Maturity and Quality
As with other foliage, asparagus fern should be harvested when the fronds are fully mature, immature tips are very likely to wilt after harvest. Make sure that the fronds are mature, uniformly green, there are no yellow leaves, and that leaves do not fall from the fronds when they are shaken.
Grading and Bunching. There are no formal grade standards for asparagus fern, but fronds should be intact, of uniform length, maturity, and color. Fronds are frequently bunched in groups of 20, and not normally placed in sleeves.
Postharvest Handling and Storage
Store asparagus ferns at 0-1°C, wrapped in polyethylene to reduce drying out during storage. The fern should be cooled before being wrapped in polythene.
Exposure to ethylene will cause leaf fall in some species of asparagus fern, and therefore pretreatment with 1-MCP or STS is beneficial.
Because ethylene exposure will cause accelerated leaf fall, treatment with 1-MCP or STS is recommended.
Because of their relatively low value, asparagus, and other ferns are packed densely in boxes, usually horizontal boxes that are filled as full as possible. This emphasizes the importance of pre-cooling, but no paper or plastic is used, which permits reasonably effective forced air-cooling.
Asparagus fern suffers from premature leaf fall. Induced primarily by water stress, it can be a serious problem. To avoid yellowing and leaf fall, avoid prolonged storage. Specific preservative solutions aggravate premature leaf yellowing. However, a preservative solution should be used in all arrangements containing this fern, as the other floral items in the arrangement will benefit.
Asparagus spp. Asparagus fern (A. setaceus and other species in the genus Asparagus) are probably better known in the floral trade as A. plumosus or plumosus fern, and provide an interesting foliage and filler for arrangements. These species are not true ferns but are members of the lily family, in the same genus as edible asparagus. Asparagus densiflorus "Sprengeri" group is another common filler foliage.