Growing horseradish in containers

Grow horseradish from crowns or root cuttings planted four to six weeks before the average date of the last frost for your area. Horseradish is a hardy perennial best grown as an annual. Keep horseradish from spreading in the garden by growing it in a container.

Description. Horseradish is a hardy perennial grown for its pungent roots which are long and narrow, sometimes to two-feet long. Grow horseradish as an annual, in the second year the roots can become tough and fibrous. Horseradish is best grown in containers; it spreads readily and can easily grow out of control. Horseradish will be ready for harvest 140 to 160 days after planting.

Yield. Allow 1 plant per household

Prepare the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and remove stones and lumps that might cause the roots to split.

Planting Horseradish

Site. Plant horseradish in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade. Grow horseradish in rich well-drained soil. Prepare the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and remove stones and lumps that might cause the roots to split. Add sand and compost to the planting bed to keep the soil loose. Horseradish prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Planting time. Horseradish is cold-hardy plant. Set out crowns or root cuttings 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date in your region. Horseradish grows best in cool, moist regions where the temperature stays between 45°F and 75°F

Planting and spacing. Set crowns just at soil level. Plant roots in shallow trenches 3 to 4 inches deep and cover with 2 to 3 inches of soil. Slice root cuttings at a 30° angle or plant with the narrow end down; fill the trench until the wide end of the root is just covered. Space roots 24 to 36 inches apart. Horseradish planted in the garden should be contained with wooden, metal, or masonry borders set at least 24 inches deep around the bed.

Companion plants. Potatoes, yams

Container growing. Choose a container that will allow horseradish roots to grow 24 to 30 inches deep.

Avoid leaving pieces of the root in the ground after harvest, they will produce a new plant the next year.

Horseradish Care

Water and feeding. Keep the soil evenly moist to prevent roots from drying and turning woody. Fertilize horseradish by adding organic compost to the planting bed every month.

Care. To grow a large taproot root use a spade to slice down around the plant 3 to 4 inches from the base pruning away side roots. Avoid leaving pieces of the root in the ground after harvest, they will produce a new plant the next year.

Pests. Horseradish has no serious pest problems.

Diseases. Horseradish has no serious disease problems

Horseradish roots

Harvesting and Storing Horseradish

Harvest. Cut sections of root for use as needed after leaves are about 12 inches long (roots will then be 3 to 4 inches in diameter). Horseradish makes its best growth in late summer and fall, so delay harvesting until mid-autumn or later. Harvest all root before the ground freezes otherwise new plants will spring up the following year.

Storing and preserving. Grated horseradish can be kept in a glass jar in the refrigerator for one to two weeks. Whole roots can be packed in damp sawdust and kept for up to 10 months. To freeze horseradish, grate the roots and mix with vinegar and water.

Varieties. Horseradish is non-varietal.

Common name. Horseradish

Botanical name. Armoracia rusticana

Origin. Eastern Europe

Grow 80 vegetables: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS GUIDE

Mankind has been planting and growing horseradish for centuries. Records indicate that the Egyptians cultivated this pungent root prior to 1500 B.C., Romans used it as an aphrodisiac, and grannies everywhere have used it as a home remedy for coughs and colds.

A member of the Brassicaceae family, horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is closely related to Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower. The powerful root gets its sinus-clearing punch from volatile oils that are released when grated or crushed.

Horseradish health benefits include essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, potassium and magnesium. The pungent root is high in dietary fiber, known to boost the immune system and has been linked to cancer prevention.

Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Horseradish

  1. Grows easily in most areas
  2. Plant in full sun in rich soil
  3. Start with plants or root pieces in spring; harvest after first frost
  4. Pull off foliage to create larger roots
  5. No real pest or disease problems

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Site Preparation

Horseradish prefers rich, fast-draining soil and full sun. However, the perennial will thrive in almost all conditions, except deep shade or constantly wet soil. Prior to planting, choose a spot far removed from any other plants you care about. Horseradish spreads quickly and can soon take over your garden. The best way to control the root’s rampant nature is to grow it in containers.

How to Plant

Start by planting horseradish in the fall or very early spring. Set plants or root pieces 1 to 2 feet apart, with the crown – the top of the root and the start of the top growth – about 4 inches below the soil surface. Add a shovelful of organic compost to each hole and water thoroughly after planting.

To encourage the roots to be large and hot, try a method I learned from pulling stubborn weeds. After several attempts at grabbing them out by hand, I would finally dig them out with a shovel. Most of the time, I would unearth a massive root. Encouraging horseradish growth often works the same way.

Remove the top foliage of the plant several times. But remember, this is going to make the horseradish really strong – the larger the root, the stronger the flavor. Yum!

Harvesting and Storage

Dig roots in spring or fall, but for best flavor wait until after the first frosts. Brush off roots and store in the refrigerator. For longer storage, grate and keep in vinegar (1/4 cup for every cup of horseradish).

Insect & Disease Problems

Horseradish has no major pest problems. I guess they don’t dare bother this spicy crop!

Seed Saving Instructions

Grown from root cuttings, horseradish does not produce seeds in most regions of the United States.

While it’s quite possible you’ve tasted horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and appreciated its sinus-clearing and deliciously flavorful bite, has it ever occurred to you to grow it?

How fun would it be to mix up a batch of Bloody Mary drinks for your brunch guests, using your own homegrown horseradish?

Pair those classic morning drinks with some peeled and cocktail-sauced shrimp, also featuring your new crop, and your guests will be in awe.

In addition to being popular in the kitchen, the horseradish plant has its fans — and a history — in the medicinal plant world, too.

Let’s learn more about this plant’s many uses, and then get down to business with the planting and harvesting.

Background

The exact origins of the plant are unknown, but evidence suggests that Egyptians knew of this spicy, edible root 3000 years ago, and ancient Greeks believed it to be an aphrodisiac.

The plant also plays a historic role in the Passover Seder plate, an important tradition of the Jewish faith that continues to this day.

This aromatic came to North America during the time of European colonization, with commercial production beginning in the mid-1850s.

The leaves, flowers, and roots of this plant have been used medicinally throughout history.

The leaves are said to be an analgesic, the flowers are made into a tea that is said to fight colds, and a compound in the root has been shown to have antibacterial properties.

Horseradish is a member of the Cruciferae family, the same group from which cabbages, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts come.

And while we’d most typically refer to the root as a vegetable, the medicinal and culinary applications of the leaves and flowers lead many gardeners to call the plant an herb.

A Note on Wasabi

Wasabi, sometimes called Japanese horseradish, is actually a totally different plant: Wasabi japonica.

In North America, of course, we know wasabi as the fiery accompaniment to sushi and sashimi. But because true wasabi is very difficult to cultivate outside of Japan, what is sold and served here is very rarely the real deal.

Instead, we usually get ground horseradish mixed with green food coloring and other flavorings.

Varieties: Not Much Choice

Horseradish is divided into two general types. The “common” type has broad, crinkled leaves and what’s generally considered a superior quality of root.

“Bohemian” types have narrow, smooth leaves and somewhat lower root quality, but offer better resistance to white rust disease.

According to the University of Wisconsin Extension, specific varieties are rarely available to home gardeners, other than the ornamental “Variegata.”

In fact, sourcing this somewhat elusive product to plant can be a bit tricky; your best bet is to find an online source, as most garden centers will not have this item.

Organic Horseradish Roots, 1 Pound

Tennessee-based Grower’s Solution sells organic horseradish root stock, available on Amazon.

Temperate Dichotomy

In contrast to its spicy-hot nature, this plant is fond of cool conditions. It does well in zones 2-9, but time your plantings according to local weather patterns.

It prefers daytime high temperatures ranging from 45 to 75°F, but it is ready to harvest only after a frost has killed the leaves, so take that into consideration.

Before planting, thoroughly and deeply incorporate 4-6 inches of organic matter and 2 ounces of all purpose, granular fertilizer (16-16-8) per square yard of planting area, according to Utah State University Cooperative Extension.

Plant sun-loving horseradish in rich, loose, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Keep in mind that this plant can be invasive, so pick a spot carefully, or plant in a container.

Another consideration: the plants can grow to as tall as 3 feet, and their large leaves may shade out surrounding vegetation.

Plant at an Angle

Horseradish is propagated through crowns or pencil-sized root cuttings, which are sometimes called “sets.”

Utah State recommends you cut the thicker end square and the other end on an angle.

Space the sets one foot apart, setting them at a 45-degree angle, with the square-cut end higher than the angled end. Make sure that the square cut ends are all facing in the same direction, recommends University of Minnesota Extension.

Cover the sets with 2 to 3 inches of soil.

Not Too Much, Not Too Little

Horseradish is quite drought tolerant, but the roots can become woody and weak-flavored if they go too long without water.

If rain is scarce, give the plants 1 to 2 inches of water once a week. But take care not to give them too much water, because the roots will become soft and have a bitter flavor.

Four and eight weeks after planting, apply one teaspoon of nitrogen (21-0-0) to each plant.

You can mix the nitrogen with water and apply it as a solution, or you can simply sprinkle granular nitrogen around the base of your plants and water it in.

Keep the planting area as free of weeds as possible, and pluck off any brown leaves.

And speaking of leaves, you can actually harvest the tender, young ones and add them to salads for a slightly spicy kick.

If your plants go to flower, just enjoy the show. There’s no reason to pinch them off as with other herbs.

Relatively Pest Free

Likely due to its pungency, few pests affect these plants, but keep an eye out for flea beetles and beet leafhoppers. Treat these bugs with insecticidal soap or diatomaceous earth.

This plant can be susceptible to various foliar diseases, such as white rust, which can be treated with fungicides.

Root rot can occur if the plants are overwatered.

Sand and Sawdust

Harvest the long, white, tapered roots in late fall or winter, once frost has killed the leaves. With luck, this will be just in time to make a fabulous sauce for a holiday prime rib.

Alternatively, if you like more spice, you can harvest in early spring just before new sprouts form.

Gently dig up your plants and cut off the large, thick roots to use. Leave some of the smaller root pieces in the soil to start new plants for the next year.

You can keep them in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Or store in damp sand or sawdust in a cool, dark cellar for up to 10 months.

Prep and Storage

When you’re ready to consume the roots, peel and grate them. Or you can chop them into 1-inch chunks and run them through a food processor.

Grated horseradish can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.

Add 2-3 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice per cup of grated horseradish to further extend the shelf life of the product.

Note that adding vinegar immediately reduces the pungency of the root. Also consider opening windows or doors as you cut or grate the horseradish root, because the aroma is quite strong.

Recipe Ideas

There are so many delicious ways to consume this spicy root.

First, enhance your cocktails — of either the beverage or shrimp variety — with homegrown horseradish. Your parties will be standing-room only.

Spicy Bloody Mary

Foodal’s spicy Bloody Mary recipe is a great place to start, especially if you’re a fan of DIY (and if you’re growing hot peppers and tomatoes in the garden this season alongside the horseradish…).

Photo by Kendall Vanderslice. © Ask the Experts, LLC.

In addition to this flavorful homegrown root, you’ll love juicing your own garden tomatoes and infusing vodka with backyard jalapenos to prep and serve this craft cocktail at your next brunch gathering.

Get the recipe now on Foodal.

Healthier Potato Salad

Horseradish adds a tangy zing to this healthier version of a classic potato salad from Brynn McDowell.

What makes it healthy? Greek yogurt is used in place of the usual calorie-laden mayo.

Photo by Brynn McDowell © The Domestic Dietitian. Used with permission.

Learn how to make this tasty side from The Domestic Dietitian.

Prepared at Home

Though the previous recipe calls for the “prepared” version of this stuff, fresh is always best.

Jordan and Clark Cord share their simple recipe to make your own at home, in the food processor.

Photo by Jordan and Clark Cord © The Fitchen. Used with permission.

You can find the recipe on The Fitchen.

Chestnut Beer Braised Short Ribs

You’ll also love this spicy gremolata made with fresh horseradish, a delicious homemade condiment served atop Katherine and Edwin D’Costa’s delicious short ribs.

Photo by Katherine and Edwin D’Costa © Wanderspice. Used with permission.

Feel free to change up the proteins – it’s also delicious on fish, or served with hummus.

Get the recipe on Wanderspice.

A Multi-Purpose Plant

The many gifts of horseradish include attractive foliage, medicinal leaves and flowers, and a one-of-a-kind punch of flavor from the root.

There are so many benefits to growing it in your own backyard – and you’ll love the pungent punch of flavor that it adds to beverages, condiments, and your favorite dishes!

Have you ever grown horseradish? Any tips for others thinking of taking the plunge? Please share in the comments section below.

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Photo credit: , unless otherwise noted. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.

Growing Horseradish: How To Grow Horseradish

Only people who have grown horseradish in their garden know how truly pungent and delicious horseradish can be. Growing horseradish in your garden is easy. Just follow these tips on how to grow horseradish and you will be harvesting horseradish for many years to come.

A horseradish plant (Amoracia rusticana) is typically grown from a root cutting. These can be ordered from a reputable nursery or you may be able to find someone locally who is raising horseradish and would be willing to share some of their horseradish plant with you.

As soon as you get your root cutting in early spring, plant it in the ground. Dig a hole that is deep enough to stand the root up. While holding the root upright in the hole, back fill the hole until all but the crown of the root is covered.

Once the root

is planted, water your horseradish thoroughly, then leave it alone. When raising horseradish, you don’t need to fertilize or fuss over the plant.

Containing a Horseradish Plant

Once your horseradish plant becomes established, it will be yours for life. One thing to keep in mind is that when growing horseradish, you need to either give it lots of room or provide firm boundaries. Horseradish will spread vigorously if steps are not taken to contain it.

If you do not wish for your horseradish plant to take over your garden, either grow it in a deep container or bury a plastic tub around it in the ground. This will keep the growing horseradish plant in check.

Harvesting Horseradish

There are two schools of thought when it comes to harvesting horseradish. One says that you should be harvesting horseradish in the fall, right after the first frost. The other says that you should be harvesting horseradish in early spring, when the horseradish plant needs to be divided anyway. Which of these is best is up to you. Both are acceptable.

Dig down around the horseradish plant as far as you possibly can and then with your spade, gently lift the horseradish root out of the ground. Break off some of the roots and replant them in the ground. The rest of the horseradish root can be processed into ground horseradish.

Raising horseradish is very easy to do. There is very little to know about how to grow horseradish. It actually does best if you plant it and then ignore it. Growing horseradish can be rewarding and tasty.

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