Photo by Melody

An Asparagus That Vines

By Larry Rettig (LarryRApril 20, 2014

Ever on the lookout for unique plants that will grow in my Zone 5a/b garden, I occasionally discover one that I feel other gardeners would like to know about, because of its ease of care and other positive attributes.

Gardening picture

Such is the case for Asparagus verticillatus, an asparagus variety that vines. It truly is a gem in the garden. Unfortunately, only the barest information about this plant is readily accessible. I hope to do my part in this article to help change that.

Because it is bone hardy (Zones 3-9), this vine will grow in almost all regions of the country.  Exceptions would include extremely dry climates and extremely acid soils.  It is said to do well in most soil types, ranging from sandy to loamy to mostly clay.

I planted my first Asparagus Vine in loamy soil about five years ago. I chose a sunny border anchored by a semi-dwarf apple tree. Since the vine doesn't twine tightly or produce appendages that attach to a support, I planted it under the apple tree, fairly close to the trunk. The stalks grow straight up about 30 inches (higher in part shade) after they emerge in the spring. Only then does branching take place. The tips continue to grow upward as the stalks send out numerous horizontal branches. These branches rest on the branches of the apple tree and support the stalks.

               Horizontal branch with branchlets   © Larry Rettig 
The branches are semi-pendulous and produce small needle-like leaves as well as branchlets (see photo). The effect is light and airy. Since the whole plant weighs very little, no strong support--as, for example, you would need for a wisteria vine--is required. After several years of scrambling up into the apple tree about eight feet or so, I transplanted the vine to an arbor, so that I could appreciate its delicate appearance more. This spring, I added a second vine to the opposite side of the arbor (see photo above).

Vining Asparagus blooms for me in early summer, producing tiny, white, slightly fragrant blossoms that combine nicely with the dark green foliage. Berries appear in late summer and turn red in fall. The plant self-sows modestly in my garden, having produced three or four seedlings since I planted it.

                           Vining Asparagus fruit          © Larry Rettig 


You can raise A. verticillatus from seed quite easily. Allow the berries to shrivel up and dry in the fall, collect the seed and store it in a container outdoors in a shady, protected spot or in the refrigerator. Once the ground is workable in the spring, soak the seed for 12-18 hours and then sow it on the site you have chosen. The seed should be barely covered with soil. Keep soil moist but not soggy.  Make sure that any plants in the vicinity won't eventually shade or crowd the seedlings.

If you like trouble-free vines that don't overpower everything in their path, give the Vining Asparagus a try. I think you'll be glad you did.




























                                        Vining Asparagus at a Glance


semi-twining, strongly
upright, 12 - 15 feet



  Early summer
  here in Iowa


Zones 3 - 9

  How to

  In spring
the new
  canes arise from
  the roots.  The
  canes will need
  support so 
  they don't flop

  They will stiffen
up as they gain

  In fall, the canes
  die back to the 
  ground. Cut them 
  off at ground
  level at that 

  Trying to cut
  them in the spring
  is difficult, once
  the canes


Sandy, loamy, mostly clay 

  On-line:  Plant

LightSun, part shade



  Division of clumps
  and by seed

Rate of Growth

Fast after established

  Grown for

  Delicate, thread-
  like foliage


  Small white
  flowers, slightly

  Showy red

Native habitat
(Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslavia, Greece, Romania)

Excerpted from World Maps at
















































(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 28, 2011. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

  About Larry Rettig  
Larry RettigAn enthusiastic gardener for over 50 years, my first plant was a potted Ponderosa Lemon tree ordered from a comic book ad at age 15. I still have it, and itís still bearing lemons! My wife and I garden on 3/4 of an acre, both flowers and vegetables. Although our garden is private, it's listed with the Smithsonian Institution in its Archives of American Gardens and is on the National Register of Historic Places. We garden organically and no-till. Our vegetable garden contains a seed bank of vegetables brought to this country from Germany in the mid-1800s. For more info: Photos that appear in my articles without credit are my own.

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