grow asparagus in pots

How to Grow Asparagus [In Pots & the Ground]

If you like asparagus then you’ll save a lot of money by growing your own asparagus at home.  This delicious vegetable has a short season and tends to be very expensive in the supermarket or farm shop.  Asparagus is easy to grow, easy to maintain and a great perennial vegetable that can keep cropping for up to 25 years.  You can grow asparagus from seed, from bare-root crowns (one-year-old) and 2-3 year old crowns.  The perennial vegetable, asparagus also can be grown in pots under the right conditions.   Here’s our guide to how to grow asparagus in pots, in the ground, from seed and from asparagus crowns.

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Why grow asparagus

At Lets Grow Cook we focus on how to get the best from the vegetable garden, and that for us means using everything that you grow in the garden.  The best way to use everything that you grow is to focus on what you would buy and therefore save the money on buying it.  Asparagus has a short season and is often viewed as a luxury vegetable and is expensive in the supermarket and farm shops.  That its expensive to buy makes it a good reason to grow your own.  The second great reason for growing your own asparagus is that it’s a perennial vegetable – plant it once and harvest for many years, in some cases up to 25 years.  We love that. Less work more return.   The third great reason for growing asparagus is that its easy to grow.  Get your asparagus growing environment right and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.

Why grow asparagus in pots

Asparagus grows very well when planted directly into the ground, or in a raised bed.  So why would we choose to grow asparagus in pots?  Convenience for sure and flexibility definitely.  We love asparagus, but we don’t want it taking up a huge part of the veggie plot.  We also want to be nimble in what we plant in the garden.  Asparagus does best if it’s planted and left, not transplanted around.  So we decided that to fit our needs we’d grow asparagus in containers and worked to find the best way of doing that.

How to Grow Asparagus

You can grow asparagus from seed or from one-year-old plants called crowns.    You can’t harvest asparagus in the first two years, harvesting of asparagus begins in the 3rd year, so you’ll need to plan that into your cropping plans.  In this guide, we’ll cover how to grow asparagus from seed, how to grow asparagus from crowns, how to grow asparagus in beds and how to grow asparagus in pots and containers.

grow asparagus in pots and ground 2

How to grow asparagus from seed

There are no tricks to growing asparagus from seed.  Just patience.  It will take 21-28 days for asparagus seeds to germinate.   We recommend soaking seeds for a couple of hours and planting in a propagator or individual 5-centimetre pots.  Plant the seeds 1cm down in clean fresh compost.

You’ll want to start your seeds in a propagator or a greenhouse and then, when they reach about 5 centimetres you can transplant them to the pot or container where they will live.  This may take 10-12 weeks.  You’ll want to ensure that any danger of frost has passed before you plant them out.

If you prefer thinner asparagus spears then you can plant your asparagus seedlings closer together.  Thicker spears will need more space between them.

Transplanting Asparagus Seedlings

Whether you decide to grow your asparagus in containers or in the ground, then you’ll want to ensure that when you transplant the asparagus seedlings you move the young plants to their “forever” home.   Asparagus grows best when it’s allowed to become well established.  This can be either in a bed or in an appropriate pot.

Transplanting Asparagus seedlings into the ground

If you’re planting asparagus seedlings into the ground, then thinner spears will want to be about 20 centimetres apart with the roots some 10 centimetres deep.   To grow thicker asparagus spears you’ll want to plant them 30 centimetres apart and 15 centimetres deep.

Transplanting asparagus seedlings into a container

If you’re transplanting your asparagus seedlings into a container, then a 1.2 metre squared container should suffice for 8 plants.   Plant the roots 10 centimetres deep for thin asparagus spears or 15 to 20 centimetres deep for thicker spears.

How to grow Asparagus from Bare-Root Crowns

You’ll want to plant asparagus crowns as soon as you can after you’ve bought them.  

How to Plant Asparagus Crowns

Planting Asparagus crowns is simple. The way you do it is slightly different if you are growing asparagus in a container – the main things for both planting asparagus crowns in pots and in the ground is that you need to make sure you have good drainage.

Growing Asparagus Crowns in the Ground

Dig a trench for your asparagus that’s about 20 centimetres deep – and about 30 centimetres wide, then fill the bottom 7-8 centimetres with good garden compost.  This will help to feed your new asparagus plants.   Then use the soil from the trench that you’ve just dug to create a mound or ridge in the middle of the trench.  Put each asparagus crown on top of the ridge, cover with 7-8 centimetres of soil and press firmly into position.  Water well. 

Growing Asparagus Crowns in a Container

You’ll want 5-10 centimetres of gravel in the bottom of the container that you choose to plant your asparagus in to ensure that it drains well. Soggy asparagus roots lead to rotten asparagus roots.  Layer the bottom with good compost or a mix of compost and soil.  And make holes in the compost about 20 centimetres deep.  Make a hole for each crown.

Allow each crown to have a circle of 3 times its size around it, this should give the roots enough space to expand and ensure that your crowns are not crowding each other if you’re planting several asparagus plants together.  Push the compost up around the crown, there should be a series of ridges throughout the container and depressions between the crowns.

As a rule of thumb, you can fit about 8 asparagus plants in a 1.2 metre squared container.

Water well.  Site in a sunny but sheltered place in the garden.  If you’re growing tomatoes are well they’re great companion plants for asparagus, as too are strawberries.

As shoots start to appear on the crown, cover them with compost leaving about 2 centimetres uncovered.  Keep covering the shoots as they grow until you reach the overall compost level of the container.   You’ll get about 10 shoots per crown, asparagus variety depending.

grow asparagus in pots and ground

How to grow Asparagus in pots

There’s little difference between growing asparagus in pots to growing asparagus in the ground.   You’ll need fertile, well-drained compost, a good sunny and sheltered spot and the proper sized container.

The best pots to grow Asparagus in

Asparagus will grow perfectly well in containers and pots, so long as you meet the growing requirements for asparagus.  Compost should be fertile and well-drained.  The spot you choose to site your asparagus pot should be sunny and sheltered from the wind.    Asparagus pots should allow for about 15 centimetres squared for each asparagus plant.  In reality, a 1.2 metre squared container should allow for 8 asparagus plants.   The perennial Asparagus is a deeply rooted vegetable, so you’ll want to use a pot that gives about 45-centimetre depth so that you can plant bare-root crowns to a depth of 10 -15  centimetres down and allow the roots to make their own way down.

The best pots for asparagus plants should allow for good drainage too.

Here are our recommendations for pots to grow asparagus in:

When to plant asparagus in pots

You can plant asparagus in pots at various times during the year, depending on whether you’re planting seeds or bare root crowns.  Pots allow for the flexibility of movement, which means that you can take advantage of warmer temperatures inside the greenhouse, porch or polytunnel.

  • Plant asparagus seeds in pots inside in February, move outside to harden off in June or
  • Plant asparagus seeds in pots outside in March/April
  • Plant asparagus crowns in pots in March or September

The best varieties of asparagus to grow in pots

Asparagus Gijnlim:  this is a high yield male variety of Asparagus.  It produces medium green spears with purple tips. Buy Gijnlim Asparagus Crowns here from Thompson Morgan

Asparagus Mondeo:  Versatile all-male hybrid suitable for planting in both Spring and Autumn Buy Mondeo Asparagus Crowns from Thompson Morgan here

Asparagus Pacific 2000:  Great flavour and high yield, suitable for spring and autumn planting. Buy Pacific 2000 Asparagus Crowns from Thompson Morgan here

Asparagus Pacific Purple:  High yield, purple, sweeter and more tender than many of the green varieties. Buy Pacific Purple Asparagus from Thompson Morgan here

This asparagus selection from Thompson Morgan will give you four great asparagus varieties – they’re all suitable for Spring and Autumn Planting.

  • Asparagus Ariane – Delicious purple-tipped spears early in the season.
  • Asparagus Mondeo – Impressive yields and quality, especially early in the season.
  • Asparagus Pacific 2000 – Consistently uniform, green spears that are tender and stringless.
  • Asparagus Purple Pacific – Stringless spears that are more tender and sweet than many green varieties.

Buy this value pack of Asparagus Crowns now

Where to Plant Asparagus

One of the great benefits of growing asparagus in pots is that you can move the pot without upsetting the plant.  Asparagus does really well planted near tomatoes as the tomatoes repel asparagus beetles and Asparagus repels nematodes which attack tomato plants!  Asparagus does best with good sunshine, so pots mean that you can move the asparagus to the right part of the garden for this.  It’s also handy growing asparagus in pots if you move house and want to transplant your asparagus easily and without hassle!

If you are starting to grow asparagus from a bare crown then you’ll want to plant it directly to where you want it to stay for good. 

How to harvest Asparagus

You should only harvest asparagus in its third year.  If you’re buying a bare room crown of asparagus, then you’ll get a head start on the harvesting.   You can harvest asparagus from the middle of April for about 6 weeks.  To harvest asparagus, use a sharp knife and cut individual asparagus spears 2-3 centimetres below the soil.  Your spears shouldn’t be more than 18-20cenitremes tall.   Asparagus is best when fresh, so harvest every few days for your immediate eating requirements.

How to harvest Asparagus seeds

Asparagus plants are either female or male.  The male asparagus plant produces a larger quantity and better asparagus spears so you’ll tend to buy male bare-root crowns.  If you do find female plants, then you’ll notice them as they produce bright red berries.   The spears might not be as good, but this will give you the opportunity to harvest asparagus seeds and grown more plants!

You will only get asparagus seeds from female asparagus plants. 

You’ll notice asparagus berries or seeds as the ferns begin to fall over in the autumn and as they turn bright red.  Each berry contains about 3-4 black seeds.

Once the tops have fallen over, you can collect them and hang them upside down in a warm, dry area.  It will take about a week for them to ripen.   You’ll need to open the berries to get the seeds out – usually prying them open with a fingernail works.  Wash the berry pulp off them and then dry the asparagus seeds for about a week.

grow asparagus in pots and ground

How to dry Asparagus seeds

The easiest way to dry asparagus seeds is to first shake off all the excess water (a colander is great for doing this).  Then you’ll want to place the seeds in a single layer on a sheet of baking paper.  Don’t use anything like kitchen roll as the seeds will stick to this.  Move the seeds around during the week to make sure they don’t stick to the paper or other seeds. When they’re dry you can then use these seeds for planting.

Growing asparagus FAQS

Here are the questions most people have about growing asparagus in containers. If we haven’t answered one that you have, then ask us in the comments, or drop us an email.

Can you grow asparagus in a pot?

Yes. We hope that this guide on how to grow you own asparagus in a container explains how easy it is.

What’s the best container to grow asparagus in?

Asparagus is a deep-rooted perennial, so the container you choose will need to account for that.  The best containers to grow asparagus in are at least 45 centimetres deep.  A 1.2 metre squared container will be able to hold 8 asparagus plants.

Can you grow asparagus in a bag?

There are challenges to growing asparagus in bags. (and by bags I mean polythene grow bags) Asparagus grows best in well-drained fertile soil. The primary challenge with growing asparagus in bags is that its hard to maintain the correct drainage in polythene bags.  The compost can also sweat in warm weather. We don’t recommend it.   You can grow asparagus in felt or breathable material bags, again drainage is the key.

How often should asparagus in a pot be watered?

Asparagus needs well-drained, but moist soil to grow.  You can expect each plan needing about 10 centimetres of water a week, depending on the conditions.  Make sure that your container is well-drained, and that the roots do not sit in water.

What’s the best compost or soil to grow asparagus in?

Asparagus grows the best in sandy loam soil but is a pretty tolerant perennial vegetable.  So long as your drainage is good and you can maintain a good soil moisture Asparagus should thrive in most composts and soils.  We recommend a good general compost for Asparagus. Here’s our guide to the best compost for vegetables.

Do my asparagus need fertilizer or plant food?

Yes.  You’ll want to feed your asparagus and/or keep the soil or compost well fertilized. A well-kept asparagus plant can keep producing for 20 plus years.

Can I reuse the compost from my asparagus?

Yes, you can reuse the compost from your asparagus container.  However, you’ll want to make sure it’s clear of any old roots, and you’ll want to add some fertilizer to it before using it again.  We also do not recommend lanting another asparagus plant in it.  It’s ALWAYS best to rotate vegetables to prevent disease.

Can you grow asparagus from seed?

Yes.  You can grow asparagus from seed, however, you can’t harvest asparagus until its third year, so it’s generally better for most people to grow asparagus from a year old plant called a crown.  An asparagus crown is one or two-year-old plant.  You’ll be able to source more varieties of asparagus as bare-root crowns.

What is the best time to plant asparagus?

Spring is the traditional time to plant Asparagus.  March is generally the best time to plant bare-root asparagus.  You can, however, also plant them in the autumn, which will give them a head start on establishing in the somewhat warmer soil.  Planting asparagus in pots means that you can keep them inside a polytunnel or greenhouse for a while and keep the soil warmer, allowing them to establish as well.

How long does asparagus take to grow?

Asparagus will be into its 3rd season before you can harvest it if you’re growing it from seed.  After its first harvesting season then you’ll be able to harvest every year.  This perennial is a great cropper and can last for up to 25 years!

Where should I plant asparagus

Asparagus doesn’t transplant too well (yes we know that you can transplant it, but its best to try and find asparagus a permanent home in your vegetable garden.  You’ll want a sunny, sheltered spot.  Compost or soil should be well-drained and the more fertile the better.  Here are our recommendations for the best compost for vegetable gardens – and perhaps its also time to consider using a compost bin in your garden too – it’s a great way to be environmentally friendly and to save money in the garden. These compost bins are the best value for vegetable gardens in the UK.

Final Words on growing Asparagus in pots

Asparagus is seen by many as a luxury vegetable because it has such a short harvesting season and because it tends to be expensive.  It is, however, an easy vegetable to grow.  We hope you’ve found this guide on how to grow asparagus at home and how to grow asparagus in containers useful – if we’ve missed anything please let us know. We love that, while it might be a luxury veg in the shops, as a perennial vegetable, it’s a cheap vegetable to grow.  Plant it once, harvest it for up to 20 years! We hope you’ll enjoy growing asparagus (and eating it) as much as we do!

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