Can You Grow Asparagus From Store-Bought Spears?

While new asparagus patches can grow from clippings of old plants, those cuttings typically come from garden stores or local gardeners. If you don’t have easy access to cuttings, you may be tempted to purchase asparagus from the grocery store to grow new plants, but is this possible?

You can grow asparagus from store-bought spears. Although most store-bought asparagus is grown via hydroponics and do not have true root systems, there are ways to help encourage root growth so you can plant and regrow asparagus from the store. 

This article will go through the steps of growing new asparagus from store-bought spears, as well as provide tips on choosing the best asparagus for replanting. It will also explain the conditions needed to grow asparagus properly from store-bought spears.  

Viability of Store-Bought Asparagus Spears

There are many reasons to grow your own asparagus instead of buying it from the grocery store. It can be a cheaper option, and if you can properly propagate a high-quality crop, you can consistently have freshly-grown asparagus every week for several months of the year. 

One of the best reasons to grow asparagus in your garden is the fresh flavor that comes from newly developed asparagus plants. 

There’s nothing tastier than freshly-picked asparagus, and even if it’s grown from store-bought spears, it’ll still taste better than purchasing spears that have been out of the ground and sitting in the store. 

Growing new asparagus from store-bought asparagus is a relatively simple process.

However, it requires determination and patience, as it takes up to 3 years for an asparagus plant to become fully mature and ready to eat. If you attempt to harvest spears after a shorter period, they will be thin, peaked, and have less flavor. 

The asparagus in grocery stores are grown in hydroponic water systems, meaning that the spears typically do not have substantial root systems. While it isn’t impossible to grow asparagus at home from stalk pieces, you can do this more effectively if it already has a basic root system

One way to help with the process is to use a rooting powder on the asparagus spear cuttings. 

Rooting hormone powder helps speed up root growth within plants struggling to develop a solid system. The primary chemical in this hormone powder is auxin, which stimulates root production within plants at very high concentrations. 

To make the most out of this powder, apply it to each piece manually before you plant it. You can do this by rubbing a liberal amount onto the ends of each piece of the stalk. 

You can also apply the rooting powder to the soil by dusting it over the top of each section. However, it won’t be as effective or helpful for the cuttings as applying it directly onto each piece. 

How to Choose the Best Asparagus Spears from the Store

You’ll want to look for a few characteristics when buying asparagus to replant, as not all asparagus varieties at the grocery store are the same. Certain features will work better for regrowing than others. 

For example, if you buy female spears that are past their prime, your planted asparagus won’t turn out well. But if you choose primarily male asparagus that’s strong and firm, you’ll have a much better chance of growing healthy asparagus at home.

Find Male Asparagus

Asparagus is a dioecious plant that comes in both male and female forms. While both genders produce edible spears, you’ll have much more success buying a male variety from the store than a female. 

Male and female asparagus plants focus on different things while developing, which is why it’s so important to choose specific genders depending on your goals. 

The main function of male plants is to produce spears. All of the nutrients and energy they take in are spent working to grow small, uniform spears that are sturdy and taste good. 

On the other hand, female asparagus mainly focus on growing seeds and fruit so that pollinators can spread them throughout the garden. Because of this, replanted female asparagus is much more likely to produce small, thin stalks with less flavor. 

If you have a female plant, it is less likely to give you a bountiful crop. 

How to Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Asparagus

The main differences between male and female asparagus plants are seen on the ferns when they sprout flowers. 

Male asparagus plants have larger, bell-shaped flowers with yellow or orange stamens, while female plants have shorter, spherical flowers with white pistils. Once pollinated after the first year, female flowers become berries, while male flowers don’t. 

Male plants also produce fewer, thicker spears, and female plants produce thinner spears in a higher quantity. 

However, you won’t see the flowering portion of the asparagus at the grocery store, and comparing spear sizes isn’t a fail-proof method of identifying gender. Therefore, the easiest way to decipher which variety will be best is to look for one bred to be entirely male. 

Jersey giant and Jersey prince are two common asparagus types found in grocery stores and will ensure you grow a robust and steady crop of high-quality spears.  

Buy Bright Green Spears With Big Crowns

As with any other fresh food you purchase from the grocery store, be sure to choose asparagus which will regrow as a healthy crop. 

When selecting the asparagus to plant at home, look for spears with a bright green stem attached to big, brown, healthy crowns. It’s also much easier to regrow asparagus from thin male stalks rather than thick ones because root systems have an easier time developing out of a slender stalk than one that is bulkier. 

When your asparagus plants have a sturdy root system that can take in plenty of nutrients, they’ll mature into a much healthier crop. Choosing fresh and relatively slender stems will make the regrowing process much easier for the plants. 

How to Plant Store-Bought Asparagus

Asparagus needs very specific growing conditions if the plants are going to develop well and thrive once they’ve fully matured.

Here are a few tips for providing your asparagus plants with the best growing conditions possible:

1. Prepare the Asparagus Cuttings

If your store-bought asparagus has roots, also called crowns, cut them into sections that include at least 3 or 4 buds

If your asparagus doesn’t have crowns on top, remove the heads off the spears and cut the stalks into short pieces, about 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) long. 

Place the asparagus cuttings in small pots of soil and give them a little water. Avoid giving them too much water, as this will make them waterlogged. Within 3 to 4 weeks, roots should start to form, and then you can transplant the cuttings.

2. Plant Asparagus in the Sunniest Area of the Garden 

Like many other vegetables, asparagus plants require plenty of sunlight to thrive. When selecting a spot in your garden to transfer the asparagus cuttings, choose an area that receives at least 8 hours of sunlight daily. 

Ensuring your budding asparagus crowns are exposed to enough sunlight is especially important for those that come from store-bought asparagus. Because asparagus from the grocery store often lacks a sound root system, it will need that much more energy from the sun to develop new roots from the already-grown cuttings. 

3. Use a Moderately Acidic Soil That Drains Well

Asparagus is a perennial, so once it is planted in a designated area, it will regrow every single year for up to several decades. If you want to encourage your asparagus plants to regenerate yearly, plant them in the proper soil mixture.

These plants don’t tolerate very acidic soil, and if you put your store-bought asparagus cuttings in it, you won’t see much progress. The best soil to use has a pH level between 6.5-7.0.

The soil should also drain well because while many plants prefer constantly wet soil, your asparagus crowns will have difficulty regrowing if they are constantly being suffocated by water-logged soil. 

4. Keep the Soil Filled With Nutrients

Even if your soil has a perfect acidity level and is kept fairly dry, you still need to ensure that it always has the proper nutrients to give your asparagus plants plenty of energy before, during, and after the growing process.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Before transferring your budding store-bought asparagus crowns into their permanent home in your garden, add a high-quality fertilizer to the soil, as this prepares the earth for the plants. When they are added, a steady store of nutrients will already be available. 
  2. Mix in some organic material like mulch or compost in the weeks leading up to planting season so your asparagus buds can take in the additional nutrients they provide once they are in the ground.
  3. When you’re ready to place your asparagus crowns into the nutrient-dense soil, add some additional phosphorus and potassium. These natural chemicals will ensure the crowns can take root, expand, and grow strong and healthy.
  4. When your cuttings are in the soil, and you notice signs of growth, apply a nitrogen-containing product. Nitrogen will help them develop faster and make the cuttings grow at an even and consistent rate.

5. Plant Your Asparagus Crowns in Deep Soil

When you initially bring asparagus home from the grocery store, the spears might not have any visible roots, or if they do, they will be incredibly small. However, once you put the crowns or cuttings in the ground, they’ll grow deep, strong roots, particularly if you rub them with rooting powder ahead of time. 

Asparagus plants develop long and sturdy root systems, so ensure that you give them enough space to spread out. You’ll want to place them into deep pockets of soil when transferring them from their initial growing area to their permanent spot in the ground. 

When you’re preparing the space in your garden where the asparagus plants will develop, you’ll need to dig a trench roughly 1-foot (0.3 m) deep in the soil. When creating this trench, you’ll want to add the extra fertilizer and natural chemicals, along with any organic matter, to boost the nutrients in the earth

Once you have dug the trench, drop the asparagus cuttings in, leaving enough space in between each crown or spear cutting so that the developing roots have room to spread under the surface. 

6. Delay Harvesting Young Asparagus

Although asparagus plants are perennials that provide fresh spears every year, you don’t want to immediately harvest the asparagus once it has grown into stalks and emerged from the ground. 

From the very beginning of a new asparagus plant’s life, its ability to develop comes from the energy stored in its roots. However, when it’s in its early stages of growth, it doesn’t have abundant energy storage. 

Any spears that grow out of the ground will be thin, weak, and won’t taste very good. 

Because of this reason, it’s important to delay the harvesting of your asparagus until at least 2 growing seasons have passed. Before harvesting, the stalks that sprout from the ground should be about as thick as your finger. 

By that point, the store-bought asparagus cuttings should have built up a good store of energy reserves, and they’ll have a much easier time regenerating each year. They’ll also be healthier, heartier, and taste fresher. 

7. Harvest Your Asparagus Correctly 

There are several methods to remove your asparagus plants from the ground once they’re fully matured and ready for harvesting. The recommended way of doing it is by leaving a good chunk of the base in the ground when you pull out the spears. 

When harvesting your asparagus, choose only those plants that are at least 6-8 inches (15.24-20.32 cm) tall and ½-inch (1.27 cm) thick. Grab a spear in one hand and gently bend it over at the bottom until it comes loose. 

This method is beneficial for a couple of reasons:

  • It gives you a perfectly sized, fresh, and tasty spear to use in the kitchen. 
  • It leaves the sturdy base of the plant, along with its root system, firmly in the ground. 

Keeping this part of the plant stuck in the soil allows the crown to be set and ready to go when the next growing season comes around. You won’t need to worry about planting new cuttings or trying to replant the already-used crown. 

You should also consider the time of day when harvesting. 

Break off asparagus stalks in the early morning after they’ve soaked up moisture from the previous night. Throughout the day, stalks become drier in the sun and won’t snap off as crisply.   

8. Don’t Harvest Your Spears Too Often per Season

As long as they’re given the proper care, asparagus plants have the potential to regrow new stalks every couple of weeks throughout the growing season. While it may be tempting to harvest as much of the delicious vegetable as possible, you should avoid over-harvesting your asparagus plants in the same season. 

You’ll find your asparagus plants become stronger with each passing season, and you may be able to extend the harvesting period slightly. Generally, the first harvesting season can last up to 4 weeks, and subsequent ones can be 10-12, depending on where you live. 

If you continue to harvest too long, the plants might not have enough time to take in nutrients before the temperature becomes cold and the weather becomes harsh, and they’ll have a much more difficult time surviving until the next growing season. 

Difficulty surviving after being over-harvested is more likely if you use store-bought spears to grow your asparagus plants. Again, their root system takes a long time to develop fully, so it’s vital to give them ample time to gain strength before the winter. 

Signs You Should Stop Harvesting

You can also judge when to stop harvesting based on the spears’ appearance as they come out of the ground. 

The stems should be thick and sturdy at the beginning of the season. Once they start to thin out and look a bit frailer, it’s best to stop harvesting to allow their systems time to absorb as much energy as possible. 

If the stems are ferning or flowering, but they are shorter than 6 inches (15 cm), it’s a sign you should stop harvesting. While ferning is a natural part of the growth cycle, it can signal that your plant has ended its harvesting season.  

Final Thoughts

It’s possible to grow new asparagus plants from store-bought asparagus. Choose the best type of asparagus to regrow, use the proper growing methods, and provide the vegetables with good growing conditions to enjoy delicious, homegrown asparagus for years to come!

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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