Asparagus Ferns are often seen in homes and offices because they have lovely leaves, are easy to care for and low maintenance. The plant is likewise tough as it can tolerate neglect. In this article, I’ll go in depth into how to propagate this beautiful houseplant.
How do you propagate an Asparagus Fern? The most effective way to propagate an Asparagus Fern is to divide its tuberous roots then planting them in their own pots.
These divided sections will eventually grow into mature plants that look like the parent plant.
Unlike many other houseplants, you cannot propagate Asparagus Fern from stem or leaf cuttings because it will not root.
How to Propagate an Asparagus Fern
The best way to propagate an Asparagus fern is to divide its tuberous roots and planting them. These roots will later grow into their individual plants later on.
Unfortunately, you cannot propagate Asparagus Fern from stem cuttings as they will not root. Similarly, the plant cannot be propagated through its leaves.
Therefore, you’re better off to dig up the plant and divide the tubers to do so.
Since you’ll need to take the plant out of its pot, the most efficient way to propagate your Asparagus Fern is to do it when you repot the plant.
This way, you can do both at the same time which saves you from having to keep unpotting the plant.
Additionally, the ideal time to propagate the plant is during Spring, right before the or when the plant is starting to actively grow.
This way the new plant will have an entire growing season to get as big as it can before winter arrives. Spring and summer are also its growing seasons. Therefore, this is when the plant will grow the fastest.
Thus, it will allow the new plant to quickly grow after being pot up. And let the parent plant recover fast after being unpotted, divided and repotted.
Below, I’ll go through how to propagate an Asparagus Fern step by step.
What Tools Do You Need to Propagate Asparagus Fern
Before you start propagating your Asparagus Fern, it is a good idea to prepare all the tools you need so you don’t have to stop and look for things in the middle of the propagation process.
For one, it is not a good idea to leave the roots exposed to air for long periods of time. This will increase the risk of stress and shock.
Here are the things you want to prepare before you unpot the plant.
- Make sure that your Asparagus Fern is healthy
- Find a spot where you can unpot the plant. If you do this indoors, the sink is a good place. You can also do it in a potting bench or the floor. With the latter, I like to lay out newspaper to make it easier to clean afterwards.
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears
- An extra pot
- Fresh, well-draining potting soil
- Faucet or water source nearby
- Newspaper or plastic to cover the working surface
How To Propagate an Asparagus Fern Through Division
Unlike many houseplants, Asparagus Ferns cannot be propagated from stem cuttings. You also won’t be able to root them from leaf cuttings.
That’s because they have tuberous roots.
As such, the best way to propagate your Asparagus Fern is to divide the mother plant.
What this means is that you’ll need to wait for the plant to mature and have enough size before being able to propagate it. That’s because dividing a small plant will leave you with two or more very small plants.
This will make it harder for them to survive on their own.
Additionally, the plant needs to mature before you’ll see it grow natural offshoots. These will tell you where to separate the plant.
Here’s how to propagate an Asparagus Fern through division step by step.
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Prepare Your Workspace
Before you begin, start by preparing your propagation workspace.
I know that this sounds trivial since you can pretty much do this anywhere.
However, I’ve found that a little planning and preparation beforehand makes it so much easier to clean after.
The reason for this is that you’ll need to unpot the plant and make potting mix. This usually will leave a little bit of mess even if you’re a tidy gardener, especially when you’re brushing off the soil from the roots.
As such, putting down plastic or newspaper on your work area will make it much easier to clean later.
If you work outdoors, cleanup will be less of a problem compared to inside your home. You can also do this in a potting bench.
The key to a good workspace is to have enough space and a clear area with all your tools including the extra pot nearby.
Unpot Your Asparagus Fern
Once you have your workspace ready, take your Asparagus Fern out of its pot.
Carefully take the plant out and be gentle as its leaves are delicate and thin. So, avoid putting it out using its leaves. Tugging can damage the plant.
Instead, tip the pot on its side and slowly slide the root ball out of its container. Take your time and down jar it out or be too aggressive.
Once you have the root ball out of the pot, brush off most of the excess soil. This will allow you to see the roots clearly.
Also take this opportunity to check for any damage, pests, disease or rotting. If the roots are tangled together, use your fingers to separate them.
Look for the Offshoots
Once you can clearly see the roots, look for the natural offshoots. These will be very easy to locate because are naturally separated in a way.
Additionally, each section should have roots. Although, this is not always the care. Therefore, make sure to only select sections with roots otherwise the new plant won’t grow even if you put it in potting mix.
Separate the Roots by Their Natural Sections
In most cases, you can just separate the offshoots by taking advantage of their natural division. Some will be easier than others.
If they’re not separating, you can use a pair of scissors or pruning shears. But before you do, make sure to wipe down the blades with rubbing alcohol.
This ensures that the cutting tool is sterilized and will not transfer any pathogens to the plant (which you are wounding).
Again, make sure that each section you divide has roots. The more roots it has, the better chance it will be able to sustain itself especially in the beginning.
How many divisions you can make will depend on two things.
- The size of your original Asparagus Fern
- How many new plants you want to grow or how bushy you want the new plant to be.
The bigger your original plant, the more divisions you’ll be able to get from it without significantly reducing its size (unless you want to).
With new plants, you can plant the divisions separately if you want more plants. Or you can plant a few together in a pot so the resulting plant will become bushier.
It is totally up to you.
Place the Divisions into Water or Fresh Potting Mix
This next step is planting your divisions.
Depending on how many sections you separated from the mother plant, you may have one or more divisions.
In any case, you now need to decide if you’re going to grow the offshoots in water or in soil.
Both have their pros and cons. But it really comes down to preference.
I like to just pot up the offshoots into the soil, so I don’t need to move it later from water to soil. Other growers prefer growing it water initially so they can see the roots develop.
Again, either method works, and it comes down to preference.
Although in most cases keeping it in water is really done when your offshoots have short roots. This allows the roots to further develop before going into soil.
When potting up the offshoots, make sure to use high quality potting soil that has good drainage and nutrients.
The former will ensure that excess moisture drains quickly while the latter will help it grow faster.
Repot the Parent Plant
Then place the mother plant back to its original pot. You can also downsize to a smaller pot if its overall size has significantly reduced due to the divisions.
The basic rule of thumb here is to use a pot that is just right. This lets you prevent overwatering which can happen with overpotting due to the excess volume of soil.
It is worth noting that step and the previous step can be interchanged. So, you can repot the mother plant first before potting up the divisions or vice versa. Both will work.
Take Care of Your Asparagus Ferns
Water your new plants and keep the soil moist. Avoid overwatering.
Once you’ve done this, you’re done with propagation.
The next step is to keep all the plants in a well-lit spot. Place them in medium to bright, indirect light. Avoid very strong light or direct sunlight.
Then just take care of the plant like you normally would do.
Asparagus Fern Propagation Common Problems and Solutions
Below are some of the common problems you may encounter when propagating Asparagus Fern. Here’s how to troubleshoot them.
Why isn’t my new Asparagus Fern growing?
Propagating your Asparagus Fern through division means that it takes much less time compared to leaf or stem cuttings. As such, the extra initial work puts you a few steps ahead.
However, it is still important to give the new plant proper care. Otherwise, it will grow slowly or not at all.
If you notice your new Asparagus Fern is not growing, make sure it is getting bright, indirect light. It will struggle to grow or do so slowly when there is insufficient light.
The next step is to check temperature.
Try to keep the plant in a moderate to warm, humid place which is ideal for growth. Its growth will slow in colder locations.
If you can’t find a warm enough spot in your home, you can sue a heat pad or heat mat and place it underneath your new Asparagus Fern.
Why is my Asparagus Fern cutting yellow?
If your Asparagus Fern cuttings are turning yellow, it often means two things.
One, the cuttings are getting too much light. This can be because they are exposed to direct sun or very strong light especially during the middle of the day.
if this is the case, move the plant to a location that has less bright light.
The second reason for your Asparagus cuttings turning yellow is root rot. Unfortunately, this is more serious and also more difficult to treat.
Root rot happens when the cuttings get too much water. Thus, check the soil.
If the soil is wet and mucky, there is a good chance that there may be root rot. Therefore, take the cuttings out of the soil and check the roots.
You’ll need to remove the rotted roots and repot the cuttings in fresh, dry potting mix.
Unfortunately, since your cuttings only has a few roots, there may be a chance you won’t be able to save it.