How to Grow and Care for Asparagus Fern

It's easy to grow this bushy plant both indoors and out.

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Versatile asparagus fern is an attractive herbaceous perennial that is easy to grow, though not actually a fern. The soft texture of this plant's small needle-like leaves resembles the foliage of asparagus plants. It's a good choice for adding airy texture to mixed garden beds. It will produce dainty white blossoms followed by red berries that attract birds. You will more often find asparagus fern growing indoors as a dense, bushy houseplant with lace-like foliage that gracefully arches outward.

Asparagus Fern Overview

Genus Name Asparagus
Common Name Asparagus Fern
Plant Type Annual, Houseplant, Perennial
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 18 to 36 inches
Flower Color White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11, 9
Propagation Division, Seed

Where to Plant Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern is grown as an annual or houseplant in most areas of the U.S., but it is a perennial in USDA Zones 9-11. In the garden, asparagus fern can spread vigorously through their fleshy roots, as well as by birds eating the berries, then depositing the seeds, so keep an eye on it. In Florida, Sprenger's asparagus fern (Asparagus aethiopicus), in particular, is considered invasive.

The berries of asparagus fern are toxic to cats and dogs. The berries also can irritate human skin on contact, and cause stomach upset if eaten.

Asparagus Fern Care Tips

Asparagus ferns are easy-to-care-for plants that grow as houseplants and in shady gardens.


When asparagus ferns are planted outside, they prefer a location with dappled shade. For best results as potted houseplants, asparagus ferns should be placed in indirect or filtered light.

Soil and Water

Asparagus ferns perform best in organically rich, well-drained soil. Drought-tolerant once they're established in the garden, the plants should be kept evenly moist.

If you grow asparagus ferns as houseplants, you can move them outdoors to a shaded porch in warmer months. They don't require periods of winter dormancy but appreciate a rest and reduced watering during the winter months.

Temperature and Humidity

Asparagus ferns prefer warm and humid climates (about 70°F) and cannot withstand temperatures below 55°F for long periods.


When the plant is actively growing new stems and foliage, apply a weak liquid fertilizer about once a week.


To promote dense plant growth, pinch back your asparagus fern's stem tips by about a third every few months. If the plant's shape becomes too sprawling, cut back the oldest stems close to the soil to encourage new growth.

The stems of mature asparagus ferns can become tough and woody, with tiny but sharp spines along the branches. When trimming older plants, protect your hands with a thick pair of gardening gloves.

Potting and Repotting

When an asparagus fern needs to be divided or repotted, you'll see the fleshy roots pushing out of the pot. At this point, you can repot the whole plant into a slightly larger container or divide the plant. When dividing, be sure to take several of the underground "bulbs."

Types of Asparagus Fern

Foxtail Fern

foxtail asparagus fern in white indoor planter

Krystal Slagle / BHG

Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' variety has dense, bottle brush-like stems that grow more upright. Because of this, it makes a better filler in containers than a trailing plant for a hanging basket.

Plumrose Fern

plumose fern Asparagus setaceus
Marty Baldwin

Asparagus setaceus looks the most like a true fern. The spreading layered stems are covered with tiny soft needles. Older stems can grow several feet long. Cut them back to promote denser growth.

'Sprengeri' Asparagus Fern

'Sprengeri' asparagus fern
Marty Baldwin

Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' is the most widely available variety. It has arching stems with inch-long dark green needles.

Garden Plan for Asparagus Fern

garden plan for partial shade
Mavis Augustine Torke

This garden plan for partial shade combines easy, adaptable plants to add color to spots that don't get full sun. The design calls for two asparagus ferns as filler toward the front of the bed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I overwinter my outdoor asparagus ferns?

    If the temperature in your area is colder than 55°F in the winter, bring in the asparagus ferns in pots. Place them in bright light indoors and keep them away from drafts or heat. Water only to keep the soil moist—standing in water causes root rot. When the temperature reaches at least 60°F in spring, move the containers outside in a protected area for a couple of weeks and then into their permanent location.

  • My asparagus fern houseplant is dropping its foliage. What do I do?

    This usually happens as a result of inconsistent watering. When your plant is dropping its leaves, increase the frequency (not the volume) of watering and mist the plants.

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