Beautiful Foxtail Fern has a Dark Side
Foxtail fern is a beautiful plant in the landscaping and it is hardy, evergreen and perennial which makes for a budget friendly plant once purchased. Not only that, it spreads if the red berries that are produced find a patch of ground in which to sprout and then grow.
Birds love the berries, so whether you purposely plant them or let nature take its course, you are likely to end up with more foxtail fern plants once you have one or more in your landscaping.
Foxtail fern in landscaping
The foxtail ferns are soft to the touch and are related to the asparagus family of plants. They come from South Africa and in our Houston area grow well in full sun but also tolerate some shade. I have grown them in both situations with success in the past.
Foxtail seems an appropriate name given how those spiky stems with attached foliage simulate a fox's tail except in plant mode.
I purchased some at a nursery towards the end of the summer several years ago when the plants were marked down by 70%. Mixing them into our garden I thought that they were stunning specimen plants...and that they were.
Foxtail ferns planted near rose bush in our backyard.
Suddenly the nearby rose bushes were not fairing as well.
A special rose bush called Mother's Rose was given to me by a friend after my mother had died. It had been hardy and was viewed from several windows in our home. It reminded me of the special friendship and love of my mother that my friend had also shared.
What I found after digging out the dead rose bush had me digging out our foxtail ferns also and giving them away.
The foxtail fern forms tubers the size of a man's thumb and they spread out far from the plant underground. Obviously it derives nutrition from the soil but it literally chokes out other plants around it.
It is a shame that I lost that special rose bush and the person to whom I gave my foxtail ferns was warned about not planting them near other plants unless they are deeply rooted like trees or planted against foundations such as homes or businesses where other more shallow rooted plants also reside.
They would make a good specimen plant for container gardening.
Just be forewarned about this fact if you wish to use foxtail ferns in your yards and gardens. These are cold hardy plants and rarely freeze back in our area. If we have an unusually cold winter and they do freeze, they rebound in the spring quickly. Just cut off any dead foliage.
I would definitely use them in landscaping again were I to start out from scratch with a new garden knowing what I learned the hard way. One needs to have some space around them as they can get up to about a foot and a half to two feet in height and have a spread of about 3 feet or so.
Did you know this about the lovely foxtail fern?
See how the man in the video below has them spaced where they cannot harm other plants.
© 2016 Peggy Woods
More by this Author
Prior to any leaves unfurling onto the branches of our redbud tree each Spring, suddenly it is ablaze with the color pink. Learn how to care for this beauty of a gardener's delight.
This is one hardy, evergreen & perennial favorite shrub that blooms much of the year in outdoor southern climates. See photos & videos.
Autograph books can bring back many memories when read in later years. Some of mine from the 1950s & '60s.