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This article is written by Kunsang Choden.

Asparagus fern or Asparagus setaceus is regarded as a vine plant belonging to the genus Asparagus of Asparagaceae family. Asparagus fern has been categorized as a perennial evergreen herb. This plant is found to be native to Southern Africa. Currently it is found in Queensland, Australia, Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, Florida and are considered as invasive weeds. The plant is commonly known by a lot of names such as common asparagus fern, lace fern, bride bouquet fern, ferny asparagus and climbing asparagus. Although this plant is named as fern, environmentalists have discovered that the plant is not a true fern. Asparagus setaceus ‘Nanus’, Asparagus dnsiflurus ‘Sprengeri’, Asperagus setaceus and Asperagus densiflorus ‘Myers’ are the companion plants to Asparagus fern. One of the key factors of taking care of this plant is to give moderate amount of water. Plant it in a well drained soil and in a sunny location. Asparagus Ferns give rise to tuberous roots that spreads quickly within short period of time. The plant is well known for the production of good amount of evergreen leaves. The potted asparagus needs to be re-potted every new spring for maximum production.

Scientific classification of Asparagus aethiopicus and Asparagus densiflorus:

Kingdom: Plantae

Clade  : Angiosperms

Clade  : Monocots

Order  : Asparagales

Family            : Asparagaceae

Sub family: Asparagoideae

Genus : Asparagus

Species: A. aethiopicus

Binomial name: Asparagus aethiopicus

Domain           : Eukaryota

Kingdom        : Plantae

Phylum           : Spermatophyta

Subphylum    : Angiospermae

Class               : Monocotyledonae

Order              : Liliales

Family                  : Liliaceae

Genus             : Asparagus

Species            : Asparagus densiflorus

Related species: Asparagus fern has some related species such as Asparagus myriocladus, asparagus sprengiri regel, protasparagus densiflorus, asparagus densiflora Kunth

Nature: Asparagus fern is invasive in nature. The plant covers a large space and at times spreads at large. Taking the advantage of its fast growing nature, people often grow this plant indoor or take it to be a household plant. Due to its invasive nature, the plant is even taken as one of the least demanding plant.  Although the plant is planted by some cultivars, it is taken as the noxious weed in some parts of the world, namely Florida, Hawii, New Zealand, United States, Australia and Wollongong.

Distribution: This plant is of South Africa origin and is commonly found in forests, shrubs and also at some coastal areas.

Stem: The stem of Asparagus fern is green, stands tough and upright. It grows to the length of one meter.

Leaves: Asparagus fern has a bright colored green foliage. This foliage is soft to touch.

Flower: Asparagus fern produces a small greenish whit or whitish pinkish flower in a bell like shape. Over the course of time, this flower turns to a green berry and turns darker and richer in color upon the time of maturity. The flowering time last from late summer to fall. The bloom comes in 3-5 cm long.

Problems: Asparagus fern is a sensitive plant that turns yellow, drops the needles when exposed to no sunlight or when over watered or not watered at all. Asparagus fern prefers growing in a well lighted but in a shady location. The plant is often attacked by scale insects, spider mites and mealy bugs. There are times when the plant is disturbed to a larger extend, where you will even need to cut down the stem to the roots. Sometimes the fern needles turn yellow and this is not a good sign of growth—it is caused due to over watering, extreme temperature, or even under watering.

Caution: It is important that we be careful before we take any plant for granted. The berries of asparagus fern are found to be toxic leading to vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin irritation etc. Further carefulness should be taken into consideration—pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits are often harmed by this plant upon its consumption.

Asparagus fern is one of the very good houseplant. The plant has tuberous roots that have the ability to store water.

 

Care: Taking care of Asparagus fern is not a tiresome task provided that you keep some important suggestions and care tips in mind. If planted in an incorrect manner, the leaves start to dry out or turn yellow and over watering leads to rotting in roots. This plant grows to the maximum level when planted at a bright light or bright location but make sure that you do not expose the plant to a direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight will produce the result of leave burn. While plantation, the plant requires a distance of 1ft from one bulb to the next bulb in the soil. The plant needs to be kept moist.

Water is the life of every living thing. You are suggested to give regular water making sure the soil is kept moist yet do not over water especially during its growing period. Give enough water even when the growing season ends particularly because the soil still needs to be kept moist.

Providing liquid fertilizer for around two weeks to the plant during its active growing stage will give rise to maximum growth.

Asparagus fern grows perfectly well at a normal room temperature. This is also the reason people take this plant as a household plant. It can also thrive at a temperature of 13 degree Celsius.

If you are planting the Asparagus fern in a pot, you will need to repot the plant every year into a larger sized pot for maximum growth.

Unlike other types of plant where you cut out the worn out flowers and leaves to get good growth result in a plant, in case of asparagus fern, you are suggested to cut out the entire stem in order to wait for the best growth in the coming season.

Care summary:

Light: indirect bright light

Soil type: slightly acidic and well drained

Water: plenty during active growing stage and less during the less growing stage

Propagation: Asparagus fern can be propagated by dividing the clumps with a sharp knife and plant is a healthy soil. This is the easiest method of propagating asparagus fern. Propagation is best performed during the spring months. It is possible to propagate this plant through the seed but it takes longer time to germinate this way. It takes approximately 4 to 5 weeks to germinate this way. Thus, most of the gardeners prefer the division method of propagation.

Uses: Asparagus fern produces a beautiful home decoration when planted in a hanging basket or hanging pot. The plant appears wonderful when planted in a porch pots. It beautifies the home environment to a greater extend due to its beautiful scrambling nature. It looks wonderful in window box, wall box and hanging baskets.  This plant gives rise to deep green foliage that is often used by the gardeners and bouquet shop dealers for floral arrangements.

African Asparagus fern has some medicinal purpose. It is used in a medicinal purpose to cure stomach aches. The plant is also eaten as some vegetables but Asparagus densiflorus on the other hand is not edible.

Summary: Asparagus fern gives rise to green foliage. It needs to be watered sparingly and requires bright light. This plant grows to its maximum level at 13-24 degree Celsius. And this plant is lover of moisture.


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