asparagus

Q: I planted asparagus crowns in 2010 and had good luck with them. Am looking forward to this year. Any advice would be helpful.

Q: I planted asparagus crowns in 2010 and had good luck with them. I now have some fern-like bushes and need to know if I need to cut these back or let them grow. I am looking forward to a small production this year but any advice would be helpful.

A: I am so glad you have been successful growing asparagus here. You must have the right touch as it can be difficult to get asparagus established in Florida. Asparagus, Asparagus officinalis, is a true perennial, which means the top portion may dieback in the winter but the rhizomes, which grow underground, are still alive. The spears will show up in the spring and can be harvested for 2 – 3 months. The top “fern-like” portion you are seeing now will provide the nutrition for next year’s crop so do not cut it down.  But do not worry if the top portion dies back in the cold. The spears are produced when the plant goes through a dormancy period generally caused by cold or drought and there are times when it is not sufficient here in Florida.  Even if times are good, in Florida we may only have 3-5 years of production then the plant reduces the amount of spears it creates. But, if you are like me and love asparagus, even a few years is worth it. Taking into account the limited number of years spears are generated, consider planting some seeds now for a potential future crop.  By the way, this is not the same plant we consider an invasive nuisance, Asparagus aethiopicus or A. densifloru, asparagus fern. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/MV/MV01300.pdf