Saving Seeds from Asparagus: How To Save Asparagus Seeds

Saving Seeds from Asparagus: How To Save Asparagus Seeds

In the autumn, tiny, vivid red asparagus berries develop along with the plant’s fronds, bringing a splash of color to otherwise dull late-season garden beds.

Asparagus (Asparagus Officinalis) thrives best from crown divisions, however seeds obtained from the berries in autumn can also be used.

Seed-grown asparagus plants take a year longer to develop than division-grown asparagus plants, as per Cornell University Home Gardening. Learn more about growing asparagus from seeds.

Aside from that, they have similar characteristics and can live for many years if cultivated in an optimal site within USDA plant hardiness zones 2 to 8.

Harvesting Asparagus Berries

During the summer, asparagus berries develop on the female plants’ feathery, 3- to 5-foot-tall fronds. They emerge green and mature to a bright, crimson red in the fall.

If the berries on popular asparagus types like Mary Washington (Asparagus officinalis ‘Mary Washington’) are allowed to develop, they self-seed vigorously, thus most gardeners clip off the berries-bearing fronds before they mature.

One or two fronds should be left in place, and the berries should be closely monitored.

And once berries are bright red with no sign of green, cut the fronds off at the bottom. Fill a paper bag with the fronds and store it somewhere cool and dry. Occasionally, shake the bag.

In a week or two, the fruit will fall off. Collect the berries from the bag’s bottom and carefully break them apart to reveal the glittering black seeds within.

According to North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, asparagus berries and stems are slightly poisonous and can cause dermatitis if handled without gloves.

Tip: learn more about harvesting asparagus here

How To Save Asparagus Seeds

If stored in the appropriate conditions, asparagus seeds can last three to four years. Because light has an impact on seed quality, store the seeds in paper envelopes to minimize their exposure to light.

Write the kind of asparagus and the date the seeds were harvested on the envelope, as well as a disclaimer that the seeds are somewhat harmful.

Avoid storing the seeds in a plastic bag since the moisture trapped in the bag can cause the seeds to decay.

Seeds should be stored in a refrigerator jar with a desiccant pack in the bottom, according to Washington State University Skagit County Master Gardeners.

A secure, nontoxic desiccant pack can be easily made at home using a small cloth bag packed with 1/2 cup of milk powder.

Place the bag of milk powder in the bottom of the jar, then add the asparagus seed-filled paper envelopes and shut the jar. Place the jar in the refrigerator to chill.

Starting Asparagus Seeds

Although asparagus seeds can be planted directly in the soil, planting them in pots under controlled conditions yields more consistent results.

Eight to ten weeks before the last spring frost, sow the seeds indoors or in a cold frame outside.

Soak the seeds for three days before planting, changing the water every day to keep it fresh. To keep the water fresh, the Mississippi State University Extension suggests soaking the seeds in ventilated or flowing water, such as that found in an aquarium.

Sow asparagus seeds in compostable pots with wet seed-starting compost. 1 inch deep is the recommended planting depth. Placed the pots on a propagation heat mat near a window and cover them weakly with a sheet of plastic wrap.

Asparagus seeds germinate best at temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When the compost gets dry on the top, wet it. In 10 to 12 days, asparagus seedlings will appear.

After the asparagus seedlings have emerged, remove the plastic wrap and heating mat.

Grow the seedlings for 12 to 14 weeks in bright, protected circumstances before gradually acclimating them to outside temperatures over a week or two. As you would crown divisions, sow the asparagus seedlings.

How Do I Remove the Asparagus Seeds?

All of the red berries should be collected. To get the seeds out of the berries, penetrate them with your fingernail and split them. Allow for an hour or so until the berries are soft enough to open if they are too dry and hard.

To remove any residual berry pulp, remove the seeds and wash them completely in a kitchen colander/sieve. To get rid of as much extra water as possible, tap the colander a few times.