Beautiful Foxtail Fern Has a Downside
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 which occur 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.
Origin and Sun Tolerance
The foxtail ferns are soft to the touch and are related to the asparagus family of plants. This variety of greenery comes from South Africa and in our Houston area grows well in full sun but also tolerates some shade. I have planted 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 striking specimen plants and that they were.
Suddenly the nearby rose bushes were not fairing as well.
A particular rose bush called Mother's Rose was given to me by a friend after my mother had died. It had been hardy and was able to be 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. It derives nutrition from the soil, but it chokes out other plants around it.
It is a shame that I lost that particular 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 an excellent 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 above ground.
Do you grow Foxtail Ferns?
Size and Spacing of These Plants
I would use them in landscaping again were I to start 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 three feet or so.
See how the man in the video below has them spaced where they cannot harm other plants.
Did you know about the underground tubers of foxtail ferns and how to safely plant them where they will not interfere with other plants you might have?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Peggy Woods