Learn how to grow asparagus and you can harvest and enjoy it for many years.

Unlike most vegetables, asparagus is a perennial, (meaning it lives for more than two seasons). Asparagus stalks increase in circumference and number over time — it definitely gets better with age.

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6 Tips for How to Grow Asparagus

1. How to grow Asparagus: Understand the life cycle of the asparagus plant

  • Asparagus roots produce individual stalks above ground. 
  • When the stalks are harvested in the spring, this depletes the energy from the roots. 
  • After a period of harvesting, it’s important to allow stalks to develop into ferns. 
  • A vigorous and healthy fern in the summer helps ensure a good asparagus harvest the next spring. The photosynthesis that takes place in the ferns throughout the summer replenishes the energy of the depleted roots.
  • The ferns go dormant in winter and turn yellow — at this point they can be cut back. 
  • In the spring, shoots appear from the overwintering roots. These stalks grow larger in circumference every year as their life cycle continues. 
  • Asparagus roots produce for 10 to 12 years. After this time, the plant is spent and should be replaced.
Growing asparagus

2. How to grow Asparagus: Decide on the location to plant asparagus

Because asparagus plants produce for several years, they require a dedicated bed for that period of time. Choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day. Avoid windy areas and areas where water puddles. Consider using raised beds because asparagus roots become soggy and will rot in clay soil. Asparagus needs rich, well-amended soil that is high in phosphate. A 5 foot by 5 foot bed is a good size and provides plentiful harvests of asparagus.

3. How to grow Asparagus: Decide whether to plant asparagus crowns, seeds or starts

  • It’s easiest to establish asparagus by planting one to two year old crowns. They produce harvestable stalks about a year after planting. 
  • Asparagus can also be planted from seed. This method is cheaper, but it requires a two year wait and more care for the emerging seeds. However, asparagus from seed often produce more than those started from crowns. 
  • You may also find transplants started from seed at your local nursery.
2 Year Old Asparagus Crowns
Female plants form red berries with 2-3 seeds inside each berry.

4. How to grow Asparagus: Plant asparagus correctly

In the low desert of Arizona plant asparagus transplants from November through the first half of February. Check local planting guides for the correct time to plant in your zone. 

Prepare the asparagus bed by adding large amounts of compost, composted manure, and mulch to create rich soil.  

If planting from seed, start seeds outdoors in small pots with quality, fine soil. Sow seeds ½ inch deep. Germination takes about 30 days. Transplant plants to the permanent bed when plants are 3 inches tall.

To plant from crowns:

  • Dig a 6 inch trench, and place dormant roots in it about 12 inches apart. 
  • Cover crowns with about 2 inches of soil, and gently tamp it down. 
  • Continue adding 2 inches of soil every 2 weeks until the trenches are filled with soil and slightly mounded on top.

5. Harvest asparagus at the right time

For the first year after planting (two if started from seed), do not cut or harvest any stalks. Allow the stalks to go dormant in the fall and cut back watering or stop completely. 

New spears begin to emerge the following spring, and you can harvest any that are at least ¼ inch in diameter. Let smaller stalks grow through the summer to give energy to the roots.

For subsequent years, observe these practices for healthy and productive plants

Late winter

Dry dormancy. Cut back dry stalks and amend with 6 inch layer of compost.

Early spring

Harvest stalks that are more than ¼ inch in diameter for 4-6 weeks. Let smaller ones continue to grow.

Late spring

Amend spent bed with another 6 inch layer of compost.

Summer / Fall

Water them and do not let dry out. Allow ferns to grow and provide energy for roots.


Ferns will begin to turn yellow. Cut back watering and allow to go dormant.

Six Things to Know Before You Plant Asparagus

6. Harvest asparagus correctly

Harvest spears when they are 6 to 10 inches high and the tips are firm and tight. Do not harvest spears smaller than ¼ inch thick, and do not harvest the first year. The following year, harvest for 2 weeks. Extend the harvest each year by 2 weeks until you are harvesting for 6 weeks. 

Pick asparagus every 3 days, more often in warm weather. Pick asparagus by snapping off at ground level with your thumb and index finger. You can also cut off just below soil surface with an asparagus knife or other sharp knife. 

Asparagus is delicious eaten fresh in the garden. Eat or preserve it as soon as possible after picking. You can also store stalks upright in a small amount of water in the refrigerator for several days.


30 Comments on Learn More About Growing Asparagus

  1. Thank you for these wonderful tips Angela! I am now going into my first winter with asparagus I grew from seed. I was so tempted to harvest the spears I saw pop up this year, but I know waiting is best. It’s hard to have patience! Haha

  2. I enjoyed your video. I planted my first asparagus in January this year and I have very thin asparagus shoots coming up. So I just let those go to fern? DOnt trim, cut…nothing? Is that correct?

    • Correct. Next year when they are yellow and dormant you cut them back. Continue this process until the stems are thick enough to harvest. Good luck!

  3. I read this article today, actualy in the middle of the night and low and behold there I was asking a question I had forgotten I asked! Change of plans raised beds seems to be the best way to go, thanks for the info. D

  4. When the ferns turn yellow and it’s time to cut them back, how close to the ground do you cut them? First time asparagus grower here. 🙂

  5. I have purchased ‘3 year asparagus crowns” I’m getting ready to plant them in a raised garden. Will I be able to harvest in the spring since they are 3 year crowns?

    • Good question. It depends on how large the new sprouts are. If they are at least the diameter of a pencil, you can harvest. That begin said, I would still harvest sparingly the first year to ensure good root development.

  6. Thanks for your post! Do you happen to know of a nursery in the Phoenix area that sells crowns or transplants? I have called around but have not had any luck and the catalogs all seem to ship later (March/April).

    • I’ve seen roots at Home Depot. In the past I have purchased transplants at Summerwinds Nursery, but not sure if they have them now or not.

  7. What kind of sun/shade does asparagus need in the Arizona summer? Will it handle afternoon sun? I am trying to plan out planting locations and want to give it its best shot.

    • It needs at least 6 hours of sun, preferably morning sun with afternoon shade. It would be better to have a little less sun than be planted where it gets full afternoon sun.

  8. Hi. I just came across this website for asparagus help. It is Feb. 20 now, am I too late to do anything? Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  9. I already have asparagus in my garden, probably 14 yrs. they are growing very sparsely now, can I till the ground and replant in same area? Or should I move to a different area in garden , Thanks

  10. My asparagus has been growing for 4yrs, I stop picking in July.do I leave all of the remaining go to ferns or just some.

    • Once you stop harvesting for the season, leave all the remaining spears to develop into ferns. The ferns supply the energy for the roots which will produce next year’s crop of asparagus.

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