How to Care for a Foxtail Fern Plant
The foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers') is a type of asparagus fern. With its dog-tail-shaped fronds and needle-like foliage, foxtails aren't really ferns, but they are related to the asparagus vegetable. Foxtail ferns are drought tolerant and not bothered by pests or diseases. Gardeners in warm regions, such as U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 and 11, can grow their foxtails in the garden, where they can be planted and forgotten. The rest of the country can grow foxtail fern as an easy-care houseplant.
Grow the foxtail fern in a soil that contains equal parts of peat moss and potting soil. Make sure the container has good drainage.
Place the foxtail in an area of the home that receives bright, filtered sunlight. During the winter you can provide it with direct morning sun and afternoon shade. When the weather is warm, place it outdoors in a lightly shaded area, if you like.
Pinch 1 inch off the tips of stems periodically to encourage the foxtail fern to produce new growth.
Rejuvenate an old foxtail fern with sparse growth by cutting the stems back to the soil.
Fertilize the foxtail fern in the spring with a 10-10-10 fertilizer, applied to the soil, at the rate suggested on the fertilizer label. Water after fertilizing.
Repot the foxtail fern when the roots begin pushing up the surface of the soil. Transplant it into the next size larger pot, using a combination of equal parts of potting soil and peat moss.
Care For A Foxtail Fern With Freeze Damage
Clean your pruning tools before using them on the damaged fern if they were previously used on diseased plant material, or have soil or plant residue on the blades. Dip the blades in a household liquid disinfectant or cleaner. If damage is minimal, you can remove just the damaged parts of the plant. Prune individual leaves back to the stem. Cut the entire plant back to the ground if the leaves have extensive freeze damage.
Divide the foxtail fern if it has become too large or if you'd like additional plants. This can be done when you transplant it by using a saw to cut through the root ball. Plant each division into its own pot.
- Texas AgriLife Extension Service: Asparagus Ferns
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Asparagus Densiflorus
- University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension: Asparagus Densiflorus "Sprengeri"
- Monrovia: Foxtail Fern
- Telly's Plant Care: Asparagus Fern
- Washington State University Extension: The Myth of Cloroxed Clippers
- The Times-Picayune: Is There Life After the Freeze?
- The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: Growing Ferns