Asparagus ferns resemble ferns growing in the wild, but they actually belong to the lily family. They stay evergreen due to the mild climates in which they grow, providing year-round form and texture to gardens. Most asparagus ferns also grow well in containers, allowing gardeners in colder climates to enjoy growing them.
Plume Fern (Asparagus Setaceus)
Originally grown in South Africa, the plume fern grows in hardiness zones 9 to 11 where temperatures rarely drop below 23 degrees F. The plant grows up to 3 feet tall, with branches reaching 2 feet long, with pale green, lacy foliage that strongly resembles that of a cedar. Plant plume fern in full to partial shade in well-drained soil. The plant also grows well in containers as long as the soil stays moist.
Sprengeri Asparagus (Asparagus Densiflorus 'Sprengeri')
The mounding habit of sprengeri asparagus ferns makes them popular along rock beds or in containers alongside other flowers. Sprengeri also works well as a groundcover, whereby its low-maintenance, drought-tolerant capabilities really shine. Each frond on the sprengeri reaches up to two feet in length. The plant produces small pale pink flowers and tiny red berries. The plant thrives in full sun to partial shade in hardiness zones 9 to 11. Sprengeri grows well in containers with regular watering.
Myers Asparagus (Asparagus Densiflorus 'Myers')
The arching stems of Myers asparagus fern, also known as foxtail fern, grow to 2 feet long and resemble the dense fur of a fox's tail. The plant remains upright, growing up to several feet tall and wide in hardiness zones 9 to 11. The fronds on the fern feel prickly, making gloves a necessity when working with the plant. They make great cut material for floral arrangements and also grow well in containers with regular watering on hot days. It requires little maintenance when planted in the ground.
Pom Pom Asparagus Fern (Asparagus Retrofractus L.)
Resembling a tree more than a fern, the pom pom asparagus fern reaches up to 10 feet tall. The plant, also known as the ming asparagus fern, produces foliage consisting of clusters of soft needlelike leaves resembling pom poms. Stiff, woody stems create a zigzagging branching structure, hence its other nickname, the zig zag fern. Small white flowers bloom in the summer. After the flowers fade, dark fruits appear. The tree thrives in full sun or partial shade in hardiness zones 9 to 11. It's popular for bonsai.