Asparagus setaceus
Common Name: asparagus fern 
Type: Vine
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Southern and eastern Africa
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest, Thorns
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-12 where it is easily grown in rich, moderately fertile, evenly moist, well-drained sandy loams in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade. Intolerant of frost, with plants dying to the ground in light freezes. Easily grown as a houseplant in St. Louis because it tolerates a wide range of temperatures, does not require high humidity and is easily pruned. Houseplants are best grown in well-drained, peaty/soil-based potting mixtures. Site containers in bright indirect light or filtered sun, but avoid direct hot afternoon sun which may cause the leaves to yellow. Water regularly from spring to autumn. Does not require winter dormancy, but appreciates a resting period with reduced watering over the winter months. This plant may be taken outside for the growing season and brought back inside in early fall. Pinch back stem tips as needed to maintain plant form and promote dense foliage growth. If plant loses its attractive shape, stems may be cut back to the soil to regenerate.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Asparagus setaceus, commonly called asparagus fern, is not in fact a fern. It is a bushy, evergreen, twining vine with wiry, spiny, scrambling or climbing stems that typically grow to 10-20' long. It features feathery, fern-like flattened sprays of bright green stems, small white summer flowers and deep purple berries. The true leaves of this plant are tiny dry scales. The structures which appear to be leaves are flattened shoots (modified stems) called cladodes or cladophylls on which the flowers and fruits are borne. Cladophylls rise from the axil between the stem and the scale-like leaf. Mature stems become woody over time and develop sharp spines. This vine is native to South Africa, but has been introduced in subtropical areas around the world. It has shown weedy tendencies in some locations.

Synonymous with Asparagus plumosus and Protasparagus setaceus.

Genus name is the classical name of this plant.


Watch for slugs, mites and aphids. Leaf spot and rots may occur.


Where winter hardy, grow along fences or as a wall screen. Good houseplant for bright, sun-filtered areas. Good for hanging baskets. Green stems are valued by florists as showy additions to flower arrangements.