Foxtail Fern is an ornamental plant from the Asparagus genus. It is native to the Cape of Good Hope area in South Africa. Despite its name common name, the foxtail fern is not actually a fern but a herbaceous perennial.
You might be familiar with it by its botanical name, Asparagus densiflorus. It is a member of the Asparagaceae family.
The species name densiflorus, refers to the tiny white flowers which grow densely along the plant stem. It may also refer to the plant’s full, dense foliage.
In this guide, we will share tips on Asparagus densiflorus fern care.
- Asparagus Densiflorus Quick Care Tips
- Asparagus Foxtail Fern Care
- How To Propagate The Foxtail Asparagus
- Pests or Diseases Of Foxtail Densiflorus
- Uses For Foxtail Asparagus Ferns
Asparagus Densiflorus Quick Care Tips
- Botanical Name: Asparagus densiflorus
- Common Name(s): Foxtail asparagus fern, Asparagus fern plant, Sprenger’s asparagus fern, Asparagus meyeri, Fox Tail Fern, Fox plant, Emerald Fern
- Synonyms: Protasparagus densiflorus, Asparagus sprengeri
- Pronunciation: a-SPARE-uh-gus den-see-FLOR-us
- Family & Origin: Asparagaceae family, native to the Cape of Good Hope area in South Africa
- Growability: Easy to grow
- Grow Zone: USDA zones 9-11
- Size: Can grow up to 2′ to 3′ feet and 3′ to 4′ feet wide
- Flowering: Produces small white flowers in latespring to early summer
- Light: Prefers bright, indirect light or partial shade
- Humidity: Prefers higher humidity levels
- Temperature: Thrives in warm temperatures about 70° degrees Fahrenheit
- Soil: Well-draining soil that’s slightly acidic
- Water: Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry, but avoid overwatering
- Fertilizer: Feed with balanced, granular, slow-release fertilizer in early spring, summer, and fall.
- Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites, and slugs. Also prone to leaf spots and leaf rot.
- Propagation: Can be propagated through division or by planting seeds
- Plant Uses: Often used as a houseplant or in outdoor container gardens. Can also be used as a groundcover or in hanging baskets.
Asparagus Foxtail Fern Care
Asparagus densiflorus is an ornamental plant and not an edible asparagus.
Size and Growth
- Foxtail fern plants can grow to a height of 2′ to 3′ feet and a spread of 3′ to 4′ feet.
- The plant has pretty, attractive stems with needle-like leaves that make it look like a fern. But it’s not a real fern. New growth emerges as cylindrical spears.
- The foliage varies in color depending on the light conditions.
- When kept in deep shade, the foliage is very pale green, while in partial shade, the fronds are dark green.
- Full sun is not recommended as it can cause the foxtail fern to turn yellow.
- Asparagus fern has tiny thorns that are not problematic.
Flowering and Fragrance
The foxtail fern is a seasonal bloomer. It produces small white flowers from late spring to early summer.
The flowers, although small and insignificant, have a pleasant fragrance.
After flowering, foxtail fern develops bright red berries that ripen in autumn.
Light and Temperature
The foxtail fern plant thrives in partial shade with bright indirect light. In some areas, they can tolerate full direct sunlight.
These ferns like to live in warm and humid places where it’s usually about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But they can still grow in cold temperatures where it gets as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
When it gets colder, the leaves of the fern might die. But, the tuberous root system stays alive underground.
In colder climates, the lower temperatures will kill the plant entirely. Bring potted plants indoors during the winter months.
Watering and Feeding Asparagus Foxtail Meyeri
Fox tail plants are somewhat drought tolerant.
Water the plants often during the growing season. Keep the same water schedule as an indoor plant during winter.
Although they do not go through dormancy, they rest during the year’s cooler months.
To maintain high humidity levels, keep misting the plants when grown indoors.
Fertilization Of Foxtail Ferns
- Foxtail Asparagus has low fertilizer needs.
- Fertilize the ferns with a balanced, granular, slow-release fertilizer. Feeding can be done in early spring, summer, and fall.
- Alternatively, a balanced half-strength liquid fertilizer once per month can be used.
- Foxtail ferns grow well in soils with lots of organic material. If you have rich compost available, fertilizing may not be required.
Soil and Transplanting
Foxtail ferns prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil that is consistently moist.
When you move a plant to a new pot, make sure the soil is well-drained, and the pot has holes to let water drain out so it doesn’t get too wet.
Grooming and Maintenance
- Foxtail ferns are relatively low-maintenance attractive houseplants.
- But sometimes, ferns can grow too much and need pruning to maintain their growth and shape. Pinching works as well.
- You can help the plant grow back completely by cutting it close to the ground and letting it start new growth.
How To Propagate The Foxtail Asparagus
- Propagate ‘Myers’ Asparagus densiflorus by seed or by division.
- Gather berries from mature plants in autumn. Split them open, and you will find a few black seeds inside.
- Scar these with a nail file and soak them in warm water for several hours.
- Sow the seeds in a pot of moistened soil and cover lightly with plastic wrap.
- In bright, indirect light, place the container in a warm area (75°-85° degrees Fahrenheit).
- Keep the soil moist until the seeds begin to sprout, then remove the plastic.
- Cut the root ball or root system when repotting the plant to propagate by division.
Pests or Diseases Of Foxtail Densiflorus
Foxtail ferns are generally resistant to serious diseases or insect infestations.
Common outdoor pests include aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites, and slugs.
Dampness may also lead to leaf spots and leaf rot.
Are Foxtail Plants Toxic or Poisonous?
While foxtail fern is a member of the asparagus family, it is not edible. The sap of the asparagus fern can cause skin irritation, making it mildly poisonous. Ingesting the berries can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Most negative reactions to the sap and berries are usually not severe. But, be sure to wear gloves when handling the plant and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
NOTE: It is important that you should not eat the berries.
Is The Foxtail Plant Considered Invasive?
Foxtail ferns are known to produce seeds that are spread by birds.
The seeds are safe for birds to eat, but they can lead to the plant becoming invasive in some places.
Places include tropical and subtropical areas like Hawaii and Florida. However, I have never experienced the plant being invasive in all my years.
Uses For Foxtail Asparagus Ferns
The plant’s temperature tolerance lies between USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. Making it suitable for naturalized gardens, borders, and patio plantings in these regions.
Foxtails make an excellent houseplant in all other hardiness zones, even in a bathroom.
They are suitable as groundcovers and potted specimens. Foxtail ferns thrive in hanging baskets or as standalone plants on pedestals.
The picture below is of the Asparagus sprengeri fern planted in a larger planter.
Related: Learn more about Asparagus sprengeri care.
Densiflorus can be kept outdoors in a hanging basket during the growing season (spring through fall). Then brought in for the winter.
The foxtail fern does require high humidity, so it does well in a heated indoor setting in the wintertime.
Their stems provide a nice backdrop for floral arrangements.