I was never good with ferns, but I love them! I was always envious of my moms ability to grow a boston fern when I could not. I havent been having great luck with my asparagus fern and so I did some research that I am sharing here. Thank heavens for the world-wide web!
Asparagus fern is generally grown as a houseplant in pots and hanging baskets. Care for this plant is all about providing optimum growth conditions, which include adequate sunlight, water and using well-drained and nutrients rich soil for growing it.
Asparagus fern is a perennial shrub, native to South Africa and certain parts of Asia. The scientific name of this plant is Asparagus densiflorus. Asparagus fern is considered a weed that belongs to the lily family. But, it is also a popular ornamental houseplant, and especially looks great in a hanging basket. However, the plant is not a true fern, rather a relative of the asparagus plant. But, its delicate and feathery foliage resembles the leaves of fern and hence, it got the name asparagus fern. Growing this fern is not very difficult, if favorable growth conditions are provided for it.
It is basically a perennial, branching shrub with tough green aerial stems, where you can find a number of spines. The leaves are very delicate and can grow up to a length of about 0.8 to 2 cm and width of 0.1 to 0.2 cm. Its leaves are not true leaves, but cladodes that look like and perform the functions of normal leaves. These cladodes usually appear in groups of four or more.
The actual leaves of the asparagus fern, on the other hand, take the form of spines. The plant is also characterized by a dense mat fibrous roots with bulbous tubers. It produces small and inconspicuous, white or pinkish flowers in the spring. The flowers are bell-shaped and found to occur in clusters. The plant also produces green colored berries, that turn red, when matured. These berries contain one or more seeds of black color, that are usually used for propagating the plant.
It is mainly grown as a houseplant in cooler climates, or as an ornamental plant in gardens and in pots. The plant grows well in bright light and need only moderate water levels. However, the plant can tolerate low light conditions as well. Usually, a place that receives bright, but indirect sunlight is ideal for growing the plant. If you are planning to grow this plant inside your house, then you can place it near a window, so that it can get bright, but filtered sunlight.
As far as the soil type is concerned, it prefers moist, sandy or loam types of soil. The soil should be rich in nutrients and well-drained. Therefore, it is preferable to mix peat moss and sand with the soil, before plantation. It prefers moderate water levels, as has been mentioned already. So, allow the soil to dry a bit before watering the plant. However, under watering can give rise to certain problems like, yellowing of foliage. Additionally, the needles of the plant can drop, if it does not receive enough water. Therefore, providing the optimum level of water is a crucial part of its care.
It prefers humidity and so, keeping a humidity tray along with regular misting can prove beneficial for the healthy growth of the plant. Once, the plant starts to grow rapidly, its root ball can begin to bulge out or overcrowd the pot. In such a situation, you can either opt for transferring the plant to a bigger pot or container, or divide the root ball into two parts and propagate a new plant.
Asparagus fern will also need fertilizer at times, depending on how rapidly it grows. The best time for fertilization is the spring time or early fall period, though fast growing plants can be fertilized once in a month with a water-soluble fertilizer. But, if the growth rate is moderate, then fertilizing once in alternate months will suffice. Pest problem is not very frequent in case of this houseplant. Rarely, mealy bugs and spider mites can attack the plant, for which you can take the help of a professional.
With proper care, this plant with its lacy and delicate foliage, and bushy appearance can be an excellent addition to your house. But, if you have pets, then you might need to be a bit cautious. This plant can be toxic to cats and dogs and its berries can cause gastrointestinal problems like, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, if ingested. Even skin contact with the plant parts can cause allergic reactions and dermatitis. So, pet owners need to take appropriate precautionary measures to keep their pets away from this houseplant.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/asparagus-fern-care.html