How to grow horseradish?

Want to know how to grow horseradish? It is a robust, clump-forming perennial root vegetable that is most commonly used as a spice.

The horseradish plant is from the cabbage family and consists of ample dark green leaves that bloom white four-petal flowers during the summer months.

It’s mainly grown for its pungent yellow-white roots, which are used to make hot sauces for several dishes. Other names you may be accustomed to are red cole or pepper root.

There are different types with varying features. Two of these are Bohemian horseradish and common horseradish.

The Bohemian has narrow roots with smoother leaves and is very disease resistant. The common has great root quality and is broad with crimped leaves but more susceptible to disease.

Horseradish is one of those veggies that you can apply to your favorite recipes as a garnish. To get the full effect of the taste it is best added at the end of preparing your meals.

There’s a history of benefits, as it is used as medicine to cure or treat ailments like urinary tract infections, cough, aching joints and intestinal worms found in children.

It contains nutrients including vitamin C, protein, folate, calcium, carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Though in small quantities it also has components of selenium, zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.

Are you interested in growing your own? This guide will give you all the details you need to grow healthy horseradish.

horseradish plant in the garden in summer

How to plant horseradish?

Horseradish is a sun-loving plant so choose the area in your garden that gets the most exposure to sunlight daily.

If you’ll be using a large deep pot or container, place it in a spot that receives full sun. Although it is fairly tolerable in partial sunlight, the reward won’t be plentiful.

Decide on whether you’d like to begin with seeds or small pieces of root called thongs. The roots are way easier and can be bought during spring which is the perfect time of year to plant pepper roots.

Plant them 3 inches deep in loamy, fertile and well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Ensure the soil isn’t rocky as that can hinder its proper formation and growth.

Space each seed or root 18 inches apart for better spread, and to keep a good distance from other plants to prevent crowding.

How to care for horseradish plants?

This fiery vegetable has a long growing season so keep it well hydrated. You will need to water moderately during periods of drought to prevent the foliage from appearing slumped.

This prevents the horseradish from producing woody roots that lack flavor. For an extra boost add aged compost to the soil.

In summer the top area will grow masses of leaves and flowers then begin stacking starch in the roots that will help fatten them by fall. Remove any dead growth from the top of the plant during autumn.

Weed and water the vegetable carefully as you go to prevent it from becoming a weed itself. 1 or 2 inches of water per week is good.

The upside of growing this plant is that they are rarely attacked by many pests and diseases. Two types you should be aware of however are the flea beetles and cabbage worms, which aren’t afraid to dig in.

Horseradish is pollinated by bees, birds and other pollinators. In due time growth will sprout above ground.

Harvesting horseradish:

Try harvesting the roots regularly during fall or early spring to prevent them from spreading across your entire garden or attracting diseases.

Many gardeners favor the months of October to November after the leaves of the radish are killed by frost.

The main root is reaped and the offshoots are replanted. They are removed just in time before the ground is too hard to dig, because of the drastic change in weather.

The tool you’ll need to dig out the vegetable is a garden fork which makes it easier to turn over the soil.

It’s also the best choice to carefully remove the roots. If you planted it in a pot, tip it out of the container to see the yellow-white roots.

digging out horseradish roots in a garden

How to store horseradish?

It has the greatest flavor when consumed fresh. If you won’t be using all those you harvested anytime soon, grate and dry them before storing any in a container. As you use it, the pungent smell will last even longer.

Another method of storing is by using a wooden box to stock the roots and then covering them with damp sand.

Place the box in a cool area hidden from sunlight. This way you can easily retreat to the box when you’re ready to add it to hot foods.

As soon as it is cut, it’ll begin to dry up so keep the ones you would have grated in the refrigerator to maintain the flavor and nutrients. It is eaten raw, cooked or pickled and is similar to ginger.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to use it all within the space of six weeks after which the nutritional value begins to degrade. Signs that it needs to be thrown out are molding and it begins to look dark in color.

Propagating horseradish

The most common way of propagating horseradish is by using the root cuttings instead of throwing them out. It’s cost-effective for you to replant the part you don’t use.

  1. Give the root cuttings or crowns a good soaking with water in the late evening before planting day to rehydrate them.
  2. Weed the area you’ll be using and remove any form of debris from the garden or container.
  3. If you have no root cuttings use a sharp and sanitized knife to cut across the top of the vegetable leaving enough leaf and roots. Layer the soil with compost and insert the cutting 3 inches into the soil.
  4. After the transplant, pour 4 inches of water to fully hydrate the plant.

Propagating is quite simple. Before cutting the roots ensure that they’re at least 8 inches long. Planting them is best done in spring so they can be harvested once more during the fall months.

For more information on how to propagate plants, check out my post to learn more.

Horseradish pests and diseases:

Horseradish isn’t favored by many pests and they rarely have any form of the disease. Here are a few that may harm them and how to treat.


These are insects and symptoms are yellow leaves and distorted flowers with black mold and a honey-like dew.

Treat by wiping with soapy water and boost the visit of spiders, beetles and ladybugs in your garden that will ward off aphids.

Cabbage worms

These, as mentioned before, like to mark their territory on horseradish. You’ll notice this with the large holes they tear in the leaves.

On the underside of the leaves, there’s a possibility that yellow eggs will be on the leaf sides. It’ll take a little more work to protect the horseradish from these territorial worms.

Use row covers and companion plant other vegetables that will attract beneficial bugs. The Ultimate Guide to Companion Planting is a great read for more information.


These are just as awful as cabbage worms because they leave dents in the stem of the plants. The bite marks are often seen in the stem area just above the ground.

The most natural thing you can do is handpick them from your vegetables and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.

If they’re still not secure, you can add a bit of natural diatomaceous earth (D.E.) around the stems. As the worms’ wriggle towards the plant and contact the powder, they’ll become dehydrated and eventually die in 24 to 72 hours or less.


These dreadful worms have no mercy on young horseradish in particular. Evidence of interference is usually bored roots, wilting and the roots are partially eaten.

You can dig 3-inch holes every few feet and pile them with germinating peas corn or potatoes. Cover it with soil and within a week you can turn it and kill the collected insects.

You may also choose to rotate the crops while maintaining good drainage as a form of prevention.

Flea beetles

These create a large number of tiny holes in the leaves of the plant. To prevent or limit this it’s best to mulch heavily, companion plant or use row covers.

fresh grated horseradish roots on wooden table. rustic style from above.

Conclusion on how to grow horseradish

Before planting horseradish note that they do have side effects. If you are allergic to mustard oil which is a component of the root vegetable avoid eating it.

Children under the age of 5 are more likely to be affected by irritation to the skin, mouth, throat, urinary tract and digestive system. The intense smell and taste are just too much at such a young age.

Pets can also be hurt from use, so also exclude the spice from their diet.

That’s it! Do continue to visit my website for more weekly updates.

Other gardening articles:

  1. How to Start Organic Farming
  2. Benefits of Gardening
  3. How To Keep Basil Alive
  4. How To Grow Green Onion
  5. Easy Fruits And Vegetables To Grow
  6. How To Grow Lettuce
  7. How To Grow Kale

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