I love houseplants for the living decoration they provide. The asparagus fern is certainly easy on the eyes! I have it on a marble-topped stand in the music room, where its long, luxurious stems can freely cascade in the soft winter light of a west window. More about this easy-going creature, and how to maintain it forever in a 9-inch pot:
Not a true fern but so-called, A. sprengeri is a member of the Lily family. In October, its needled stems are lit with shimmering green berries. Happily, these change from green to bright red in time for the Christmas holidays. The berries are not edible. So don’t eat them.
For all its good looks, sprengeri requires only minimal care. I give mine a peat-based potting mix; indoor temperatures which do not exceed 65°F; weak winter sun (such as an east or west window will afford), a summer holiday outdoors in semi-shade, and food and water whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
The plant does have one bad habit. During summer, the fleshy roots grow with such gusto that they force the plant out of its pot. Consequently repotting is an annual chore. If at all possible, try to tackle the job out of doors.
First, knock the plant from its pot. If it won’t budge (mine never does), then just break the pot with a hammer.
BAM! And just look at those beautiful roots.
You can shift sprengeri to a larger pot, or simply slice the roots so that the plant will fit in the same-size pot, which, for me, is 9 inches in diameter. Here’s the root-slicing procedure:
Take a serrated knife…
And cut off half the bottom roots. Slice off some of the side roots, too. Be brutal here — sprengeri can take it.
Now grab a new (9-inch) pot, and cover the drainage hole with a piece of broken crockery.
Note: New terra cotta pots must be soaked in plain water for several hours before using. Otherwise, the clay walls will rob moisture from roots.
Add 2 inches of potting mix…
And insert the plant, setting it low enough to permit a 1-inch reservoir for water. (If the plant sits too high, watering will be impossible.)
No pictures of these next steps, but they are muy importante: Add more potting mix to fill any gaps between the plant and the sides of the pot. Then bang the pot down a few times to help settle the soil. Water thoroughly, until excess moisture seeps through the drainage hole.
Oh. If you find any baby plants emerging from sliced-off roots, you can pot them up as gift plants. For these, use 6-inch-diameter pots.
And speaking of gift plants — why not obtain an Asparagus Fern for your own home? Its graceful green stems will delight you indoors in winter, and outdoors in summer.
Are houseplants among your cherished “decorative items” too? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, your words are the wind beneath my wings. Or something like that.
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