Ming Fern (Asparagus Macowanii): Ultimate Care Guide

Asparagus Macowanii, more commonly known as Ming Fern, is an herbaceous perennial member of the Asparagus fern family. It has a green, needle-like appearance and a spiny stem, which can be painful if not handled carefully! When kept outside it produces small and attractive white flowers in spring and early summer.

Ming Fern has been recorded as growing natively in multiple parts of the world, including Japan, China, and southern Africa. Nowadays it can also be found across some areas of the US, from California to Florida. It was also brought to England in the early 1800s.

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to take good care of your Ming Fern and ensure it stays happy and healthy.

Common Name(s)Ming Fern
Scientific NameAsparagus Macowanii
Care difficultyEasy
Sun ExposureFull sun to light shade (more sun preferred)
Soil pHMildly acidic preferred, can handle non-extreme acidic or alkaline conditions
Soil TypeWell-drained and nutrient-rich; make sure soil is not too shallow
Watering RequirementSpray once or twice a day Don’t leave soil dry for long periods but avoid making it water-logged
Hardiness Zone9-11
Plant HeightUp to 24”
Plant Width10”-16” when fully mature
Ming Fern
Ming Fern (Asparagus Macowanii)

Ming Fern Care

Ming Fern is considered easy to care for as it can thrive in a variety of light and soil conditions. However, this doesn’t mean you can be complacent – it still requires proper care to keep it in good shape. This plant can be sensitive to cold temperatures and frost in particular.

How to care for Ming Fern as an indoor plant

Ming Fern can make a great indoor plant providing it is kept in a location that gets plenty of sun. Even if you intend to grow it outdoors, it’s strongly recommended that you bring it inside over the winter to protect it from frosty weather.

It can be grown from a container, and peat moss soil mix is recommended as it retains moisture well.

Sun Requirements

The ideal sun requirements for Ming Fern are to keep it in bright areas. This plant can not only take full sun but in fact prefers it. However, it’s still happy with indirect light and even shady areas. Just monitor it carefully to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

Though it can grow well in a range of conditions, the more sun it receives, the better it will bloom, so be mindful of your desired appearance when choosing where to grow your Ming Fern.

Soil Type & pH

Ming Fern does not have very strict soil pH requirements, but you should avoid extremes. Slightly acidic soil produces the best results. It should be kept nutrient-rich; you can supplement it with peat moss, leaf mold, or various fertilizers.

You should avoid shallow or water-logged soil – this plant needs good drainage to give it the best chance of staying healthy.

Watering Requirements

Ming Fern is a drought-resistant plant so its watering requirements aren’t too strict. It prefers moist conditions although if kept too wet it will be more susceptible to disease. The specific amount of watering your plant requires will depend on sun amount and temperature.

In general, when kept outdoors your Ming Fern will require more watering. You should spray it once or twice a day depending on how quickly the soil dries out. Though it can tolerate drought it will lose some needles if water levels are low, which can leave it looking much less full and attractive. It can also survive heavy rainfall.


Like watering, the humidity requirements of Ming Fern needs a suitable balance. While it likes humid conditions, they also make it more vulnerable to diseases. It is recommended to avoid high humidity levels where possible.


Ming Fern is used to somewhat high temperatures from the climate of its native countries. However, if it gets too hot it won’t germinate, and it is sensitive to cold weather too, so try to avoid extremes if you can.

Hardiness Zone

The USDA hardiness zones where Ming Fern can thrive are between 9-11. In the US, these zones are mostly located in southern regions such as Texas and Florida, and warm coastal areas like California.

Hardiness ZoneFromTo
9a20 °F (-6.7 °C)25 °F (-3.9 °C)
9b25 °F (-3.9 °C)30 °F (-1.1 °C)
10a30 °F (-1.1 °C)+35 °F (1.7 °C)
10b+35 °F (1.7 °C)+40 °F (4.4 °C)
11a+40 °F (4.4 °C)+45 °F (7.2 °C)
11b+45 °F (7.2 °C)+50 °F (10 °C)

If your area is outside of these zones, you should keep your Ming Fern indoors to provide it with the ideal conditions for growth.


Ming Fern requires soil that is high in nutrients, so fertilization is useful in order to stimulate growth. You can also add organic compost like peat moss or leaf mold. Fertilizing your plants is particularly important when you’re moving them to a new environment.


To propagate Ming Fern, the most common methods are to use seeds or cuttings. The best season for propagation depends on your hardiness zone; in zones 9-10a spring-summer would be ideal, and in zones 10b-11 summer-fall is better.

Propagation by Seeds

To germinate Ming Fern, you should first leave the seeds to soak in water overnight. Sowing them in a container with adequate draining will help you to regulate the soil conditions more easily and ensure they are tailored to the plant’s needs.

Ideally, you should place the container outdoors so your Ming Fern can get the light it requires. Be careful to avoid overwatering your seedlings – they are susceptible to rot easily.

Propagation by Cuttings

Take cuttings of the stem tips and bury them in moist soil. The roots should be left above the soil but take care to make sure that they aren’t exposed to strong sunlight as this could damage your Ming Fern.

Remember to handle your plant carefully due to its spiny stem!

Size & Growth Rate

When fully mature, Ming Fern can grow up to 24 inches tall and 10-16 inches wide. It has a fast growth rate with the ability to reach 2 feet within weeks of planting, in the right conditions.

If you desire a smaller size, you can achieve this by growing your plant in a container.

Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Common pests include mealy bug, scale insect, and spider mites. An effective method to deal with such infestations is to dip cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and wipe down the foliage. You should then spray some more alcohol over the Ming Fern.

You will need to repeat this treatment once or twice a week until the pests are gone. Watch out when handling your plant as Ming Fern has sharp spines on its stem!

Diseases that could affect Ming Fern include gall and rot. It is particularly vulnerable when over-watered or when there is not enough soil drainage as extremely wet conditions are ideal for fungus and other parasites to thrive. You may also find using miticide is a good preventative method.

Unfortunately, if your plant has been affected by gall, there isn’t much you can or should do to treat it. In some cases, any chemicals you attempt to use could cause more harm than the infection.

What season does Ming Fern flower?

Ming Fern can produce small and attractive white flowers through spring to fall depending on the hardiness zone. These can attract bees, butterflies, and even birds. In zones 9-10a it will bloom in spring-summer, and in zones 10b-11 you can expect to see them in summer-fall.

Typically, you should expect Ming Fern to bloom only if it’s kept outdoors.

Ming Fern Color

The bulk of Ming Fern is light green in color, with small white blossoms. It is an evergreen plant with a needle-like appearance and spines along its stem, which are quite sharp.

Are Ming Fern perennials?

Ming Fern is an herbaceous perennial member of the Asparagus family. Though is has a long lifespan, it’s best to display when in bloom; it will have its most desirable appearance for around a month.

Where can I find Ming Fern for sale?

You can find Ming Fern for sale on various online stores, although it is a less common plant. Depending on where you order it from, it could be shipped from the US or parts of Asia.

Ming Fern Price

The price of Ming Fern varies from store to store, but you should expect to pay no more than $20 USD. Some places only sell small cuttings whereas others have the full plant available. A general range of prices is anything between $5.99-$16.99, not including shipping.

You may also be able to trade for it on some sites, depending on if you have any other desirable plants and others are looking to part with their own.

That concludes our guide to Ming Fern! If you found it useful, be sure to check out our other articles for everything you need to know about gardening and plant care.

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