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Asparagus care

Latin name: Asparagus densiflorus

The home of asparagus (Asparagus densiflorus) is in Southern and Eastern-Africa, it is the plant of law rainfall regions. It looks like ferns, but belongs to the family of lilies (Liliaceae). Its relatives of the eating asparagus. Name of the genus is of Greek origin, and can be connected to the verb tearing, which refers to its stinginess. The word desinflorus expresses the hiding of flowers. It's a popular indoor plant. It looks nice in a hanging basket, tub or pot. It also can be planted in the garden in summer.

The changed stalk, looking like a leaf, creates a foliage (cladophills), which hangs heavily from the plant with time. Its stalk is dry and thorny. The thorns are help the handhold of the hanging stalk. Asparagus aethiopicus also refer to this plant, in Hungarian it is also called "pearl grass", because in its older age, the appearing small white flowers have pea-sized berries of green colour, which decorates like pearls when become bright red (when ripe), hiding three black seeds in each berry.

On the roots of asparagus, typical formations can be found, which are nutrient warehouses and also containing water. They ensure the drought tolerance of the plant, such as the hard, shiny foliage like a fir needle, covered with wax layer.

Requirements and care:

Light requirements:

Keep it in half shade in summer, defending from strong sunshine at every time, because the leaves of asparagus can get burned. We can even hang the pot on the tree, in order to get only filtered light. If we plant it in the garden for the summer, gradually habituate it to sunlight, in order to have dense and hard foliage and even better flowering. Put it to a bright place in winter.

Heat requirements:

Keep it in a cool place in winter, at that time it needs maximum 10-15 °C, at higher temperature its leaves may start to become yellowish, fall and it will grow elongated, thin, "leafless" sprouts. This kind of sprout should be cut back in spring, and after a few weeks, sprouts will grow with strong leaves. It can tolerate frost till -1 °C. In other periods, it needs average heat (18 - 25 °C).

Watering requirements:

Asparagus can tolerate the drought well. That is partially because of the small evaporating surface of leaves and mostly because of the water store tubers on the root. If we forget about watering, the plant can deliver water from the water store tubers to the other parts of it.
During transplantation it can be seen well, they even tell us how did we take care of the plant. On the roots of a satisfied plant, we can find a lot of tubers full of water, on a more suffering root we can see shriveled tubers. Sometimes the plant can crush the pot according to its strong growth, but in flanged pots that happens rarely.

Although it is tolerant to drought, it is very thankful for regular summer watering (2-3 days) , especially when it is used with nutritional supplementation in every two or three weeks. Water it from the bottom, if we already feel that soil is dry. Overwatering and lime, hard water may cause the foliage to turn yellow and fall. On very high temperatures (above 25 °C) spray the leaves of asparagus.

Keeping it in a cool, bright room in winter it will be enough a small amount of water as well, just avoid the drought. Water it every 2-3 weeks. In winter, there is no need of nutritional supplementation.

Further care:

It is recommended to keep it outdoors in summer, even from the beginning of April. Before moving it out, whitered shoots (especially if it lost its whole foliage) should be cut off very close to the roots, in order to let new ones grow instead of them.

When it is young, plant it every year into neutral, slightly acidic potting soil. In its older age, when it has to be transposed into a 15-20 cm diameter of pot or bigger bowl, it is enough to transpose it every third year. Then a part of their root tubers can be removed, in order not to use bigger container bowl, the asparagus can stand it with no damages. When overgrowing, the plant can even be cut in two pieces with a sharp knife. Because the hanging foliage covers the bowl, and the developing root pushes the pot, it is no use to buy an expensive container bowl for that.

During its summer raising, despite of its tolerancy to drought, along with plenty of water will also require nutrient supply, and then repays the fertigation with better development. In its older age, nutrients can be got by scraping the upper layer of its soil without significantly hurting the roots, and divert mucky soil instead of it, so that watering could deliver nutrients to the roots.

Propagation:

Although black seeds in its berries are viable, not sowing the seeds, but sharing the stem is the simplest way of propagating, under domestic circumstances. The period of to do that is the most advantageous after winter and during the spring, before the plant is starting to grow strong shoots again.

During seed sowing, seeds from the own stem or elsewhere should be soaked in lukewarm (room temperature) water for a day and then be sowed in a sandy mixture of soil in small pots, in pairs.

Keep seeds and also the small plants in a bright, warm place, with regular watering. They should be transposed into bigger bowls and nutritional soil many times during their growth. They two-year-old, well-developed stems already need pots diameters of 10-12 cm. It is also possible that when we intend to transpose it, it already crushed the pot according to its strong growing.

Most common diseases, pests of the plant, main reasons of their destruction:

Its pests are aphids, scale insects, spider mites. We can defend the plant from them by spraying.
In winter, leaves start to become yellowish, fall on too high temperature and/or the lack of light, and the plant raise thin, elongated, "leafless" sprouts.
Excessive sunshine and dry soil can cause yellowish, brownish, burned edged leaves and falling of leaves.
Overwatering and a root rot disease can cause the death of the asparagus.

Precaution:

All parts of the asparagus are toxic. Its berries are mildly toxic, resulting diarrhea, vomiting and stomach problems, plant saps may cause skin irritation.

Sources:
http://www.kertpont.hu/
http://www.tuja.hu/
http://www.ezermester.hu/