This time of year, we are all looking for some greenery to add to our vases for a little cheer in the house. Why go buy greenery when you probably have some in your own yard. How about using the classic greenery of asparagus fern?
The asparagus fern is the voluminous greenery we’ve all seen gracing large urns and pots in the South. If you don’t want to bring in the whole garden pot, just clip some because this fern will reward a good haircut with even more abundant growth.
This hardy plant is good for contained areas where the sun beats down all day. It will also tolerate semi-shade. You can even grow it indoors if you choose.
The asparagus fern is from the family Liliacaea (lil-ee-AY-see-ee) and isn’t even really a fern at all. It is a member of the huge lily family and masquerading as a fern. You may know the asparagus fern by other names such as springerei asparagus, ornamental asparagus or ground asparagus. Close cousins are the foxtail fern (similar but with a “fluffy tail” look at the end of fronds) and the emerald fern (again similar, but with needle-like stems in dense clusters).
The asparagus fern is native to South Africa. Some gardeners in Florida think of the plant as very hard to control and treat it like a weed. Most Southeast Texas gardeners call it a year-round “trooper.” We usually don’t have problems with this Liliacaea being invasive.
The evergreen perennial has 2 to 6 foot long arching, green stems that look like feathery leaves. It can get 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. In summer it has small white flowers that are followed by colored berry clusters in the early fall.
The asparagus fern and its close relatives are good plants to try this time of year because they tolerate most all extremes of temperature. If we ever have a hard freeze, it could die down to the ground and spring back up with warmer temperatures.
They prefer full sun to partial shade. Yellowing braches (chlorosis) tell you that the plant is getting too much shade. Dropping leaves tell you that you are over-overwatering. If you want to bring them in and put them in a vase with other flowers, remember to remove foliage that will be under water.
In your yard this week, try to spend at least 15 minutes cleaning out just one area for that wonderful weather we have just around the corner. You’ll be glad you did.
Joette is an avid gardener and prides herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.