Plumosa Fern (Asparagus setaceus) is a very beginner-friendly houseplant. It has feather-like leaves and is soft when touched.
And it is often seen in the wild but it doesn’t mean that it’s not suited for an indoor environment.
By learning how to adjust a few things, you’ll surely get the right conditions that would keep your plumosa fern alive and healthy inside your home.
To care for plumosa fern you need to understand the basic growing requirements such as light, water, temperature, humidity, soil, and fertilizer. Along with this, you should learn how to give additional care like propagation, repotting, pruning, management of pests, and diseases.
Ultimately, you’d have to consider how safe taking for this plant is by knowing its toxicity level.
Tracing its origin from South and East Africa, this plumosa fern is botanically classified as a lily rather than a fern.
Unlike a true fern that produces spores, plumosa fern produces flowers and seeds to reproduce itself.
Although other countries classify it as a weed, it has gained popularity as an indoor plant in potted and hanging forms.
Plumosa Fern Care Details
|Origin||South and East Africa|
|Scientific Name||Asparagus setaceus|
|Family||Not a true fern but a member of theLiliaceae family|
|Common Name||Asparagus fern, climbing asparagus, Sprengeri Fern, Common asparagus fern, Feathered asparagus fern, Ferny asparagus, Fern-asparagus|
|Type||Ground Cover, Perennial|
|Max Growth (approx)||Can grow up to 1.5 meter high|
|Watering Needs||Medium to high. Water daily for a few weeks after transplanting then gradually shifts to about 2 to 3 days per week.|
|Light Requirements||Partial Shade. Can be subjected to direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours.|
|Humidity||Requires a humid environment with occasional misting|
|Soil||The potting mix should be one-third garden or potting soil, one-third peat moss, one-third sand. Requires high organic matter. Soil’s pH is acidic (<6.0).|
|Fertilizer||Fertilize monthly from early spring through September. Only half the strength of the original’s recommendation is needed if kept indoors.|
|Temperature||Prefers a temperature within the range of 65 to 75oF (18 to 24oC)|
|Pests||Common pests are mealy bugs, spider mites, and scale|
|Diseases||Susceptible to root rot and crown rot|
|Propagation||Propagation is through seeds or root division|
|Pruning||Prune according to desired shape, size, and purpose|
|Repotting||Repotting is done when the plant suffers from root rot, root bound, pathogen infection and nutrient deficiency|
|Toxicity||Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses|
|USDA Plant Hardiness Zone||9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a|
Plumosa Fern Care
If you are growing plumosa as indoor plant then you need to know the fundamental care requirements to grow it successfully. Now, lets jump into the details:
Light Requirements for Plumosa
Keeping plumosa fern indoors is ideal because of the light condition it requires. Only partial shade is necessary to keep the foliage beautiful.
You can subject the plant to direct light with low intensity but make sure that it won’t exceed 6 hours.
Plumosa Fern typically grows in a shady environment of the rainforest and it’s important to mimic such conditions when it’s taken care of indoors.
Bright direct light can scorch the plant. Putting in shades will filter the excessive light that the sun may bring in.
If your apartment doesn’t have enough natural light, you can use artificial light source. The artificial light present inside your home should be sufficient to supply the plant’s needs.
You have the option to expose your plumosa to sunlight only when the foliage starts becoming yellow.
If it looks good even without sunlight exposure, then, spare yourself the work.
How to Water Plumosa
It’s important to keep the soil of plumosa fern moist. Apply water at the root zone to ensure that it’s being absorbed by the plant.
Avoid splashing water on the plant’s foliage, as this will promote fungi growth.
If the plant is newly transplanted, supply water every day until it’s fully established.
After that, you may water less frequently, around 2-3 days a week. However, you need to consider the type of soil and the weather to give the right amount of water.
Below are a number of tips to help you water your plumosa correctly:
- Use good quality water. Rainwater is the best thing you can give to your Plumosa. It’s free from any treatments that could potentially bring harm. However, rainwater is not always available so you can use filtered tap water instead. Just make sure that tap water does not contain high concentrations of salt.
- Establish a watering schedule. Having a fixed schedule when to give water will help you not miss out on the day. It’s important that you maintain an equal intervals between days of watering and not watering. This will allow water to sufficiently evaporate before the soil receives more.
- Provide good drainage. Even if you water enough and the drainage isn’t good, your plant is still in danger. Improve the soil texture so that it has enough pores for water molecules to pass through. Make sure pots have enough drainage holes too.
An environment with high humidity is favorable for plumosa fern. It loves humidity above 70%.
If the condition in your home has low humidity, you can add a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
Occasional misting is also something that your plant will love.But of course, misting is an additional job.
So, if you’re looking for a more laid-back approach, try using pebble tray filled with water.
Put your pots on top of it and let it do the job of increasing humidity.
Another thing you can do is grouping your plants together. As plants release moisture in the air, it gets humid.
In return, another plant nearby will surely benefit from that.
A temperature that ranges from 65 to 75oF (18 to 24oC) is ideal for plumosa fern but it can tolerate up to 20° to 30°F (-7° to -1°C).
Place it somewhere indoors where the temperature isn’t drastically changing. A moderate temperature is necessary to keep it growing inside your home.
Since plumosa fern loves a moist environment, you must beware of the sudden increase in temperature.
An air conditioner can help alleviate the hotness providing a cooling effect on the plants. Misting is also very helpful when the environment gets very dry.
Soil Requirements of Plumosa Fern
Like any other indoor plant, plumosa fern requires a good combination of garden soil, organic matter like peat moss, and sand.
You can combine them in equal proportions of ⅓ each to achieve a well-draining and fertile potting mix.
Add a small amount of organic fertilizer to start feeding your plumose at its growing stage.
Achieving soil with good texture will help the plant receive enough nutrients and water.
It also prevents the pooling of water at the base which causes root rot among potted plants. A soil’s pH that’s less than 6 is ideal for plumosa fern.
If you want your plumosa fern to produce lush foliage, you may add fertilizer to it.
Although, in general, this houseplant wouldn’t require much fertilizer, it’s important to feed the soil from time to time to keep the plant healthy.
Here are the various options you have when it comes to fertilizer
Granular vs Liquid
Fertilizers can have a form of either granular or liquid. Both forms are applicable to your plumosa.
If using a granular form, bury the fertilizer under the soil a few inches away from the roots to avoid burning.
If using liquid fertilizer, always dilute and apply it directly to the soil. Never spray the liquid directly on the leaves because it will burn them.
Synthetic vs Organic
Synthetic fertilizers are fast-released. They make the nutrients readily available for your plumosa to consume.
It’s best to use synthetic fertilizers when the need for nutrients is immediate.
If you desire for a more sustainable option, choose organic fertilizers.
Though it’s released slowly, their ability to supply your plants with needed nutrients is equally effective.
Apply fertilizer monthly from early spring to September but you should avoid applying fertilizers in the winter season.
You have to dilute it to half the strength of the recommendation to avoid burning your plant.
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Propagation of Plumosa Fern
There are two ways to propagate your plumosa fern. You can choose to use seeds and sow them or you may do vegetative propagation by root division.
Here are a few steps on how to properly cultivate your plumosa:
If you’ve managed to have your plumosa fern bloom and bear berries, you can save the seeds and plant them.
You can sow the seeds in a seed tray filled with ¾ of potting soil and covered with ¼ soil on top. Water the seed tray regularly.
Expect the seeds to germinate within two weeks. When there are at least two true leaves that appear, you may transplant the seedlings to individual pots. Water them regularly.
Another way to propagate is by root division. Plumosa fern has tubers in its roots that you can cut and plant on the soil.
Do not use stem cuttings to propagate because they will never develop roots.
You can take advantage of the time when you’re repotting to choose and separate superior tubers.
Cut them off from the root ball and plant them on the soil of separate pots. The best time to do root division is during spring.
How to Repot Plumosa Fern
From time to time, you’ll need to repot your plumosa fern to be able to keep it healthy.
Potted plants have the tendency to deteriorate over time because of many factors.
In order to identify when to repot, here are a few things you can use as a guide:
1. Repot when the plant develops severe root rot
If you overwater your plumosa it tends to develop root rot. In that case, you’ll need to pull your plumosa out of its original container to check on the root’s condition.
A visible indication of root rot is when leaves start yellowing or browning and is mushy when touched.
You need to remove rotten roots and prepare a new set of well-draining soil in order to save the plant.
2. Repot When The Root Gets Bound
One restriction we have with potted plants is that it has very limited space for the roots to move around.
The tendency then is to develop root bound where roots entangle themselves altogether making it difficult for them to function normally.
Plumosa fern with root bound would look stunted and wilted. Leaves may also turn yellow and drop.
Repotting would help to remove excess roots in order for them to breathe and work freely.
It’s also your chance to move to a larger pot that fits the size of your growing plumosa
3. Repot When The Quality of The Soil Deteriorates
Through time, the quality of the soil you’ve originally used to pot your plumosa fern will decline. Nutrients will get depleted.
The soil texture will change and most of the time gets too acidic because of fertilizer.
In that case, you need to repot in order to provide your plumosa plant with a fresh set of soil that’s healthy and is filled with nutrients.
4. Repot When The Soil Infected With Pathogens
Soil-borne diseases are most likely to develop when the soil you’ve used in potting is already infected.
Pathogens can cause serious problems on the plant as they damage the root system and other parts of the plant.
To get rid of the infected soil, you should do repotting. It’s crucial that you use sterilized soil or one treated with a fungicide.
This is to ensure that any remnant of pathogens from the previous infection was killed.
Growing plumosa fern can get a little out of hand especially that it has the tendency to get invasive.
That’s why it’s important to prune the plant from time to time.
Don’t be afraid to cut off a large portion of the stems down to the base because they grow pretty easily.
There can be different reasons to trim off your plant. Trim your plant according to the purpose.
Trim to Achieve a Desired Shape and Size
Depending on what aesthetic vibe you are achieving, you can remove portions of stems to maintain a particular size and shape. We understand if you’d want to keep it down to its minimum. Not everyone has a huge space inside their homes.
Trim to Remove Damaged or Aged Portions
Naturally, your plant would show yellow and brown portions. It may be a result of the aging process so that’s nothing to worry about.
However, it can also be an indication that your plant is suffering from a disease so you have to take it seriously.
Either way, you’ll have to prune those affected portions to keep the plant neat and healthy.
Prevent Plumosa Losing Water When It’s Hot
Plants lose water through the process called transpiration. Exchange of gas and water vapor is through the stomata found in leaves. When it’s too hot, the transpiration rate increases.
With this increased rate, the plant loses water faster and is prone to getting dehydrated. To reduce transpiration, pruning off of leaves can be done.
Insects like mealy bugs, spider mites, and scales are typical enemies of plumosa fern.
It’s important that you carefully examine your plant for the presence of any of these pests.
It would be difficult to revive a plant when it’s heavily infected.
- Mealybugs – They are cotton-like structures that appear on the surface of the leaves or stems. It’s easy to notice them because of their white appearance.
- Spider mites – They are the exact opposite of mealy bugs because they’re very subtle. It’s very hard to spot them making them free to attack new leaves and buds without you realizing it.
- Scales – They are also bugs that have protective shells on them. They look tan to brown in color and oval in shape. They multiply in a fast manner so if you notice them late in time, you’ll have a hard time controlling them.
It’s important to isolate infected plants to avoid these insects from transferring to another host.
Immediately remove them manually or by spraying with water. You may also use diluted dishwashing liquid with neem oil to kill them off.
In cases of severe infestation, the use of a chemical pesticide may be necessary.
Just be careful to apply it according to instructions to avoid hazards.
Plumosa fern isn’t a sensitive houseplant that you’d need not to worry about it dying of a disease.
Nevertheless, you have to take careful measures on how to prevent the following diseases from killing your plant.
Rotting roots happen primarily when your plants receive too much water than it can utilize.
Apart from that, it can also be caused by pathogens that infected the soil. Both of them can lead to severe damage in the root system.
Plumosa fern can develop root rot in the same way that other indoor plants do.
That’s why you have to be careful with the way you water your plumosa so as not to overdo it.
At the same time, make sure to always use sterilized soil to prevent infection.
You’ll notice yellowing and browning of leaves on your plumosa fern when the roots are rotting.
The base of the plant will also look mushy. So, if you’ve seen early signs such as these, you’ll need to recheck the roots immediately to avoid the death of your plant.
Another disease that a plumosa fern can acquire would be the crown rot.
This is expressed by the rotting of the lower portion of the stem. Unlike root rot, the rotten portion appears dry, not squashy.
It damages the young portions of the plant like the new leaves. Infected areas would turn yellow to almost red in color.
The whole plant wilts and will probably suffer death if left untreated.
Wet conditions are often the culprit behind these diseases. This is because fungi will likely grow and develop in such condition.
Their enormous presence can threaten the population of good microorganisms that eventually leads to developing diseases.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) categorizes plumosa fern as toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.
So, if you own one at home be careful not to allow them any contact with this plant. Otherwise, your pet’s life might get in danger.
The berries of the plant can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting when ingested.
You have to watch out when flowers start appearing in spring until early autumn because it will surely be followed by setting fruit.
Put them in a place safe from animal contact.
The leaves can also cause irritation on the skin when frequently in contact.
As a preventive measure, use gloves when you handle the plant’s leaves and its berries.
Make sure to always wash your hands if you happen to contact accidentally.
Plumosa Fern Care Tips
Here are some care tips that you should consider for you indoor plumosa fern:
Start With Healthy Plant
If you’re the one shopping for your own plumosa fern, make sure to choose a good plant.
Opt for the one that has lush foliage and is free from any damaged portions. A healthy plant would always have a vibrant overall look.
Set a Conducive Environment
The basic requirements discussed above are there to guide you about which conditions are helpful and which are not.
Make your best effort to achieve the ideal conditions for your plant.
Enough Should Be Enough
Light and water, for example, play very important roles in your plumosa fern’s life.
If you’re able to hit the mark of giving just the right amount of these two elements, you’ll surely be rewarded by healthy, green foliage.
Adjust With The Environment
The weather is always varying and so the temperature and humidity. The key is to adjust in certain practices in order to make the condition favorable for the plant at most times.
Adjustment isn’t a one-time thing. Most of the time, you have to do it again and again. Just don’t be weary of doing it.
Check Now or Regret Later
Plants aren’t like pets who would deliberately demand your attention. So, it’s you who should make the first move in checking them out.
Always include your plumosa fern in your day to day routine in order to know how it’s going.
Check out for the presence of pets, the condition of the soil, the entire foliage.
Although it may sound time-consuming, checking your plants on a regular basis would save you from a bigger trouble in the future.
If you’re a newbie in planting plumosa, your greatest fear would probably be seeing your new plant die.
Although this might be a valid emotion, it’s important for you to remain calm when you see signs of your plant being unwell.
Learn how to diagnose a disease. Do your research and try giving them treatments.
Knowing which solutions are effective may sometimes take time so don’t freak out.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is my plumosa fern turning yellow?
Yellowing of leaves indicate various problems. One is nutrient deficiency. If the plant is not receiving enough nutrients from the soil, especially nitrogen, their leaves will yellow in color.
Another reason is the lack of exposure to light. Leaves turn chlorotic for not receiving enough light. You may have been keeping your plumosa in a darker spot in your home.
Yellowing is also an indication that the plant is diseased. You have to carefully evaluate which one is the true cause of the yellowing. It will help you figure out which treatments are appropriate to save the plant.
2. Why is my plumosa fern turning brown?
One reason for the browning of your plumosa fern is when it’s experiencing sunburn. Remember this plant doesn’t want bright direct light.
If you’ve been exposing the plant to such high light intensity for extended periods, that might be the reason for its browning.
Another possible reason is when it’s infected with diseases like root rot and crown rot that have the same effect on the plumosa’s foliage.
3. Is plumosa fern poisonous to cats?
The berries of the plumosa fern can cause digestive problems on cats when ingested.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you suspect that your cat might have ingested portions of plumosa fern, make sure to seek the attention of your vet.
4. Plumosa fern vs Asparagus fern
Plumosa fern and asparagus fern are basically the similar type of plants under the same genus of Asparagus. As the plumosa fern leaves resembles to feather that’s why it is named like this. The latin word “plume” meand feather.
Acquiring Your Own Plumosa Fern
Caring for a plumosa fern isn’t as demanding as it may sound. By learning and applying the basic things you’ve learned here, you’ll have a fair chance of making your plumosa fern a success story.
If you’ve managed to care for more sensitive indoor plants, you’ll definitely pass the challenges of plumosa fern.
Just be careful when you introduce this plant in your landscape as they have the tendency to be invasive.
Make sure to control propagation inside and outside your home. Other than than, nothing much should worry you about this pretty house ornament.
Are you ready to purchase your own plumosa fern?
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