The Q&A Archives: Asparagus Ferning

Question: We bought 2 year old asparagus roots and all they seem to do is fern. Is that normal? Is there something we are not doing? This is the first time we have tried asparagus and really have no idea what to expect. Can you help us?

Answer: Asparagus spears develop ferny foliage when they aren't harvested. This is a good thing! You should not harvest asparagus spears for the first few years after planting to allow the crowns to mature and become fully established. I would guess the spears are very thin. Give them another season and harvest only a few spears, letting the remaining grow lots of ferny foliage. The third year your plants should be fully established and can harvest even more spears. To keep your plants healthy, cut back the dead foliage in the fall and mulch heavily with compost. Remove the mulch in the spring when new shoots appear.

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