Asparagus

(Question)

I grew asparagus from seed last summer in biodegradable pots, and transplanted them to the garden in early September.
They seemed to be fine; most came up this year.
Some have brown fronds.
Don’t see any insects on them.
Other possible problem?

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners about your asparagus plants.

Asparagus is a long lasting perennial vegetable once it becomes established. From planting seed to a plant that can be harvested takes about 3 years.

You do not say where in the garden your plants are grown. What type of soil? Does the soil drain well? Do you keep the soil consistently moist? How much sun do the plants get? Do you add compost? Fertilizer? Do the plants with brown fronds get less sun, or less water than the other plants? These are just some of the variables affecting the growth and health of your asparagus.

Here is detailed growing information on asparagus. It also covers managing pests, diseases, and disorders. Key points:

  • Plants need full sun, i.e., at least 6 hours per day.
  • Soil must have sufficient nutrients. Add compost periodically to feed the soil.
  • Soil must be kept evenly moist, but must drain well.
  • Asparagus does not thrive in extremely acidic soil.

Make sure the growing conditions are right for all your plants. Conditions might be unsuitable for the ones with the brown fronds.

According to the University of Maine’s experts, persistently wet soil can cause pH changes and otherwise interfere with a plant’s ability to take up nutrients, and this can cause premature decline, and brown fronds in asparagus. Note that asparagus fronds do turn brown at the end of the growing season.

Given the much greater than usual amount of rain this spring – Toronto had the rainiest April on record –  excessively wet soil could be the cause of some fronds browning.

I suggest you remove the dead fronds and continue to care for your asparagus as per the above recommendations. You are well on your way to enjoying years of fresh asparagus in spring.