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An Easy Care & Fun Plant: Myers Or Foxtail Fern

Foxtail Fern, or Myers Fern, is an artsy plant with a sculptural feel. They're easy as can be to care for. See what they need.

Myers or Foxtail Fern Care

I’ve loved these tough yet attractive ferns ever since I saw a small 1 in a hanging pot in a greenhouse at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden many, many moons ago.  These sculptural, artsy plants have an edgy feel and definitely aren’t delicate so no need to tiptoe around them.  Despite the confusing fact that this evergreen perennial has 2 common names, Myers or Foxtail Fern, it’s very easy and not at all confusing to care for.

This is not the post and video I planned on doing this week but sometimes technology, or more specifically a glitch in technology, gets in the way and you have to shift gears … ya know what I mean?   However, I’m most happy to write about the Asparagus densiflorus “Meyersii”, for those of you who geek out on botanic names, anytime because it makes me happy.  It’s easy on the eyes and requires almost zero attention from me – a winning combo in my horticultural book.  Plus, as it ages, the fronds (stems) gets a bizarrely delightful, twisting form and it reminds me of Medusa’s serpent filled head.

I learned this plant as Myers Fern.  If you prefer to call it Foxtail Fern, it’s all good.  Regardless of what you call it, here I am in my back yard taking care:

Here are some tidbits I’ve learned along the way about the Myers Fern & want to share with you:

Exposure

Here on the coast of California, these ferns take full sun.  As you go inland, partial shade is best so be sure to keep them out of the strong afternoon sun.

Watering

Myers Ferns aren’t considered to be drought tolerant but neither do they require huge amounts of water.  They have a tuberous root system which stores water so be sure not to keep them too wet.  They prefer to be slightly moist, not dripping wet & the top few inches of soil can actually dry out between waterings.

USDA Hardiness Zone

They grow best in zones 9-11 & will show damage if the temps go below 20 – 25 degrees F.

Myers or Foxtail Fern

Oh the shape – this delightful fern loves to spread & twist!

Soil

They are said to grow best in slightly acidic soil.  However, the soil in my back yard is not on the acidic side & my Myers Fern is doing just fine.   Plants can be that way, sometimes they stretch the limits.

Fertilizer

I’d skip the fertilizer & just use a nice, rich organic compost.

Size

Mine is now 3′ x 4′ tall so be sure to give it room to grow.  The root system is not for the faint of heart, & you can read about it in “propagation” below.

Pruning

My Felcos aren’t well acquainted with this plant because it rarely needs pruning, maybe once a year.  As it’s grown I’ve had to trim a few fronds (stems) off the walkway but that’s about it.  The Myers Fern grows so densely that the older growth will sometimes crowd out & smother the younger growth which eventually turns brown.  I leave it because it’s so insignificant – I have so many plants growing year round that I can’t be that picky in the garden!

Propagation

You can propagate this plant from seed which comes from the red berries it produces but division is by far the easiest way to do it.  I had planted 1 in a mixed container planting for a client & noticed after a few years that the Impatiens I planted that season weren’t doing well at all.   It turns out that the Myers Fern’s extensive root system, with all it’s tubers attached, had completely taken over the pot & was actually wrapping around itself. The plant looked fine but the Impatiens with their finer, much less competitive roots were loosing the battle.

What I did will give you an idea as to how tough this plant is.  I wanted to save my client’s pot so it was a bit of a struggle to get the fern out.  Even after I completely pried it away from the sides, the bottom wasn’t budging at all.  I finally got it out & ended up sawing it into thirds.  My client now has 3 Myers Ferns growing in her garden which were all doing fine & growing like crazy last time I saw them.   Those tuberous roots are stubborn but boy are they resilient!

Myers or Foxtail Fern

I love the color of this fern, plus, it looks great year round.

Flowers

Mine blooms in late winter into spring.  The flowers, which are tiny & white, are followed by green berries which eventually red towards fall.

Pests

Mine has never gotten any.  The Myers Fern is not known to be prone to any pests or diseases which makes me give it another star.

Uses

In garden beds, rock gardens, containers, hanging baskets (its close relative the Sprengeri or Asparagus Fern is used more for this) & indoors as houseplants.  I’ve never grow 1 as a houseplant but I imagine it would appreciate being outdoors in the warmer months.  Here in Santa Barbara they’re often times seen planted in sidewalk beds growing alongside Birds Of Paradise.  They’re really quite striking when planted en masse.

Myers or Foxtail Fern

I love to use them in flower arrangements. Do you like their look too?

Other Things To Know

Their plumy spear-like stems are excellent to use in flower arrangements & can last up to 3 weeks without yellowing or dropping a leaflet.   I always have a cut flower arrangement or 2 in the house & this my friend, is the main reason I prune my Myers Fern!

If you like arty plants with a bohemian twist that you can practically ignore, then the Myers or Foxtail Fern is for you.   I now wish that I’d planted a row of them along that portion of the fence in my backyard but 1 will have to do for now.  Hey, I could always dig it up and divide it but then again … I’d have to get Samson to do that!

Happy gardening,

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6 comments:

  1. where can i get a start of this fern? i just love it..

  2. Hi Teresa – I love this fern too, it just gets more interesting as it grows. I’m not sure who sells starts, but I know you can buy this plant in 4″ pots on amazon. I bought mine in a gallon pot. Nell

  3. Hi, first, that fern is beautiful 🙂 but also, its a bit off topic, did you knit that beautiful sweater? If so, would you share what the pattern is? 🙂

  4. Hi Jen – I’ve gotten a few comments on this poncho; many on the video. It actually belongs to a friend of mine who didn’t knit it herself. I love the colors! Nell

  5. Hi from Toronto, Canada, Nell,
    How are you?
    Thank you for this interesting article.
    I love plants and flowers, and even though here we don’t have the wonderful California weather all year round, I’m trying to have beautiful gardens.
    This plant in particular caught my eyes and I will love to have one indoors.
    The gardens here don’t sell this plant, and I’m wondering, if it’s possible for you send me, by mail, 1 seed to try.
    Thank you and have a wonderful flowering summer.
    Natalia

  6. Hi Natalia – You’re welcome! I love this wacky but very tough plant too. I couldn’t ship them to Canada because it’s very hard to get a permit to do that. I don’t think any of the big growers ship to your beautiful country either. Nell

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