How to Grow Horseradish



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Days to germination: Started from root cuttings
Days to harvest: One full season
Light requirements: Full sun
Water requirements: Only during dry spells, once established
Soil: Horseradish will grow almost anywhere
Container: Ideal for containers, and usually preferred

Introduction

Horseradish is grown for its pungent roots, and its a very easy-to-grow perennial. Even though you dig up the plant to harvest the roots each year, new plants can (and will) return in the spring from any small pieces of root still in the ground. It is so prolific, it can get out of control if you are not careful. As explained below, many people grow it in pots just to keep it restrained.

As long as some root is left in the ground each fall, it will grow as a perennial between zones 2 and 9.

Though horseradish is used sparingly due to its strong hot flavor, it does add some nutritional benefits to your food. Lots of vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium to name a few. The roots are chopped, grated or minced, and usually mixed with vinegar. It’s a condiment served with many kinds of meat or fish.

Transplanting

Horseradish isn’t grown from seed, but from root cuttings. The usual way to start horseradish is to plant roots right into the garden rather than start them inside first. You can purchase root cuttings for this, or even just try to grow it from pieces of fresh horseradish root from the grocery store.

If you are going to grow your horseradish in the garden rather than a pot, choose a sunny location and allow for at least 18 to 20 inches between plants. They will get to around 3 feet in height as well. With very large leaves, it can shade out most other plants grown nearby. Thankfully, they also shade out most of the weeds.

Planting should be done as soon as your ground is thawed enough to dig. You’ll want to dig down at least twice as deep as your piece of horseradish root is long to provide loose soil for the long taproot.

Purchased roots for starting horseradish usually have buds on one end, so you can tell which way is up. Bury the root standing “upright” with the bud ends at the top, just above the soil level. If you are using root from the store, there may not be any clear top to it. In that case, you’re better off planting the root horizontally just a few inches under the soil and let the plant figure it out.

Keep the soil moist until you start to see sprouts coming up. Continue regular watering to keep the soil moist until the plant has developed several sets of leaves. Then it should be fine with just rainfall on its own.

Growing Instructions

Though horseradish will thrive even when neglected, you can help your plants out with a mid-summer application of a low-nitrogen fertilizer. A standard formula will promote too much leaf growth at the expense of the roots.

While the plants are growing, you can actually pick a few of the young leaves and add them to salads. They can be kind of spicy, so only try a few. The older leaves will be too tough to eat.

Later in the season, your plants may go to flower. Horseradish blooms are small, white and not particularly showy. They won’t harm your future root harvest so don’t feel you have to cut them off like with many other herbs.

Containers

Because horseradish can spread mercilessly through your garden, many people prefer to grow it in containers.

Horseradish is a fast-growing plant that will produce deep roots even though you will be digging up the plant each year. You will need a very large pot to allow your plant to really thrive. A 20 gallon pot, or even a half-barrel is the best. Make sure there is good drainage and plenty of holes in the bottom.

Pests and Diseases

Horseradish is in the same family as broccoli and cabbage, so be prepared for the same host of insect pests as you find with these other vegetables.

In particular, keep an eye out for cabbage worms. They are the larvae of a white butterfly that will lay its eggs on the leaves. They prefer cabbage but will be happy to feast on your horseradish if it’s nearby. Look for slim green caterpillars, and pick them off immediately. Give your plants a frequent spray of insecticide. Since you are not harvesting the leaves of your plants, you don’t have to worry about when you spray.

Harvest and Storage

You can either harvest your horseradish in the fall after the first hard frost has killed back the top portions of the plant, or in the early spring just before new sprouts form. The root flavor intensifies quite a bit after a frost but if you prefer milder horseradish, than harvest a bit earlier.

While some gardeners have a preference, there is little difference in either approach. Either way, gently dig up your plants and cut away all the thick roots. To start new plants for the next year, leave one or two pieces in the soil. This will work fine to start new plants even if you are harvesting in the fall.

Quite often, you will have new plants spring up even if you don’t intend it. If you really don’t want any more horseradish plants, you will have to thoroughly dig the soil to remove all the pieces of roots.

Once you grate horseradish root, it will soon start to turn dark unless you mix with vinegar. Once vinegar is added (usually referred to as prepared horseradish at this point), you can store it in the fridge for 6 weeks.

When you grate your horseradish, do it somewhere well-ventilated. The fumes are very potent can will burn your eyes and nose. Best to keep a window open if you can.

For later use, you can store the whole roots for about 3 months in a container with damp sand. It’s not really the most practical method but horseradish needs to be kept moist. Or you can freeze it once grated. The whole root doesn’t freeze well.

The longer you store your horseradish roots, the less flavorful they will be. That goes for prepared horseradish as well.

44 Responses to “How to Grow Horseradish”

  1. Roger McCleave  Says:

    Many thanks for what seems to be everything I need to know for growing this very useful herb.

    For a delicious addition to grated horse radish add 20% [by volume] of condensed milk. Sounds improbable but try it !

  2. Ken King  Says:

    Hello, I grew horseradish many years ago but my wife took a dislike to it and dug it up. After reading the above I am going to plant a thong in a large tub, maybe this way I can hang on to it. Thanks for the info,
    Ken King.

  3. Steve Delin  Says:

    The info in your article is great. I just cannot seem to find a grocer to merchandise horseradish other than as a dry root with no green at the top. they are just dried out and dead. I will keep on looking though. When i do find it, I will start growing in a pot.

  4. Jim Wininger  Says:

    Looking for info as to when I can dig up my bed and relocate it to a new area. Any advice helpful. thanks–Jim

  5. brian  Says:

    any time is fine i like rite now to start plants and move them to new spots steve if you email me at 24karathounds@hotmail.com for more info i sale roots.

  6. Norma Coles  Says:

    I dug up my horseradish and it looks “woody”. Is there a good fertilizer that will make it grow healthy?
    Thanks

  7. Linde  Says:

    This was the most helpful post I have found! I plan to start following your blog being that I’m just taking on the art of backyard gardening. I purchased my root with no leaves or obvious “top” so I will plant it horizontally as you recommended in a barrel to keep it from taking over my garden beds. Thank you!

  8. tim  Says:

    i love horseradish, some older folks i used to know grew it and made there own sauce and bottled it for future use. they were great folks and my love of horseradish is because of my knowing them. i loved it before i knew them but had never had anything but the store bought variaties of sauces etc. the second i had my first taste of “real” horseradish from the garden, i was hooked and have been ever since. i have an area of my yard i would like devote to horseradish, the dormant roots showed up today. my question is this…in dormant roots that look like sticks, more or less, how do you know which end goes up when you plant them? im pretty sure it matters. i appreciate any help offered and thank you!

  9. Linda  Says:

    wow, so helpful thanks to whoever forwarded this to me. I’ve been wanting to grow horseradish.

  10. Jeff  Says:

    Just wanted you to know how much folks like me appreciate “good” gardening advice like yours.

    I’ll be growing horseradish this year for the first time in my forty years of gardening.

    Thanks.

  11. Mac  Says:

    Tim; Commercial horseradish rootstock is trimmed at an angle at the bottom, and flat at the top. Just plant the pointy end down.

  12. Tracey  Says:

    When I was growing up as a kid I always remember my parents saying that you only harvest horseradish in the months that have an “R” in them.

  13. Bob  Says:

    Breath in your nose and out your mouth.

  14. Martha  Says:

    I need horseradish leaves for a pickle recipe but can’t find them in any grocery stores around??
    High end grocers said they’d never heard of them.

  15. Susan  Says:

    Thank you! This is exactly the info I needed. I will try putting a grocery store root in a huge pot I have just waiting for it. I look so forward to the fall after the first frost to harvest and hope it comes back year after year after year. I may harvest some more in the spring I love it so much.
    It’s hard to find a great tasting organic fresh blend. PCC stopped selling Fred’s and I’ve been looking ever since for a good fresh one with no luck. I’ve tried several brands, but none are as good as Fred’s or my own freshly grated with a little lemon juice, splash vinegar, and a pinch of salt. So, I’m going to make my own from now on.

  16. Gary  Says:

    Planted a root in a large pot and now have many leaves growing. I planted it in the garden but soon after it was planted I noticed that some of the leaves are becoming dry and some with brown around the edges. I have it watered automatically daily. Can you tell me why the leaves are drying out ? Thank you

  17. kerm  Says:

    We’re trying to get rid of it in our garden…I wonder it’s hopeless. Any tiny root sprig seems to sprong up EVERY day. The tap roots were enormous, we pulled it out by attatching it to our truck and then poured Brush-out full strength last fall. It still wants to live! Any suggestions????

  18. SB  Says:

    Great info.
    I came here to check if I needed to cut off the flowers of my very vigorous horseradish. Good stuff. I planted it last year and had somewhere heard it was best harvested the second fall. I guess it will be a little weaker in taste then.. Well well. So good to read your blog. Thanks a lot – Power to you!

  19. Tracey  Says:

    this is my first year of growing horsraddish and this info has put my mind as rest, its the most helpful site iv been on please keep all the tips coming.

    cheers
    Tracey from Kent, England

  20. Judy  Says:

    We recently bought a home and acerage that was at one time a active farm. We have bundles pf horseradish growing in our back lawn. I have been searching for information on how to grow, care and harvest horseradish as both my son and husband love it with their meat. The information above has been a great help. Now to find a recipe for canning horseradish. Thanks for the great information

  21. Barbara Jones  Says:

    Hello
    My mom has a plant that had been beautiful – leaves so pretty. But now its dying. All the leaves one by one. What is wrong?

  22. mac mcclellan  Says:

    Thanks for a great “getter started” I planted a piece of root brought down from Colorado (I live in southern California). It took off great the leaves were about 10 inches tall and all of a sudden they were full of holes and now almost eaten completely off. It is planted in our herb garden. Everything else looks good. I shall take your advise about cabbage worms and go after them.

    Thanks again, Mac

  23. Paul Flewellen  Says:

    Can anyone help me find suitable cuttings I can purchase in
    the Christchurch region?
    I’d be ever so grateful.
    Thank you.
    Paul

  24. Lanny L. Zadina  Says:

    I dug up four plants and roots from my Grandmothers home after her death and brought it home and planted it at my place. I have been digging and using it for the last 34 years. I can remember it growing on her farm as long as I can remember and I am 58 now.It is a plant that just wont die. What I am growing now has a lineage of over 58 years. One of the best keepsakes I have ever had.

  25. Wally Kluver  Says:

    Do any of you know what a person might use to put with horse radish once you have ground it and run through a blender. What I am looking for is other methods that guest might want to use in rather than the straight radish. In short, I guess I am looking for some recipies. Thanks in advance.

  26. Charleen Hall  Says:

    I found horseradish root, at my local wal=mart..I went to kroger, food lion, and Whole foods…why I didn’t just go to walmart I do not know…someone told me it was good for cholesterol…just to put a few pieces into your food at each meal..I know I cannot eat it by itself..to pungent…hurt my throat…because of your blog I might even try to plant it in a container…and see what I can do with it..thanks so much for the info…

  27. Al Smith  Says:

    Great article! I planted a bud in September and the leaves are now about foot long. In my case should I wait until spring to harvest the root?
    regards,
    Al Smith

  28. JMK  Says:

    Great article. We like to serve horseradish with wild game, and now we can say we caught/grew the entire meal ourselves!

  29. Melanie Draus  Says:

    I live in Pennsylvania where can I get horseradish root to grow and when should I plant it. Does it really take over the garden as I would like to plant it there or can I buy one of those big plastic pots , poke holes in the bottom and use that as a planter?

  30. Gerry Woodham  Says:

    I am a UK ex pat living in Davao Philippines I can get plenty of Radish the long white root 4/5ins but having trouble finding horseradish plants. Cn you advise if there is a distributor in Phil and would it be an import problem from overseas ?

  31. Glen Corlin  Says:

    Thanks for this great growing info. I planted it in April, and it’s growing like gangbusters here in southern NJ. I plan to use the roots to infuse vodka. That should give me a warm winter!

  32. Danny  Says:

    Can anyone offer advice on preventing the spread of horseradish in the garden? How deep do the roots go when attempting to spread and what can be used as a barrier? I’d love to dedicate a section of raised bed, but I’m afraid it’ll take over! Thank you, very much!

  33. Astralhunter  Says:

    Wally Kluver, you can add some sour cream to it (it makes it milder) or grated beats (or its juice). Ii is first year when I have planted horseradish in a pot. I read that if you like getting nice straight roots every year you should dig out big roots in fall and re-plant their thin shoots. Otherwise the next year your horseradish will become thick-twisted-knotty.

  34. diana  Says:

    I planted my horseradish a few years ago and it came up really nice. The lady I got it from said there were only certain months that I could dig it.Is this true?

  35. james tibbs  Says:

    This is my first attempt at growing HR. My grandparents were from Germany, and settled in Lancaster County, Pa. I’ve been eating Hr. since I was a kid. Now at 69 I’m gonna grow my own, nothing like homegrown horseradish, grown in Md.

  36. Kevin R  Says:

    We add horseradish to Moms famous potato salad. YUM!

  37. John G.  Says:

    My plant, which went into a raised bed last fall as simple small root, is now almost 7′ tall… It has flowered and now the ends are dying around the flowers and few leafs at the interior and towards the bottom are wilting and turning yellow. I don’t see any bugs. I have not watered it more than a couple times a week. Does it need more or less or??? This is a first time for horseradish. Seems like the extreme height is a bit unusual… It has been warm lately and I live near Portland Oregon.

  38. Art Mattingly  Says:

    The information I’ve read hints that the roots should be planted after a thaw. I live in Hawaii, so naturally we don’t get a thaw; can I expect to successfully grow horseradish here?

  39. Martin Harris  Says:

    I bought a root (no leaves) from a food shop, saved the top (thick end) and left it in a glass of water for a few weeks until it grew shoots – I planted it in a small pot until the leaves had developed and planted it out where it seems to have taken well.

    When the first frosts come, I’m hoping for a good root to harvest!

  40. Wes Blackman  Says:

    how to prepare horseradish plan for the winter month? Cut back the leaves and cover with straw or ??????

  41. Tari  Says:

    This is my first year of growing my own HR, and it looks like I did it right. I planted two roots in a grow bag and it worked extremely well. The leaves ended up about three feet tall. I plan to use this grow bag for my HR every year. It works real well because you can never overwater as the water can run right out, just holding onto what is needed. Grew it on my front deck, as that’s the only place that gets the sun.

  42. Karen  Says:

    Wish I had found this site yesterday. I just had my stubborn HR moved out of the ground and into a pot. Friend was available today to help, and I didn’t know to wait for frost. It’s still “Indian Summer” here in northern California. Hope it works!
    I have a question I don’t think has been addressed: why does my plant have two kinds of leaves? One is a large single leaf that comes to a point at the end. The other is also a single leaf, but it looks like a multiple because of the wavy edges. It really looks as if two completely different plants are growing together!
    I did not know HR is a cole vegetable. I do see cabbage moths sometimes, but didn’t worry because I’m not growing cabbage or kale or cauliflower. Cute little white butterflies not so nice!

  43. john oliver  Says:

    i grow horseradish in my garden your info. was good thanks

  44. MIKE POTTER  Says:

    HR is at the top of my list of things I regret planting.(others include chives, wild marjoram, poppies).
    It is SO invasive; each year I dig it up with a vengeance, but it spreads its runners and is impossible to eradicate.I am now trying covering soil with black plastic and trying to starve HR
    of light.Also now looking at recipes to at least utilise the damned stuff.

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