Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Asparagus Fern aka Emerald Fern aka Emerald Feather ( Asparagus setaceus/Asparagus plumosus )




I’m beginning to think half the ferns I own have the common name Asparagus Fern. Watch the Latin names when buying ‘Asparagus Ferns’.

Like many commonly called ferns this plant is not really a fern.

Imagine my surprise last week when I went to prune it and it bit me. It has sharp, long, pointed thorns. And like many plants down here it is toxic.

It does get small white flowers in the spring, nothing spectacular.

Asparagus fern will grow in full sun to shade, preferring more sun than shade. Asparagus fern prefers moist soil but will tolerate dry soil.

It is known for spreading and becoming a problem. So keep an eye on it if you use it in your garden. Even in the shady, dry places I have it it grows rapidly.

I had been cutting this fern back and keeping it bush-like. This winter it escaped and what a delight. It climbs the tree and puts out horizontal leaves. They are very lacy and delicate. It really gives a tropical feel to the garden. I’m going to let them do some more climbing and see how things go. It will wrap itself around trees with thin ( 6″<) trunks, but will need help with thicker trunks. It prefers moist soil, but it is drought tolerant. It died back to the ground after several hard freezes, but was quick to re-appear once the weather warmed up a bit. Things to watch for on ferns: Leaf scotch: appears during dry, windy weather.  Water frequently and deeply and provide what shade and shelter you can. Scale: looks like small brown bumps on stems and underside of leaves.  I use orange oil. Mealy bugs:  Looks like white fuzz on plants.  I just wash them off with a garden hose. Holding its own during the 3 months of drought and 100'F plus days, little growth.