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Tropical Plants/Asparagas Fern/ Ponytail Fern

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QUESTION: Hello.  I live in a high elevation desert climate. Currently in Dec., we are experiencing 70 degree days and 40 degree evenings. With that said, I planted two Ponytail Ferns, each in its own pot about 3 weeks ago.  The gentleman at the nursery saw the size of my pots, etc and said that these plants would be good for them.  It was recommended to me that I make sure the soil is always moist by watering every few days and to water the plant until water drains outs. Initially, I only watered the plants every 3 days or so because I was following the directions and I thought they'd still be moist with our cool weather.  Needless to say, I noticed a few ferns on each of the plants starting to die.  I immediately started watering them once every day.  Each day the top soil is dry as can be, and the plant seems to be still dying.  Should I be watering it twice a day?  Also, you should know that the plants get direct sun all day until about 5pm when a little shade starts. Lastly, there are a few ferns that have started producing a few green berry looking growths.  I really don't want to kill these plants.  What are your recommendations for my dilemma?

ANSWER: I would move both plants into an area where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade, until the acclimate,,then you can move them into an area where they get sun all day. The initial transition from nursery to you home can be stressful. You didn't tell me details on how and in what type of soil they were planted (this would help a lot#. Both listed plants are pretty resilient, so they should come back for you after the initial transplant shock; there should be a couple of inches of gravel or stones at the bottom of the pots, so any excess water will settle away from the roots, and when watering,,,water well #until water comes out of the drainage holes) and then not again until the drainage holes begin to dry out. Nick

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Soil
Soil  

Ponytail fern
Ponytail fern  
QUESTION: Thank you for the information. Unfortunately the plants are already potted so I can't take advantage of your recommendation to put rocks on the bottom. I will move them to a less sunny area. Attached is a picture if the soil I was sold from the nursery and a picture of the plant. Lastly, I am still concerned about the watering. The plant's first few inches are bone dry every morning. Is that ok? I do water once daily in the am. Should I water twice daily? Thank you very much.

Answer
...as long as the bottom drainage holes are damp,,,the roots are getting sufficient water; it is always better to be a little on the dry side,,then have wet roots that could rot and compromise the crown. Keep checking the drainage holes,,,and if they are damp, then don't water,,but as they become dry,,,then water,,but water well!...most people make the mistake of giving what they think is sufficient water,,,and what they give never even makes it to the roots...so when you water,,,water until you see it come out the drainage holes.

Tropical Plants

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Nick McCann

Expertise

broad spectrum knowledge in the field of tropical plants;

Experience

I am a certified Master Gardner in Florida (8years)

Organizations
Master Gardner Association of Charlotte County Florida

Education/Credentials
Master Gardner training....accredited each year with required seminars and educational training.

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