How to grow asparagus ferns. Asparagus plumosus or setaceus, the lace fern. Asparagus meyeri or A. densiflorus 'Meyers', the foxtail fern. Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' rabbit toxicity.
The lace fern sharing its Savannah, GA domicile with a yucca plant.
There are 3 types of asparagus ferns commonly grown in the home garden.
Asparagus setaceus (formerly A. plumosus), a climber from South Africa which is called lace or feathery fern.
This is the fern florists often add to rose bouquets. It has fine, hairy fronds and sometimes produces tiny white flowers.
Asparagus meyeri, the foxtail fern, is the least fern-like of the three.
This plant is a collection of bright green plumes which shoot
straight up from the soil.
The erect stems can grow to a height of 2 or 3 feet and, taken as individuals, they resemble miniature cypress trees.
It is also called cat's tail fern. Foxtail fern produces marble-sized seeds which sprout easily.
Asaragus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' planted in one of the indoor garden landscape designs at Longwood Gardens.
Asparagus 'Sprengeri' is the most commonly grown asparagus fern.
Sometimes called emerald feather, emerald fern, or basket asparagus, it grows in a cascading habit and looks great spilling out of a bowl.
Hailing from western Africa and Natal, its thorny fronds brandish inch long needle tipped leaves. This one also blooms, with small, fragrant white flowers followed by red berries.
To the layman's eye, all three look like ferns.
Botanists classify them differently, so, technically they are not ferns at all but don't let this stop you from growing one or more of this interesting group.
Asparagus ferns grow well in pots or in the open ground. They can be used as ground cover in sun or high shade.
Just be certain about placement before you install the plants.
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Once they become established in an area, they are almost impossible to eradicate. Any little tuber left in the ground will sprout. Also, the berries will drop and the seed inside will germinate, creating new plants where you might not want them.
So, if you place a hanging basket of A. densiflorus 'Sprengeri' over a flower bed, keep an eye out for seedlings. Pluck them out when they are small and you won't have a problem.
Better yet, remove the berries before they drop.
*The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has listed this species as being invasive and disruptive to native plant communities in Central and South Florida.
All three types can be propagated by seed or division of the clumps.
All varieties are hardy to 20 degrees F. though they may die to the ground at that temperature. There are reports of plants surviving in the ground up into zone 6 with the aid of a blanket of mulch.
These are tough plants that can take pretty much whatever nature throws at them.
They can stand up to the intense heat of an Arizona summer. If you neglect to water them, the pine needle-like leaves may turn yellow and fall but I doubt they'll die. Start watering them semi-regularly. They'll bounce back.
This ability to withstand neglect, makes them great plants for beginning gardeners.
Feed the plants with a high nitrogen fertilizer periodically during active growth to keep them green and lush.
Some lists of plants toxic to rabbits and other animals claim that these ferns are toxic, but they don't say why or how toxic. Ingesting the berries can cause stomach upset in humans.
The lack of specific information is somewhat troubling because rabbits like to breed under the fronds of asparagus ferns.
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