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How to Grow Asparagus Plants

asparagus plant, plants, spears

Asparagus is grown for the immature, tender shoot or spear (or stalk). It is harvested early in the spring. As a matter of fact, it is the first vegetable of spring. Asparagus is a perennial plant, which multiplies through it's root system. It will thrive for many years with little care. It grows well in areas that do not have a mild winter.

Asparagus spears are a tender and mild tasting vegetable. They can be eaten raw or cooked. It is most often steamed. It is a real delicacy among the vegetable world. It is only harvested from early to late spring. A couple weeks after the last frost in your area, the stalks should be allowed to grow, to allow the development of the root system for future crops. The leaves will eventually open to a fern like plant. While most of us plant the roots, the plant does produce seeds.

Did You Know? Asparagus is one of just two perennial vegetables, that lives for several years. The other is Rhubarb.

Varieties of Asparagus Plants:

There are few varieties of Asparagus. Martha Washington is the most common. Jersey Knight is also common. Purple Passion is a unique and sweet variety.

Growing Asparagus Plants:

Asparagus Plants

Asparagus is planted by roots or seed. Starting plants from seed, takes much longer to develop. The picture of a young, first year asparagus plant (shown above), was taken in early August. It was started from seed in May. Patience is a virtue, as this plant will produce very, very lightly in the first year, with more in year two. It will take this plant three years to really become productive. Most growers buy and plant the roots.

Tip: When buying roots, read the packaging. It should say "first year roots" or "second year roots". Second year roots cost more, but produce a season earlier.

Asparagus plants like loose and slightly sandy soil, that is rich in organic material. The soil should drain well. While they will grow in clay, it is harder for them to spread their roots and push the tender stalks out of the soil. Roots planted this year require one or two years to develop enough stalks to harvest, without seriously affecting future production.

Grow plants in full sun, and in well drained soil. Ideal soil pH is 6.0 to 8.0. see: pH levels for vegetables

After the harvest, allow the stalks to develop into fern-like plants. They will grow 4-5 feet tall. Mulch around the plants, to help retain water, and to keep the weeds down.

Water thoroughly during periods of summer drought.

After frost has killed the plants, they can be cut down to ground level. In cold climates, add a thick layer of mulch, to protect the roots from deep ground freezes. In the spring, gently rake the excess mulch away from the asparagus bed. 

Did you Know? A number of publications recommend sprinkling salt around the plants to promote their growth. There is no known benefit of adding salt.

Also See:

Plant Problems

Soil Temperatures - Ideal germination temperature by vegetable

Ideal Soil pH - by vegetable

Insects and Pests:

Asparagus is susceptible to a variety of pests, typical of any tender plant in your garden. These include Aphids, Asparagus Beetles, and Cutworms. Insect problems most frequently occur after the spring harvest. Damage by insects can weaken or kill the plant. The plant needs a strong growing season to promote healthy root growth for next years' crop.


There are few diseases that affect plants early in the spring. Asparagus is susceptible to root rot, especially in wet soils. Rust diseases can also affect it.

Harvesting Asparagus Spears:

Cut young shoots off with a sharp knife, just below the surface of the soil. They should be picked when they are several inches long, and the stalk is still tender. You can cut all stalks that appear for about three to four weeks. After this time, the plant needs to be allowed to grow.

Did you Know? Asparagus is commonly found along roadsides in rural areas, especially near old, abandoned farmland. You can harvest them along the side of the road in the spring, if you know where to look.


Asparagus spears are the first vegetable you harvest in the spring. The tender young shoots can be damaged by frosts and freezes, causing the tender stalks to turn black or die off. If a hard frost is expected, cover the stalks to protect the spears. As a perennial, it will last indefinitely, with a little care and feeding.

Decorating with Asparagus:

The Asparagus plant is thin and fern-like. Like ferns, they can be included in floral arrangements. Try using live, green plants mixed among freshly picked flowers. In the fall, use the dried, brown plants with dried flower arrangements.

More Information:

Did you Know? There is a National Festival for Asparagus! Oceana County, Michigan has laid claim as the Asparagus Capital of the United States.

Recipes: May we suggest:


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