Introducing the dramatic Asparagus densiflorus. Even when southern Arizona reaches temperatures above 100 degrees the asparagus fern thrives! Our desert garden has a subtropical ambience thanks to the ornate asparagus fern. This customary name is somewhat deceiving because the asparagus fern is not a fern at all; but a member of the Liliaceae, or Lily family.
Growing these ferns in containers is easy and low maintenance. This plant develops large tuberous roots and can become potbound in a relatively short period of time. Asparagus Ferns are vigorous, fast growing plants that can take extreme heat as long as it receives regular watering.
To encourage new growth I give our asparagus ferns a trim every so often. In the photo above you will notice several green berries that will turn red by winter. Since these plants are dioecious, not all of your asparagus ferns will grow berries.
What does dioecious mean? Plants that are dioecious have their male and female parts on separate plants. Both male and female plants must be present for pollination to occur. Asparagus Ferns are toxic to cats and dogs. Contact with the skin may cause dermatitis so I recommend wearing gloves.
From a distance, the asparagus fern, Asparagus densiflorus, looks very soft and delicate. This can be attributed to its fine, needle-like leaves. Make no mistake, putting your hands into an asparagus fern will give you little scratches.
Asparagus Fern is native to South Africa and is an evergreen perennial that is commonly used as a groundcover or in hanging baskets for its showy foliage.
An easy way to propagate new Asparagus Ferns is by division. Using a large serrated knife, you can easily divide up the root ball into half or quarter sections for more new plants.
The photo above is one of our potted asparagus ferns that is located in the full Arizona sun. Other containers are nestled in part shade. All of the plants are growing well with my only complaint being I need to plant more!
Yellow needles develop on asparagus ferns for different reasons such as rapid temperature change, under watering, over watering, spider mites and possibly a change in light. Your asparagus fern will need less watering during winter and in low light conditions.
Asparagus ferns can be trained to grow as a vine or cascade down a hanging planter. Note: Sprenger’s Asparagus has been declared a noxious weed in Florida, Hawaii and New Zealand. Listed as a Class One Invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s Pest Plant List (FLEPPC).
We love Asparagus Ferns and have grown them in hot, hot Arizona for years with no behavior problems.