Do you have asparagus plants and want to grow some more in the future? Then read on to learn how to save your asparagus seeds and how to store them!
If you’re growing open-pollinated varieties of asparagus plants and would like to grow more or gift your friends with some asparagus starts, what better way than to propagate them from the seeds of your own stock. Learn how to save asparagus seeds and how to store them.
Can You Grow Asparagus From Seed?
Somewhere, sometime, by someone, the idea was spread that asparagus is best grown from crowns, not seed. Experienced gardeners I have spoken to have confirmed what I myself have learned from personal experience: That is simply not true. In fact, asparagus that is grown from seeds that have been saved from your own asparagus are more robust and vigorous than asparagus grown from store-bought crowns.
From Which Varieties of Asparagus Can I Save the Seeds?
Harvest your seeds from open-pollinated asparagus varieties (examples include Mary Washington, Martha Washington, and Waltham Washington.)
Open-pollinated asparagus plants in general are more genetically diverse, meaning there is a greater amount of diversity among the plant populations. As you plant the seeds that you saved from open-pollinated varieties of asparagus, those plants will slowly adapt to your specific growing conditions and climate and improve year after year.
Note that in addition to being open-pollinated you’ll also need both male and female plants to harvest seeds. The males pollinate and the females produce the seeds.
How Do I Know When My Asparagus Seeds Are Ready to Harvest?
When the asparagus ferns are beginning to fall over and the berries are red, they’re ready to harvest.
Inside each red berries are usually 3-4 black seeds.
How Do I Remove the Asparagus Seeds?
Gather up all the red berries. You can often pierce the berries with your fingernail and open them to remove the seeds. If the berries are too dry and tough, let them sit for an hour or so until they’re soft enough to open.
Remove the seeds and rinse them thoroughly in a kitchen colander/sieve to remove any remaining pieces of berry pulp.
Tap the colander several times to shake off as much excess water as possible.
How Do I Dry Asparagus Seeds?
Place the seeds in a single layer on a tray or plate lined with parchment or wax paper. Do not line it with paper towels or napkins or the wet seeds will stick to them.
Dry the seeds for about a week, stirring them around on the paper every so often to prevent them from sticking to each other or to the paper.
How Do I Store Asparagus Seeds?
Store the seeds in a paper envelope, plastic bag or a jar and place a silica gel packet in with them to remove any excess moisture and to ensure the seeds stay dry. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place such as the refrigerator Do NOT store them in the crisper drawer as that retains moisture.
Be sure to label the jar/packet with the seed type and harvest date!
I planned six or eight seedlings every year that I have started from seeds. I have been doing this for the last 10 years or so, so my asparagus patch continues to get larger. The downside of asparagus seeds is that the birds eat these red berries and then excrete the seeds and you end up with asparagus plants growing in many places that you don’t want them. The plants are quite hardy and not easy to kill.
When do I plant the seeds? How long do they take to provide asparagus? Thanks!
You can plant the seeds directly, but I like to start them inside during the winter. I put the seedlings about 10-12 inches apart in a row. The fourth summer they should provide some asparagus for eating.
linda falkoski says
Can we tell the male from female asparagus??? If so how, please…
Kimberly Killebrew says
Hi Linda, males don’t produce berries so when you see the red berries those are females.
Cheryl Hatter says
Thank you so much for the great information! This coming spring (2023) my plants will be three years old. Really looking great and healthy♥️ Just picked two red berries!! Woo hoo!!
Kimberly Killebrew says
I’m happy you found it helpful, Cheryl, and congrats on that long-awaited asparagus!!
This needs to happen at my house very soon!!
Oh wow – I had no idea!
Sara Welch says
What a great tutorial! I never knew this could be done!
Dorothy Reinhold says
I have always wanted to grow asparagus. This tutorial makes it so doable!
This is SUCH a good tutorial!! I had no idea!