Can you propagate asparagus from cuttings? Yes. This article will cover all that you need to know on how to grow asparagus from cuttings.
If you love eating asparagus, you’d know there is a world of difference between store-bought asparagus and fresh asparagus spears. That is one reason many gardeners with the know-how have an asparagus patch tucked in some corner of their garden. From that patch, they are assured of fresh asparagus every year for about 20 years. Awesome right?
When it comes to growing asparagus in your garden, there are about three choices open to you. You could cultivate them using asparagus seeds, asparagus crowns or roots, and asparagus cuttings. If you don’t want to wait at least three years before harvesting the thick, nutritious spears, you want to avoid starting with seeds. Starting with crowns and cuttings, on the other hand, would cut off at least a year from planting to harvest.
In this article, we would focus on how to grow asparagus from cuttings or crown division. Perhaps, you’ve heard that growing asparagus is hard, but this guide would burst that myth. Except for the long waiting period before harvest, it is one of the easiest perennial vegetables to grow.
How to Grow Asparagus from Cuttings
Asparagus is a drought-tolerant perennial plant that thrives well in agricultural zones 3 through 8. They need lots of sunshine to grow but can also flourish in partial shade.
There are 5 main stages in growing asparagus cuttings, these are:
- Prepping the soil & choosing a location
- Getting the cuttings
- Planting the cuttings
- Care and maintenance and
The cuttings would however need at least a year to grow and get established to produce thick spears that can be harvested annually for at least the next 20 years.
You can grow asparagus in pots or containers, raised beds, and regular garden beds. But you don’t want to grow them using containers unless you have limited garden space. Besides that, pot or container-grown asparagus can be harvested for just about 5 years before the plants die off.
Preparing the garden bed and location selection
Whether garden beds or containers, you want a well-draining, nutrient-rich, loamy soil with an ideal pH of between 6 – 7.5. The soil must also be light so it can heat up quickly in spring. If your soil pH is outside the recommended range, you can use limestone to raise the pH while mixing in sulfur would lower it.
Soil amendment doesn’t stop with the pH though. Get enough garden manure and work it into your soil. This provides the required nutrient base the asparagus would need because the plants are very voracious when it comes to nutrient uptake.
Removing weeds is also important while prepping the soil. Young asparagus don’t grow well when competing with weeds for nutrients. So ensure your patch is devoid of weeds. In subsequent years though, weeding shouldn’t be an issue.
Getting a good spot to plant the cuttings should feature up there as one of the first things you need to consider. Think about it, this spot would be home for your asparagus for the next 20 years. So you want to make sure it’s a spot that performs well and doesn’t get in the way of other garden activities.
Remember, your choice of location must also be in line with the sunlight or partial shade requirement. With full sun, you are assured of vigorously growing roots and ferns and less chance of disease.
Sourcing for asparagus cuttings
Can we regrow store-bought asparagus? Yes
Three options are available to you when it comes to where or how to get the asparagus cuttings. You can:
- Get them from a reputable garden center
- Make your own cuttings from your old asparagus patch or
- Get some from neighbors or friends that grow asparagus
If you are getting the asparagus from your old patch or friends, ensure the cuttings are from established asparagus roots at least 3 years old. Simply dig up and divide the roots (crowns) into several pieces in late fall. For better propagation, each piece must have lots of healthy roots intact.
If you get the cuttings in late fall, that means you can’t plant immediately. You want to preserve the cuttings by burying them in a bag of sawdust. The bag should preferably be a paper or mesh bag.
Ideally, though, you want to get your cuttings in early spring, which incidentally is the perfect time to start planting the cuttings. That way, there won’t be any need for lengthy storage before planting.
Planting asparagus cuttings
Here is a list of the things you would need to grow your asparagus cuttings:
- Compost & manure
- Drip irrigation system or soaker hose
- Garden gloves
Step 1: With your gloves on, dig a ditch about 8 inches wide give or take a couple of inches. The resulting trench must be at least 6 inches deep. The asparagus roots need all that space for growth.
Step 2: Spread a layer of manure mixed with soil at the bottom of the trench
Step 3: Place each asparagus cutting upright in the trench; spacing them at least 12 inches apart. Carefully un-bunch and spread the roots nicely when placing the cuttings.
Step 4: Cover each cutting with about 2 inches of the soil you dug out to create the trench. Then water deeply and leave the cuttings to grow.
Step 5: In about a couple of weeks, young asparagus sprouts would pop up above the soil. Add about 2 inches more of soil around the sprouts and water as in the previous step.
In about two weeks, the growing asparagus sprouts should pop through the soil again. Add 2 inches of soil again and water. At this point, the soil level in your ditch should be about level with the garden bed.
You are now done planting your cuttings. All that is left is the care and maintenance of the plants during the next two growing seasons until harvest.
Asparagus care and maintenance
When it comes to watering, you want to do it relatively often for the first two years since consistently moist soil is important to the growth and production of healthy asparagus roots. A drip irrigation system with a timer is highly recommended. A soaker hose would work perfectly too. While watering, avoid soggy soil that can lead to root rot which is something you don’t want.
Weeding is also an important part of maintenance in the early months. Remove all weeds manually immediately after they appear. The use of garden tools for weeding is not recommended because this might distress the roots invariably affecting their growth negatively.
Fortunately, you won’t have too much to do here as long as you eliminate the weeds when they are just sprouting.
In the first season, allow the plant to grow right through winter. The leaves would help produce the energy needed for growth next spring. The energy would be stored in the roots.
At the end of winter, the stems would dry up while the foliage would fall off. Snap off all the dried asparagus stems a few inches above ground level. Then mulch the garden bed with about two layers of either straw or shredded leaves.
The mulch helps to conserve soil moisture and prevent the growth of weeds. Over the winter, the plants go into dormancy until the next growing season in early spring.
The following spring, your asparagus would start growing again with light watering when the soil warms up. To speed up the soil warming process, consider removing the mulch.
In the second growing season, the asparagus would be more established and you could harvest lightly for about 2 weeks. Then allow the ferns to grow and die off in winter. Repeat the winter care like the previous year till next spring.
Tip: If you have female asparagus, cut the small berries that appear close to the end of each growing season. You want the asparagus to focus on producing roots instead of berries.
Harvesting your asparagus
In the third season, your asparagus are fully matured. You can harvest the fully matured spears for up to 8 weeks. Only stop when new spears are too thin or less than half an inch in diameter.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to harvesting the spears. You could snap them off (don’t pull) close to ground level or cut them with a sharp knife or pruner. When the growing season is almost over, stop harvesting and switch to winter care mode.
For the next 20 years or more, you’ll continue harvesting asparagus spears from that patch.
Tip: Always check your asparagus patch every couple of days for new matured spears to harvest.
A favorite quote I love throwing around is: ‘If you wanna eat really tasty, fresh asparagus, grow ‘em.’ This is exactly why I wrote this guide on how to grow asparagus from cuttings. And one cool thing about asparagus is that they are one of the earliest veggies to be ready to eat in the spring; which is awesome because asparagus spears are packed with vitamins making them exactly what we need after a long winter.
While growing asparagus from cuttings might sound daunting in theory, it is actually easy and straightforward. Considering you get to harvest one of your favorite veggies yearly for the next twenty years, a couple of years waiting for the harvest is a pretty small sacrifice. And, the care and maintenance over that period are basic and routine for the most part.