Foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus) is a perennial evergreen herb that boasts luscious, fluffy stems of pine needle-like leaves, giving it a plush appearance. A member of the asparagus family, the foxtail fern is actually not a fern at all, as the plant uses seeds to reproduce, not spores. The feathery plant yields small white flowers that produce eye-catching red berries, a wonderful addition to both outside gardens and indoor houseplant collections. Foxtail fern is also used as greenery in flower arrangements, where it stays fresh for two to three weeks.
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Foxtail fern Plant Care
Foxtail fern grows in all-purpose, well-draining soil. Water well to keep the soil moist and fertilize monthly during spring and summer with a balanced fertilizer. The plant enjoys a bright spot out of direct sunlight. Ideal temperatures are 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). It is not frost tolerant.
Foxtail fern can handle a variety of soil types, as long as it drains well to avoid root rot. It favors slightly acidic soil, but this is not a hard-and-fast requirement.
You can boost your potting mix by adding 2 inches to 3 inches (5cm to 7.5cm) of mulch around the base of the plant. Adding decomposing humus also helps to keep the soil cool and blocks weed invasions.
Foxtail fern enjoys light shade. They are ideal for planting in east-facing gardens or standing near east-facing windows. You can also plant your foxtail fern in a shady north-facing garden. It will enjoy some morning sun but does not want direct hot afternoon sun as this will damage the plant.
Foxtail fern has tuberous roots which store water, even when the soil is dry. For this reason, it is easy to overwater this plant. Stick to a schedule of once-a-week waterings giving your fern a good drink, but letting the top three inches of soil dry out completely in between. Should you experience a drought, you may need to water more frequently. Just test the soil with your finger before doing so.
Always allow for ample drainage when watering potted plants, and never let water sit in the tray.
Start feeding your foxtail in the spring, and then continue monthly throughout the growing season using a 10-10-10 plant food at half strength. Foxtail fern responds well to both slow-release fertilizers as well as liquid fertilizers. For outdoor garden ferns, you can also amend the soil annually in the fall with one inch of compost scattered around the plant topped with two inches of mulch.
As with any garden perennial, foxtail fern requires the removal of stems at the base. This will help your plant look robust, while encouraging new growth. Periodically, you can also pinch one inch off the stems to spur growth. Depending on the thickness of your foxtail’s stem, this may require shears.
Propagating Foxtail Fern
The easiest way to propagate foxtail fern is through division, and the best time to do it is in the spring. When dividing ferns, always use a sharp knife or spade to cut through the center of the plant. Once dug, make sure each divided piece has healthy greenery and roots. When replanting, the initial watering should be generous.
|26 × 8 × 8 in
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