METRO PLUS

Hanging ferns

ASPARAGUS FERNS are not really ferns but are members of Liliaceae family, originally from Africa.

Unlike true ferns, asparagus ferns are rugged, sun loving healthy plants that are very easy to care for. They produce clouds of very fine foliage and, on occasions, white flowers and red berries.

The most common and aggressive of the species is Asparagus sprengeri. It is widely used in hanging baskets or indoor pots and as a border outdoors. Normally, it produces drooping fernlike masses of branches, which are about one-metre long.

The branches are armed with small hooked sprickles and small flat evergreen, needle-like branchlets, which usually grow in groups of three at a node. It produces tiny white flowers in racemes; followed by bright red one-cm berries.

Asparagus sprengeri go well in hanging baskets or on top of garden walls and shelves, on a slope near a waterfall or wherever it is allowed to hang down.

Hanging ferns

It needs plenty of ventilation, plenty of light, but not direct sun, as too much sunlight will scorch the leaves and they will turn yellow. Water regularly, more frequently in summer.

During the rest period, give these plants only enough water to keep the mixture from drying out. If the soil dries out completely at any time, loss of foliage is the inevitable result.

Apply standard fertilizer every two weeks throughout the active period. Keep the level of the potting mixture well below the rim of the container for thick asparagus roots tend to force the soil upward. The soil should be dry, permeable and rich. If the soil is not rich, the branches will droop.

Propagation is by dividing the over-crowded clumps, or seeds. Asparagus sprengeri is ideal for hanging baskets or as a trailing plant.

CHITRA RADHAKRISHNAN

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