A plant that returns each year, with a potential life span of over ten years is the asparagus.
While this plant requires little maintenance and attention once it is stable, it does need some attention before the weather transitions from warm to cold.
As the winter months get closer, your asparagus plant will need to be prepared for these cooler temperatures so that it can continue to grow.
How to Prepare Asparagus For Winter
Before the weather gets cold, prune your asparagus after the final harvest. Also, reduce the asparagus’ water and fertilization, as well as cover the crowns to keep them warm and safe through the winter.
Once the leaves on your asparagus begin to brown and start wilting, you can go ahead and cut these stalks and leaves back. Head over directly to the asparagus’ base and begin to cut at that point.
Pruning usually happens during the fall season as the plant begins to go dormant with the cooler weather.
For cooler regions in the Northeast and Northwest regions, the asparagus plant will go completely dormant, and you can trim back the plant then.
For milder climates, the plant may not go completely dormant, but it will begin to wilt and show signs of slowed growth.
Stop Plant Watering and Fertilization
Once you have moved forward with forcing the plant to go dormant and cutting the stalks and foliage, you need to stop all watering to the plant.
If you water these plants when it is cold, you could cause more injury to the plant, affecting its ability to return in the Spring. Continuing to water these plants in an area where there is a mild climate will confuse the plant and it may start to regrow during the fall.
During this time you also want to avoid adding fertilizer to the soil where the asparagus is planted.
The plant does not need to be fertilized and will not rest properly if fertilizer is added during the dormant period.
You want to add fertilizer back in the early Spring when the asparagus plant is showing signs of life and coming out for the new season.
Cover The Crowns
Once you have moved the plant into a winterized state, you must get the crowns covered before the frost comes.
If the crowns are covered during winter, they are limited to cold exposure and reduce potential damage from frigid temperatures, winds, and even precipitation that likes to fall during this time.
You want to have the crowns covered at least 4 inches, but most gardeners take it two inches further to six for good measure and solid protection.
Achieving Dormancy For Asparagus Plants
It is important to let the asparagus plants enter a dormancy period through the winter.
Even in mild climates where the winters are much warmer than the Northern regions, cutting back the stalk and forcing dormancy to the asparagus plants allow it the opportunity to rest.
In order for this plant to grow at its maximum potential, they need to have an opportunity to rest each year.
Change the Mulch After The Dormant Period
Once winter is over and early Spring arrives, you want to remove the mulch, straw, or other material around the crown so that it can get the sunlight it needs.
You also want to replace that mulch with a fresh batch, because the material used to harbor the crowns through the winter could be carrying fungus spores that will be deadly to the asparagus once it comes back out.
The winter conditions in the Northern regions are ideal for fungus spores to take root and wait for the temperatures to rise.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Prepare Asparagus For Winter
What can I use to cover my asparagus crowns in the winter?
You want to choose an organic material to throw over your crowns, keeping them warm enough to allow a resting period and prevent the cold from having too much of an impact on the plant. These organic materials can include wood chips or mulch of your choice. You can also use pine straw if you have it readily available, or layer the covering with a mixture of these materials.
Will my asparagus plant return the next year if I do not prepare it for winter?
If you were fortunate enough to have your asparagus plant make it through the winter without going dormant or being pruned, then you can consider that plant resilient. However, it will not have much, if any production, due to the continued stress put on the plant and not having an opportunity to thoroughly rest. Healthy and rested asparagus plants have a more substantial harvest each year if they had a resting period through the winter.
Can I reuse parts of my asparagus plant that I cut off to initiate the dormant state?
The leaves and stalks that you removed from the plant base are great for compost and introducing natural nutrients back into the soil, hence, you can reuse those parts. Take the leaves and stalks and toss them in your compost bin as a green component to balance out the existing compost. These nutrients will be ready to replenish the soil around the asparagus plants in the Spring.
Take The Time To Prepare Your Asparagus For Winter
Once summer is over and the Fall months approach, it is time to begin preparing your asparagus for winter.
The benefits of winterization on your asparagus encourage a healthy harvest in the spring and also protect the health of the plant from unwanted temperatures.
Make sure to follow these simple steps to prepare and maintain your asparagus plant for the next year.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.