Asparagus densiflorus 'sprengeri' is a plant native to the coastal South African region. Its common name is the sprengeri fern or asparagus fern. It is called a fern because of its lacy appearance. It is a close relative of the 'asparagus officinalis', known as edible asparagus. Asparagus densiflorus belongs to the family 'Liliaceae', which is also the family of the lily flower. It is a cut flowering plant and looks like tiny spears of the edible asparagus. It is a versatile, erect, somewhat woody, perennial herb, with pendulous fern-like branches. Its leaves are alternate and scale-like, and are present in terminal branchlets in clusters of three. Its needle-like leaves are modified branches called 'cladodes'. The original color of the plant is green but it becomes yellowish-green during its blooming time, which is summer. Its flowers are not conspicuous; they are small, waxy, and pinkish-white in color. They bloom periodically throughout the year. It bears thorns when fully matured. The berries are bright red in color, and are considered poisonous along with the plant sap. Contact with the flowers may cause gastrointestinal problems, skin swelling with redness, skin irritation, and blisters. The plant reaches a height of 1–2 feet and is spread across 3–4 feet.
Caring for the Asparagus Fern
Asparagus fern, also known as the 'emerald fern', is a fast growing plant, when provided anything between full sunlight to partial shade. The green color of its leaves is best preserved in 25% shade. The plant can absorb reflected light but not the reflected heat. A suitable soil mixture for this plant would be 2 parts loam, 2 parts peat, and one part of sand. Watering once a week is most beneficial. This is possible because of the tiny white tuberous structures that are attached to its roots. They store water for emergency. Therefore, despite having fleshy roots, it can withstand a fair amount of drought. Still, these plants grow best when kept in a moist area during their growing period (summer) and in dry areas during winter, with the added precaution of not letting them dry off completely. The hardiness zone of this plant is 7 and higher. It's frozen to ground at 24oF, so it's best to cultivate these plants away from frosty areas. This nature makes this plant an ideal choice even for novice gardeners.
Sprengeri fern is susceptible to aphids and spider mites; it's best to sterilize it by applying insecticidal soap (follow the label directions before using) or even compost in spring or summer. For best results, they must be trimmed frequently by removing the damaged foliage and shifted from pot to ground from time to time (not in the heat of summer though). But you can skip this re-potting until the roots are cramped to a point of raising the soil level or above the pot rim. Besides division, it can be grown from seeds. The fully ripe berries take 21–30 days to germinate at a temperature of 60o–70oF. The plant is quite invasive in nature and once planted, is hard to eradicate. It is famously imported in most parts of the Pacific islands, Hawaii, Florida, and California, Australasia, North Africa, and Europe. A globetrotter indeed.
As we all know, it is a hanging houseplant with graceful foliage. It is also used near traffic and living areas and as an 'informal ground cover' in cooler regions. But it is best suited mainly for container gardening. It is also used in cut-flowering, as a background for bouquets and for cascading down the wall. Asparagus densiflorus is a charming plant with attractive fruits and fragrant summer flowers. Gardening of this plant takes less maintenance and helps you make your garden look aesthetic and beautiful.