Growing asparagus requires a fair bit of commitment, but the return is undeniably worth the effort. And if you’re going all-in on this, why not give your crop the best chance of success by growing some asparagus companion plants?
Asparagus is a perennial plant—it lays low during the cold winter months and shoots up with the first warm touch of spring, eager to catch some sun. Ideally, this veggie thrives in full sun and sandy loams with lots of space so its roots can stretch out and gather up all the nourishment they need.
When picking plants to grow with asparagus, you’ll want to choose ones that respect their space. Luckily, this handy asparagus companion planting guide is here to show you the best and worst plants to pair with this beloved veggie.
What Will I Learn?
- What is Companion Planting?
- The Benefits of Companion Planting for Asparagus
- Understanding the Needs of Asparagus: (A Quick Care Guide)
- Best Asparagus Companion Plants
- Best Asparagus Companion Herbs
- Worst Asparagus Companion Plants
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts on Asparagus Companion Plants
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves pairing compatible plants together so they help each other out. They could shade each other, fend off pests, make the soil better, or even help get more bees and butterflies over to your garden. It’s an organic approach to garden management with the goal of getting more from your soil and plants.
The Benefits of Companion Planting for Asparagus
Considering asparagus is a long-term resident of the garden, companion planting aims to establish an ecosystem and set it up for success year after year.
For example, grapes can help use up all the available space, tomatoes ward off certain pests, and early-harvest crops like beets offer yield while waiting for asparagus to grow. Herbs, such as parsley, are also invaluable; they attract the right insects and bolster soil fertility. Certain plants, like comfrey, even serve as barriers against strong winds, ensuring those tender asparagus spears remain unscathed.
Understanding the Needs of Asparagus: (A Quick Care Guide)
Asparagus is laid-back when it comes to soil types. It can tolerate a wide range of textures but thrives in sandy loams with good drainage. However, it can be slightly picky about pH levels and prefers slightly acidic soil, around 6.0 to 6.8. It also loves full and moist soil, just enough to keep the roots cool. Once settled, asparagus can keep producing for over 15 years, so choose a spot you won’t need to disturb for a while.
To start new asparagus plants, plant crowns in spring. It’s recommended to wait for the first two seasons before harvesting to allow the crowns to develop strong root systems. In the colder months, trim back the yellow foliage and mulch for winter protection. To ensure a healthy crop, protect your asparagus from pests like asparagus beetle and diseases such as rust.
Best Asparagus Companion Plants
Now, let’s take a look at the best companion plants for asparagus and why they work so well together.
Both grapes and asparagus can grow in less-than-ideal soil and are a smart choice to share space. As grapes elegantly climb trellises, they leave ample room for asparagus to stretch out below.
Interestingly, this classic pairing has historical roots. Back during the times of the early American colonies, European settlers cultivated asparagus between grape vines, optimizing their garden real estate. Given that both are perennials, it also means that you’ll have a dedicated corner in the garden to harvest from year after year.
Another classic asparagus buddy, tomato plants are fantastic for keeping pests in check and maintaining pH balance. They’ve got this friendly poison called Solanine in their skins, which does a great job at keeping asparagus beetles away—the primary troublemakers for asparagus.
Because of their shallow root system, tomato plants also pull up some nutrients from the deeper soil layers, which asparagus absolutely loves. And in return, asparagus releases a natural fungicide through its roots, protecting the tomatoes from certain diseases like root nematodes.
Peppers have shallow root systems, so they don’t compete with the deep-rooted asparagus for nutrients and water. Plus, they help keep away pests like cutworms and aphids that can harm the asparagus crop. A perk is that peppers share the same soil, pH, and temperature preferences as asparagus, making their maintenance a breeze.
But a small tip: instead of intercropping, we recommend planting peppers around the asparagus bed. And opt for dwarf varieties so they don’t overshadow the young asparagus.
Beets make great companions because they grow early in the spring and mature quickly. So, while your asparagus takes a few months to produce new spears, you can harvest a crop of beets a few weeks into the season.
But here’s the catch: this combo requires some extra care. First, beets are heavy feeders, so make sure you add extra compost and fertilizer to the bed before planting. Second, asparagus roots, especially peripheral roots, are extremely sensitive to tilling, so be extra careful while planting beets. Give the beets enough space to expand and avoid disturbing the asparagus during harvest.
Just like beets, spinach is an excellent crop for the early season. It grows quickly and can even work as a cover crop, helping with soil moisture and weed control. Plus, it doesn’t need as much space as beets, so you can plant it closer to the asparagus and harvest it well into summer.
But the most significant part is that you can get a second crop out of it. In late summer, when the sun isn’t spinach’s best friend, you can grow a fall spinach crop under the shade of the thriving asparagus spears. Both crops will benefit from the cool soil, and you’ll get an extra harvest.
Best Asparagus Companion Herbs
In addition to the plants above, here are a few herbs that work well along with asparagus.
Dill is an excellent companion for asparagus, both in terms of flavor and the health of your soil. When it flowers, dill produces a sweet nectar that attracts predatory insects such as wasps and lacewings that feed on pests like aphids. Plus, its strong aroma helps mask the scent of asparagus beetles, making them less likely to find your precious crop.
Comfrey is a bit of an all-rounder in the garden and works wonders with asparagus. Its roots can reach up to 4 feet deep into the soil, bringing up valuable nutrients and minerals for your asparagus plants to feed on.
It can become big, so plant it a few feet away from the asparagus bed. With the right placement, it can also act as a wind barrier, keeping those delicate young asparagus spears safe and sound.
Parsley produces an oil that is highly attractive to beneficial insects, especially hoverflies. The larvae of these hoverflies feed on aphids, mites, and other pests that can damage asparagus. Moreover, parsley’s deep root system aerates the soil and brings up essential nutrients, enhancing the overall fertility of the asparagus bed.
However, parsley can be pretty invasive if you let it grow freely, so keep an eye on it and trim it when needed.
Worst Asparagus Companion Plants
It’s crucial to pick the right companions for asparagus, but it is equally important to know which plants should be kept away from your asparagus beds. Here are a few examples of bad companion plants for asparagus:
Potatoes: While potatoes and asparagus have some similarities in pH preferences and soil type, it’s not a good idea to plant them side by side. The reason is that potatoes are prone to fungal diseases that can quickly spread to asparagus if they come in contact.
Plus, potatoes grow like crazy and can take up all the space, leaving your poor asparagus with no room to breathe.
Onion & Garlic: Friends of many garden crops, onion and garlic, are not the plants to grow with asparagus. In fact, the entire allium family (leeks, scallions, and chives) should be kept away from asparagus.
One reason is that alliums and asparagus are heavy feeders and are always at odds with nutrients. Plus, asparagus, once mature, would shade out the alliums, depriving them of the sunlight needed to produce bulbs.
Lettuce: Lettuce would have been a great companion plant for asparagus if only it didn’t require so much water. Asparagus has minimal water needs, while lettuce is quite the thirsty one. So, it’s challenging to coordinate their watering schedules without one of them ending up either parched or waterlogged.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you not plant next to asparagus?
Plants that can disturb asparagus roots, compete for resources, and attract pests should not be planted next to asparagus. In addition, steer clear of plants with significantly different water or sunlight requirements. We highly recommend keeping alliums (onions, garlic, leeks), potatoes, and lettuce away from asparagus beds.
What is the best companion plant for asparagus?
Asparagus grows well with plants that can compromise with its delicate root system and don’t compete too much in terms of resources. Some of our top picks are peppers, beets, spinach, and herbs like dill, comfrey, and parsley.
How much space does asparagus need?
Asparagus requires 3-4 feet of space between each row. If you are planting companion plants along with asparagus, make sure to give them at least a foot of extra space so that the roots can spread and breathe without disturbance.
How do you grow and fertilize asparagus?
Asparagus is a hardy crop that does well in most climates. Plant the crowns about 4-6 inches deep in early spring, with the buds facing up. Water them regularly and lightly fertilize them every year after harvest. If you are using companion plants, mix some extra compost and fertilizer into the soil before planting them to ensure optimal growth.
Final Thoughts on Asparagus Companion Plants
Asparagus might not be the most demanding crop to grow, but it needs some extra attention, especially in the first two to three years when the roots are still being established. Having the right companion plants can really help with that.
Some of the companion plants we mentioned can help you get a harvest from the patch while your asparagus is still growing, while others can provide vital nutrients and deter pests. Just do your research and ensure the plants you want to pair up are compatible with asparagus.
Pin This Asparagus Companion Planting Guide!