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Asparagus Fern Light Requirements: Everything You Need to Know

Has your Asparagus fern started turning yellow or growing brownish tips despite getting ample sunlight?

Beware as it may be suffering from either too harsh or insufficient bright lighting.

The hardy plant enjoys an indefinite life when grown in the proper condition, but improper lighting may kill it too soon.

In general, Asparagus fern requires 4-6 hours of bright yet dappled sunlight every day in the growing season. Otherwise, provide at least 8 hours of artificial lighting when grown indoors.

Asparagus Fern
Asparagus Fern (Source: Etsy)

A plant suffering from inappropriate lighting is too quick to exhibit problems, making it easy to diagnose the underlying problem.

Read on to find out how to identify lighting problems with your Asparagus fern and different ways to provide optimal lighting conditions.

Overview of Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern is a denser subspecies of perennial Asparagus that grows gracefully like fern plants, but it is not a true fern despite its common name.

You heard it right! Many new gardeners may confuse its airy and delicate foliage for fern, but in fact, it is a sub-species of an Asparagus plant.

Asparagus Fern
Overhanging Asparagus Fern stems (Source: Pexels)

When properly cared for, it can enjoy indefinite life as a houseplant; otherwise, it may wilt and die within a few years.

When it is in a happy mood, it may begin producing small white flowers and berries, although inedible.

However, it is strictly grown for its regal foliage that develops over a few feet when provided with ample daylight around the year.

Here is a brief description of the plant.

FactorsSpecification
Scientific nameAsparagus setaceus
Common nameAsparagus fern, asparagus grass, lace fern, and climbing asparagus.
FamiliaAsparagus
NativeSouthern Africa
USDA Zone9-11
Survives Zone 8 when protected from winter
Temperature60-70°F (15.5-21°C)
Life-spanIndefinite when provided with ideal care
Growth1-3 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide
Grown forLeaf-like cladodes up to 7 mm long by 0.1 mm in diameter
Sharp barbed thorns occur on the stem
Foliage colorGreen/Blue
Blooming TimeSpring to Autumn
Blossom ColorWhite or greenish-white
Blossom PatternA bell-shaped flower 0.4 cm long
FruitSmall green berry that blackens with maturity
Soil aciditySlightly acidic (6.5-6.8 pH)
ToxicityToxic to humans and pets

How much Light does Asparagus Fern Need?

Asparagus fern is best grown in bright yet indirect sunlight, where it can receive ample lighting for photosynthesis.

Similarly, it needs a warm temperature and as little moisture as possible to attain healthy-looking leaves.

The Asparagus fern will attain signature glossy, green leaves when the lighting condition, intensity, and temperature are correct.

Otherwise, the foliage will turn light-green or pale when devoid of sunlight and may hardly survive a few years.

plumosa-fern
Plumosa- Asparagus- Fern (Source: Amazon)

As per the rule, provide 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight to your Asparagus fern with 1-2 hours of direct sunlight in the morning.

According to LuminGrow, the light that plants use for photosynthesis ranges from 400–700 nm, containing red, blue, yellow, and green wavebands.

Alternatively, keep the plant under the proper grow light for at least 12 hours a day to mimic natural light.

The problem of leaf discoloration is more common with light-deprived plants, while yellowing with browning fronds indicates leaf burn.

Although Asparagus fern can survive the low light conditions, it would not fare well with the plant’s leaves and vertical growth.

Therefore, avoid keeping them in low light conditions to prevent leaf discoloration and other problems.

Sunlight effect on plant
The lack of sunlight will affect chlorophyll production, resulting in pale leaves (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Our article on yellowing Asparagus fern leaves recommends checking light intensity by examining the shadow, the apparent rather than faint.

Signs of Light Deprived Asparagus Fern

The signs of light-deprived Asparagus fern are less vivid than the light-saturated plant, making it difficult for new gardeners to determine the problem.

Because of less sunlight availability, the chlorophyll fails to make green pigmentation on the leaves, resulting in discoloration.

Let us look at some tell-tale signs of the light-deprived fern plant.

ProblemsSpecification
Discolored frondsThe frond will begin to turn pale yellow and gradually lose color
Light green frondsThe lack of chlorophyll production will lead to pale green fronds
Stretched or leggy growth with smaller frondsThe stem and fronds will arch towards light source, causing leggy growth
Stunted frond or stem growthFronds will gradually slow down from lack of photosynthesis
Abnormally small frondsLight deprived fronds are smaller than usual
Wilted appearance as opposed to arching stemsThe signature arching stems will droop downwards
Light deprived fronds may begin appearing yellow
Light-deprived fronds may begin appearing yellow (Source: Wikimedia)

Signs of Light Saturated Asparagus Fern

Those conditioned to grow in direct sunlight will manage well, but indoor plants may falter when exposed to direct sunlight.

Therefore, you should be wary about keeping them in direct sunlight, such as close to a south-facing window or patio.

The Asparagus Fern will change color appearance due to excess light (UV exposure and heat).

ProblemsSpecification
Yellowing leavesDry soil condition and less humidity will turn leaves yellow
Browning frondsBrown tips is common with fern that has been exposed to direct sunlight
Droopy frondsFronds will begin drooping downward due to excess transpiration
Crispy appearanceHeavy transpiration will dry the leaves leaving crispy texture
Dried out soilLack of humdity and poor aeration will lead to dried out soil

Note: A sun-exposed Asparagus fern is more likely to die sooner than light deprived plant.

How to Ensure Optimum Light for Asparagus Fern?

Asparagus fern hails from the Southern forests of Africa with a tropical setting. It naturally grows in the canopy of tall trees, rocks, and bushes.

Therefore, you should try mimicking similar conditions when growing them at home.

1. Plant Location

Asparagus ferns naturally prefer a shaded location that receives ample bright sunlight.

Place them close to an east-facing or west-facing window that receives soft direct sunlight for a few hours.

Otherwise, keep them 4-5 feet away from the light source when placed at the south-facing window.

Asparagus Fern Grown Indoors
Asparagus Fern Grown Indoors (Source: Pexels)

Some plants may grow well on the shaded patio or beside outdoor walls.

However, do not forget to prepare your plant by gradually exposing it to direct sunlight every day before permanently moving it outside.

Place the plant in less-harsh direct sunlight for two hours a day for over four days. Continue the process for 7-10 days before ultimately transferring them outdoors.

2. Light Intensity

Asparagus fern, as the houseplant, prefers low to moderate light intensity to grow evenly.

Natural light has an intensity of 10,000 FC, making it quite harmful to tropical plants like Asparagus Fern.

Keeping them in dappled light with significantly reduced light intensity is wise, such as a few feet away from the south-facing window or near the wall with natural light’s reflection.

Bright, indirect sunlight
An illustration of the bright, indirect sunlight (soure: Mr Houseplant YouTUbe)

Here is a small table describing the light intensity and exposure provided.

Light IntensityFootcandlesLight Exposure
Low-medium 25-400North-facing window
Medium-Bright500East-west facing window
Bright-High Light500-1000South-facing window
Direct Sunlight+10004-6 hours of direct sunlight

Provide your Asparagus fern between 500-1000 footcandles of light in the day that indicates a combination of low and medium-bright light.

Some would even manage well over 1000 footcandles but ensure the location has ample relative humidity, over 50%.

3. Light duration

The duration of lighting will entirely depend on the type of plant.

Asparagus fern is a low to medium light plant, requiring 4-6 hours of dappled sunlight every day.

As it does not produce large leaves, it will manage well without countless hours of sunlight.

Light duration throughout the day
Light duration throughout the day (Source: MakeaGif)

When grown indoors, especially under artificial grow light, provide at least eight hours of light to mimic the natural setting.

A vegging plant would require at least 12 hours of light each day, while a flowering plant would require an equal amount of light and dark.

Your Asparagus fern will produce tiny white blossoms and later berries when the lighting condition is accurate.

4. Light Quality

The quality of light is more crucial to the Asparagus fern plant when grown indoors because the dappled natural light may lack beneficial light colors and temperature.

Asparagus fern’s growth, color, and blossoms will depend on the combination of light colors it receives from the light source.

Light intensity and spectrum
Light intensity and spectrum required for green plants (Source: Tu-Bu)

The full-spectrum lighting, a combination of blue and red wavelengths (400-700nm) with smaller amounts of green, yellow, and infrared wavelengths, will help with Photosynthesis.

Asparagus fern will need more blue and red light colors to produce lush, green fronds.

Use this light color and spectrum chart to determine the appropriate light quality for Asparagus fern.

Do Asparagus Ferns Grow in Artificial Light?

Asparagus fern will grow well in artificial lighting when provided with the correct light intensity and spectrum to boost chlorophyll production.

An indoor-grown Asparagus fern will prefer anywhere from 400nm to 700nm light bulbs, best provided by UV LED grow lights.

Similarly, providing more red, far-red, and blue will boost stem structure, a healthy root system, and greener fronds.

Light quality is more of a concern with indoor plants using artificial light. Therefore, determine how far to keep your Asparagus fern from the grow light.

Color spectrum nM range
Color spectrum nM range (Source: GrowLightInfo)

Here is a small table describing the distance between the grow light and the plant.

Grow LightsDistance
HID Grow Lights (400W)12”-19” away from the plant
HID Grow Lights (600W)14”-25” away from the plant
LED Grow Lights (240-400W)16”-30” away from the plant
LED Grow Lights (450-550W)20”-30” away from the plant
CFL (200W)6”-10” away from the plant

However, do not overcompensate your plant by providing more extended hours of artificial lighting, which may burn the plant leaves.

Grow light with 400-700nm provided for 6-8 hours will suffice in the active growing season (spring and summer).

Choose LED growth light with four-foot and full-spectrum lighting for green plants.

In fall and winter, the lighting can be reduced to more or less 4-6 hours.

LED LightsFeaturesImage
MARS HYDRO TS-1000 Led Grow LightA hydroponic grow light provides 3x3-ft coverage and offers 660-665nm Red IR/3200-4200Knm/5200-6800Knm, close to natural light.
SPIDER FARMER SF-2000 (200 Watts)Hydroponic grow lamp with dimmable quality provides full-spectrum lighting between 660nm to 760nm.
BESTVA Led Grow Light (2000 Watts)Hydroponic grow lamp with 5x4-ft coverage with options for VEG mode for vegging and BLOOM mode for flowering.
MAXSISUN PB4000 (400 Watts)Hydroponic grow lamp with 4x4-ft coverage that provides between 660nm to 730nm color spectrum.

Conclusion

Asparagus fern is an easy-going plant that does well even in minimal growing conditions.

However, ensure that the lighting condition is correct to witness healthy, green foliage.

It is a low to medium light intensity plant requiring half-day of dappled sunlight but be wary of keeping it too close to the natural light source or too far away.

Otherwise, you may risk running into the problems of inappropriate lighting issues.

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