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Plumosa Fern Care — Your One-stop Guide

Plumosa Fern Care — Your One-stop Guide

The Plumosa fern, also known as Asparagus fern, is one of the easiest houseplants to grow for beginners. The gorgeous rich green and feathery foliage give it a distinctive airy look.

Although the Plumosa fern looks a lot like a fern, it belongs to the Asparagaceae family and is not classified as a true fern. The plant is scientifically known as Asparagus setaceus or Asparagus plumosus.

 

Plumosa Fern Care

The Plumosa fern can tolerate various soil types but prefers loose, well-aerated, and consistently moist soil. 4-6 hours of bright indirect light are all it needs. It needs frequent watering every time the top few inches of soil dry out. Optimum growing temperatures are 65-80°F (18-26°C).

 

Soil

The Plumosa fern will thrive in loose, well-aerated, and consistently moist soil. It prefers acidic soil types. It can tolerate varying soil types, but aeration and drainage cannot be compromised. Regular houseplant potting soil with significant portions of organic matter and perlite is perfect. 

The combination of good drainage, soil aeration, looseness, and consistent moisture seems like a pretty tough combination to achieve. But with just a few additional soil ingredients, you can make the soil perfect for growing an Asparagus fern. 

Ferns thrive in fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. High organic content in the soil acts as a long-lasting, slow-releasing supply of nutrients for the plant. 

Although your Plumosa fern will do well in a regular houseplant potting mix, you can add perlite and organic compost to increase the soil water retention, enhance drainage and aeration and make the soil loose. 

Loose soil means that the soil particles do not stick together and get compacted. Roots are able to grow freely in loose soil without having to make much of a drilling effort. 

Using a range of materials to make your potting mix ensures that the potting soil comprises differently-sized particles. This prevents soil compaction and also increases aeration and drainage ability. 

Perlite and organic material are porous and can absorb excess water and store it inside. 

The thousands of tiny perlite and compost units act as water absorbers and hold a lot of extra moisture inside. 

When the soil around them gets dry, these units release the water slowly to supply the roots with moisture. This ensures consistent moisture and reduces the risks of underwatering and overwatering. 

 

Light

Plumosa fern does not require a lot of sunlight and will thrive in bright indirect light. 4-6 hours of bright indirect light are more than enough. It can also survive in relatively low light conditions. Protect it from direct sunlight as the foliage can turn yellow and burn in intense sunlight. 

The Plumosa fern naturally grows on the forest floor, beside tree trunks, large rocks, and under the dappled shade of the forest canopy. 

These plants can tolerate heavy to light shade but will not like harsh sunlight for extended periods. 

To encourage optimum growth, try to mimic the natural growing conditions for your Plumosa fern. These are perfect plants to grow next to tree trunks and in baskets hanging under a tree’s shade. 

You can also grow this plant next to a shaded wall, on your patio, and indoors too. 

The fronds can start turning yellow if the plant is receiving excessive light. If you spot this symptom, move the plant away from the light source and see if the yellowing stops. 

 

Watering

The Plumosa fern is considered a heavy water drinker. You will have to water it more often than you water other plants. It needs consistent soil moisture, so you will need to water it frequently. Water this plant moderately every time the top few inches of soil dry out. 

Asparagus fern needs a lot of water due to the high rate of water transpiration through its foliage. 

The foliage of this plant is feathery in texture, which means a significantly larger surface area for transpiration. 

Because a high amount of water is lost to the atmosphere through transpiration, this fern needs ample soil moisture.  

You cannot leave this plant without water for a long time as it can quickly shed a majority of its foliage. In the same way, overwatering can lead to worse symptoms. 

Feel the top layer of soil with your finger to check for moisture to check whether it is the right time to water your Asparagus fern. If the top two inches feel bone dry, it needs water. 

If a Plumosa fern is neglected for a long time and is really thirsty, it will lose its foliage, and stems will turn brown. Although it can look pretty much dead on the surface, this plant can be pretty much alive. 

You may find lush green growth bouncing back once you rehabilitate the plant by providing it with adequate water again. 

 

Temperature

The Plumosa fern can easily be grown indoors as regular indoor temperatures are the same as optimum growing temperatures for this plant, 65-80°F (18-26°C). It prefers a protected environment where temperatures do not fluctuate drastically. It can be grown all year outdoors in USDA zones 9-11. 

This plant naturally grows in warm and humid environments where the temperature rarely dips below the freezing point. 

However, this plant is relatively cold-hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as 20-30°F (-1 to -7°C). 

On the hotter side, Plumosa fern plants can tolerate temperatures as high as 95°F (35°C). The growth slows down if temperatures cross this upper limit.

If you live in a climate cooler than USDA zone 9, you will have to bring your Plumosa fern indoors or to a protected greenhouse to help it survive the winter. 

The delicate feathery foliage stays green all year but will die if it comes into contact with frost. 

If growing indoors, protect the plant from direct sunlight coming inside through a glass window. Sunlight passing through glass gets intensified and tends to burn the foliage

 

Humidity

Asparagus ferns grow rampantly in high humidity. They will love humidity levels above 70%. Regular indoor humidity levels are inadequate for this plant, and you will have to make up by using artificial sources of humidity. The foliage may start getting brown at the edges due to a lack of humidity. 

Maintaining the required humidity levels is one of the most essential parts of Asparagus fern care. 

Even if you get everything else right, the plant will still not grow well if the proper atmospheric humidity is missing. 

If you have to overwinter the plant, placing it in a warm and humid greenhouse is the best thing you can do to help it spend the winter. 

Inside the home, typical indoor humidity levels are too low for an Asparagus fern to thrive. Using a humidifier or pebble tray then becomes a must.  

If your bathroom temperatures are regulated, and there is adequate light in there, there is a better place in your home to grow a fern. 

The naturally high humidity levels in a bathroom are perfect for many plants and are just what your Plumosa fern needs to thrive. 

 

Fertilizer

The Asparagus fern is not a heavy feeder, so fertilizing it is not a must. You can feed the plant with mild doses of fertilizer every once in a while to encourage fast growth and rich foliage. Overfertilization can easily lead to plant burning, so always dilute it before feeding your plant. 

Fertilizing a Plumosa fern needs special care. Not because it is an essential factor of this plant’s care, but because if it’s done carelessly, it will easily do more harm than good. 

Overfertilization can make a majority of the foliage turn brown and die. So always apply mild doses and dilute the fertilizer to half strength before feeding. 

Watering the plant once before fertilizing reduces the risk of root tip burn, which occurs when excess fertilizer is added to the soil and sucks away moisture from the roots. 

 

Growth

The Plumosa fern is usually grown as a perennial or a ground cover. Clumps can grow up to 2 feet in height and 5 feet laterally. The leaves are long and feathery. The cascade down from the clump of stems forming an umbrella-like canopy. Because they are not true ferns, they flower and produce seeds.

Asparagus fern grows in clumps. The frilly feather-like give a soft and fuzzy look, but upon a closer look, you will find they have sharp spurs on them.

Because this plant is not a true fern, it produces white flowers and seeds too. It will only blossom during the growing season and produce green-black berries. 

The plant goes into dormancy in the wintertime and may also shed its foliage right before the onset of spring. 

 

Potting 

Asparagus ferns will need a small-medium sized pot to grow and do not need a large pot, unlike other ferns. They are ornamental plants and will look good in glazed pots or hanging pots. However, terra cotta pots are recommended over other materials for their benefits. 

The Plumosa fern will thrive it’s put in a small pot where it is slightly root-bound. Hanging pots are a good choice for their aesthetic.

Adding a layer of pebbles or rocks to line the bottom layer of the pot is excellent for maintaining good drainage and preventing the drainage hole from getting clogged. 

 

Pruning

The Plumosa fern can easily grow out of its space and will need to be pruned back to maintain its shape and size. You will need to remove dead foliage as well as other damaged parts of the plant too. Annual pruning also stimulates healthy foliage growth. 

As it grows big, the plant can tangle with other plants and create a bit of a mess. Annual pruning is hence needed.  

When growing outdoors in the ground, the Asparagus fern also has an invasive tendency and may start occupying other plant’s space. It can also develop as an epiphyte. 

When pruning this plant, make sure to wear gloves to protect your hand from the thorny spurs on the foliage. 

 

Plumosa Fern Propagation

Plumosa ferns can be propagated through seed and through plant division. You can sow ripe berries directly into starting mix for them to germinate. For plant division, you can easily separate new clumps from the root ball and carefully transplant them to a new pot. 

Plumosa fern can only be propagated through seeds if you manage to get your hands on its seeds. And that will only happen if it blooms and fruits at your home, which is really a rare occasion when this plant is grown as a houseplant. 

You can plant the seeds in germinating mix, keep them moist, and plants are expected to germinate within 2 weeks. 

Plant division is the vegetative way to propagate Asparagus fern. You can simply separate plants by identifying separate clusters of tubers. 

Pot the separated clusters in a similar potting mix. Dab the soil on all sides to eliminate air pockets and water well. 

Cover the plant with a plastic bag for a week or two to speed the propagation process.

 

Common Problems with Plumosa Fern

The Plumosa fern is not particularly susceptible to many pests or diseases. The foliage is not very fleshy or juicy to invite parasitic pests. Neither is the plant susceptible to many fungus-related problems. 

The only problems you will have to worry about is the common root rot or the plant’s toxicity to animals. 

 

Conclusion

Plumosa fern is truly one of the most beautiful and least demanding houseplants you can grow. The grace of the cascading foliage gives the plant a look of a miniature forest. 

Whether growing on your patio, in your living room or the bathroom, this plant will surely add an airy, classy look wherever it’s planted.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Plumosa Fern

 

Do Plumosa ferns have bulbs?

Plumosa ferns do have underground bulb roots, also called tubers. These thick roots work to retain moisture and keep the plant alive even when it seems dead. They can be used to separate clumps.

 

Is Plumosa fern edible? 

Although dubbed the Asparagus fern, these plants are not edible. Moreover, this plant is poisonous to dogs and cats.