Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that will continue production for 20 years or more given the right location and maintenance. A healthy Asparagus patch requires a little attention. Growing Asparagus is more than an exercise of patience. This vegetable rewards you with an early spring juicy crop while other vegetables are yet to sprout.
But between when you plant it and harvest time, you have to deal with common sense with all kinds of diseases and problems. The Asparagus has some unique growing problems that can be frustrating, especially if you are new to perennial vegetables. Give your Asparagus plants the competition-free patch they deserve, and you will avoid all kinds of problems. Let’s check out the 20 common Asparagus plant problems.
20 common Asparagus plant problems
Asparagus ferning out early
Some vegetables bolt when temperatures rise for a few consecutive days. The Lettuce, Garlic, and Broccoli shoot a long stalk from the center of the plant where a flower blooms, indicating that the plant is now focused on seeding. In the Asparagus, it’s a little different. The spears of the Asparagus start as soft and juicy. They have been ready for a harvest for weeks since the second year. But in some circumstances, the Asparagus spears can be fast wooden, and a fern-like flower emerges at the top. A hot wave or insufficient water can cause it. If you rely on rain to water plants and the rainy season fails, the Asparagus may fern out early due to drought.
Solution – You can try to easily rotate the vegetable in a container and protect it from unexpected weather conditions. As far as drought is concerned, you can regulate your water and step in when the rains become abnormal. Do not let the soil dry for long as it starts ferning out in the Asparagus as a defensive procedure. You can also use mulching to improve soil water retention and minimize the chances of early ferning out.
Yellow, sickly plants
If your Asparagus plants are looking off-color, it is likely that the soil in your Asparagus bed is over-watered and has failed to drain well.
Solution – Try to give your Asparagus bed a chance to dry out in the middle of the water. You can check the soil; it is water time if the soil feels dry to the bottom.
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Small, weak spears or meager harvest
Your crop was either too early; otherwise, you had taken too many spears during last season’s crop. You should not harvest the Asparagus spears during the first three years after planting. You can cut only a few Asparagus spears and leave the rest to nourish the plant.
Solution – Depending on the strength of your plants, pick spears regularly. After 4 to 6 weeks stop harvesting, and let the rest of the spears go. The Asparagus plants need time to grow and store food next season.
Asparagus plants are falling over
If your Asparagus plant falls over after reaching maturity, it is unnecessary to worry because they need to be tall with large ferns. This way, they can store enough energy for next year’s crop. Also, falling over is how Asparagus plants spread their seeds to create new plants. Frost is another reason why your Asparagus plants will fall.
Solution– At that time, the spears (which now look like ferns) will fall. Remember that the Asparagus plants are perennials, which means that the crown and roots will survive, although the spears die back. If you want to prevent your Asparagus plants from falling at maturity, you have two options: Cut back the ferns, but not while it’s still green (more on it later), and support plants using stakes with cages, trellises, or wire/swine.
In spring, the Asparagus spears start growing, and they continue to grow in summer and fall until the frost kills them. Clean any debris (such as branches, leaves, and spears) around your Asparagus plants. It will provide fewer places to hide beetles during winter. Perhaps you are sure your Asparagus plant is not falling due to maturity, pests, or overharvesting. In this case, it can be a simple case of the wrong environment for your plants.
Colorless, soft spears
The Asparagus spears emerge after the season’s last frost in the spring. When the Asparagus spears are frosted, they become soft and colorless.
Solution – If this happens, cut and throw away the damaged spears. Try to protect your Asparagus beds with row covers or light blankets if another frost is in the forecast.
If your Asparagus plants are maintained without ever developing into a strong Asparagus bed, they lack the right nutrients in the soil. The Asparagus need rich soil that can continue to help them yearly. Without it, Asparagus will face growing problems.
Solution – This means you should regularly fertilize and mulch your bed. Check the soil if you have seen your Asparagus plants plateauing. You can use a mixture of well-composted sheep manure, bone meal, and potash, but any balanced fertilizer will work well. If your soil is too low in nutrients, give an extra boost to the nutrients in the middle of summer to get your plants out of their rut and growing strong.
The Asparagus is too thin
Many species of Asparagus are ready for harvesting three years after planting alone. In the first two years, the Asparagus spears are very thin because of wrong fertilizer, age fern deadheading, and depth. When the Asparagus reach ten years, it becomes less productive, and the spears become very thin.
Solution – The easiest way to prevent your Asparagus from producing thin spears is to provide appropriate growing conditions. You should use a fertilizer that contains more nitrogen and less phosphorus. You can also apply a slow-release organic fertilizer to feed plants for an extended period. Keep an extra layer of soil around the crowns to keep them well covered. On average, the crown should be about 5 inches below the surface.
In case you missed it: Growing Organic Asparagus in Containers
Asparagus winter care
Like most plants, Asparagus need time to relax. At the same time, it stops any growing operations and saves its energies for spring. When the temperature is very low in the fall, your plant needs some care in cold areas. Some indications include the leaves yellowing and falling in the deactivation of the plant and a significant lack of any sign of growth. But sometimes, the plant recalls the signs from the weather, especially when the fall continues to be mild. It can become a problem when the weather turns rapidly and low temperatures damage the crown.
Solution – Start by removing all brown leaves on the base. Wait a few days, then cut the spear. It should be enough to alert the plant that winter is coming. Dry soil pushes the plant into self-preservation mode. Use organic mulch such as chopped oak bark, straw, pine needles, or wood chips to cover the soil around the plants with a 6-inch-thick surface of the mulch.
Slugs and snails
Slugs and snails eat Asparagus seedlings.
Solution – There are many ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers, copper tape, and biocontrol.
The caterpillars eat the branchlets and epidermis of the Asparagus, damaging plants and sometimes killing them.
Solution – For well-established infections, spray Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad on the crop after evening while armyworms feed. Pesticide treatment is most effective while larvae are small.
Adult Asparagus miners are small black flies and lay eggs under the epidermis of young Asparagus plants.
Solution – Manage this pest to rid the area of over-wintering pupae by burning them with parasitic wasps or burning spent Asparagus plants. Pesticides are rarely needed to control the Asparagus miners.
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Cutworms are smooth-skinned caterpillars with different colors and markings. Adults are dull-colored moths with irregular spots. Cutworms eat young plants, make boring holes in the shoot, and sometimes cause plants to grow and become curled.
Solution – Dig around the plant and identify the caterpillar to confirm the attack of the cutworm. Most work to control the weeds and cultivate the field to prevent the attack of the cutworm, but you can apply pesticides such as carbaryl, methomyl, and permethrin.
European Asparagus aphids
European Asparagus aphids is a modest blue-green to the grey-green insect, which is very difficult to find in the Asparagus plants. These aphids are injected toxins that cause damage, causing a tufted growth pattern that can eventually desiccate plants after several seasons of heavy infection.
Solution – You can control the insect with the parasitic wasps and lady beetles by cutting off crops at the end of the season and applying pesticides to the affected areas.
These small insects are winged and black in their adult form and are wingless and yellow-white in their immature form. Eggs are laid in plant tissue during summer, and leftover insects eat the Asparagus leaves, making the crop appear depleted and ragged.
Solution – Good weed management helps control the thrips, and you can treat severe diseases with Spinosad or other pesticides.
This fungus affects the tips of the spears as a starting point. It extends to the stalks and crowns and interferes with the plant’s natural growth.
Solution – Remove any affected part of the plant as soon as you notice symptoms of Asparagus rust. If most of the plant is affected, remove the entire plant and burn it. Improve the air circulation around the Asparagus patch. Choose a place that gets enough air since the fungus spreads in high humidity. Water the Asparagus properly without emphasizing dry soil or putting too much water in it.
In case you missed it: Asparagus Container Gardening Tips, Techniques
The purple spot is a disease that usually affects only Asparagus plants. The good news is that spots do not affect the taste or texture of your Asparagus spears, and they often disappear completely during cooking. The bad news is that if you’re trying to sell your spears or otherwise care about how they look, purple spots will deviate from their overall appearance.
Solution – Cut off the ferns and remove any plant affected by the disease.
Fusarium crown rot
This problem, also known only as fusarium disease, can cause yellow, dry rot, wilting, and eventually the death of plants. It is a soil-produced fungus that kills plants quickly after being infected with red-brown lesions. It usually causes roots to rot and die instantly.
Solution – One simple way to avoid this disease is to keep the area around the Asparagus beds weed-free; they can shelter fungi seeds and make it difficult for you to get rid of the disease in the future. Do not continuously harvest your Asparagus plants throughout the season, but let them rest from time to time so that you do not put too much pressure on them.
The blight, also known as Cercospora blight, is caused by Cercospora fungus. It causes grey or tan lesions on small branches of needles and plants, and a red-brown border surrounds each lesion. As you might expect, the disease is more common during wet weather periods. It can cause poor photosynthesis and a decline in plant production. Over time, it can reduce the longevity of your plants.
Solution – Water in the morning to avoid blight so that leaves can get time to dry. Ensure that plants are placed in rows at a distance of 6 feet so that the air can move between the plants and dry them. You may have to get rid of infected plants, but some fungicides may also be effective in getting rid of the disease.
The dead stem is a fungal plant pathogen closely related to bacteria responsible for common root rot, stalks rot, blight, and other diseases affecting other plants such as cereal grains.
Solution – Using sterile equipment, seeds, and growing supplies is essential. There are several resistant cultivars for a dead stem that you can grow more frequently, ensuring that the soil is healthy and disease-free before planting.
In case you missed it: Soil Preparation for Garlic Plants: Best Soil Mix, pH, Compost, and Recipe
Watery soft rot
The good news is that this disease of Asparagus is relatively abnormal. It results in water-visible lesions on your plants that eventually look like white mold. Advanced stages of the disease can cause severe black growth.
Solution – Avoid over-harvesting your plants and use sterile devices when you do so. Maintaining proper water and soil conditions is ideal.
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