Whether you call it the asparagus plumosa fern, the common asparagus fern, or the climbing asparagus, this plant is known to grow quickly. If you want to learn how to care for an asparagus plumosa fern, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s how to care for an asparagus plumosa fern:
- Water when the top inch of soil has dried out
- Provide dappled shade or bright, indirect light
- Use well-draining, aerated potting soil
- Choose a nonporous pot made of ceramic or plastic
- Set the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees
- Apply fertilizer during the active growing season
In this complete guide to plant care, I’ll explain the different facets of tending to an asparagus plumosa fern in detail. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be able to expertly grow one of these houseplants!
Asparagus Plumosa Fern Overview
Before I get into all that, what is the asparagus plumosa fern? As I mentioned in the intro, this plant species goes by several names, some others being ferny asparagus, lace fern, and asparagus grass.
Although its thin, neon green stems might look fragile, they’re surprisingly durable. This doesn’t give an indoor gardener license to mistreat their plant, of course, but the asparagus plumosa fern’s stems must be tough to grip and climb.
The asparagus plumosa fern doesn’t have leaves, but rather, cladodes. What is a cladode, you ask? It’s a type of specialized stem that’s flat and resembles a leaf.
Cladodes are designed to encourage photosynthesis. An example would be cactus pads, as they’re also technically cladodes. Per stem, the asparagus plumosa fern might have 15 of these cladodes.
That’s not the only growth you’ll see on this houseplant, though. Between the spring and the fall, the asparagus plumosa fern can sprout flowers and fruit.
First, the flowers develop, which are shaped like bells and are very small. Their hue is somewhere between white and green. If it’s the latter, it’s easier to miss the flowers.
Then the berries appear. These too are green, at least at first, and later become black when they’re matured. Enjoy the look and odor of the berries, but don’t eat them! They’re inedible.
The average height of a fully mature asparagus plumosa fern is one to five feet and the length is between two and three feet.
Asparagus Plumosa Fern Plant Care
Now you’re ready to begin caring for your asparagus plumosa fern, so let’s talk about what it needs.
Watering an Asparagus Plumosa Fern
On average, the asparagus plumosa fern should be watered every three days, but you’ll notice that the frequency changes throughout the year.
For example, in the winter, most houseplants don’t need to be watered as much since they tend to go dormant. The asparagus plumosa fern is not one of them, but it’s resting in the winter rather than growing. It still won’t need much water.
Then, in the summer, you’ll water your asparagus plumosa fern more often. That watering frequency could persist for most of the year if you live in a tropical climate.
The asparagus plumosa fern’s watering requirements will be among the easiest parts of this plant’s care to master if you use the fingertip test.
Should you need an explanation, here’s how the fingertip test works. You wash your hands (removing all soap residue), dry them, and then put a finger or two into the soil.
You don’t need to go deep into the asparagus plumosa fern’s soil, only an inch. If that inch feels mostly dry, then it’s time to water this plant. Try not to let the soil get bone dry, as then your plant could be parched, bordering on dehydrated.
You can see why I always advocate for the fingertip test. It’s reliable and very easy to do.
When watering the asparagus plumosa fern, aim for its root zone. You can find this spot by measuring between six and 12 inches from the fern’s base. Concentrating the water here, such as with a soaker hose, will ensure the roots get the water they need.
How do you know if you’re overwatering your asparagus fern?
Certain symptoms will manifest, such as leaf yellowing and leaf drop. If overwatering becomes a regular habit, your asparagus plumosa fern can develop the plant disease known as root rot.
When a plant’s roots can’t receive enough oxygen because they’re being inundated with water, the roots begin to die. They’ll have a terrible stench, a mushy texture, and a dark hue. This is root rot.
The earlier you catch root rot, the better, as you can cut away the dead roots and save what’s left of the root system. When the disease advances though, the worse the chances of any houseplant surviving, including the asparagus plumosa fern.
Asparagus Plumosa Fern Light Requirements
You have two ways to provide the asparagus plumosa fern with the light it needs: through bright, indirect light or dappled sunlight.
I’ll start by talking about bright, indirect light. Unlike direct sun, in which the sunlight travels straight through a window to your houseplant, with bright, indirect sun, a curtain or another medium blocks the direct flow of light.
Dappled light is that which is provided by the overhead cover of trees. The openings between the tree’s leaves let in only some light.
Since you’re growing your asparagus plumosa fern indoors, the best way to create dappled light is to put it near a larger plant that provides this cover.
The asparagus plumosa fern is like many houseplants in that it cannot withstand direct sun. The cladodes on each leaf will burn to a crisp, leaving you with a darkened, damaged plant.
Should your fern accidentally get too much sun, grab some clean pruning shears and remove the dead parts. Then disinfect your pruning shears with bleach or isopropyl alcohol. If it’s the latter, the alcohol content should be between 70 and 100 percent.
If you’re using bleach, you need water (nine parts) to dilute the bleach (one part). Let the blades of the pruning shears soak for a half-hour, and only the blades if you can help it. If the handles sink into the bleach bath, they will become discolored.
Disinfecting your pruning shears is a must, as it prevents the spread of some plant diseases. Please wear gloves when handling harsh chemicals like isopropyl alcohol and especially bleach.
The Best Soil for an Asparagus Plumosa Fern
Since the asparagus plumosa fern is a moisture lover (more on this in the next section), the best soil for this houseplant is that which is aerated but moist. Standard potting soil with amendments will prevent soil compaction so water can travel freely.
Peat moss or sphagnum is low-absorbent and can retain water that’s more than several times its own weight. As it lets go of that water over time, the peat moss will help your asparagus plumosa fern’s soil stay wet but not soaking.
Another perk of using peat moss is that it can grasp onto nutrients that you provide via fertilizer, keeping these from being drained out of the asparagus plumosa fern’s pot when you water it.
This might be able to increase your time between fertilizer applications but keep reading for more information on fertilizing the asparagus plumosa fern.
As helpful as peat moss can be, it doesn’t last forever. After about a year, it loses a lot of its potency since it’s begun decomposing. If you’d rather your soil amendment not expire, try perlite. It too keeps the soil nice and airy so it won’t compact.
The Best Pot for an Asparagus Plumosa Fern to Thrive
When shopping for a pot for your asparagus plumosa fern, avoid those that are porous, as they’ll absorb water quickly. Terracotta and clay are two of the most porous plant pot materials.
Nonporous pots like those made of glazed ceramic and plastic are much better options.
If all you can find at the store are terracotta or clay pots, make sure the material is either glazed or includes a plastic liner. Both measures increase the nonporousness of the pot, making it a safe choice for the asparagus plumosa fern.
Asparagus Plumosa Fern’s Ideal Temp and Humidity
One of the easiest parts of the asparagus plumosa fern’s care by far is its temperature, as you don’t really have to do much of anything. A room temperature environment that’s kept between 65- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit is best for the asparagus fern.
You might worry what this means for the asparagus plumosa fern in the summertime when indoor temps can start to climb over 70 degrees. This fern loves humidity, so it can surely withstand temps higher than 70, just don’t push it too much more.
Temperature extremes are no friend of the asparagus plumosa fern, and that goes for both high and low temperatures. The absolute lowest temperatures this plant can withstand are 20 to 30 degrees, but by that point, the stems and cladodes would likely be cold-damaged.
You’d have to remove dead cladodes and stems using pruning shears. Then you’d have to clean your pruning shears again. Move the asparagus plumosa fern to a warmer area, keep tending to it, and within a week or more, it should make a full recovery.
Cold and hot temps don’t only come from outdoor air. Check when placing your asparagus plumosa fern that it’s not in the way of any vents and other sources of hot and cold. For example, your refrigerator!
What about the asparagus plumosa fern’s humidity requirements? The average relative humidity in a home or office, which is around 30 to 50 percent, will suffice for this fern.
Please don’t waste your time misting this plant, as that’s a long-term requirement you’d have to do around the clock. Buy a humidifier and let it take care of the job for you.
The Best Fertilizer for an Asparagus Plumosa Fern
Let’s talk about fertilizing your asparagus plumosa fern, as this will be a common component of its care throughout the year. As I talked about before, this fern species doesn’t go dormant, per se; it’s just resting in the winter.
The rest of the year, you can apply fertilizer, but it must be the slow-release variety. If you only have liquid fertilizer handy, then use that at the start of the growing season in the spring through the autumn, applying about monthly.
Check the packaging before you buy the fertilizer so you know it’s soluble, as you’ll need to dilute the fertilizer with water until it’s half-strength. How much water dilution requires will vary depending on the type of fertilizer you buy, so I recommend reading the instructions. You will need at least several gallons of water though.
Some indoor gardeners will flush their asparagus plumosa fern’s soil to prevent fertilizer salts from accumulating. If you decide to do this, water your plant for two consecutive minutes and let the water drain. Repeat every three months or so.
Asparagus Plumosa Fern Common Questions
How Do You Prune the Asparagus Plumosa Fern?
When your asparagus plumosa fern becomes overgrown or its ends have died, pruning is a good idea. You have two methods for pruning depending on the plant parts you’re trying to remove.
If the ends of the asparagus plumosa fern are dead, then you’ll need clean pruning shears. Cut the brown or black parts off, trimming at a 45-degree angle. Then disinfect your shears and you’re done.
For everyday overgrowths, the pinching method works well. At the tip of the cladode, pinch the stem between your fingers. It should come right off. You can also trim the really long stems with pruning shears if that’s easier.
What Are Some Good Companion Plants for the Asparagus Plumosa Fern?
Growing companion plants makes tending to a crowded indoor garden simpler. Which houseplants get along best with the asparagus plumosa fern? You have three options: the begonia, impatiens, or coleus.
Begonia is a gorgeous flowering plant that produces reddish-pinkish blooms. This plant also doesn’t like to be overwatered, so with two plants sensitive to this issue in such proximity, you might finally amend your watering habits. The begonia prefers average relative humidity much like the asparagus plumosa fern.
The impatiens also flowers, producing small blooms in hues like white, orange, pink, red, and purple. To see those flowers grow, provide well-draining, moist soil. Impatiens like more shade than the asparagus plumosa fern, and you’ll fertilize them once per two weeks instead of once per four weeks.
Coleus might not be known for its flowers, but its multicolored leaves with dark maroon centers are still striking. This is yet another moisture-loving houseplant (noticing a theme here?) that needs fertilizer in the spring and summer. It too is sensitive to overwatering, so ensure its pot is well-draining.