Are you looking for a gorgeous, low-maintenance plant? An asparagus fern is perfect for new gardeners and experienced green thumbs alike. Despite their name, asparagus ferns aren’t true ferns: They belong to the lily family.
Prized for their lush, fern-like foliage and ability to thrive in various conditions, these fast-growing plants don’t require much special care. In addition to being terrific houseplants, asparagus ferns are an eye-catching addition to hanging baskets, planters, and ornamental garden beds.
These tender evergreen perennials are native to the southeastern coast of South Africa and are hardy in zones 9 to 11. They grow best in well-draining soil and partial shade or bright, indirect light. Learn all about watering your asparagus fern so it flourishes for many years.
How Often to Water Your Asparagus Fern
Asparagus ferns have strong, tubular roots that can store water for long periods. Therefore, allowing the soil to dry out somewhat between watering is crucial to prevent the roots from rotting. While these are drought-tolerant plants, once they become established, they do still need water!
Don’t Schedule It
Plants absorb water and nutrients at different rates depending on their environmental conditions, so it’s best not to water your plants on a strict schedule. Factors that influence how often you should water an asparagus fern include light, humidity, and air temperature. Plants usually require less water in the winter than during hot summer weather. Bathrooms can be a great place to keep your asparagus fern because of the high humidity levels — asparagus ferns need around 40 to 50 percent humidity.
Since they’re coastal plants, asparagus ferns grow best in somewhat humid conditions. As such, misting the plant between watering is beneficial for indoor and outdoor asparagus ferns, especially if you live in a dry environment.
Indoor Asparagus Ferns
Wait to water your indoor asparagus fern until the top 1 or 2 inches of the soil feels completely dry. Water the plant thoroughly until the water runs out of the drain hole at the bottom of the container. However, it’s also vital not to let the plant remain in standing water, as this can lead to root rot. Empty the saucer underneath after the water drains out of the pot. Or, try using a self-watering planter.
Outdoor Asparagus Ferns
If you’re growing asparagus ferns outdoors, saturate the ground to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches. Shallow watering causes the root system to remain close to the soil surface instead of growing deeper.
Signs of Overwatering
Overwatering is one of the most common asparagus fern problems. While keeping the soil consistently moist is best, it shouldn’t stay soggy for long periods. Ideally, it should have a similar consistency to a wrung-out sponge.
If your asparagus fern is getting overwatered, the initial symptom is usually wilting, yellow leaves. The lower branches often turn yellow first.
Oversaturated soil prevents plants’ roots from properly absorbing oxygen and nutrients. As a result, you’ll often see stunted growth and drooping branches. If the problem persists, the roots will begin rotting and smell of decay. In this case, repot your asparagus fern and replace the soil.
Signs of Underwatering
Although asparagus ferns are drought-tolerant once established, they can only go so long without water. If the root system dries out too much, the plant may turn brown and drop its leaves. Other symptoms of underwatering can include slow growth and crispy, brittle leaves and branches.
The soil should stay consistently moist but never become waterlogged. While it’s essential to let the top of the soil dry out before re-watering, don’t let the entire root ball dehydrate. As such, regularly monitoring soil moisture levels is crucial to plant care.
Asparagus Fern Care
In general, asparagus ferns are remarkably easy to maintain. These tips will help you keep your asparagus fern happy:
- Plant asparagus ferns in well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter.
- Asparagus ferns aren’t heavy feeders. Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer. Stop fertilizing in the winter.
- Asparagus ferns prefer temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They may become stressed when exposed to extreme cold or heat and cannot withstand temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Trim off any yellow or damaged fronds to keep the plant looking neat and healthy.
- Lastly, be aware that asparagus ferns are toxic to dogs and cats so keep them out of reach of your furry friends.
Have a Little Fern With It!
Asparagus ferns can grow indoors or outdoors and aren’t too fussy about their growing conditions. These graceful plants are suitable for a wide range of settings, including sunny windowsills, shaded patios, and even low-light rooms. How often to water your asparagus fern depends on environmental factors like light, humidity levels, and seasonal temperature variations.
Have you ever tried growing an asparagus fern? Share your success stories or ask any questions in the comments below!