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Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
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by Maya717 on March 22, 2006 01:33 PM

I have a fern with sharp needles that are jumping ship. The poor thing looks quite bare. Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong? Thanks.

by Patty S on March 22, 2006 02:44 PM
Maya, Can you post a picture so we can see what type of Fern it is... or do you know? (Are you sure it's a Fern?)

Welcome to the Forum, by the way! [wavey] You'll find plenty of people here who are eager to help with any plant & gardening questions you might have (besides sharing information about pets, landscaping, cooking... the list goes on!) In fact, you won't find friendlier people than this bunch, anywhere on the Web, & they DO know their stuff! I hope you'll stick around & come back often so we can get to know you!

* * * *
by Will Creed on March 23, 2006 10:54 AM
Hi Maya,

I suspect you may have an asparagus fern, which isn't really a fern, despite its name.

Improper watering, inadequate light, and spider mites are the most common cause of needle drop. Can you tell us a bit more about its pot size, light source and distance, and your watering routine?

Will Creed
Interior landscaper
by Maya717 on March 23, 2006 02:57 PM
My camera is broken so I can't take a picture but I looked up asparagus fern and that's exactly what I have! Thanks!! It's in a 10" hanging pot next to a west window and is watered once a week. I don't see any spiders on it. Eeeewwww, I HATE spiders!
by Maya717 on March 23, 2006 03:00 PM
Oh yeah, I don't know if it matters but I forgot to mention that the needles turn yellow before falling off. Thanks, Maya.
by Will Creed on March 24, 2006 06:24 AM
Hi Maya,

It's hard to say what the cause of the needle yellowing is. If your plant is right in front of a west window, then the light should be fine.

Healthy asparagus ferns develop very large root systems that demand an ever-increasing amount of water. Weekly watering may not be enough for yours. Water it thoroughly as soon as the surface of the soil feels dry.

You may also want to check the roots to see if it is badly potbound or, conversely, if the roots have started to rot.
by Maya717 on March 24, 2006 09:57 AM
Thank you for your help. People here are so friendly!

From poking around the soil with a stick it seems the roots fill the entire pot. Gee, they're hard as rocks! After work tomorrow I'll go shopping for a new hanging pot. What size should I look for? Thanks, Maya.
by Will Creed on March 24, 2006 11:59 AM

You may have trouble finding a hanging basket larger than 10 inches - 12 inches is the next size up. If so, you may want to consider dividing your asparagus fern by taking a long, sturdy knife and slicing right through the center of the rootball. Don't worry about damaging some roots. Each half can the be potted in 10" hanging baskets.
by Will Creed on March 24, 2006 12:17 PM
Shoes, Cricket? Do you hold your plants with your feet?
by Cricket on March 24, 2006 12:22 PM
Will, Haven't you ever stuck your foot with a stepped on needle? Ouch!!!
by Maya717 on March 25, 2006 09:09 AM
Thanks Will and Cricket. Dividing asparagus ferns seems like a messy chore but I guess I have no choice as I can't find hanging pots larger than 10". But I did buy some cute little plants that were irresistable! Maya
by Maya717 on March 31, 2006 04:03 AM
Asparagus fern update: I divided the asparagus fern as suggested. Man, that was tough surgery - even broke a knife during the operation! My question is, how long should it take before the newly un-cojoined twins make a full recovery? Thanks, Maya.

Oh, and thanks for advising to wear protective clothing, Cricket!

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