About this Plant...
- Liliaceae
Genus, species:
-Asparagus officinalis

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Asparagus is a highly productive vegetable best suited to cooler areas of North and West Texas. Grown for the stems or spears, a well tended planting yields 8 to 10 pounds or more per 100 square feet of bed or 24 to 30 pounds per 100 feet of row. For most home gardeners, one row is adequate.

An asparagus planting lasts 15 to 25 years without replanting if it is well cared for and the climate is suitable. It does not do well if summers are extremely hot and long and winters are mild.

Asparagus is grown from 1-year-old plants or "crowns" planted in January or February. Crowns grow from seed planted in flats or peat cups in October for January transplanting, or they are transplanted from an existing asparagus bed. To get healthy, vigorous plants, buy 1-year-old crowns from a nursery or garden center or order them from a seed catalog. It takes 1 year to grow a good crown.

It requires 3 years from the time the crown is planted until the bed is in full production. Buds arise from the crown when conditions are favorable and develop into edible spears. If these spears are not harvested and are allowed to continue growing, they develop into "fern-like" stalks.

From these "ferns", the mature plant manufactures food and stores it in "storage roots." This reserve supplies the energy necessary to produce spears the following year.

Asparagus is native to Europe and the southern parts of Russia, the steppes of Poland and Siberia. It grows wild there and is well liked by the cattle, which eat the asparagus as grass.

It has been in cultivation for over 2000 years with about 300 species.

Sutiable Climate

  • Zone 3 and warmer
  • Soil freezes in the winter
  • Plant in Full sun.


Martha Washington, UC 157, Jersey Giant and Mary Washington tests have shown hybrid asparagus varieties produce more than the standard varieties, but they are not widely available to home gardeners.

Soil Conditions

Since an asparagus planting lasts many years, good seedbed preparation is essential. The soil should be free of trash, soil insects and weeds such as johnsongrass and bermudagrass before planting.

In late fall, spread a 3-inch layer of organic matter such as manure, rotted sawdust or compost over the beds. Till or spade to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and turn the soil so all organic matter is covered. Asparagus grows well in high pH soils but does not do well if the soil pH is below 6.0. Test the soil before planting the beds and add lime if needed to adjust the pH to 6.5 to 7.0.

Planting Time

Since asparagus will be in the same place several years, it is important to select the right spot. Asparagus plants make a good border around the edge of a garden or along a fence.

After asparagus beds are tilled, mark rows 4 to 6 feet apart. Dig a furrow 4 inches wide and 6 to 12 inches deep. Place the crowns in the furrow, cover with 2 to 3 inches of soil and firm the soil around the roots. Do not fill the entire furrow at once. Plant crowns 6 to 12 inches deep in loose soils and 4 to 6 inches in heavier soils. Place crowns 12 to 14 inches apart. Planting too closely can cause small spears. Wider planting results in larger spears but lower total yield. Control weeds but do not injure the crowns. Fill the furrows gradually as the shoots grow. This covers small weeds, and they die from lack of light. By the end of the first season, the furrow reaches its normal level (figure 1). Deep planting of the crowns allows cultivation with garden tools or tiller (do not till too deep) without damage to crowns. 2-4 weeks before last spring frost (soak the crowns in lukewarm water for a few hours before planting)

Sowing Instructions

Germination Time 2-8 weeks
Depth of Seed 1-11/2 inches
Depth of Plants 6-8 inches
Spacing of Plants 3 inches(seeds), 24 inches (plants)
Spacing of Rows 18-20 inches(seed), 4-5 feet (plant)
Quanity 1 package for 100 plants
1 ounce for 250 plants
Vegetable Maturity Dates, Yields and Storage

Vegetable Problems -- Press link

Home garden asparagus can be damaged by the asparagus beetle in some areas. If you observe insects feeding on asparagus, contact your local county Extension agent for identification and control recommendations.


Asparagus is troubled by some diseases. If plants have rust colored spots on the stems or branches, ask your county Extension agent what to use.


Harvest asparagus spears from established beds for about 8 weeks. Do not harvest too soon from a new planting.

Harvest spears when they are 4 to 10 inches long. To prevent spears from becoming fibrous, harvest at least every other day. The fibrous condition is caused by overmaturity or inadequate fertility. Spears with loosely formed heads are overmature.

Cut asparagus spears 1 to 2 inches below the soil level. At least one-half the length of the spear should be above the ground. Never cut the spear within 2 inches of the crown to avoid damage to the developed buds. Never cut asparagus spears above the ground and allow stubs to remain (figure 4). Discontinue harvest when spear diameter becomes less than 3/8 of an inch.

Some gardeners prefer white or blanched asparagus. This is grown by shading the spears with mounds of soil or mulch to exclude light.

USDA Nutrient -- Press link

Pressure Canning

Pack whole spears, tips up, tightly into clean, hot jars. Pack cut pieces as tightly as possible without crushing them. Leave 1/2 inch headroom. Add salt. Cover with boinling water, leaving 1/2 headroom. Process in pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure(240 F)
Pints -25 minutes
Quarts - 30 minutes.


Blanch for 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the stlks. Cool immediately in cold water. Drain ...pack into containers, leaving no headroom.


Asparagus cannot be stored, but it is an excellent canning crop.

Special Thanks to:
Jerry Parsons and Sam Cotner, Extension Horticulturists
Texas Agricultural Extension Service

Educational programs conducted by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service serve people of all ages, regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, handicap or national origin.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home Economics, Acts of Congress of May 8, 1914, as amended, and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. Zerle L. Carpenter, Director, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System.

Hypertext markup and graphics colorization by Tammy Kohlleppel and Dan Lineberger.


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