How to Get Asparagus Seedlings
All asparagus plants begin life as a seed, although most people plant asparagus crowns which are already one year old in order to hasten harvesting of edible spears. When you start asparagus from a seed or a seedling it takes an additional year before you can start picking the tasty shoots in spring.
There are three ways to get asparagus seedlings:
- You can harvest seeds from the mature, red berries of female plants in late fall and start them in a greenhouse or cold-frame the next spring.
- You can purchase asparagus seeds or seedlings from a seed company or nursery.
- When asparagus berries fall onto the ground in the asparagus bed and sprout into seedlings, you can dig them up and nurse them for a year until they produce crowns and then plant the crowns in a new location.
If you harvest your own asparagus seeds, pick the berries in late fall when they have turned bright red and put them in a paper bag to dry completely before planting them. You can rub the berries to open them where you will find several small black seeds inside, or, you can plant the entire berry.
How to Grow Asparagus Seedlings
Start asparagus seedlings from seed from early February to May by planting them indoors in pots under a grow lamp or in a greenhouse or cold-frame.
Soak the seeds in warm water for a few hours to hasten germination and then plant them .5 inches (1.8 cm) deep in a seed-starting potting mix in small pots with one or two seeds per pot. Be sure the pots have drainage holes in the bottom.
Keep the soil temperature between 70º-85ºF (21º-29ºC) in a location with daily sun. Water the pots at least once each day or whenever they begin to dry out on the surface. Asparagus seedlings take 2 to 8 weeks to germinate.
Asparagus seedlings look like feathery blades of grass when they first appear. When they have grown for about 12 weeks after germinating you can transplant them into a permanent garden bed, or, you can transplant them into a 1 gallon (3.8 liter) pot and continue caring for them for a full year before transferring the crowns into the garden.