Ming Fern

Asparagus macowanii

Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Asparagus (a-SPARE-uh-gus) (Info)
Species: macowanii (ma-kow-AN-ee-eye) (Info)
Synonym:Asparagus macowanii var. zuluensis
Synonym:Asparagus zuluensis
Synonym:Protasparagus macowanii





Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


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

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Scottsdale, Arizona

Hayward, California

Long Beach, California

Salinas, California

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California(2 reports)

Santa Rosa, California

Stanford, California

Woodland Hills, California

Clearwater, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 19, 2018, FabienneZhudi wrote:

Hi there,

I'm living in London and have a small (40cm tall) Mingfern in a 12cm wide pot. At the time this was the only size of Mingfern I could find, but I'm hoping to grow it into a beautiful tall and large potted version. Does anyone have any particular tips for growing it fast and full? I've only had it since last autumn so it hasn't been through a growth spurt while I've had it yet. It's grown maybe 5 cm or so, adding quite a bunch of stalks, but they tend to be quite flimsy and stick out to the side very far.
Is it a plant that is encouraged to grow from trimming? Does it do well with fertilizer, what kind?(I've been adding a little bit of liquid fertilizer with watering recently, baby bio).

Any advice is appreciated!


On Jan 2, 2014, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) 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.


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.


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.


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 m... read more


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. :)


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.


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.


On Sep 25, 2005, weatherguesser from Battle Ground, WA (Zone 8b) 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?").