There’s a natural life cycle of a garden: plant, grow, dig up, repeat. But what if you could change your entire gardening system? Asparagus is a perennial plant, meaning you only have to plant it once to enjoy it for years to come. Learn more about how to propagate asparagus.
How to propagate asparagus: Asparagus has a vast root network that is easy to separate. Dig up part of your asparagus plant and then transfer it to a new hole in your garden. Place compost in this hole or mix in a balanced fertilizer mix. Asparagus is a perennial plant so it will continue to grow and spread out each year.
What you need to propagate asparagus
You don’t need many tools to propagate asparagus. A solid trowel that is at least 6 inches long will help you dig out the asparagus roots. You should also have compost and a balanced fertilizer mix on hand.
How to propagate asparagus?
Prepare the site
The first step with any gardening is to make sure you have a site ready to go. This includes knowing where your asparagus likes to grow and what kind of soil conditions it thrives in.
Asparagus likes full sunlight, so you should have an area with little to no shade. If you live in a climate with very hot summers, having afternoon shade is okay.
As for soil, asparagus grows fairly deep so it’s best if you dig up the entire site. The deeper you can dig, the looser the soil will be, which will encourage the roots to grow deeper.
Aim to till your soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. If you realize your soil is far too compact for this, then you will want to build a raised garden bed and start with fresh soil.
Prepare the soil
Think of soil as your foundation for a successful garden. The more nutrients you start with, the happier your plants will be and the easier your gardening journey will be.
Always add compost to your garden ahead of planting. If you don’t have compost in your backyard, you can head to a local gardening center to pick some up.
The compost should be aged and starting to break down so that all the nutrients are ready to be mixed into the soil.
If you have a lot of compost, you won’t need to add fertilizer. However, if you are worried about nutrient quality, you can add fertilizer in this step as well.
Choose a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10. These numbers refer to the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
When mixing fertilizer into the soil, make sure it is even and spread out. If the roots of your asparagus come into direct contact with the fertilizer, it can actually result in them burning.
Dig your hole
Asparagus holes should be formed in a trench-like manner. Dig a trench that is at least 8 inches deep and 12 inches wide.
If you haven’t already mixed your compost into the soil, you can add an inch or two to the bottom of the trench. You can also add garden loam at this stage.
Dig up asparagus
You want to follow all the steps above first as this will ready the planting site for your asparagus. Now you can go on to digging up your current asparagus to propagate it.
The best time to do this is in the early spring. The soil needs to be warm enough to be worked but not too hot so that the plant has already started to grow. An alternative is in the fall, so plan wisely.
Gently dig your old asparagus up so that the whole plant, including the crown and root system, comes up. This may be deeper than you think, so dig along the side of the plant and err on the side of caution by going as deep as you can.
Divide the asparagus
Your asparagus will come out in a clump of roots. Use your hands and not a shovel as you don’t want to damage the delicate roots.
Gently separate the root clump into two sections. Try to look for baby shoots coming off the roots. There should be at least two of these shoots per section.
Plant the asparagus
You can decide at this point how much asparagus you want to divide and propagate. You can replace one of the root clumps in the original hole or you can plant both divisions in the new trench.
Spread the root clumps out in the trench so they are 18 inches apart. Then, place 2 to 4 inches of all-purpose garden soil over them.
Keep digging up asparagus roots and planting them in the new trench until you are satisfied with the amount.
Water the area
Watering after you propagate is an important step. The water will spur the roots into action and will help move the soil around to cover the structure.
If you notice that the soil caves in on top of where you planted, you can add more so that it is even with the rest of the ground.
You should aim to water your asparagus once or twice per week. The goal is to keep the soil moist at a depth that the roots can access it.
As you will be planting in the spring, you can adjust your watering schedule based on how rainy it is. Just note that a light misting of rain won’t be enough to get down to the root level of your asparagus.
Can asparagus be propagated from the stem?
This method is not always successful but it is fun and a good learning opportunity if you have children. Start with asparagus stems, either from your garden or a neighbor’s.
Grab a tall glass and fill it two-thirds of the way with water. Then, place your asparagus stem into the water, so that one-third of the stem is above the water line.
The water needs to be absolutely clean for this to work. This may require you to replace the water every day.
Observe your asparagus. Within a week or two, you will hopefully see roots start to grow at the bottom of the asparagus stem. Then, there might be new leaves start to grow along the stem.
Wait until the root structure grows more, about a month. You also want at least one pair of new leaves.
Most people will then transplant these new asparagus plants into a hydroponic system, where you use water and substrate to grow the plant. However, you can try to transplant them directly into your garden.
Can you grow asparagus from store-bought?
You can definitely try to grow asparagus from store-bought stems. However, you will need to try the water method, as stated above, to grow them, which can be a bit tricky.
You also want to make sure that the asparagus you buy can survive your particular growing climate. Produce is often shipped from all over the world, which means it might not do well in the climate you live in.
Try to look for the name of the asparagus on the tag to get a better understanding. You can also ask the produce manager where the asparagus originated from.
The good news is that there aren’t as many types of asparagus sold so, unlike other types of produce, there is a good chance it will be okay in your garden.
How long will asparagus keep growing?
Even though asparagus is a perennial plant, it does have a lifespan. You can expect your plant to grow for about 20 years.
Keep in mind that you need to wait for two to three years after first planting asparagus before you can harvest it. The plant needs time to take hold and mature.
Can asparagus fern grow from cuttings?
Even though it shares a name, asparagus fern is much different from the plant you are used to eating. In fact, the houseplant gets its name because it looks like the top part of asparagus, even though it is not actually related.
Asparagus fern is a herbaceous perennial. It prefers warm climates which makes it ideal for indoor planting.
The foliage is a lush blue/green color and has white flowers. Furthermore, this plant will grow to be just 1 to 3 feet tall.
The best way to propagate this plant is by digging up tubers that grow just below the surface. You can easily divide these tubers and plant them in other pots or areas, and both the original and the cutting will grow.
Another option is to harvest the red berries that the plant develops, usually between summer and winter. You can then plant the berries and in just a few months have a new asparagus fern plant.
Propagating asparagus is relatively simple. Dig out some of the root structure from an existing asparagus plant and gently separate a clump. Then, place it in a new area of your garden with soil that contains compost and fertilizer.