quintessential adversaries of indoor plants: dim light and dry air. It also likes damp soil, so it’s fairly forgiving of mild overwatering.
Plant asparagus ferns in an all-purpose potting mix. Caution: Despite their soft, fluffy appearance, asparagus ferns actually have small thorns, so wear gloves when handling them. Re-pot in a larger planter if the pot becomes root-bound or you notice vigorous root growth lifting the soil out of the pot.
What kind of light does the asparagus fern need?
Asparagus ferns will grow in bright to low light, and even do well with artificial light. In lower light conditions, the foliage may turn a lighter shade of green. It’s common to move the plant outdoors during summer.
How often should you water the asparagus fern?
Keep the soil evenly moist, watering about twice per week. The top layer of soil should be dry before watering, but do not let the soil dry out completely. Reduce watering during the winter dormancy period, keeping the soil barely moist.
Pruning the asparagus fern
Asparagus ferns have a tendency to become leggy, so pinch back strangling stems from the center to create a fuller effect.