It can take a couple of years till you can enjoy the asparagus spears from the plant. And it can be terribly disappointing if your asparagus plants fall over before you can harvest them.
Your asparagus plants are falling over because of frost, pests like cutworms, and asparagus beetles. It could also be due to a lack of support, sunlight, or water. A strong wind can also break the plant when it has grown quite tall.
I’ve written all the details below that will help you figure out what’s wrong with your asparagus plant. And what you can do to get it growing tall and strong.
1. Lack of support
Your asparagus plant can grow quite tall. Some plants can grow 5 to 7 feet tall if you’re growing them in the ground. The height may be a little restricted when planted in a container.
As the plant gets tall, it gets top-heavy and there is a high chance it will topple over. It’s best to solve this problem by adding support to your asparagus plant.
The easiest support you can use is a tomato cage. Place this cage around the plant as it grows. Once the asparagus plant starts getting tall, it will lean on the tomato cage for support.
The good thing about using a tomato cage is that it surrounds the plant on all sides. So it does not matter in which direction your asparagus plant starts leaning.
The other option is to use a trellis but you need to tie the asparagus plant to it with a twine once the plant starts growing tall.
You can also stake each asparagus plant as it grows with the help of twine. But this can get tedious when you’re growing a lot of plants.
One solution is to add a stake at both ends of the row of asparagus plants you are growing. You can then loop twine at a 2-feet and 4-feet height around the two stakes. This will help support the asparagus plants and prevent them from falling over.
2. Attack by pests
Pests are a common reason why your asparagus plant may be falling over. The most notorious pest causing this problem is the cutworm.
This pest is known to attack the base of the plant where the stem meets the roots. It eats around the stem till the plant falls over. And then it moves to another plant.
The easiest solution to protect your asparagus plant from the cutworm is to use the tube inside the toilet paper roll.
You just need to put this tube over the plant so it surrounds the stem. Then push it an inch into the soil. This will prevent the cutworm from reaching the plant.
Another pest that can attack the asparagus plant is the asparagus beetle. This insect leaves its eggs on the plant.
The larvae hatch and start eating up the plant causing it to become weak. The adult asparagus beetle will start eating the plant as well as laying eggs.
The easiest way to get rid of the eggs and larvae is to spray water on the foliage and dislodge them into the soil.
You can also handpick the eggs and adult insects and drop them in a bucket of soapy water that kills them.
Another option is to create a spray mixing 1 tablespoon neem oil, 1 tablespoon dish soap, and a gallon of water. Spray this mixture on the asparagus plant to get rid of asparagus beetles.
3. Infection by diseases
Diseases are another common problem that may cause your asparagus plant to become weak and fall over.
The plant can be attacked by fungal diseases such as Asparagus rust, Fusarium wilt, and Phytophthora crown and spear rot.
These usually have symptoms that include lesions on the plant and the foliage turning yellow. If the infection becomes severe the plant will fall and die.
The best way against these diseases is to prevent overwatering the plant. You don’t want to splash water on the foliage and cause a humid environment that attracts such diseases.
You may be able to get a disease-resistant variety of seeds that will protect the plant against some of these diseases.
If the infection is too severe, you may try using a fungicide if that is available for the particular disease.
There is no treatment for some of these diseases and you’ll have no choice but to get rid of the plant. Avoid growing asparagus or other related plants in the same location for at least a few years.
4. Lack of sunlight
Asparagus is a warm-season plant that needs full sunlight to grow well. This means you need to grow it in a location that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight every day.
If the plant does not get the required sunlight, it will grow tall and spindly trying to reach for the sun. The plant won’t be able to sustain its weight and fall over.
Make sure to keep the area clear where you’re growing asparagus plants. Cut the branches of any trees that will block sunlight from the plant.
Make sure not to grow asparagus plants among other plants that are tall and will block the light. If you’re already growing them, you’ll need to trim the branches.
If you’re growing the asparagus in a container, you can move the container to a location that will get the required sunlight.
5. Lack of water
You need to provide a lot of water when growing asparagus, especially in the first year as the plant develops roots and a crown.
The thumb rule is that your asparagus plant should get 1-inch of water every week when it’s growing.
The easiest way to know when to water the plant is to stick your finger 1-2 inches in the soil to check for moisture. If the tip of your finger does not feel moist, you need to water.
Water the soil deeply so that the entire soil gets soaked with water. This helps the roots and crown to develop deep and strong.
This protects the plant in situations of drought or conditions where it just could not get enough water. The deep roots will ensure the plant extracts water from the soil.
You need to use well-draining soil so that the water does not accumulate near the roots. This can happen if the soil contains too much clay.
If you’re growing the plant in a container, this can happen if the container does not have drainage holes at the bottom.
As the roots of the plant stay submerged in water, they can be attacked by root rot. This will decompose the roots which means the plant will not get the required nutrients and moisture.
There is a good chance that the asparagus plant will fall over because it has become weak.
So use good soil that is well-draining and has a mixture of compost and fertile soil. Make sure the place where you’re growing the asparagus has good drainage. If you’re using a container, make sure it has drainage holes at the bottom.
6. Strong wind
The asparagus plant can grow several feet when you grow it in the garden. If you live in an area that gets strong winds, there’s a risk of the plant falling over.
You need to protect the plant by adding good support to it. We have already seen you can use a tomato cage, trellis, or stake to add such support to the plant.
You can also place several straw bales that will act as a barrier against strong winds. You could even use straw-bale gardening to grow some vegetables in them. Once the straw starts to break down, you can add it to your compost pile.
Another option is to add two stakes at each end of the row of asparagus plants. Then loop the twine around the two stakes and the plants.
You can loop the twine 2 feet and 4 feet from the ground. This will help prevent the tall asparagus plants from swaying around when there is a strong wind.
7. Too much harvesting
The asparagus plant takes time to grow especially if you’re looking to harvest asparagus spears.
The first year will be spent by the plant on growing strong roots and crown. Some spears may grow but those will be small.
If you try to harvest these spears, the plant will lose the nutrients that it needs to grow a strong base. It will grow weak and won’t be able to support its weight.
You should only harvest the asparagus spears from the second year onwards. In the second year, you should only harvest the spears for a week. In the third year, you can harvest the spears for 2-4 weeks.
As the asparagus plant grows for a few years, it will lose its ability to grow well. You’ll need to propagate it using the crown to grow new plants.
The asparagus plant is a perennial that will grow for several years. It’s a plant that grows in the spring/summer season.
It will then start slowing down in fall and it will overwinter in a region that gets freezing temperatures.
If the plant has grown several feet in the first year, it will start to turn yellow. And it will fall over as the roots and crown overwinter.
You can help the plant with this process by cutting the top of the plant so that only 2-4 inches of the plant remain above the ground.
9. Lack of nutrients
Asparagus is a plant that needs heavy feeding when it’s growing in the 1st year. The best organic material you can add to the soil is compost.
This will provide the required nutrients to the soil as well as improve the texture. It will also add beneficial organisms to the soil making it more fertile.
If you don’t have compost, you can add an organic fertilizer to the soil. It’s best to select a fertilizer that is low in potassium.
If the soil is lacking nutrients for the plant, it will not grow well. The weak plant will not be able to stand on its own and fall.
It can also be bad if you add too much of the wrong nutrients into the soil. Too much potassium causes the asparagus plant to become weak and it may fall over as a result.
You can use a slow-release granular fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer for the asparagus plant. You mix the granular fertilizer into the soil every month when the plant is growing The slow-release fertilizer will release into the soil when you’re watering the plant.
If you want to provide fast nutrients to the plant, a liquid fertilizer does the job. You mix it with water in the required amounts and spray it on the foliage.
Make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the amount and how often to use the fertilizer.