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.

Image
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.

Image
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

Habit

Clump-forming,
semi-twining, strongly
upright, 12 - 15 feet


Flowering
season

Early summer
here in Iowa

Hardiness

Zones 3 - 9


How to
handle
canes


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

They will stiffen
up as they gain
height.

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

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

Soil

Sandy, loamy, mostly clay
Availability


On-line: Plant
Files

LightSun, part shade


Propagation


Division of clumps
and by seed

Rate of Growth

Fast after established


Grown for
Delicate, thread-
like foliage

Uniqueness

Small white
flowers, slightly
fragrant

Showy red
berries

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

Image
Excerpted from World Maps at http://maps-world.cn/tag/world-map


(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.)