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Sunday, December 17, 2017

How to Identify If Your Asparagus Plant Is a Girl or Boy

Q. You mentioned that male asparagus plants produce more than female asparagus plants. How do you tell the difference?

This is what a female asparagus plant will produce. These are the berries that form from female flowers. You want to get rid of asparagus before these berries turn red. Once they are red, the seeds are mature and pulling them can disperse the seeds all through the garden.

A. Male asparagus plants produce more spears than female asparagus plants because of the energy needed to produce seed by females. So male asparagus plants are preferred over female asparagus plants. You pay a premium price for “all male” asparagus crowns or roots.
These are asparagus flowers that have not yet opened. They will be either male or female flowers. This will tell you if the plant is male or female.
            We call plants that have male and female forms, “dioecious”. The plants and spears look identical. The flowers are slightly different. Male flowers and female flowers are easy to sex in some plants. Flowers of asparagus are not. Male and female asparagus flowers look nearly identical.
This is a combination of immature asparagus fruits and flowers.
            After harvesting asparagus spears for 8 to 10 weeks in the spring, the spears are allowed to grow into 5 to 6 foot tall “bushes” called “ferns”. These “ferns” produce small white flowers that are either male on the male plants or female on the female plants. The female plants produce round berries. The male plants do not.
After you have finished harvesting asparagus spears in the spring, you let the remaining spears develop into full sized bushes like this called "ferns".
            The easiest way to tell the sex of it asparagus plant is to look for the “berries” that form from female flowers on the ferns. Dig up and remove the entire female plants including their underground crowns. Do this before these young green berries become red in color or mature and can spread seeds in the garden.
            When you buy one or two-year-old asparagus crowns (roots) for planting, the more expensive ones will be labeled “all male”. To get all male plants, someone must “rogue out” or remove all the female plants including the crowns.

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