Thursday, July 7, 2011

Repotting 101--Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern about to be rescued by yours truly!

Pat and his mom have the same mantra:  Ferns love to be root bound.  That may be true, but root-bound plants get on my nerves!! I have been asking Pat to repot several of our ferns that Mom B gave us years ago!  To me they look like they are struggling.  However, if one is patient and picks the right time to re-pot--ferns can easily multiply! 

The asparagus fern that is about to do a multiplying act is actually sitting on the table without it's pot.  Yes folks, talk about root bound--I could probably leave the plant like it is for several months, water it, and it'd still be green and good to go!!  However, that might be border-line plant cruelty--so repotting, here we come!

Asparagus Fern

Before we get to the repotting portion of this post, a little bit about asparagus ferns.  In my brief research on this plant I learned quickly that it is not part of the asparagus family, nor a fern.  The foliage looks like asparagus plants, and the way the plant falls over the pot looks like a fern.  However, this plant is a part of the lily family because it flowers and produces berries.  Asparagus fern loves sun and drought!  That is a boost for this family's yard!  Allowing the plant to dry thoroughly between watering is highly recommended.  While it does like sun--in this Texas heat we're having the foliage will turn yellow if there is too much sun, so part shade is recommended.  We have ours in dappled shade, and I will be looking for other areas in the yard to give my newly repotted plants a little more sun so they can flourish.  The ferns can be planted in the soil and will die back due to freezing, but will rebound in the spring after the dead foliage is cut back.  I have not noticed asparagus fern in the ground in our area (8a/b), but apparently folks in Louisiana plant the fern in the ground all over the place. 

Prior to sawing, it's important to part the "hair." 
Okay, I was just messing around here!!

Repotting the root-bound fern

I must warn you the pictures your are about to see may shock and amaze you, but if repotting an asparagus fern is in your near future...reach for a hack-saw.  Yes, a saw.  After Pat had pulled one out and all the plants had been repotted, I actually read about it online.  These hearty plants can withstand it, and I promise--it's next to impossible to break the plant apart without a saw!

Here he goes!!  After the sawing, we had 4 plants to be potted!

This process will produce a lot of casualties, but the huge root system on this old plant (we can't remember how long we've had it, but we decided that it is at least 13 years old) will produce more foliage in no time at all.

Here's a shot of the root system--
This plant is here to stay!

I used my trusty wheelbarrow to mix the potting soil.  I used a mix of good potting soil and Lady Bug compost, plus just a little vermiculite to help with drainage.  I lightly wet the soil.  I wanted to be able to keep the soil loose around the roots in the new pots so the roots can quickly find their way to the nutrients and become root-bound in less than a year! (Just kidding about the root-bound part.)

Have fun repotting ferns---they are so lovely around the landscape and super easy to grow!!

The final product!!  Here are 3 of the 4 pots I was able to propagate.  Actually, I could have
split the plant in half--I didn't have large enough pots, and the pot the plant
was in originally was plastic and was not usable.

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