Asparagus is a delicious plant that many gardeners enjoy growing as one of their crops, but they’re challenging to grow from seeds. Thankfully, you can grow them from scraps or cuttings. But how do you do this?
You can grow asparagus from scraps by cutting up leftover asparagus stalks from the previous year’s harvest. The scraps are versatile and can be left in either soil or water to develop roots before forming into a fully-matured asparagus plant.
The rest of this article will discuss the steps you need to take to grow asparagus from scraps. I’ll also explain why you should grow asparagus from scraps and provide some helpful tips for planting and harvesting. Let’s get started!
1. Choose a Method
There are two primary methods you can use to reproduce asparagus from previously used scraps. These two possible options are the soil method and the water method.
I’ll discuss these two methods in more detail below:
The Soil Method
Growing asparagus from scraps in the ground is undoubtedly the most natural way to do it, and it’s the more straightforward method of the two as well.
Here’s how to grow a new plant from scraps using soil:
- Cut the crown off of the head of the asparagus stalk.
- Wash the cut stalk in water to remove any bacteria.
- Use a sharp knife to make an incision in the top and bottom of the stalk.
- Dig a small hole in the soil.
- Place the stalk about two-thirds of the way into the hole.
- Loosely pack the soil around the stalk.
Once you’ve planted all of the asparagus scraps, be sure to provide them with a small amount of water daily. This vegetable does best when it’s watered lightly, so ensure that the soil isn’t too wet (a light misting with a spray bottle should be enough).
You’ll also want to be careful not to displace the cuttings while you’re watering them and that they remain firmly in the ground.
Assuming that your asparagus is kept safe from weeds, fungus, and pests, you should see a new leaf starting to sprout from the cuttings in a little less than two weeks after the initial planting.
The Water Method
This method involves a bit of time and effort, but it’s worth it because you can easily monitor the plant’s growth.
Below is how to grow asparagus using the water method:
- Cut the crown off the head of the asparagus stalk.
- Wash the cut stalk in water to remove any leftover bacteria.
- Use a sharp knife to make an incision in the top and bottom of the stalk.
- Place a small amount of water in a jar or transparent cup.
- Place the cuttings in the water so that one-third of the stalk is underneath the surface.
Once the asparagus scraps have been placed carefully in the water, all you need to do is watch them grow! Pay attention to the water and pour fresh water into the glass if it starts to look green or feel slimy.
Within a week or two, you’ll see the roots starting to grow and new leaves forming.
2. Consider the Asparagus’ Growing Conditions
As with any other vegetable, asparagus plants thrive the most in certain growing conditions. Therefore, it’s best to wait for the plant’s growing season and pay attention to the soil and nutrients the asparagus plant receives.
The Growing Season
Unlike many other plants that do best when planted in the late spring, asparagus scraps mature the quickest and healthiest when planted in early spring, typically around March or April, when the temperatures are about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
If the climate is too hot, asparagus scraps will have difficulty growing, and if it’s too cold, their growth will likely be stunted. The sweet spot will depend on where you live, but as long as it has been at least two weeks since the last frost and the temperature has stayed consistent, your asparagus scraps should have a relatively easy time sprouting.
Soil and Nutrients
Having the right amount of moisture in your soil is key to growing asparagus from scraps. Asparagus plants don’t need to be in overly moist soil because they can become suffocated if packed in too tightly, and their growth can be halted.
If you notice that your asparagus scraps are coming out of the ground rotten, it’s likely because there’s too much water in the soil. You can cut off the rotting parts and then help them grow by keeping the earth dry. Once they start developing again, you can begin watering them again.
The pH levels of the soil should be within the range of 6.5 to 7. Asparagus does best in slightly acidic soil, but it can tolerate neutral soil if that’s the only option.
One way to help balance out the pH levels and the moistness of the soil is to mix it with compost or manure. Both of these natural substances help to keep the ground slightly acidic, and they provide the asparagus plants with additional nutrients that aren’t naturally found in the earth. They also help the soil to hold just the right amount of moisture for the plants to develop well.
3. Plant the Asparagus Scraps
There are a couple of ways that your asparagus scraps can be planted so they grow well: in the ground or a container. Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages, but it all comes down to what’s more convenient for you.
Planting Asparagus Scraps in the Ground
The first way to plant asparagus scraps is in the ground in an area of your garden. If you decide to use this method, you’ll want to let the cuttings spend at least two weeks indoors in a cool, dark environment. Doing this will allow their roots and leaves to develop before they’re transplanted into the ground and experience the harshness of the outdoors.
Once that two-week period is up, you’ll likely have small asparagus stalks beginning to form from the scraps. This is the time when you should start treating each cutting as its own individual asparagus plant that needs to have space and air to grow.
It’s best to place your asparagus scraps in the soil about 6 inches (15 centimeters) apart from one another. The plants will begin to expand as they continue to mature, and they’ll need plenty of room to do so. Planting the cuttings this way will allow for good air circulation between the stalks and will make it easier for you to observe their growth process.
Planting Asparagus Scraps in a Container
The other option you can choose for growing your asparagus from scraps is to plant each individual stalk inside its own container. Doing it this way can be beneficial because it allows you to move the pot inside if the climate becomes too harsh or if it rains a lot, making the soil become too damp.
If you’re planting your asparagus in a pot or planter, there are a couple of criteria you should look for when choosing the container:
- First, you should find a container that’s 2-5 inches (5.08-12.7 cm) wider than the newly growing stalk. A pot this large will give the scraps’ roots room to branch out.
- Second, the vessel you choose should have several drainage holes spaced throughout the sides and bottom to help water drain easily and quickly.
4. Maintain Your Asparagus Patch
Thankfully, keeping your asparagus patch well-maintained while your scraps are sprouting is relatively simple and only takes a couple of steps.
Even if you don’t grow your asparagus from seed, it’s still crucial to weed the area it’s growing in regularly. Asparagus scraps have delicate root systems that can be damaged quite easily, so the weeds will need to be pulled out carefully by hand.
Another measure you can take is to mulch your asparagus patch outside of the growing season, like in the fall. Using some sort of nitrogen-rich material like compost or manure, spread it throughout the asparagus beds and mix it in with the soil. This will help to keep the soil fresh and moist and will provide plenty of additional nutrients to the roots during the cooler, drier months.
Tips for Growing the Best Asparagus From Scraps
Although developing new asparagus from old pieces is a relatively straightforward process, there are a few things you can do to ensure your asparagus fully matures to the best of its ability.
Choose the Best Scraps
If you’re going to be regrowing new asparagus from scraps, there’s a chance that it will not develop as well as the initial stalk did, and its growth may be stunted. One way to help prevent this from happening is to make sure you’re using the best scraps you have available.
Choose the strongest parts of the stem to use as your base cuttings, and try not to use flimsy stems or those that could wilt and rot easily if exposed to too much moisture.
You can also use organic asparagus to take your scraps from since that variety will be of higher quality than standard asparagus. It’s also more likely to be disease-free due to how it’s grown and harvested.
You can get the scraps from any source that you can trust. Read my article to see if you can use store-bought spears to grow new asparagus: Can You Grow Asparagus from Store-Bought Spears?
Use a Rooting Hormone
Healthy root development is essential for a strong asparagus plant, so you should encourage root growth as much as possible. Unfortunately, growing plants from scraps can be challenging, and the roots are the first affected parts.
This part of the plant is by far the most vital since the roots are what provide the scraps with nutrients and energy.
One way to ensure your asparagus cuttings can grow strong and sturdy roots is to use a rooting hormone on them before placing them in the ground. Rooting hormones are chemical mixtures that encourage the roots of a plant to develop much quicker than they would naturally.
You can buy rooting hormone from most garden centers, and it’s inexpensive. You can use it by gently rolling each piece of asparagus in the powder before you plant it. This will encourage the new plant to grow strong roots, tough stalks, and healthy-looking leaves.
Grow Companion Plants Nearby
If you’re worried about your asparagus scraps becoming diseased, attracting pests, or other possible issues, consider growing companion plants near the area where the scraps are buried.
Companion plants are different vegetables, flowers, and herbs that deter pests and diseases from taking hold of your asparagus scraps. They either have properties that ward off the bugs and keep them away from that garden area, or they have natural elements that can assist the asparagus scraps as they grow.
There are a few companion plants that will work particularly well with your asparagus scraps to help you grow the best crop you can.
- Planting onions in the same patch will actually help your asparagus cuttings to develop healthy roots. The nutrients their own roots put into the soil can reach your asparagus scraps and aid them in producing roots that will help the cuttings grow into full-fledged stalks.
- If you grow garlic near your asparagus scraps, you won’t have to worry about whiteflies attacking and eating them. Garlic is a natural repellent to whiteflies and will do an excellent job keeping them out of your asparagus patch so that the scraps can grow without worry.
- You can plant marigolds and potatoes in the areas surrounding your asparagus cuttings. These two plants can help to fight off cabbage worms which, like the whiteflies, will eat and destroy the progress your scraps have made. These plants can help protect your asparagus and ensure that your cuttings grow into strong and delicious vegetables.
Don’t Overharvest Too Early
Because asparagus needs between two to three years to completely mature, you’ll want to be careful with how much you take out of the ground in the first year or two.
Even if your garden is thriving and your scraps are all producing shoots, you should only harvest cuttings for a couple of weeks. Otherwise, you risk harming the still-maturing plants, which will cause their growth to be stunted.
Once you’ve reached the third year of your scraps being planted, you can begin harvesting more significant amounts at a faster pace and for longer periods of time. Once you see that the stalks are growing thin and frail, you should stop harvesting so the plants can regrow the following spring.
Why Should You Grow Asparagus from Scraps?
You may wonder how it’s possible that asparagus can be grown from previously used asparagus plants. The secret lies in the fact that they’re perennial plants.
Because asparagus is a perennial plant, it will regenerate in the same spot if the area is well taken care of. Asparagus needs a couple of years to fully mature, but once it has developed in its soil, the plants will regrow each harvest season–sometimes as long as 30 years from its initial planting!
But why is it beneficial to grow asparagus from old cuttings instead of seeds? There are a couple of reasons that it’s a good idea to plant scraps at the beginning of the growing process.
Let’s take a look at these reasons below:
Growing Asparagus From Scraps Saves Time and Money
Growing asparagus takes a lot of dedication and patience since it takes so long to sprout fully. However, once it has reached full maturity, you’ll be able to eat asparagus for free, and you’ll no longer have to buy any.
These plants can reproduce new stalks quite quickly, given the right growing conditions. Therefore, you’ll be able to harvest asparagus every couple of days for several weeks during the growing season.
Growing Asparagus From Seeds Is Difficult
The other reason it’s beneficial to use asparagus scraps to grow new crops is that starting out new asparagus plants from seeds can be very challenging and time-consuming.
If you aren’t careful, asparagus can very easily be taken over by weeds that soak up all the nutrients in the soil. Without those nutrients, the asparagus won’t be able to mature fully, and its growth may be stunted.
When you plant new seeds, you need to spend a lot of time pulling weeds to help your asparagus grow. On the other hand, using scraps means that production will be much quicker than starting from the beginning.
Already-grown asparagus scraps are much more resilient than brand-new baby seeds and will be less likely to die off during the growing process.
Growing asparagus from scraps is relatively easy and not very time-consuming. The benefits of growing asparagus from scraps far outweigh the cons, and you can expect to have plant growth much faster than you would start from seeds.
As long as you follow the steps and tips provided in this article, your asparagus scraps will turn into strong, tasty stalks, and you’ll have a bountiful harvest for many years to come.