How to Trim an Asparagus Fern

Overview

Whether as an elegant house plant or in the tropical garden outdoors, the asparagus fern's airy, fine-textured foliage is attractive. Once the stems get too long or leaves turn an unattractive yellow, you may choose to trim the plant to tidy its appearance. Clipping back entire stems encourages new stems to grow while retaining the plant's natural form.

Step 1

Put on fabric gloves and perhaps a long-sleeved shirt before you begin handling the stems and prickly leaves on your asparagus fern.

Step 2

Examine the plant, noting which stems are either too long, scraggy or plagued with too many yellow leaves. These stems are marked for trimming.

Step 3

Lift a stem slated for trimming with one hand and trace the stem down to its base at the soil with your other hand. Grasp the stem base of the stem you wish to trim away. With your free hand, snip the stem at a height of 1 to 3 inches above the soil line. Once clipped, pull out the cut stem.

Step 4

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all stems are trimmed away from the asparagus fern. Remember to re-examine the look and shape of the plant after each stem removal. You may find trimming away a few stems will achieve a more attractive plant, without having to trim away too much greenery.

Step 5

Dispose of cut stem debris into the compost pile. However, if red berries are present, throw the debris into the garbage. The berries will sprout in the compost pile, potentially becoming weedy, especially in frost-free winter regions.

Tips and Warnings

  • Asparagus fern stems have prickles, so use gloves when you wedge your hands and fingers into the plant's lower stem cluster.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Scissors or hand pruners

References

  • Plant of the Week: Asparagus Densiflorus
  • Guide to Houseplants: Asparagus Fern
  • University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Asparagus Densiflorus Sprengeri

Who Can Help

  • Learn2Grow: Asparagus Densiflorus
Keywords: house plant care, trimming tropical plants, Asparagus densiflorus, Asparagus setaceus, Foxtail fern care

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.