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PlantFiles: Ming Fern
Asparagus macowanii

Family: Liliaceae (lil-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Asparagus (a-SPARE-uh-gus) (Info)
Species: macowanii (ma-kow-AN-ee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Asparagus retrofractus

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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4 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive vossner On Jan 2, 2014, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

My plant is about 4 ft tall and has consistently widened via rhizomes. Mine is planted in ground, part sun and does well. Also started growing in a hanging basket and it is really easy. Shrub takes well to severe pruning to encourage fullness. Remember to watch out for thorns, I think they're almost as nasty as roses.

Neutral BayAreaTropics On Dec 31, 2013, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

I've been growing one outdoors here in the SF eastbay where its perfectly hardy. Maybe too much shade,but I also think what has slowed its growth is that Gophers may find it. Until the cats find them!...but always a new gopher to show up and test my yard and plants.
I wouldn't count on the Ming fern to be a major eye catcher in the garden. But a nice compliment for other bigger plants. Just not in too much shade.

Neutral Hanazair On Dec 31, 2013, Hanazair from Gleneagle, CO wrote:

I just got my Ming fern at a local plant store. When I got it the plant was already yellowing, but I bought it anyway as I loved the look.

As I brought it home the yellowing worsened significantly. The soil doesn't seem dry.

We live in Colorado and the air is SUPER dry here, but my other plants are doing ok nevertheless.

I place the Ming Fern against the wall in the north facing room. The room has many large windows and no curtains. So it seems to me it has fair amount of light, but may be I'm wrong.

If you could help to determine how to remedy the yellowing, that'd be great. We really love the plant and would love for it to make it.

Thank you.

Neutral mommy115 On May 30, 2012, mommy115 from Morgan Hill, CA wrote:

I bought a small house 3 years ago and there is a potted ming fern there. It had a sawed off trunk of about 2 1/2 inch diameter and side sprouts. It is badly in need of repotting as the tubers are thickly covering the soil. In response to how to propagate I thought I would just mention that it has tubers and I would think they could be easily propagated that way. I think I'm going to try that when I repot it. The foliage is very attractive, I just need to get mine to become a little denser which I am hoping the repotting will do. I have gone 2 or 3 months between watering before (It has a porous fabric on top of the soil so that probably seals in the moisture a bit) and it doesn't seem very concerned about that at all. It was in moderate shade and tending to be a bit yellowish. I moved it to a bright spot but no direct sunlight and it became a gorgeous dark green in no time at all. Does anyone have a guess as to how deeply I dare cover the tubers? Will I be in trouble if I put dirt up farther on the stem so I can just cover the tubers that are on the surface? The trunk and stems are woody. Or should I just remove the surface tubers and keep the soil at the same level? Any thoughts on these would be appreciated.

Positive bonsai94 On Apr 2, 2010, bonsai94 from Palm Coast, FL wrote:

Me and my friend have been trying to propagate her ming fern for about 3 years and no luck. So i looked at the plant and there was a part that i could dig out. and it worked so i got nice size ming fern. so now i have a ming fern and i am so Happy. :)

Neutral nifty413 On Aug 6, 2009, nifty413 from Garland, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Not a fern at all. Perhaps should be written "ming-fern" or "mingfern" to avoid confusion with true ferns.

Positive forestfloor On Apr 18, 2006, forestfloor from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have tried all types of ferns in my hot, shady Houston garden and this one has performed better than any others. It doesn't seem to be particular about soil. It has a soft, lush look ... I like to use the cut foliage in flower arrangements.

Positive weatherguesser On Sep 25, 2005, weatherguesser from Salinas, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I "inherited" this plant when I bought my new house. Someone on Dave's Garden helped me to identify my plant that looked like a "skinny pine tree" as an asparagus, much to my surprise. Now, a few months later, it has more than confirmed that identification by sending up a new stalk that looks very asparagus-like. I've posted a couple of pictures.

A couple of weeks aftter the new stalk appeared, it fully "leafed" out and now looks just like the other stalks.

This plant seems to require very little care other than frequent watering and removal of dead branches. It has an elegant look and is also a nice conversation piece ("That's an ASPARAGUS?").


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Scottsdale, Arizona
Hayward, California
Long Beach, California
Salinas, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Stanford, California
Woodland Hills, California
Clearwater, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Austin, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Houston, Texas
Plano, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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