Asparagus fern, of which there are many kinds, is related to the favorite springtime vegetable, and you'll notice that new shoots look like skinny asparagus spears. The most frequently used ornamental one is called A. sprengeri.
Description of asparagus fern: New asparagus growth expands to form feathery, branched shoots 1 to 2 feet long. From a small plant in spring with 3 to 4 stems, at summer's end up to 10 or more billowing stalks emerge from pots or containers.
Growing asparagus fern: Key factors to good growth include moderate water, a rich, well-drained soil, and full sunlight. Asparagus fern will tolerate low light (even existing satisfactorily as a house-plant), but growth will be diminished. Asparagus fern is a gross feeder; at planting use a slow-release fertilizer lasting summer long or feed weekly with a water-soluble fertilizer mixed at half the recommended strength.
Propagating asparagus fern: By seed (must be fresh) or by division. It's most readily available as started plants.
Uses for asparagus fern: Asparagus fern is primarily used as a filler plant in containers of mixed flowers growing during the summer. It works in wall boxes, hanging baskets, window boxes, and planters of all kinds. Asparagus fern also grows well in partially shaded ground beds, alone, or intermixed with larger, shade-tolerant flowers such as tuberous begonias, Because asparagus fern is a vigorous plant, combine with plants of some stature so they are not overpowered.
Asparagus fern related varieties: Several other asparagus relatives are also used as ornamentals. A. densiflorus Myers is a selection with stiff, upright growth like foxtails. A. asparagoides, the florist's smilax, is sometimes planted in flowering containers. Leaves are coarser, and it is a definite trailer.
Scientific name of asparagus fern: Asparagus densiflorus
In the next section, we'll show you why the asparagus fern also makes a popular house plant. Learn more about the best conditions for growing the asparagus fern indoors -- and how to care for this attractive house plant.