'Myers' asparagus fern is a spreading perennial herb that has a fine texture with a stiff, upright habit. The habit is quite unlike that of the more common 'Sprengeri' fern. This plant grows fairly rapidly and may attain a height of about 2 feet. The true leaves of this fern are scale-like and inconspicuous. The structures that most consider to be the leaves of this plant are actually narrow, light green, leaf-like branchlets called cladophylls. The stems of the asparagus fern emerge directly from the ground and are stiffly erect and have very short branches. These stems are a bit woody and are often armed with sharp spines. The flowers are white or pale pink and occur in axillary racemes that are 1/4 inch long; they are not showy. The bright red berries of this herb, however, are quite showy.
Scientific name: Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers'
Pronunciation: as-SPAR-uh-gus den-sif-FLOR-us
Common name(s): 'Myers' asparagus fern
Plant type: herbaceous; perennial
USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11 (Figure 3)
Planting month for zone 9: year-round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year-round
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: category 1 invasive exotic
Uses: mass planting; container or above-ground planter; groundcover; border; cascading down a wall; suitable for growing indoors; accent
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range
Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spread: 2 to 4 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy
Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: flowers periodically throughout the year
Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: less than 1/2 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: red
Fruit characteristic: attracts birds
Trunk and Branches
Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable
Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun; plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: good
Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches
Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant
Use and Management
The asparagus fern may be used as a specimen, border, ground cover, bedding plant, or container plant. It will not cascade over a wall like the 'Sprengeri' cultivar because the habit is upright, but could be used as a small, low-growing, unclipped hedge or border. It will make a nice accent plant in a small residential landscape or rock garden. In a sunny location indoors, it maintains a fairly nice plant for several years.
Grow this plant in full sun or partial shade, and plant it in well-drained soil. Keep it irrigated regularly, especially in a container.
Asparagus fern may be propagated by seeds and by division of the tubers.
The asparagus fern is often called the foxtail fern because the small, needle-shaped, leaf-like branches give it a fluffy appearance similar to a fox's tail. This upright, vase-shaped fern is perfect for containers and small-scale, special spaces in the landscape. Companion plants should have larger, smooth leaves to contrast with the tiny needle-like branches of the fern. Simple forms and dark green or smooth foliage of companion plants will highlight the delicate foliage. The light to medium green of the fern will work well with different flower colors, but deep or bright colors will show better than light pastels. Simple small- or medium-size flowers will contrast more with the tiny foliage and white, yellow, and blue flowers will complement the bright red berries.
Pests and Diseases
Other than mites, none of major concern.