Asparagus Fern

About an Asparagus Fern

An asparagus fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) is not a true fern at all but rather a member of the Lily family and a close relative of such plants as the tulip, amaryllis, and hosta. The name asparagus fern comes from the fact that the new growth on these plants resembles tiny asparagus spears. Originally found growing in South Africa, it’s now quite prevalent in subtropical areas in many countries. As asparagus fern is  easier to grow than “true” ferns such as the Boston Fern, Kimberly Queen Fern, or the Maidenhair Fern. During the summer, this is a perfect plant to hang outside in a bright spot on your porch. Just be careful, too much sun or very high temperatures may cause yellow foliage, leaf drop, or brown edges on the “leaflets.”


An asparagus fern has long stems of graceful, feathery, bright green foliage. The tiny “leaves” are not really leaves at all; they are flattened, short, needlelike, modified stems.   The plant looks best in a hanging basket so the arching, trailing stems can grow freely. An asparagus fern produces small white flowers and bright red berries. As the plant matures, stems become a little woody and develop sharp spines. Some asparagus fern varieties, like the springeri, grow over 2-3ft. wide with cascading trailing stems length.

Asparagus Fern Varieties

Asparagus plants are excellent houseplants because they easily adapt to different light levelThese are general guidelines that describe different poisonous plant toxicity levels. It's possible for an allergic reaction to occur from contact with any houseplant, toxic or non-toxic. If there is ever a concern, call: Poison Control Center: ******1-800-222-1222****** Level #1: Houseplants with low toxicity, may be mildly irritating, especially the sap of the plant. Level#2: Houseplants with medium to severe toxicity. Eating parts of these houseplants may result in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties. Level #3: These houseplants are  very poisonous. When eaten, especially in large quantities,  severe vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties can occur. Level #4: These houseplants are extremely poisonous. Eating parts of these houseplants can be be life threatening. Every plant listed in our Popular HousePlant guide has a section explaining whether or not it is toxic and, if so, how dangerous it is. Amaryllis, alocasia, dieffenbachias, crotons, ivies, azaleas, lilies, and philodendrons are just a few of the highly poisonous plants we use in our homes and offices all of the time. If you don't know whether your houseplant can pose a threat, send an email to Ask Include a picture of your plant and a description. Judy will let you know if the houseplant should be kept away from small children and pets. See colorful pictures and get more information about poisonous houseplants in my book Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants  s, temperatures, humidity. Here are are few of the most popular varieties:

Asparagus sprengeri, a cultivar of Asparagus densiflorus, has long, arching stems and tiny needle-like, bright green “leaves;” an added plus are the small white flowers that eventually turn into red berries. Be careful, hidden in the lush foliage of an asparagus sprengeri are sharp little thorns that are difficult to see.

Asparagus plumosa (Asparagus plumosus) is a compact plant with delicate, spreading, horizontal branches covered in feathery “leaves;”

Foxtail Fern (Asparagus Meyeri) has long, bushy fronds that really do resemble a fox’s tail.


A. plumosa                              A. Sprengeri                     A. Foxtail

Asparagus Fern Problems

Plant dies: usually caused by root rot due to over watering

Foliage turns yellow: usually caused by over watering, too much plant food, very, very dry air, spider mites

Foliage turns brown:  dry air, over watering and under watering



Quick Care Tips

Moderately warm temperatures above 55°F (28°C) and below 75°F (23.9°C)

Avoid direct sunlight

Water less in winter and water from the bottom to prevent over watering

Avoid placing the plant near a fireplace, heater, and cold drafts in winter

Plant is easily propagated any time of the years by dividing the root ball



Is an Asparagus Fern Poisonous

An asparagus fern is a poisonous plant and toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets. Please keep it away from small children who are often attracted by the bright red berries the plant produces. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants. 


Should I Cut Off the Red Berries and White Flowers on My Asparagus Fern?

Congratulations, berries & flowers develop when an asparagus fern is getting all that it needs. The flowers and berries of an Asparagus Fern won’t hurt the plant, but may slow down the development of new leaves. Please remember the red berries of an Asparagus Fern are poisonous and will cause digestive problems if eaten.

Why Do the Vines on an Asparagus Fern Turn Yellow, Hard, and Straw-like?

An Asparagus fern gets yellow straw-like vines when the soil has gotten too dry. Cut off the dead vines as close to the soil as possible and water water your asparagus fern really well. Never fertilize a plant when the soil is very dry.

I Have My Asparagus Fern in My Bedroom Across From a North- Facing Window. What I Want to Know Is Why It Isn’t It Growing?

I have my asparagus fern in my bedroom across from a north- facing window. What I want to know is why it isn’t it growing? Your asparagus fern needs a great deal of very bright light to grow well. Try moving it directly in front of a north facing window or better yet to a western or eastern exposure.

How Do I Know When to Repot My Asparagus Fern?

An asparagus fern tells you when it needs a new pot. When the the root ball gets too big, the roots are so strong they break the growers pot or start forcing the soil up over the edge of the pot. If this isn’t happening and you still think your fern needs a larger pot, gently pull the fern out of its pot. If the roots have filled the pot and there is very little soil left, it’s time for a new container.