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Asparagus Ferns

jurassic ferns image by Robert Kelly from

Propagating Ferns from Seeds for Growing Asparagus

How to Kill Asparagus Fern

While some gardeners enjoy the green foliage of asparagus fern in home landscapes, others do not appreciate the invasive tendencies of this plant. If asparagus fern is spreading at an alarming rate and you wish to remove it from your garden, remove it by trimming the foliage above the ground and then digging up the remaining crown and root system.

Cut away all of the foliage growing above the soil with the gardening shears. Discard every piece of stem, leaf and berry into the garbage bag. Do not compost any part of the asparagus fern plant, because the plant may regrow in your compost.

Dig up the crown and root of the asparagus fern with the shovel. Make sure you remove every piece of the plant from the soil and discard everything in the garbage bag.

Monitor the area where the asparagus fern was growing after you dig it up. Immediately remove any regrowth you see by pulling it from the soil completely. Discard this growth in the garbage.

Continue to watch for regrowth for several years after you remove the asparagus fern. Seeds can lay dormant for up to five years.


You can use a chemical herbicide to kill asparagus fern if you wish; however, be prepared to apply the herbicide several times to eradicate the asparagus fern completely. Cut back the foliage from above the soil and spray glyphosate generously onto the exposed crown of the plant. Watch the growing area over the next weeks and months and reapply the glyphosate if you see regrowth.

How to Trim an Asparagus Fern

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

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

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.

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.

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.


You may clip only the tips or yellowed areas of an entire stem on the asparagus fern, but once a stem begins to decline, soon the entire stem will yellow. Remove the entire stem to reduce the look of stubby stems.

Consider trimming back the entire mass of stems on very old, massive but ragged-looking plants to allow new stems and leaves to rejuvenate later in spring and summer.


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

Can I Cut My Asparagus Ferns Down?

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images


The asparagus fern is a member of the lily family and a relative of the green vegetable. The asparagus officinalis pseudoscaber has the appearance of asparagus stalks when it emerges from the ground in springtime. It is a tall, airy plant for a flower bed. Pieces of the feathery sprengeri fern are cut from the plant and are used in floral arrangements.


The sprengeri foxtail fern grows in gardens and containers. Prune away only the old and dead fronds from the base of the plant. Do not cut back the entire planet.


The plumosa asparagus fern has very sharp thorns on its thin, vine-like fronds. If a frond grows too long for the area where the houseplant is kept, it can be cut from the main plant. Keep the dead fronds trimmed away from the plant for a neat appearance.

How to Compost Asparagus Ferns

Dig out the asparagus fern with a spade, if you haven't removed the plants already. Collect any berries that may have fallen off the fern during the removal process, as these may sprout into new asparagus fern plants.

Place the removed fern in a bucket or on a plastic tarp, or any other surface where the plant isn't in contact with soil so it won't take root again. Allow the plant to dry out for three to four weeks or until the plant is dead.

Chop up the asparagus fern into small, two- to three-inch pieces. Use pruning shears or run over the dead plant with your lawn mower.

Throw the shredded asparagus fern into your compost pile or compost bin. Incorporate it into the coarse, dry layer of your pile. Layer six inches of dried organic matter with four to five inches of green organic matter, followed by an inch of soil. Repeat as needed to build your compost pile.

Harvest the compost when it's done decomposing. Compost can take anywhere from two to eight months to fully decompose, depending on your climate and method of decomposition. Compost is ready when it's dark and crumbly.


Never compost a green, living asparagus fern. The hardy plant may take root in your compost.

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