So, How Much Sun Does Asparagus Need?

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that you either love or hate, with seemingly no in-between. Assuming you like it, or that someone in your family likes it enough for you to grow it, you’ll need to make sure it gets enough sun if you want a good harvest.

asparagus plants in raised beds
asparagus plants in raised beds

But, asparagus is fairly notorious for being slow, and somewhat demanding to grow. So, how much sun does asparagus need every day?

Most kinds of asparagus will grow best with at least 8 hours of full sun every day. More sun is better, but 8 hours is adequate if its temperature and nutritional needs are provided.

Just like every other vegetable out there, you’ll need to make sure that you’re growing asparagus the right way and giving it enough of what it needs if you want a bountiful harvest.

However, asparagus can be tricky to grow since it is usually slow germinating, and that means committing it to the right location in your garden or elsewhere on your property is essential so that you can make sure it gets enough sun. I’ll tell you more below.

Is Full Sun Best for Asparagus?

Yes, it is. Direct, full sunlight everyday is what asparagus needs, though some varieties are a little tolerant of shade. A lack of sunlight means slow growth, and low-quality stalks.

However, if you live in a truly hot climate or are currently experiencing a heat wave, you might need to shade your asparagus to shield it from the hottest part of the day to prevent scalding.

How Many Hours of Sun a Day is Best for Asparagus?

You want to give asparagus 8 hours of direct sunlight a day, and potentially a little more as long as the weather isn’t too warm.

More sunlight is generally better, though, as asparagus will produce more and sweeter spears the more sunlight it gets.

Your crop might still be adequate if it gets only 8 hours or even a little bit less, but you’ll rarely be sorry if it gets more sunlight than the minimum.

Will Too Much Sun Hurt Asparagus?

So long as the temperature range is ideal, asparagus will rarely get too much sun, or at least so much sun that it causes harm. Worst thing that will happen is that it won’t produce quite as many spears…

But serious problems can crop up if your asparagus is in a hot environment, and is getting too much sun, especially late in the day.

When this happens, asparagus can dry out or scald. In such environments, see to it that its location is shaded in the afternoon, and if you have to set up mesh or other shades to cover it during the hottest part of the day.

Does Asparagus Do Well in Indirect Sun?

Not really. Asparagus is one of those veggies that need lots of sunlight to live, and even more in order to thrive.

Though it is possible to grow asparagus in indirect sunlight, it won’t produce nearly as much, and it tends to be less healthy overall and vulnerable to disease.

There are other complications besides the requirement of direct sun, too…

Asparagus is a slow growing perennial that will only rarely produce a harvest the first year you plant it, meaning that trying to get it adequate sun during that first year is going to impede its progress even more.

Plus, asparagus is notoriously difficult to transplant after it is established, so starting it off indoors in a container of any size is probably a bad idea.

My advice? Plant asparagus outdoors, or don’t plant it all. This isn’t a great veggie for container growing. See the last section for more info.

Will Asparagus Thrive in Shade?

No. Partial shade is enough to cause problems for asparagus, and can prevent it from producing or seriously retard its growth. Full shade is a death sentence.

The only way that asparagus will tolerate shade is if it is growing in a hot environment and gets shade in the afternoon that will protect it from the worst of the sun’s rays when it is at its hottest. If the area is shady for most of the day, it is a bad place to plant asparagus.

What Will Happen to Asparagus That Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?

I hope I’ve made a good impression on you by now that your asparagus needs a lot of sun in order to thrive.

Actually, it needs tons of sun! But what will happen to your asparagus if it doesn’t get enough of, and how will you know?

The most obvious signs are when asparagus starts to lose its vibrant color, or when the spears and shoots start to thin out.

If the spears are established and maturing, you can sample one and see how much flavor they have. If they taste dull or lifeless, your asparagus is not getting enough sun.

Asparagus has something of a dual nature as a vegetable: When it is healthy and happy, it is a surprisingly rugged plant and difficult to kill.

But when it isn’t healthy, namely from a lack of adequate sunlight, it becomes far more vulnerable to insect pests and various blights.

However, asparagus that has only temporarily been set back by a lack of light will rapidly return to growth and health when it is once more given adequate sunlight.

Sun Requirements for Different Asparagus Varieties

If you are dead set on growing asparagus, and are worried that your climate and local terrain might not be favorable, there is still hope.

There are various varieties of asparagus that have been tailored for ideal growth in less than ideal conditions.

Certain cultivars can tolerate far more shade while others, and in particular the Purple Passion variety, need even more sun than usual if you can believe that.

This could be a major setback for certain partners, but if you live in a warmer environment or a place that is known for getting constant sunshine this could make all the difference.

Spend a little bit of time doing your homework and familiarizing yourself with the varieties of asparagus that are available in your area so you can choose the right one for the conditions.

And remember: planting asparagus is a commitment! You won’t see a return in all likelihood that first year, and transplanting it is a nightmare if not impossible once its roots are established, so choose once, and choose wisely!

Tips for Bringing Indoor Asparagus Outside

I mentioned above that asparagus is not a good candidate for growing indoors in containers. I stand by that.

First, it takes a long time to establish itself and mature.

Second, its root systems grow deep into the soil and across a wide area, meaning that digging it up without damaging or destroying it and then transplanting it into the ground is a tedious, difficult process and one that is likely to fail.

But, with that being said, if you are still intent on trying there are a few types that are far more suitable from starting from seed, particularly Purple Passion and some of its hybrid varieties, namely Sweet Purple.

Start them indoors in early spring by soaking the seeds overnight then planting them in peat or starter soil. Once they are about a foot tall and the last frost of spring is past you can move them outside.

But you must harden off the plant before you move them outside permanently.To do this, place your asparagus outside in a shaded spot for just a couple of hours. Then, bring it back inside.

The next day, leave it out a little longer and repeat this process for at least a week and preferably for two.

This will allow the asparagus to acclimatize to the conditions outdoors without shocking it. Skipping this important process might kill your asparagus.

And remember: you must choose the spot for asparagus properly because it is going to be even harder to relocate in the future and you have to make sure it gets tons of sun.

If you mess this up, you’ve probably wasted a lot of time and energy for nothing. There is no starting over quickly with asparagus!

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