Indoor Foxtail Fern: The Ultimate Care Guide

foxtail fern indoor

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The Foxtail Fern, also called Plume Asparagus, is an attractive plant known for its beautiful foliage. This perennial enjoys humidity and is not difficult to care for.

The Foxtail Fern is an easy-to-care-for plant that can contribute to the look and feel of any space. Its distinct characteristics make it well-loved by indoor gardeners.

In this comprehensive post, we will tackle all of the dos and don’t that you’ll need to know to keep your Foxtail Fern looking healthy! We also have a few recommendations if you are interested in buying this plant.

What Is Foxtail Fern?

The Foxtail Fern (Asparagus Densiflorus Meyeri) is sometimes known as Plume Asparagus, Emerald Feather, and Plumosa Fern. It is an attractive plant famous for its pine needle-like leaves with fluffy stems.

Belonging to the Asparagaceae family, this perennial has needle-like and light green leaves. Indoors, it appreciates humidity and a warm temperature.

Foxtail Fern was formerly categorized as a member of the Lily family. Then, it was often mistaken for its close relative, the Asparagus Fern. Interestingly, where the Asparagus Fern’s growth habit droops downward, the Foxtail grows upright. 

You may also grow your Foxtail Fern outdoors if you live in hardiness zones 9-11.

Foxtail Fern Origin And Family

The Foxtail Fern comes from the Asparagus genus, which belongs to the Asparagaceae family. This plant is originally from the plains of South Africa. Recently, it has become a popular houseplant that is typically easy to care for.

First described in the 1960s by Horace Anderson, this attractive plant makes a great addition to any indoor grower’s collection. 

Where To Buy

The Foxtail Fern is a beautiful addition to any plant lover’s collection and can be purchased online from Etsy. We usually get fantastic plant options and deals there too!

In terms of pricing, you can buy a Foxtail Fern for fairly affordable prices, between $15+ for small plants to $45+ for larger or more mature ferns.

Foxtail Fern Plant Size

Indoors, the Foxtail Fern reaches a height of 2-3 feet and a width of 2-3 feet. This Asparagus grows at a slow rate.

Foxtail Fern Care Needs

Your Foxtail Fern plants will grow well when properly taken care of. This plant loves humidity and needs relatively dry soil to stay healthy.

It is ideal to water this plant when the top 2-3 inches of the soil are dry. Water thoroughly, allowing it to pass through the pot’s drainage hole. In terms of light, this interesting plant needs bright indirect light to reach its maximum growth potential.

For more specific tips, check out the detailed care guide below!

Foxtail Fern Care Difficulty

The Foxtail Fern is easy to care for in most situations, assuming you have the right amount of well-draining soil and amount of light. With this Plume Asparagus Fern guide, you’ll be able to grow this attractive plant easily.

Foxtail Fern Growth Rate

The Emerald Feather plant measures 2-3 feet in height when grown indoors. The warmth of spring and summer commence this plant’s growth spurt.

Asparagus species grow at a slow speed, including the Densiflorus.

Foxtail Fern Potting

For your Foxtail Fern’s container, you want a medium-sized pot made of plastic, terracotta, or clay. Read our section below for repotting.

Foxtail Fern Repotting

To keep your indoor plants healthy, it is a good idea to transplant them to a larger pot once it grows to a specific size. If you see roots growing upwards through the top of the soil, you’ll know it’s time to repot.

On average, Foxtail Fern grows slowly and must be repotted every 1-2 years. When repotting, it’s preferable to add some regular commercial potting soil because soil tends to lose its inherent nutrient components over time. Despite its dainty appearance, the Emerald Fern has a strong tuberous root system. Some locales consider this outdoor plant as invasive.

Foxtail Fern Soil

This evergreen perennial is an easy-to-care-for plant that needs standard commercial potting soil to stay healthy. If you plan to prepare your soil mix, we recommend adding peat moss and perlite.

Your Asparagus will appreciate the soil being kept relatively dry at all times. Nonetheless, drainage and aeration are essential requirements for all soil types.

Here are some potting mixes we recommend:

Foxtail Fern pH

For the Emerald Feather, you’ll want your soil to have a neutral to acidic pH, approximately between 5.5-6.5. A standard commercial potting soil has a pH level near that range, so you won’t need to be overly concerned.

If your soil’s pH needs to be increased, add a bit of calcitic lime or dolomitic lime, wood ash, or baking soda.

On the other hand, if you’re worried that the pH is excessive, you can lower the pH with sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

To identify the soil’s pH value, use standard soil moisture meter devices, which double as a pH tester.

Foxtail Fern Water

Proper watering is essential for all tropical plants, even if they are drought-resistant plants like this great plant. Excessive watering may risk causing diseases such as root rot, while insufficient watering may dry out your plant’s roots, especially during warm days. In general, this beautiful plant should have a growing medium that is relatively dry.

If your plant needs watering, it can be easily determined. Check to see whether muddy, damp dirt is still sticking to a wooden skewer or pencil inserted into the pot. Or simply use your finger to feel for moisture. When the top 2-3 inches of the soil are dry, it’s time to water your plant.

A porous pot with drainage holes and an aerated, chunky soil mix can help eliminate excess moisture.

Foxtail Fern Light

You’ll want to simulate the natural environment of Foxtail Fern, which would be the plains of South Africa. Give your Densiflorus bright indirect light.

You’ll know your Foxtail Fern is getting too much light when its leaves get burn marks. On the contrary, if this plant doesn’t get enough light, its growth may get stunted.

Avoid putting your Foxtail Fern in direct sunlight, as this could severely damage or even kill it.

Foxtail Fern Fertilizer

Plants, like people, need more food when they are actively growing because they are using up a lot of their energy. This growth spurt usually happens in spring and summer for the Plume Asparagus. During this time, you can apply a slow-release fertilizer once a month.

In the winter months, you don’t fertilize because plants’ roots usually go dormant in the cold. This means they won’t need extra food for growth. 

Avoid supplying fertilizers to your Foxtail Fern, as it may severely damage or even kill it.

Propagating Foxtail Fern

Perhaps you’re impatient to see your Foxtail plant sprout new leaves. One planting technique is to prune back the stem to encourage new growing points. Usually, the cuttings you’ve pruned back can then be propagated so that you can grow a new baby plant!

Check out these various propagation methods for you to choose from.

Division

An Emerald Feather can also be propagated by dividing the clusters of stems with entangled root systems.

1. Dig up. Using your small shovel, tap on the sides of the pot to loosen the soil. Gently tug at the plant until it comes out.

2. Separate. You should be able to see the natural boundary of each stem. Separate them using your hands or a sharp knife. You may need to cut the roots but be careful not to disrupt the main root balls.

3. Repot. Repot each section in smaller pots filled with the same soil they’re used to.

Humidity And Aeration for Foxtail Fern

High humidity (50% or higher) is best for your Foxtail Fern.

Crispy leaves and browning edges often characterize the lack of humidity in houseplants. Consider getting a humidifier or placing your plant in well-lit, naturally higher humidity spaces (such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms). A pebble tray with water helps with humidity as well.

Foxtail Fern Temperature

Your Emerald Feather is used to warm climates, so keep the ideal temperature between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Like most Asparagus plants, this attractive houseplant will appreciate consistent temperatures throughout the year. Avoid using hot or cold water when watering your plant. Keep it away from heat sources (such as furnaces and vents) and cold (such as open windows during the colder climates).

Flowers

In the right conditions, this feathery plant can bloom fragrant tiny white flowers that produce red berries every spring to summer.

Toxic

You should be responsible when handling this plant if you have small children or pets. Toxic to humans and animals alike, this ornamental plant is potentially dangerous if consumed. If eaten, the following are possible side effects: vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and skin irritation. In most cases, this plant is considered non-life-threatening.

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Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Foxtail Fern

Overall, I would say that the Foxtail Fern is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some quick tips for curing common ailments and general suggestions to keep this plant healthy.

Spider Mites

Unfortunately, spider mites are quite widespread, and Emerald Feather is particularly vulnerable. Spider mite damage appears on the plant’s leaves as tiny brown or yellow patches. You might also see fine silk webbing when the infestation is severe.

Start by spraying your Emerald Feather with water from a sink nozzle or a pressure sprayer. This dislodges the spider mites from the plant. If the first method fails, an organic pyrethrin spray will serve you well.

If you desire a more organic approach, releasing ladybugs in your indoor growing space can reduce spider mite populations. There’s also a beetle known as the “Spider Mite Destroyer,” which may be difficult to acquire, but the name speaks for itself!

Scale Insects

Scales are insects that feed on plant sap. What sets them apart from other bugs is that the adult scale will latch onto one part of the plant and stay put. They are called armored scales and may appear as brownish lumps on the stems or petioles of a plant.

As a preventive measure, you can dilute a teaspoon of neem oil in 500 mL of water and spray it on your plant’s leaves to discourage scales from latching onto your Foxtail Fern.

You can also release ladybugs or lacewings near your infected plant and let these beneficial bugs take care of the problem for you!

Mealybugs

Mealybug infestations are somewhat common on Emerald Feather. Act promptly if you find these little parasites (often identified with white puffs on the leaves) on any of your houseplants.

Pour isopropyl alcohol on a cotton ball, then rub it over the leaves and stem of your plant. Neem oil also works well as a prophylactic spray.

Brown Leaf Tips

Browning edges on the leaves of your fern plant can be triggered by many factors. Possible causes are lack of humidity, excessive exposure to bright light, salt and mineral build-up from chemically-treated tap water, and fertilizer burn.

Drooping Leaves

Drooping leaves on your Foxtail Fern indicate that your plant is thirsty. In this case, your plant will usually perk back up once it’s watered. It might also help to increase the humidity.

Be careful! Pest-infested plants can have droopy and curling leaves at first but will eventually develop other signs such as spots, stunted growth, and a general decline in health. Always check on the underside of leaves if you suspect any issues with pests.

Yellow Leaves

If you see yellowing leaves on your Foxtail Asparagus Ferns, you might need to consider several factors to determine the culprit. Are you watering your plant too little or too much? Is your plant getting enough light? Did you fertilize your plant recently? Are there sudden changes in the weather?

Of course, bottom leaves that turn yellow can also be an indication that your plant is growing and the leaf’s energy has been spent. In this case, pluck off the yellowing leaves so the plant can focus on growing new green leaves. 

Root Rot

Root rot is an incredibly common killer of the Emerald Feather. Some indoor gardeners might get overzealous with their watering- or they may forget to provide adequate drainage for their plants. These two mistakes are the two main causes of root rot.

Because root rot is difficult to treat, prevention is the best option. If you don’t have a soil meter device, get comfortable with touching your soil to feel for moisture. If the top few inches do not feel dry, skip the watering for later!

Use pots that are high in porosity (such as clay, unglazed ceramic, and concrete) to allow excess moisture to escape from the sides. Give your plant a well-aerated soil mix to let its roots breathe and grow freely.

Similar Plants to Foxtail Fern

Love Foxtail Fern? Here are some other similar plant options you should try:

Brake Fern – This fascinating plant, recognized for its dark green, feather-like fronds, is a decorative fern that looks great in any space with lots of natural light. Although the fronds are a little fragile, this plant is still sought-after for its decorative delight.

Indoor Fern – This decorative plant is well-liked and easy to care for and is acclaimed for its stunning beauty and capacity to purify the air.

Asparagus Fern – The asparagus fern is not a true fern, despite its name and appearance. It is a graceful, flexible creeper with leaves that resemble lace and white blooms that bear red berries that draw birds. Such a sweet little package, full of lovely qualities!

Boston Fern – a sophisticated, classic tropical houseplant that looks good anywhere. Whatever you choose to do with it, this luscious plant will enliven your house. It can be hung, placed on tables, or used to fill open spaces. An excellent choice indeed!

Conclusion

With quirky foliage, the Foxtail Fern grows beautifully indoors.

It’s easy to care for. It loves bright indirect light, high humidity, relatively dry soil, and warm temps.

So if you’re looking for a new addition to your collection or are just getting started as an indoor gardener, use these instructions to grow your Foxtail Fern!

Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

Let's grow together!

Patrick Chism

Patrick likes to pretend that urban gardening is just a hobby, but he’s actually prepping for the apocalypse. He’s a practical grower, specializing in hydroponics systems and grow lights. His dream is to one day feed his family with just the food he grows in his Chicago-based condo.

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