Whether you’re dreaming of bundling a hefty early-season harvest for friends and family or casually plucking a few spears at a time all spring and early summer long, growing asparagus is deeply satisfying for any gardener.
While it may take patience in that first year, a properly cared for asparagus patch will yield tender, succulent spears for 20 years or more once established.
Even better, after the initial planting and establishment phase, an asparagus bed practically takes care of itself with minimal care required.
When starting an asparagus patch, one of the most important choices you’ll make is deciding which asparagus variety to plant. The variety you select can impact factors like yield, spear thickness, flavor, and disease-resistance.
Here are some top tips for choosing an asparagus variety for your growing conditions and tastes:
- Consider your climate zone. Look for heat-tolerant varieties like UC157 F1 and Apollo F1 for hotter regions or Jersey Giant/Knight/Jersey King for cooler areas.
- Decide between all-male hybrids or older open-pollinated heirlooms:
- Hybrid all-male varieties like Jersey Supreme yield more prolifically.
- Heirlooms offer unique flavors/colors but lower yields over time.
- For extra-tender spears, opt for varieties with high sugar content like Sweet Purple.
- Seek out disease-resistant varieties if fungal issues are common in your area.
- Look for cold-hardy, salt-tolerant types like Jersey Giant/Knight for coastal climates.
- Weigh flavor differences – some varieties like Purple Passion asparagus offer fruitier notes.
No matter what, resist the urge to purchase bare root crowns from the grocery store – quality and disease is hard to determine. Instead buy from a reputable nursery.
Popular all-around varieties like Mary Washington and UC 157 F1 are great for beginning gardeners in many regions – just ensure whichever you choose suits your unique growing needs!