How to Plant Two-Year-Old Asparagus Crowns in Containers

Updated on August 21, 2017
Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

In addition to being a certified herbalist and aromatherapy consultant, Gina finds the unrelenting allure of gardening very strong.

Asparagus Spears

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What is Asparagus?

An asparagus is a hardy perennial that can produce delicious green spears for up to 20 years (when planted in the ground).

Spears are harvested in the third year of growth when the plant is established.

Each plant produces about one-half pound of spears per year after establishment.

The first two years produce spears that open on the top and resemble an eye-appealing fern but are not edible.

Two year old crowns produce spears that open on the top and resemble an eye-appealing fern but are not edible.

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Yes, You Can Grow Asparagus In Containers.

If you have a lot of garden space, then growing a lot of asparagus should be no problem. However, you may want to grow asparagus in containers:

  • if you don't have a lot of land
  • if you have no land at all
  • if you rent a house or apartment
  • if you are just afraid to commit

I just couldn’t commit to putting them in the ground, so I am taking the risk! The last thing I want to do is put them in the ground and then have to dig them up if I decide to move.

My family loves asparagus, but we always get sticker shock when we go to the grocery store. When I realized that I could grow them, and I did not have to start from seed and wait for three years, I decided it was worth a try.

Things to Consider When Growing Asparagus in Containers

Learning how to grow asparagus in containers eliminates most weed problems. However, it doesn't matter whether you start from seed or these two year crowns, you need patience. Even though I am growing two year crowns, I still have to wait a year before edible shoots can be harvested.

It takes two years for plants to settle in and build up enough reserves to produce quantities worth harvesting.

This was my reasoning behind purchasing 2 year old crowns. After giving them a year to settle in, I am hoping that by the next Spring I should be able to harvest some asparagus shoots.

There are a few things to consider when raising asparagus in containers:

  • Potted spears have a much shorter lifespan....three to five years as opposed to upwards of twenty for in-ground asparagus.
  • Maximize output right from the start rather than build a strong foundation for future harvests. Purchase 1-year-old or 2 year-old crowns (dormant, bare-rooted starts sold by seed catalogs and nurseries in the spring) to save yourself a year of waiting.
  • Choose a high-yield variety such as Jersey Knight or Jersey Supreme to ensure your small growing space will produce the most spears it possibly can. I chose Jersey Knight, Mary Washington and Purple Passion.
  • Nurseries carry several types of asparagus crowns that are one to three years old.

Things You Will Need

  • Plastic pots (20-inches deep and 20-inch diameter)
  • Drill
  • Garden-mix soil
  • Trowel
  • Compost
  • Asparagus crowns
  • Watering can
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Mulch

Start with Crowns.

Bare Root Asparagus Crowns

When you open the package of Asparagus crowns, they will look very dry.  Be careful not to damage the crowns before planting.
When you open the package of Asparagus crowns, they will look very dry. Be careful not to damage the crowns before planting. | Source

Place the Bare Roots Into Water to Soak For Several Minutes.

Soaking the roots will help them to absorb moisture and will prevent damage when planting.
Soaking the roots will help them to absorb moisture and will prevent damage when planting. | Source

Select the Right Container.

Keep in mind that asparagus that are planted in the ground can grow very deep. Choose a container that will simulate soil depth. Your container needs to be about 18 inches (or more) tall, and at least a foot wide. I placed only one crown in each container.

The container should be:

  • large enough
  • provide proper drainage
  • be made of an appropriate material for growing food

Appropriate containers include:

  • glazed pots
  • terra cotta
  • wooden boxes
  • molded plastic
  • Smart Pots or other lightweight cloth containers are the easiest and most affordable way to go big.

Provide for Drainage by Drilling Holes into the Bottom of the Container.

Make drainage holes in the bottom of a large plastic pot that is at least 20-inches deep and 20-inches in diameter.
Make drainage holes in the bottom of a large plastic pot that is at least 20-inches deep and 20-inches in diameter. | Source
Plastic pots are a good choice as they do not absorb moisture as clay pots do, and drainage holes are easier to make in plastic.
Plastic pots are a good choice as they do not absorb moisture as clay pots do, and drainage holes are easier to make in plastic. | Source

Preparing the soil.

Asparagus should be planted in early to mid-spring. Place your container in a spot that gets an average of eight hours of sunshine and fill it with a quality organic potting soil a few scoops at a time until you've reached a depth of about 6 1/2-in
Asparagus should be planted in early to mid-spring. Place your container in a spot that gets an average of eight hours of sunshine and fill it with a quality organic potting soil a few scoops at a time until you've reached a depth of about 6 1/2-in | Source

Gently Separate the Crowns.

Gently separate the crowns, and prepare them for planting.
Gently separate the crowns, and prepare them for planting. | Source

Planting the Roots

Gently, begin to open the crown and spread it onto the mound of soil in the container.
Gently, begin to open the crown and spread it onto the mound of soil in the container. | Source

Use One Crown Per Container.

Place your crowns so that their roots are spread into a sunburst.
Place your crowns so that their roots are spread into a sunburst. | Source

Top your crowns with 4-6 inches of soil, patting it down with your palms to make a level surface.

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Make a Level Surface.

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Water Thoroughly.

Water it thoroughly and keep the soil moist but not wet.
Water it thoroughly and keep the soil moist but not wet. | Source

Add Labels.

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Place in a Sunny Location.

I place the containers on top of blocks to assist with drainage, and prevent root rot.
I place the containers on top of blocks to assist with drainage, and prevent root rot. | Source

New Shoots

After just a few days, new shoots started to appear.
After just a few days, new shoots started to appear. | Source

These first shoots will develop into mature plants so they can gather the energy needed for next Spring’s harvest.

These will be allowed t go to fern until the next Spring when I should get the first crop.
These will be allowed t go to fern until the next Spring when I should get the first crop. | Source

Support the plants using stakes, when necessary.

Asparagus tops, called ferns, are tall and floppy.
Asparagus tops, called ferns, are tall and floppy. | Source

Add Mulch.

The pots look like bird's nests, but as it was a very hot summer, the mulch prevented the roots from getting scorched.
The pots look like bird's nests, but as it was a very hot summer, the mulch prevented the roots from getting scorched. | Source

Cut the asparagus plants down to the soil level with a sharp knife in late fall.

  • allows the plant to overwinter
  • reduces the chance of rust disease from forming in the foliage.

Update on Growing 2 year old Asparagus Crowns in Containers

My favorite dish with asparagus

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Gina Welds Hulse

    Comments

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      • Gina Welds-Hulse profile imageAUTHOR

        Gina Welds Hulse 

        6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

        They stay outside during the winter. The plants go dormant.

      • profile image

        Tom W. 

        6 months ago

        What do you do with the pots in the winter?

        Can they stay outside here in NJ or do they have to be stored inside till next spring

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        14 months ago from New Delhi, India

        Thanks for the detailed article about planning Asparagus!

        Your pictures are excellent with well explained procedure. I like the idea of using pots since I don't have much land space for plantations.

        Thanks for sharing this!

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