Foxtail Fern - How to Divide or Propagate?

love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)February 28, 2011

How do you divide or propagate a foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii')? I did some internet research and several sites said to cut the rootball in half with a knife. That is easier said than done! That is one tough rootball. Is there a better way?

Can it be propagated from cuttings?

Here is a photo of my plant when I first got it. It is much bigger now and completely root-bound.

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Cut the root ball in half or thirds with a sharp, serrated carving knife or a pair of poultry scissors. Be forewarned though, this is a spreading plant that once you put it in the ground, it's going to take off and be tough to control. On most of the landscape jobs I used this plant, we planted it in the pot, in the ground. There's a house here in West Boca that we used 15-gallon cans, buried the cans below the soil line, and filled them with 3-gallon pots of Asparagus fern. Still looks good after 6 or 7 years and they haven't spread.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 8:28AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Thanks, fawnridge. That will help! Fortunately, Foxtail fern is not the spreading plant. The invasive one is it's wicked stepsister, Asparagus Fern. Asparagus fern is the one with thorns and red berries. Asparagus fern will take over your entire yard and is the dickens to remove. Foxtail fern does not have thorns or red berries - and NO invasive properties. Yay!

See link below for more info.

Here is a link that might be useful: Protasparagus densiflorus

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 8:42AM
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drudadunat(9b Tampa FL)

I had to use a hatchet to divide mine. That's one tough root ball.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:17AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

You know, even though it is not invasive, it is the rootball itself that keeps me from planting these directly into the yard. No telling how hard it would be to pull it if I ever needed to remove it.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:52AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Here's a follow-up. I pulled my foxtail fern out of the pot. I dusted as much loose soil from the roots as would easily fall away. I then cut the root ball in half with a pruning saw. It was actually rather easy to cut.

I then root-pruned each half until I could them nicely and easily into the center of their respective new pots. They turned out pretty good.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 4:14PM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

I missed this the first time around; I planted foxtail fern in the ground -- once --. It spreads like wicked.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:22PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Hi Dianne,

It is Asparagus Fern that is extremely invasive, taking over the yard. Foxtail Fern stays put with no invasive properties. They look similar, but Foxtail Fern is very well-behaved.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:26PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Does anyone have Foxtail Fern/Meyers Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii') growing in full sun? I have two in pots that I would like to plant in the yard. The location where I would put them gets pretty-much all day sun. Some shade in the early morning, but from midday on, it is a cooker. Will they survive? And thrive?

Carol M. in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 1:17PM
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Yes, I have them in full sun, but they do get watered 2x a week. :o)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 4:41PM
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I have a strange story. Some years ago I planted foxtail - it looked exactly like the one in the picture here. Now I have a spreading asparagus which is sending up plants all over the bed. From the middle of the plant it sends up the foxtail strands. How does one explain that? Wish I could post a picture.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 12:58PM
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