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What Is a Sprengeri Fern?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2014
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A Sprengeri fern, also known as Sprenger’s asparagus fern, is actually an angiosperm flowering plant. It may appear as a fern to laymen, especially when it is not the blooming season, because its short branches, known as cladodes, have a resemblance to the needle-like leaves of some species of ferns. The real leaves of Sprenger's asparagus are green during the blooming season, but most of the time they stick to the stem-like dry scales.

The plant is named after German botanist Carl Ludwig Sprenger. Sprenger, a deaf man, used to collect and cross-fertilize dozens of Canna species of plants to create new hybrids. Although Sprenger neither discovered nor created the plant, it was named after him because he was the one who made the Sprengeri fern popular in Europe.

An adult Sprenger asparagus usually stands 2 to 6 feet (0.6 to 2 m) in height. Like other ornamental houseplants, the Sprengeri fern produces flowers that are usually pinkish white, but they are seemingly invisible amid the plant’s huge foliage. From the flowers bloom clusters of red berries that add a touch of color to these garden plants.

Flowers of the Sprengeri fern bloom during the springtime while its red berries sprout during summer. These houseplants need full sun and about 25 percent shade. Any amount of shade greater than that will make the plant a bit yellowish. They can withstand drought, but as perennial tropical plants they grow better in moist habitats.

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When placed in a perfect climate, Sprengeri ferns tend to be so weedy that many planters and horticulturists are discouraged from putting them alongside other garden plants. Once its berries hit a fertile ground, the plant germinates quickly. They are often cultured as houseplants because they tend to crowd other plants in a garden.

Another thing that makes planters stay away from the Sprengeri fern is the fact that it is highly poisonous. Ingesting its berries and sap may cause illness to humans. The sheer contact of the sap with the skin can cause severe irritation and allergic reactions. It also has spines and sharp edges that may irritate human skin.

Some horticulturists still take care of Sprengeri ferns inside of their homes or indoor plantations. During winter, they are best grown in dry places, but they must not become completely dry or they may develop leaf drops. The plant has to be fertilized during the spring and trimmed once in a while to encourage lush growth. It is also important to have it repotted in the springtime using a mixture of two parts peat moss, two parts loam, and one part sand or perlite.

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