Asparagus Ferns are beautiful green climbers that are great for both indoor and outdoor growth. While they are considered low-maintenance plants, sometimes, sub-optimal conditions can cause them to grow up to be leggy. Since one of the primary appeals of an Asparagus Fern is its dense, bushy growth, you’ll want to fix your plants if they start getting leggy.
To make your Asparagus Fern more bushy, prune back bare stems, relocate the plant for better sunlight exposure, and establish a watering routine. Fertilizing in the summer and maintaining high temperature and humidity levels can also help facilitate bushy growth.
In this article, I’ll talk more about why Asparagus Ferns tend to become leggy and what you can do to make them bushier. Let’s dive right in.
1. Prune Back Bare Stems
The first and perhaps most practical step to make your Asparagus Fern bushier in the shortest amount of time is to prune back the bare stems. Bare, elongated stems that lack substantial growth stand out from the rest of the plant, giving it that undesirable ‘leggy’ look.
Removing bare stems is simple. Using a pair of scissors or a sharp knife gives the best results, but you can probably get away with simply pinching the undesired stems off with your fingers. The stems are pretty thin!
Either way, you should wear gloves. Asparagus Ferns have tiny prickles that, while not very sharp, can be a painful inconvenience if you’re barehanded.
Pro tip: Sanitize the knife/pair of scissors before getting to work if you use the tool for pruning other plants in your collection. This helps prevent the spread of unwanted infections or diseases.
Once you’re done removing the bare stems, you’ll notice that your Asparagus Fern looks much livelier and dense. Now it’s time to set it up for future success. Cut off the tips of all the individual stems – even the ones that already have a lot of foliage. Doing that will encourage your Fern to grow more foliage.
It’s best to do this individually or with a few at once because you don’t want to cut too deep. Remember, you’re only cutting off the tips (think the top one or two inches) of each stem in this case. Cutting too much of the stem is counterproductive to your goal as it’ll only increase the amount of green matter your Fern has to regrow.
Now, this process may take you some time. But with a little dexterity, you could be done in as little as a few minutes. You’ll end up with a trimmed, slightly smaller version of your Asparagus Fern – but one primed for future growth.
If you’re worried about hurting your plant, don’t be! As long as you don’t go overboard with the cutting, you’ll see now and more dense growth within weeks.
2. Make Sure Your Asparagus Fern Receives Enough Sunlight
Pruning might help to make your Fern bushier in the short term, but you’ll have to address the root cause of the issue if you want more long-term effects. The primary reason for Asparagus Ferns not growing as bushy as they should is lack of sunlight. And with some logic, it’s easy to see why that’s the case.
Asparagus Ferns are often advertised as indoor plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight. Sometimes, beginner gardeners misinterpret this and neglect their plant’s sunlight needs entirely. While it’s true that Asparagus Ferns don’t need a lot, they still need a few hours of sunlight every day.
If they cannot get adequate sunlight, they’ll adapt by growing longer. This is something we commonly see in nature. Plants that don’t get their fair share of sunlight grow longer and taller to reach sunlight.
Unfortunately, this can leave your Asparagus Fern looking thin, spindly, and unsymmetrical. The good news is that there’s an easy fix. All you have to do is relocate the plant to a spot that receives more sunlight.
Now, don’t just take them outdoors. Asparagus Ferns are actually quite sensitive to the sun. A hot summer afternoon can leave them scorched and sunburnt because direct sunlight is often too much for these plants to tolerate.
You’ll have to supply your Asparagus Fern with indirect or filtered sunlight. You can also leave it out for a few hours during the early morning.
If you want to keep the plant in a darker room or office for decoration, you can use a grow light to compensate. Not only are these lights great at what they do, but you also won’t have to worry about incurring damage from exposure to intense sun rays.
3. Fertilize During the Growing Summer Months
The amount of nutrients in the soil greatly determines how fast your Asparagus Fern can grow. So ideally, you should grow your Ferns in nutrient-rich soil, to begin with. However, nutrients in the soil slowly deplete over time.
This is where fertilizer comes in. Most fertilizers today feature a combination of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium; the three major nutrients all plants need to grow.
Fertilization isn’t necessary for all plants, but it certainly does help them grow faster.
You can usually make your own fertilizer at home using degradable matter. However, using water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer works better for Asparagus Ferns.
Asparagus Ferns aren’t as nutrient-hungry as most other plants, so going overboard is a real issue – too much nutrients in the soil can be detrimental to these plants’ health. This is precisely why you should dilute the fertilizer to half-strength before adding it to the soil.
You’ll also want to fertilize during the summer months only. This is when the Asparagus Fern grows at its fastest and needs the most resources to keep up the pace. It falls dormant during the winter; this is why fertilization is not advised during the colder months of the year.
4. Water Regularly and Generously
Both underwatering and overwatering present issues of their own. This is why finding the “sweet spot” in terms of the watering frequency and quantity is crucial. The problem is, knowing exactly how much water your Asparagus Fern needs isn’t so cut and dry. This is especially the case if you’re growing one in a hanging basket.
Establishing a tailored watering routine is best done early on if you want to see your Fern thrive.
Asparagus Ferns need to stay hydrated more than the average plant. They dislike drying out, so you should never let their soil dry as much as you would with other household plants.
An easy way to know that your Fern needs more water is by sticking your finger about an inch deep into the soil. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water generously; if it’s still wet, wait another day or two. Having moisture-retaining soil really helps when growing this plant.
The frequency with which you need to water your Asparagus Ferns will vary based on the time of the year.
You’ll need to be precise with your watering routine during the summers because high temperatures increase Asparagus Ferns’ water demands. You can take a break in the winter, though, as Asparagus Ferns have dramatically reduced water requirements during their dormancy.
5. Maintain High Humidity in the Growing Area
An effective watering routine goes hand in hand with misting to keep Asparagus Ferns hydrated and bushy. Asparagus Ferns are one of the many plants that love humidity. Unfortunately, dry and arid spells during summer leave them in an unpleasant and suboptimal setting.
A more hands-off way to keep your Asparagus Fern humid during arid conditions is by placing it in a room with a humidifier. Humidifiers are quite effective at increasing humidity. However, they can cost a fair bit of money.
No worries, though, if you don’t have a humidifier. You can keep your Ferns comfortable during dry spells by misting them daily. Try to get the entirety of the plant in each session, especially the longer stems, because they lose water faster.
You can find out more about how much water Ferns need here: How Often Should You Water Ferns in a Hanging Basket. This guide covers formulating watering routines in greater detail and highlights the best practices for watering your Ferns.
6. Raise the Temperatures in Your Growing Area
Just like humidity, Asparagus Ferns prefer higher temperatures. They can’t survive very long once temperatures drop below 12.7°C or 55°F, let alone freezing. If temperatures drop below this point, bring ferns growing outdoors back inside.
To ensure your Asparagus Ferns stay in good health, you want to keep them near room temperature: 25°C(77°F).
Asparagus Ferns sometimes grow elongated and leggy instead of dense and bushy because of several environmental factors. To make your Asparagus Fern bushier, you can prune back the bare stems and pinch off the top of each stem to promote new growth. You must also ensure the plant gets enough indirect sunlight to sustain itself.
Generous watering and fertilization in the summer months are beneficial to growth. The same goes for humid environments and higher temperatures.