Asparagus is a divisive vegetable. Some people count it among vegetables suitable for serving to royalty such is its taste and nutrition, while others cannot get past its sulfurous, ammonia-like odor.
Compared to many other vegetables, asparagus has highly particular prerequisites for growth, but it is wise to begin at the beginning with its light requirements. How much sunlight does asparagus need to grow?
Asparagus generally does well with a full 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. A little more sun than that is generally better, but it can make do with less if all of its other nutritional and soil requirements are being met.
Compared to other crops, asparagus requires a different approach. It is very slow to germinate and spread, meaning picking out a location for it is even more important since you won’t get a meaningful return for a couple of years at least.
If this plot is chosen poorly, too much or too little light is going to sabotage your efforts. Keep reading to learn more.
Does Asparagus Need Full Sun?
Yes. Asparagus will do well with plenty of direct sunlight. Though it can be tolerant of some shading, a lack of sunlight will stunt its growth and reduce yields.
If you live in an area with very hot summers, some afternoon shading may be beneficial to prevent scorching.
How Many Hours of Sun Do Asparagus Need?
Asparagus needs a full eight hours of direct sunlight each day during its growing season (April-June in most areas). If possible, it is best to provide more than this, as the plant will produce more spears.
Asparagus that gets less than the recommended eight hours will still produce, but it will grow slower and yields will be lower.
Can Asparagus Grow in Shade?
No, not in full shade. It will even be seriously setback by partial shade if it does not get enough continuous sun throughout the day.
If your asparagus bed is in an area that gets full sun in the morning but shade in the afternoon, it will likely be fine. However, if it is in an area that is shaded for most of the day, it will not do well.
Can Asparagus Get Too Much Sun?
If asparagus gets too much sun in too-hot conditions, the spears will become tougher and woody.
The plant may also produce fewer spears overall. Other than that there is little to worry about from sun exposure alone.
In very hot conditions, too much sun can cause the plant to dry out and scorch. If this happens, provide some afternoon shading until the temperatures cool off.
While asparagus does enjoy plenty of sunshine, it prefers cooler weather, and will do best in an area that gets partial shade during the hottest hours of the day.
So if you’re looking to grow some delicious asparagus, make sure to give it a spot in your garden that gets plenty of sunshine – but not too much!
Do Different Varieties of Asparagus Need More or Less Sun?
Did you know that there are actually many different varieties of asparagus? While most asparagus plants need at least eight hours of sunlight per day, some varieties require even more sun, while others can tolerate a little less.
For example, the Purple Passion asparagus plant needs full sun to thrive, while Mary Washington asparagus can tolerate up to four hours of shade per day…
So if you’re thinking about planting asparagus in your garden, be sure to select a variety that will fit the conditions of your particular location.
Pay particular attention to the site you select, and take a long view of the circumstances: asparagus is a perennial, and one that takes some years to properly establish itself.
You should not choose a site which could be overshadowed by neighboring plants (as they grow) or with neighbors that could compete for nutrients; asparagus roots go deep and far!
What Happens if Asparagus Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?
Asparagus is a sun-loving plant, and it needs at least eight hours of sunlight each day to thrive, though it might merely survive on less.
If it doesn’t get enough sun, it will start to lose its color, and the shoots will become thinner and less flavorful.
The plant will also become more susceptible to diseases and pests. In extreme cases, lack of sunlight can cause the asparagus plants to die.
So if you’re growing asparagus in your garden, make sure they get plenty of sunny days. Otherwise, you might be left with a disappointing crop of subpar vegetables.
Asparagus is a long-lived plant, and one that can bounce back from a lack of sunlight in the short term, but you’ll have little luck attempting to transplant it to a sunnier location once it’s established.
So if you’re not sure your asparagus will get enough sun, it’s best to choose another spot in your garden.
Can Asparagus Grow in Indirect Sun?
Possibly, but not reliably or well. Asparagus needs lots of sunlight to thrive. It’s possible that it could survive in indirect sun, but it would likely produce fewer and smaller spears, and the plant would be more susceptible to disease.
So if you’re looking to grow asparagus in your garden, you must commit to keeping its plot fully lit.
You can also try to grow asparagus in containers and have some expectation of success, but you need to keep a couple of things in mind before you attempt it: first, remember that asparagus is a perennial that rarely produces a harvest the first year it is planted.
Second, the nature of asparagus’ root systems can make it a very tough customer to transplant. They grow deep and wide.
This necessitates the use of a larger pot that will be more of a pain to move around chasing sunlight coming through windows, so consider grow lights mandatory for containerized asparagus.
Transitioning Asparagus from Indoors to Sunlight
If you decide to take the plunge with indoor or containerized asparagus with the ultimate goal of transplanting it, you must take care to slowly transition it from the shelter of your home or garage into the sunlight.
Start by placing it in a shady spot outside for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the amount of time it spends in direct sunlight until it can tolerate full sun. This process should take about two weeks.
If you try to move it too quickly into direct sunlight, it will likely get sunscald or just stressed out, which will damage the plant and make it more susceptible to disease. So take your time and let the plant adjust slowly to its new conditions.
As always, choose the new site well with an eye toward the future; your asparagus must get at least eight hours of sunlight daily.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
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