Asparagus is a hardy plant that should be in any garden and can offer years of harvesting. However, no one needs to have space for such a large vegetable, so growing asparagus in containers may be a viable option for those who need more gardening space.
Growing asparagus in containers is possible, but there are some tricky details to watch out for.
If you decide to plant perennial vegetables, don’t forget that they don’t produce a harvest the same year that you plant them. You also have to be patient for these plants to grow.
Planting a seed takes four years before you can reap the benefits, and if you use crowns, it’ll take three years.
Garden asparagus, also called asparagus officinalis, is a perennial plant that can grow up to 60 inches (150 centimeters) tall and is usually harvested between April and May. Only young shoots are eaten when they are firm, starting at 40-60 cm (1 foot to 2 feet). Once the buds get ferny or open, these shoots start getting woody, making them tough and sour tasting.
This plant originated from the Eastern Mediterranean, where it is also cultivated. It has varieties in Africa and Europe. The taste of this plant is quite similar to broccoli or long beans with a bitter and grassy aftertaste.
In ancient Greece, the asparagus was given special status and considered an aphrodisiac. Other than that, the Greeks were interested in its medicinal properties and used it to treat various conditions like diarrhea.
On the contrary, the Romans often served as a standard dish. However, cabbage was forgotten in medieval times and reintroduced by royalty in Europe only a few hundred years ago.
Asparagus was brought to America by people from England. It was not mass-produced commercially until the 1850s.
Companion Plants That Suit Asparagus
Knowing which plants to plant near asparagus and which to stop short of can help improve the health of asparagus. Tomatoes, basil, parsley, and marigolds all grow well with asparagus. When herbs like basil, parsley, and calendula grow around asparagus plants, they act as a trap crop for beetles that would otherwise feed on the spears.
Nasturtiums are an effective way to repel aphids and whiteflies. Parsley is an herb plant that attracts beneficial insects, as do the seeds it drops. Asparagus takes up a lot of valuable room in your garden and prefers to grow near root crops.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Asparagus?
Planted asparagus plants may take up to two to three years before they produce, so have patience. Once established, the plants can produce for decades.
Asparagus shoots are the new spears you’ve been waiting for all season. This prolific plant produces up to ½ pound of shoots per foot of row, so it’s worth checking in on your asparagus every few days or so over the next month or two.
The Different Types of Asparagus
There are three types of asparagus that you can find at the grocery store. These are white, green, and purple asparagus.
The first variety is green asparagus, which you can also grow in your garden.
You can find green asparagus spears that are thin and thick, depending on the variety. There are a few different types of green asparagus on the market. For example, the Jersey King has a long, pointy spear that is about 7 to 8 inches.
For instance, another green variety of asparagus is the Jersey Knights – also called “thin” or “long fat.” This type of spear is eight to ten inches long. The third variety of asparagus is the Jersey Giants, which grow shorter and thicker spears.
The Mary Washington asparagus is a relatively old variety that produces more tender spears than other types, and it yields the most harvest.
The rarest green asparagus type is the Precoce D’Argenteui–a light-bottomed variety that blooms purple buds. Its purple-colored buds and green stems can easily identify this.
One of the most widely recognized differences between green and white asparagus is their growth process. Unlike green asparagus, where you just plant a few seeds and watch them grow, cultivating the white variety requires a bit more work.
White asparagus is not visible outside the nursery and is grown underground. Gardeners stack soil on top of it or place a black-colored plastic to disable the vegetable’s ability to produce chlorophyll.
The taste of asparagus is sweeter and less bitter than other varieties because it doesn’t produce chlorophyll. It can be propagated in the terrain of subtropical countries due to high temperatures.
Gilliam is a white asparagus variety that does well in sand or clay soils and produces high yields.
Because purple asparagus is cultivated from green asparagus, it tastes very similar. The plant’s foliage remains its natural green color, and the purple coloring is only present on the skin during its maturing process.
However, the range of colors can reach from light green to creamy white. One of the reasons purple asparagus is considered preferred is because it possesses more tenderness and sweetness than other varieties.
The flavor of asparagus is especially noticeable when it has been cooked. Taste often has barley and almond undertones after being steamed or boiled in water.
Pick An Asparagus Variety For Containers
Asparagus is a trendy plant grown in containers. There are a variety of different types of asparagus to choose from. Still, they all have nutrient-dense qualities similarly and take about the same amount of time to establish before producing healthy harvests! There are several varieties that you can grow in a container :
One of the characteristics that make this variety unique is its purple-tinged spears. It will perform well in the Midwest.
You’ll be able to grow this type of asparagus plant in zones 3-8, and it does well with partial shade.
This variety is extremely vigorous and produces high yields. It thrives in warmer climates, reaching a mature height of 2-4 feet.
Materials Needed On Growing Asparagus In A Container
Planting asparagus in your garden is the easiest and most effective way to cultivate this plant. Containers can be used but need more attention than planting them in the ground.
The following tips and steps will help you harvest fresh asparagus in no time.
To grow asparagus, here are the items that you will need:
Planter or Container
Be sure that containers for asparagus can accommodate the plant space required. Asparagus should grow vertically with a deep container that is at least 18 in (46 cm) deep and 12 in (30 cm) diameter.
There is a range of pot materials you can select. You should, however, choose those with holes at the bottom, or you may need to poke holes for water drainage. So, think about this when picking your planter.
Asparagus prefers light, nutrient-rich soil with a ph ~6.5-7. Clay and sandy loam or any type of soil that can easily hold on to moisture are good for asparagus plants.
For growing asparagus in containers, an all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer is best. Overspraying might be a problem with this type of plant so limit the use to avoid issues.
In a container, approximately 46 cm deep, 28 grams of fertilizer should do the trick. You can purchase one from a store or made use of natural alternatives. Asparagus needs mildly acidic soil. If you use coffee grounds, compost must be mixed into the ground since coffee grounds by themselves can be too acidic for the plant.
Organic mulch helps to keep the soil warm and moist, important for an asparagus plant. It also protects the vegetable from weeds while supplying additional nutrients at the same time.
Asparagus Seeds Or Crowns
Planting asparagus is a two-step process. One method is planting seeds. Another option is planting crowns that are two years old or root systems from established plants of the desired variety.
The asparagus is a dioecious plant, meaning that, unlike most monoecious plants, both produce male and female flowers for each plant, and asparagus will only produce either male or female flowers. Female asparagus produces seed and, because of this, its spears are thinner than male asparagus.
Furthermore, the seeds that have been left on top of the soil may also cause overcrowding. Male asparagus has thicker spears, which is a more desirable option for cooking. However, if you are not sure of the difference between these two identities, don’t worry.
There are various strains available, but if you’re looking for male plants like the more traditional Jersey varieties, they are your best bet.
Steps To Grow Asparagus In Containers
Have you been thinking of planting asparagus in your containers? Let’s get started!
Decide How You Want To Grow Asparagus
You have a lot of options to ponder before you decide to grow asparagus in containers.
First, you have to decide if you want to grow them outside or inside. If you choose to grow them indoors, understand that they need plenty of natural sunlight, even in the winter season. Replicating that inside your home may be a difficult task.
You have to decide what type of asparagus (seeds or crowns) you want to grow. Growing from seeds takes more time than growing from crowns.
Consider buying crowns from a nursery that are two to three years old instead of one year old.
Another consideration for growing asparagus in containers is deciding when to plant. The best time tends to be between March and April when the temperature is below 64º Fahrenheit.
Pick The Right Spot
Considering asparagus’s need for eight hours of sunlight, it is best to plant the vegetable in locations where there are many sunny areas.
The advantage of growing asparagus in containers is that you can move the pot to a sunnier location if you decide you need it.
However, investing time in choosing the right spot for your container will make subsequent years a lot easier.
Select A Properly Sized Container For Asparagus
The most important consideration when planting asparagus is making sure that your container is the right size. If you get this wrong, then all bets are off.
Asparagus is a perennial and, as such, needs plenty of room for its roots to spread out. Containers can be quite limiting in this regard.
The plant can be grown in containers, but only one plant per container. Putting more than one asparagus plant into a pot will result in poor health and root disease that will kill the plants. Don’t do it!
Before planting your asparagus, you need to find a 20-24 inch deep pot that measures at least 20-24 inches in diameter.
Plastic or terra cotta work for these plants, but most people choose plastic because they are less breakable and cheaper.
One important consideration is that there need to be enough drainage holes on the underside of the container.
You should never have standing water in your pots; that can kill plants easier than most diseases or pests.
Add Gravel To Your Pot
To keep your container plants from being overwhelmed by water, you should make sure they have proper drainage. This means adding holes to the bottom of the pots and adding a layer of gravel at the bottom so that excess water can easily be removed.
Try lining the bottom of your asparagus containers with two inches of gravel before planting.
By placing a layer of rocks or gravel between the soil and your roots, you can increase drainage while lessening the risk that your plant will develop fungus.
Create The Right Soil For The Plants
No, the soil from your garden cannot be easily transferred to a pot. The soil taken out of the ground will contain weed seeds and bacteria that can harm your plants.
In lieu, buy potting soil mix from a garden store.
This mix soil is sterile, which is a must when it comes to containers. It includes a blend of compost, perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss to keep the soil moist.
Asparagus plants are happiest in soil with the range of 6.5 to 7.5 pH levels which can be increased or decreased depending on its needs by using lime or sulfur respectively found at your local garden center.
One additional step is to add compost. Compost will provide extra nutrients that your plants need for growth as well as help with drainage.
Starting Asparagus Seeds, If You Want
If you have an exercise in patience, try starting asparagus plants from seeds. These plants can take a year or more to grow into established ones, requiring a lot of time and energy from the gardener.
Planting asparagus seeds needs to happen in April because the soil is sufficiently warm enough.
One plan of action to grow asparagus plants indoors is to plant the seeds in February. Pot one to two seeds per pot and plant it deep.
Water the seeds well and provide care. It typically takes 10-14 days to germinate these seeds – be patient till then!
You’ll also need to make sure you are sprouting in an area with a temperature close to 77°.
Plant Your Crowns Outside In The Container
If a be asparagus plant is what you want, the fastest way to get one is by starting from crowns. This will cut off a year of growth and bring you closer to harvesting your asparagus sooner than if you had started with seeds.
Here are some tips for planting asparagus plants outside.
- Dig the hole for planting your asparagus crowns to be eight inches deep and 18 inches wide. The size should be appropriate for asparagus crowns to fit in with plenty of space.
- Now, gently spread the roots of your crowns out and plant them into the hole you have dug.
- Prepare the soil by covering the roots enough to cover them a little more than 2-3 inches and leave a small cavity in the ground.
- As the shoots grow, start filling in the raised patch with soil gradually. Leave just a little bit of the shoots exposed near the surface for now. Once they get to be level with everything else, you can fill it all up and call it done.
Caring For Asparagus Seedlings
Asparagus is quite a hardy plant and does not require much care. However, there are some guidelines that you must follow if you desire large, healthy plants as quickly as possible.
When planting asparagus in containers, make sure to provide full sun for maximum growth and root development. After the seedlings have developed the first set of leaves, you will need to harden them off. The roots store up energy for the following spring, which they’ll use to produce tons of shoots and leaves. It takes a lot of sun’s rays to get this tree-sized plant with such impressive production going.
Asparagus likes moist rather than dry environments. Since the roots are established during the first year and then produce a harvest for many years after, you must provide continuous moisture to have a long-term plant. Wet feet can lead to fungal infections, so as you look for a place for your asparagus plants, be sure that they are not in the damp areas.
If you stop feeding your asparagus, it will start to grow slowly or even die. So be sure that the soil is enriched with plenty of compost or fertilizer when necessary and frequent watering. This may not seem like a big deal for those who are growing mini pots of asparagus in containers, but this point is so important!
Root “Leg Room”
Asparagus plants require a lot of space as they mature. Seedlings should be transplanted to their permanent homes as soon as possible and provided there is enough time, so they have room to grow and the weather permits.
Asparagus has a complex root system that they use to produce their shoots. If the roots are not given proper care, you will suffer from limited harvests in the future. Older asparagus plants will need repotting every few years, which will sometimes grow across the width of their containers.
Asparagus beds should be heavily mulched throughout the winter to protect the crowns from cold damage, and plants grown in containers need even heavier protection. You might also consider building mounds of soil around the pots, packing straw around the perimeter of the containers, or any other insulating ideas. When growing asparagus in containers, you want to ensure that the crowns and roots do not dip below their hardiness temperature because you can lose them.
Common Pests And Diseases That Bother Asparagus
Perennial vegetables are less susceptible to pests and diseases, but that doesn’t mean it never happens.
Here are the most common pests and diseases.
You know that your plants have purple spots when the spears are sunken and turn a purplish-blue color.
Purple Spot is a type of fungi that thrives in damp conditions and can quickly infect asparagus plants. Movement or exposure to rain-laden splash spots, as well as the presence of debris such as leaf litter around your plants, make it more likely this infection will occur.
Be sure to give the plant away to breathe and use a fungicide to prevent pests and disease.
Many plants are susceptible to rust, a foliar disease that causes different leaf lesions on your produce.
One way to reduce the risk is to plant each asparagus at a sufficient distance from the next and in the direction of prevailing winds for increased air movement.
Consider planting cultivars that are moderately disease resistant. Apply fungicides in the early stages, but they will need to be removed and burnt before diseases take over as a plant gets older.
Fusarium Crown And Root Rot
The symptoms of infection are caused by stress passed on to your plants from drought, which creates brown-colored lesions on roots, stems, or crowns, along with yellowing ferns.
Unfortunately, this is a fungus-borne plant that can be hard to get rid of in the garden.
The best way to prevent a developing infection is to pick resistant cultivars. Controlling debris and weeds also helps, as do good site selection practices when planting your crop.
These little pests are hard to identify because they are tiny – a mere 0.2 inches in length! You’ll notice mining damage on the stem base.
Please remove debris from your containers to stop the buildup of pests. Remove any volunteer plants in your container.
You can try spraying neem oil as an organic pesticide for asparagus miners.
The spotted asparagus beetle or the common asparagus beetle poses a threat to anyone with an asparagus plant.
The adults are 0.25 inches long and love eating the fern
Be sure to check on your plants daily. Though most of their activity tends to occur in the afternoon, it’s also important to note during which other times they may be up and about.
You can apply an insecticide or use organic oils like neem oil to kill asparagus beetles.
When Do You Harvest Asparagus?
Asparagus is a hardy perennial vegetable that needs to have its roots established to produce the best yield. Generally, it reaches maturity in about two-three years, and you are not allowed to harvest the shoots during this time.
When planting asparagus, the first harvest won’t happen until the plant is fully established for three to four years. Planting should only occur when temperatures are mild in spring.
Container-grown asparagus in your backyard will start producing shoots by the end of its first year. Allow it to produce fern-like leaves for one year and cut the plant down in October. Repeat this process each year.
Starting in the early part of spring during its second year, loosen soil and add your preferred fertilizer and compost. Finally, after three to four years, you can start harvesting shoots.
However, the harvester must only select a few and leave most for it to grow ferns. After all this hard work, you can harvest as much as you want. Just remember to leave some shots for next year’s harvest.
How To Store Asparagus
- Asparagus does not keep very long, so eat it within a few days of harvest.
- Asparagus should be given a light water wash before storing in the refrigerator. Make sure you dry them off thoroughly, as moisture can lead to mold.
- To store, bundle the spears together and cover them with a wet paper towel. Place in plastic bag and place in the refrigerator crisper drawer.
- You can also store asparagus in the fridge by placing the spears in a cup of water. Keep about an inch of clean water in the cup.
Does Asparagus Grow Well In Containers?
Yes, Asparagus can grow well in containers. If you have a lot of garden space, then growing asparagus shouldn’t be an issue.
Can You Grow Asparagus In A 5 Gallon Bucket?
Asparagus is usually planted in the ground, but it’s possible to plant it in containers. However, some limitations should be considered before doing so. You’ll need a 16-gallon container, and you should also give the roots room to grow (at least two feet) above the soil level.
How Much of The Plant Do You Yield After Harvest?
The plant produces about 1/2 pound of asparagus stalks per harvest.
What Month Do You Plant Asparagus?
Plant asparagus in a sunny spot with nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Be prepared to wait a few seasons for the plant to mature while you reap your harvest year after year.
What Happens If You Don’t Pick Asparagus?
If their ferns are infested with asparagus beetles, the length of the harvest will vary from year to year. As a general rule, harvesting should be stopped when 75% of spears have a diameter less than 3/8 inches.
You might be surprised to hear that growing asparagus in containers is actually surprisingly easy.
If you don’t have a garden but still want to grow asparagus, it is possible to container-grow the plant. You won’t be able to enjoy the harvest right away. Still, by taking your time and following some simple steps below, you can reap the great benefits of container gardening with perennials like asparagus.