Asparagus is one of the only true perennial vegetables and is a favorite in colder climates. These plants are hardy and lend themselves well for transplant, especially if the plants are overcrowded. If you are getting less yield as the years go by, transplanting is necessary because they are not getting the proper nutrients. You can also grow asparagus from seed and transplant it. So when do you transplant asparagus? We reviewed various resources to find out the correct answer to this important gardening question!
Asparagus plants should be transplanted in the early spring for the best outcome; however, any time the plant is dormant is ok to transplant (usually late fall - early spring). Dormant refers to before the plant has begun to sprout. If the plant is being transplanted from a seedling sprout, you will want to relocate it during the early spring when the roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot, but there is no chance of frost.
Taking the proper steps when transplanting asparagus plants will help to ensure that the harvest is successful. The following seven steps for transplantation will focus on the transplanting of established asparagus. If transplanting from a seedling, follow the steps below (skipping 4 and 5) to properly prepare the ground before and after the transplant.
7 Steps for Transplanting Asparagus
Prepare your transplant site first. Transplanting is hard on any plant, and you want to minimize the amount of time that the asparagus roots are out of the ground.
Step 1: Choosing a Site
First, make sure there is plenty of sun - a full eight hours is ideal. Also, there needs to be plenty of room for the plants to grow; asparagus plants can continue to produce crops for typically around fifteen years, but possibly for up to fifty years. If planting more than one row, the rows need five feet between them.
Not sure what full sun means? Check out our in-depth article describing how full sun affects plants: What Does “Full Sun” Mean In Gardening?
Step 2: Preparing the Ground
Asparagus needs neutral soil. Check the pH; it should be between 6.5 - 7.5. You also want proper nutrition, so add compost to the soil to help with that. If necessary, you can also add fertilizer but make sure it is properly worked into the ground so that it doesn't burn the new plants.
Step 3: Digging the Dirt
Dig a trench about six to eight inches deep and ten inches wide. Your plants need 18 inches between them, so dig the trench length accordingly. You need proper drainage for the plants to thrive.
Step 4: Preparing the Plants to be Moved
Next, you will turn to the asparagus plants in need of transplanting. You want to find the crown of the plant. This is the base of the plant where the stalks grow. Locating the crown helps to minimize damage to the root system. The roots are thick. Properly removing the root system is key to a successful transplant. You want to avoid cutting the roots; however, some of this is inevitable in very dense growth.
Step 5: Digging up the Roots
Use a sharp shovel to cut around and under the area you want to transplant. You will want to find the main crown and cut around it, pulling up a controllable amount - depending on the size of the plant, 10-24 inches wide. You DO NOT want to damage the root system.
Use a garden fork to do the actual lifting of the roots. Rinse off the extra dirt. This will allow you to better see the root system for untangling. Rinsing is less damaging than shaking off the dirt. Similarly, if you pull up more than one plant root system at a time, untangle the roots before replanting.
Step 6: Replanting the Roots
Place the roots within the prepared trench 18 inches apart. Next, spread out the roots and keep the spears facing upward. Cover with a dirt/compost mix. The top of the crown must be two inches below the dirt. Add three inches of mulch over the top to help with moisture and weed control.
Need some help deciding on the kind of compost to use? Check out our blog, 6 Types Of Compost You Should Know, for more details.
Step 7 - Maintenance of Newly Planted Asparagus
Lastly, for proper maintenance of the new plants, keep the ground moist but not soaked. Fertilize according to the manufacturer's directions. It is best to skip the harvest on the first season and up to three years after transplant. This will help the plant to hold onto the nutrients needed for healthy regrowth.
How tall should asparagus seedlings be before transplanting?
If transplanting from seedlings, you will want to transplant when the plants are between 10 and 12 weeks old; they will be about three to six inches tall. The roots will be coming out of the bottom of the pot. This should occur in spring when freezing temperatures have ceased.
Can you move established asparagus?
Yes, you can move established asparagus. The directions above pertain to a newly potted plant or established plants in the yard. Most importantly, take precautions that the plant is completely dormant and the soil is prime for the transplant to be successful.
Do you trim asparagus seedlings?
Do not trim asparagus seedlings. Let the plant get established for the first year. Do not yield any crop or trim the plant. It is best to establish the root system, and the plants thrive for the first year with as little disruption as possible. This allows all nutrients to go into the root system. Newly planted asparagus seedlings can produce a crop as early as year two.
Can you transplant asparagus in the summer?
It is best to transplant in the spring or during dormant times. Summer temperatures are too hot and can shock the plant, making it too hard to establish itself. In addition, replanting in summer doesn't give the plants enough time to get properly established before dormancy.
How do you transplant old asparagus?
Transplanting asparagus is a very tangible task. Whether a new seedling or an old, established plant, transplanting is a great way to improve the yield of the crop. Careful consideration of the time of year and preparation of the ground will help your transplant be fruitful. In addition, it is helpful to plant in an area where you can plan for the asparagus to grow for many years, so you won't be in the position to transplant any time soon!