Foxtail Fern Care

Lush Foxtail Fern Makes Big Impact

  • Unique Evergreen Fern
  • Tough, Easy-Care
  • Drought Resistant Once Established
  • Soft Texture
  • White Flowers and Red Berries
  • Works Well in Containers & Hanging Baskets

Foxtail Fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’) has a huge personality. It’s absolutely wonderful as a houseplant, planted in a container as a patio plant in cold winter zones, or as evergreen perennial planted in the ground in warm winter zones.

This native of South Africa isn’t a true fern at all, as it propagates by seed, not spores. This cutie is an Asparagus fern, and actually a member of the lily family

This plant has a ton of distinctive features. When planted in the ground, this plant looks like Dr. Suess could have included it in one of his books! Each plume-like stemmed branch grows into a slender, pointed frond that arches out from the center stem. Some of these fronds point up, some go this way, some go that way.

Overall, the high texture shape reads as wildly full-figured, but when looking closer, you’ll notice that each grassy green frond is liberally covered with very fine-textured soft “leaves” (ok, ok… cladodes, to be precise.)

Do you like butterflies? Adorning the stems in mid-summer, you’ll thrill to see butterflies drinking nectar from the delicate white flowers. The flowers, while tiny, provide additional fresh, crisp appeal against all the narrow, green foliage.

Each of those blooms transition to small green berries that turn a brilliant red for fall. They look beautiful, but the taste? Yuck, the berries of the Foxtail Fern are ONLY for decoration.

Some will appreciate the fact that this plant is known as a Firewise selection for firescaping. It can take coastal exposure and is drought resistant. Deer tend to pass it by.

How to Use Foxtail Fern in the Landscape

If you are lucky enough to grow this plant outdoors in zones 9-11 they make outstanding edging plants in the perennial border. Foxtail Tern is a fantastic plant for outdoor borders, in rock gardens or planted in mass as a groundcover. You won’t need to prune it if you give them space to do their thing and grow to their full mature size.

It’s also perfect when used in planter boxes or hanging baskets. Try it as a memorable “Thriller” in containers both indoors and out.

You’ll want to cut fronds to use in your cut flower arrangements as filler. What a wonderfully dramatic look that lasts for weeks before yellowing.

Tips for Care

Foxtail Fern is an easy perennial to care for and is drought and seaside tolerant. Give it an annual haircut to clean up the oldest sprays of foliage. Simply lift the lowest fronds off the ground and look underneath. Trim brown fronds back to the stem. Remove and compost any spend plant litter at the start of the season.

They are best grown in full morning sun but need protection from the afternoon sun. Give them partial shade through the hot afternoon, especially if using in a container placed outdoors during the growing season.

Indoors, it can take direct full sun in winter.

The plants make fleshy, tuberous roots almost like small white sweet potatoes when you dig them up to transplant. These extensive root systems protect the plant as the fleshy roots store water beautifully, which makes them quite forgiving of extended vacations.

Mist it with a spray bottle to raise humidity more often than you water it. Feel the soil around the roots (stick your finger in the dirt!) to see if it’s dry or moist. If dry, give it a long drink. Be sure to mop up any extra water in the saucer, as it won’t like to sit in standing water. Some people prefer to take the plant to the sink and water the soil thoroughly, then drain into the sink.

Remember, this plant is originally from South Africa, it will love those long periodic “rainfalls”. Let it dry out between waterings.

Gorgeous evergreen color, lush texture and delightful eye-catching form make this an ideal fern for your home. Calculate into its assets the flowers and berries, and you have a fern that is stunning.