Overwintering Asparagus Fern

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Daniel Mosquin, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    The following was received via email:

    I live in Vancouver, in an apartment with electric heat. I have a small, protected balcony where my asparagus fern has happily hung all summer. I had intended to treat it as an annual and pitch it when the foul weather arrived, as I know bringing it in will simply result in all the tiny leaves turning brown and dropping all over the floor (and they are as resistant to a vacuum cleaner as christmas tree needles!). The plant has surprised me with its lush growth and if there is a way to overwinter it, I would like to do so.

    Can you advise me how to treat this plant to bring it through the winter?
  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Vancouver, Canada
    Asparagus "ferns" are tender plants that are happiest under cool greenhouse conditions over winter (you're right to be concerned about leaf-drop in your dry apartment).

    You could construct a coldframe on a balcony, but if it gets cold for any extended period, it won't provide enough protection. An old trick is to place an incandescent light bulb in a box under your coldframe. This will provide considerable heat on the coldest nights. Cut back foliage to a manageable size and keep plants on the dry side under these conditions

    Another possibility is to cut back the foliage, unpot the plant, choose a few of the best looking tubers, cut them out and repot them separately into small pots. Enclose the pots in partially closed plastic bags (such as zip-lock bags), and place them in a bright place inside. If you can keep the pests off, they should be ready to go back outside in late spring.

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