Ming Fern (Asparagus retrofractus) – Indoor Plants

Ming Fern (Asparagus retrofractus) is an evergreen perennial, spreading, tangled shrub. It has a long scrambling-climbing, light-grey, zig-zagged unique stems and the bases of the stems are erect, thick and silver-colored. The tips of the stems and the outer branches are slender, silver and zig-zagged. It lacks spines on its outer (final) branches but sometimes has some highly recurved spines on its main branches. Older stems lose their silver, grooved outer covering, and become brown and smooth.

The tiny, scale-like leaves of this plant appear where each cladode meets the stem. The 6-petaled, small, fragrant, white flowers in open axillary umbels bloom from spring to early summer. The fruits are small, stalked, pendulous green berries, becoming orange when ripe. The roots are fibrous.

Scientific classification:

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Asparagoideae
Genus: Asparagus
Species: A. retrofractus
Scientific Name: Asparagus retrofractus
Synonyms: Protasparagus retrofractus
Common Name: Ming Fern, Zigzag Shrub, Pom Pom Asparagus Fern

How to grow and care for Ming Fern (Asparagus retrofractus)


It requires bright indirect light or filtered sun. Avoid direct hot afternoon sun which may cause the leaves to yellow. Tolerates full shade, but foliage may turn a lighter green.


It grows well in organically rich, evenly moist, well-drained soils.


It thrives well in ideal temperature between 68°F – 72°F during daytime and temperature 50°F – 55°F for night time.


Water regularly during the growing season (from spring to autumn), Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Allow the top one inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Water sparingly in winter, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.


Fertilize monthly spring through fall with a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted by half.


Ming Fern can be easily propagated by seed or division. The best time to propagate a Ming Fern is in the spring before it starts producing new growth. Soak seeds for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring. It germinates in three to six weeks at 25°c.


Prune back stem tips as expected to maintain plant form and promote dense foliage growth. If the plant loses its attractive shape, stems may be cut back close to the soil level to regenerate.


Re-pot in the standard potting soil when roots push through the top of the soil and the drainage hole. Always use a pot one size larger or you can just prune the roots.

Pests and Diseases:

It is susceptible to Mealy Bugs, spider mites, aphids, scale, and thrips. Leaf spot and rots may occur. It does not like pesticides so use a mild solution of insecticidal soap to get rid of plant pests.

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