Ask a Question forum: Asparagus: Trying to get bigger clumps

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Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
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LysmachiaMoon
Jun 11, 2015 3:00 PM CST
I have several plants of Purple asparagus that are about 4 years in the ground (started with 1 year old clumps). Each spring, each root clump sends up only 1 or 2 shoots. I know how to grow asparagus (no harvest first year, light harvest second, etc.), but these just will NOT form more than 1 or 2 stems. This year, the stems were huge...big thick shoots, but still only 1-2. My question is: Now that I've got this one huge stalk coming up with leaves on it, will it perhaps "shock" the roots into producing more shoots if I cut it right down below ground now in mid June? I know that Midsummers Day is the end of the harvest season. I've never tried cutting asparagus down after it put on leaves. Will cutting it down kill it? Or should I just be brave and give it a whirl?

My only other option at this point is to dig out the plants, toss 'em, and start over next spring, which I'm hoping not to do unless I have to.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jun 11, 2015 6:27 PM CST
Annie, I have both green asparagus and purple asparagus (and unfortunately can't remember the actual varieties anymore), and have been thinking about digging out the purple plants and getting rid of them because they do pretty much the same thing you are talking about. The stalks for the most part are humongous -- and while I like thicker stalks, these are way beyond reason! They are so big that the "scales" are huge and coarse as well, so I often peel the stalks (which seems like an unnecessary hassle to me). And there are only a few stalks that come up from each plant.

I don't know whether cutting the leafy stalks down will cause the plant to produce a greater number of shoots, but I kind of doubt it. Might be worth trying with one of the plants, since you're thinking of digging the plants out anyway. Hopefully someone here will have a better answer for you!
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Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Jun 12, 2015 8:01 AM CST
Thanks Sandy, I think I might do as you suggest. What have I got to lose? I was watching BBC Gardeners World and the moderator there said that if asparagus doesn't get off to a good start within the first couple of years, there's no point in continuing trying. In other words, tear it out and start over. So it looks like the purple asparagus does tend to produce fewer but thicker stalks? Hmm. Not sure that's a bonus. I think I'll go out and cut down the one purple that has produce a ginormous stalk and see what happens.
The end is nothing, the journey is all.

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