Ornamental asparagus belongs to the asparagus family, comes from southern Africa and is a popular houseplant. Of course, our kitchen asparagus is one of the asparagus plants. However, ornamental asparagus is a purely leafy plant that is often kept as a houseplant because of its filigree and feathery leaves and the ease with which it is cared for. There are many different types and varieties. Almost all of the ornamental asparagus species have a tuberous root. The plants differ in the shoots and leaves (no needles). Some have thin, intertwined shoots, others have feathered fronds. All have quite inconspicuous and small flowers that smell strong. After flowering, berries are the eye-catcher, in red, orange or purple.
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Asparagus densiflorus is probably the best-known ornamental asparagus species. The best-selling variety is then ‘Sprengeri’, a robust and fast-growing variety. The fronds are also used in floristry. They can grow up to a meter long in adult plants and are heavily feathered. But they are leaves and not needles, as is often assumed. Strictly speaking, they are fake leaves. The real leaves are small and scaly and grow at the ramifications of the branches. The false leaves, on the other hand, are more needle-shaped and sit close together, individually or in clusters on highly branched stems. Asparagus densiflorus ‘Spengeri’ has strong roots that like to grow out of the planter and can even burst a clay pot if you forget to repot.
species and varieties
The best-known variety of Asparagus densiflorus is ‘Sprengeri’ – drooping shoots up to one meter long, sparsely covered with 1 to 3 cm long, needle-shaped leaves, very robust and easy-care traffic light plant
- A. densiflorus ‘Meyeri’ – foxtail asparagus, very ‘fluffy’ shoots, foxtail-like thick and round in diameter, shoots about 50cm long and 8cm in diameter, upright growing but the shoots tilt downwards from a certain length, very common variety
- A. falcatus – Shrubby growth, larger and longer leaves, forms long shoots, can be tied up to form a dense bush or you can let the shoots hang, which also looks very good. Very decorative species, but yellow leaves quickly if not cared for
- A. setaceus – spring asparagus, the shoots are reminiscent of ferns, the leaves are much finer, have leaf spurs that you can prick yourself on, up to 60 cm high, not a hanging plant, but very beautiful to look at, exotic, some varieties grow upright, others clearly flatter
- A. asparagoides – Climbing plant, the false leaves hook and climb with it, leaves are significantly larger than in the species and varieties mentioned so far, look really like leaves, strongly climbing, bushy growth
The care of ornamental asparagus
Ornamental asparagus is generally known to be easy to care for. I don’t totally agree with that. For those who like to forget to water, it is not the ideal houseplant. I once received one because it didn’t get along with my watering rhythm. The plant needs regular and plenty of water in summer. I would solve the problem today with a vessel with an irrigation system, so there is no drama if you forget to water it. However, the water reservoir must also be refilled here regularly, but not that often. Otherwise maintenance is really easy. If you have forgotten to water and the fronds have dried up, there is still the option of cutting them off close to the ground and stimulating the plant again when the humidity is high. Otherwise, high humidity is recommended.
A very bright location is important for ornamental asparagus, but without sun. The plant cannot tolerate it. In summer you can also house the asparagus outdoors, but here especially without sun. The warmer the plant is, the more water it needs. It is important that there is no draught, because the decorative plant reacts to this by shedding its leaves and the beauty is gone.
- Bright but without direct sunlight
- Evening and morning sun is tolerated, but really only in the early or late hours.
- If there is too much sun, the pinnate leaves turn yellow.
- If there is too little light, leaves often fall off
- Warm, minimum temperature 13° C
- A bathroom is ideal, because the humidity there is usually quite high and that is good for the plant.
- In summer you can also put the ornamental asparagus outside, but not in the sun. Here, pure shadow is the best choice.
- Ornamental asparagus does not tolerate draughts
The ornamental asparagus is very frugal when it comes to the plant substrate. There are small claims. Standard earth is usually completely sufficient.
- Mixture with compost
- Normal potting soil is usually sufficient
There is not much to consider when planting. It is important that there is enough space at the top of the pot, because the strong roots will drive the plant out of the substrate. These powerful roots can also burst a vessel. At the latest when this case occurs, it must be repotted.
- Repot in early spring
- Leave enough space between the soil and the edge of the pot, as the strong roots push the soil upwards
- Very suitable for hydroponics or for planters with water storage
watering and fertilizing
The ornamental asparagus does not tolerate drought. If the root ball dries out, the leaves fall. The plant needs plenty of water, especially in summer. In winter it is significantly less. Dipping the root ball is beneficial. So the earth can really soak up the water. However, standing water should be avoided. Excess water must be able to drain off easily.
- Water abundantly during the main growing season.
- Then keep the soil constantly moist
- Avoid waterlogging anyway
- No standing water in the coaster
- Severely limit watering in winter
- But never let the root ball dry out
- Fertilize every 14 days with commercial liquid fertilizer during the main growth period
The ornamental asparagus does not have to be cut, but it can. Simply cut off yellowed fronds or those that have lost a lot of leaves. In addition, the entire plant can be put back down to the stick, i.e. cut off just above the budding so that it buds again. So cutting is not a problem. If the root is still alive, the ornamental asparagus will sprout again. However, high humidity is important.
Hibernation is usually not a problem. The plants can usually stand well at room temperature. However, a place above a warm heater is absolutely not ideal. It’s better if they stand freely in the room. They look good on a flower column, which can always be placed accordingly.
- Overwinter at 18 to 20° C and light
- Water significantly less, but do not let the plant balls dry out
- One of the few plants that should also receive some fertilizer in winter, every 4 to 6 weeks
- If the air is dry, i.e. always in winter, spray regularly with water.
Propagation by dividing the tuber is fairly easy. Of course, you have to pay attention to cleanliness. Use a clean and very sharp knife! Do not cut the individual parts too small. Propagation by seed is also successful, but growth is significantly weaker, at least at the beginning.
- Division of the rootstock in spring
- The root is exposed and carefully cut apart
- Place the individual parts in small containers with potting or uniform soil.
- Propagation by seed is also possible
- The seeds are quite expensive if you have to buy them and I have often read that there has been no success.
- Sowing temperature around 20° C
- Soak seeds in water for about 24 hours before sowing, then they will germinate faster.
- The shoots grow weak at first
diseases and pests
Ornamental asparagus is not particularly susceptible to diseases or pests. However, both can occur, especially in the case of care errors. Air dryness in particular causes the leaves to fall off, as does ball dryness. Yellow leaves often indicate a lack of nutrients. If the location is too warm, pest infestation often occurs. Spider mites spread, especially when the air is nice and dry. Lice also appear from time to time.
… recognizable by their arched back shields. Their camouflage is often so good that they are overlooked. Only when they have multiplied extremely do they attract attention. A sure sign is sticky residue. However, these can hardly be seen on the small leaves. It is better to find them on the surface on which the flower pot is standing, for example on the window sill. It’s the excrement of the pests. Slightly shiny, sticky substances are a clear sign of pest infestation. Individual scale insectscan be carefully removed from the shoots with a toothpick. Ichneumon wasps are suitable for biological control. Otherwise, only a systemic agent that is absorbed by the plant can help. If the scale insects suck the plant sap, they take the poison with them and die. Spray poisons usually do not help at all. The insects are absolutely well protected by their shield.
… are easier to recognize. They look like little white cotton balls. At first the webs are small and few, but since a female lays up to 600 eggs every 2 months, the pests spread quickly. There are more and above all larger white structures. Here, too, systemic agents are the best choice if you cannot collect all of the animals. For both plant pests, it is important to repeat the treatment after 10 to 14 days, because then the next generation will hatch from their eggs. The eggs are not killed. The insects only die when they suck the plant sap.
Watering ornamental asparagus is important. So they are only favorable for plant lovers who, if possible, do not forget to water regularly. My recommendation for all the others are planters with an irrigation system. In the first few weeks you have to water regularly here until the roots have arrived in the water containers and take their own water. Then the reservoir only has to be filled from time to time, depending on the size of the planter every two weeks to two months. I love these vessels and since I almost only have large ones, I usually only water them every two to three months. Ideal and the plants look great. However, they grow faster and need to be repotted more often.