Are you interested in growing your own horseradish? Great choice! Horseradish is a staple in the culinary world and is known to complement almost any meal. Grown from a rootstock, horseradish has a long history of culinary and medicinal use; the root was first cultivated in the Mediterranean region and was well-known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Although originally used for therapeutic purposes, it is now primarily prepared as a condiment or garnish.
Here are the important things you need to know to get started on your horseradish plant journey.
In This Article
Quick Facts About Plant Horseradish
Scientific name: Armoracia rusticana
Type of plant: perennial plant: both a vegetable and an herb
Native to: Southeastern Europe and western Asia
Light requirement: full sun but tolerates light shade
Horseradish is a perennial plant in the Brassicaceae (mustard) family. It is a root used as a spice. The plant is probably native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, but its exact origin is unknown. The plant grows up to 1.2 m tall, and is cultivated mainly for its large, white, tapered root pieces; some forms have green leaves and roots.
The leaves grow up to 30 cm long, pinnate, with ovate-oblong leaflets 4–10 cm long and 2–6 cm broad; they are similar in appearance to those of the related black mustard (Brassica nigra). The flowers are pale yellow-green to yellow. The seeds are 3–4 mm long and straight.
Cultivation and History
Its roots have been used as a medicinal herb since ancient times. It was mentioned by Hippocrates (460–370 BC) as a treatment for stomach ailments, including indigestion, flatulence and diarrhea. In medieval Europe horseradish was used to treat toothaches, sore throats and fever and also plays a historic role in the Passover Seder plate, an important tradition of the Jewish faith that continues to this day
In the 19th century horseradish became popular as a condiment in England where it was mixed with vinegar or lemon juice to make mustard sauce or served alongside roast beef as we do today.
There are a number of types of horseradish, which is a member of the cabbage family. The most commonly grown variety is cream-colored with a pungent taste, but there are also varieties that are purple, red and white.
The most common type of horseradish used in most kitchens is the mild-tasting Irish or common horseradish (Armoracia rusticana). It has a light green color and grows to about 1 foot tall. The leaves are large and coarsely toothed, similar to those of rhubarb. The root can be eaten raw or cooked with a sharp, hot, mustardy taste.
Also calledwasabi, this variety is commonly served with sushi. It has a sharp flavor and is best when paired with mildly taste foods.
The most common variety in the United States, this type has a strong flavor that can be used to spice up salads or sauces. Western horseradish is often sold as an herbal supplement instead of as an ingredient in food products.
Giant Horse Radish
This plant grows to more than 6 feet tall and produces large roots that weigh up to 10 pounds each! Giant Horse Radish plants do not produce leaves like other types of horseradish do; therefore, they need to be grown from seed rather than transplanted from another area.
Barrel Horseradish is another variety that is commonly used to make mild horseradish sauce. The roots of this plant are about 1 foot long and can weigh up to 2 pounds each. The flesh of the root is creamy white in color, but it will turn to a deep green when exposed to light. This variety has an extremely hot flavor that may have a tingling sensation when eaten raw.
This variety is very similar to Giant Horse Radish, except it doesn’t grow quite as large. The flavor is similar too, but this one tends to be a little milder than its larger cousin. Polish Horseradish can also be used for cooking or grating into sauces (especially mayonnaise).
How to Grow Horseradish Roots: A Complete Guide
Horseradish is a pungent root that’s used as a condiment or spice in many dishes. It’s very easy to grow, but you have to be careful with your horseradish plant, because if you don’t care for them right, they will die.
Here are some things to consider before planting horseradish:
Horseradish plants require full sun or partial shade. If you live where there is a lot of shade, try growing horseradish near an eastern window. You can also grow it indoors if you have enough light available.
Horseradish prefers sandy soil with good drainage. Make sure there is plenty of room for root growth, as they will spread out quickly and cover the entire planting site. If you are cultivating root crops such as horseradish in a container or other small area, choose a variety appropriate for container growing.
Choosing new pots
Horseradish prefers to grow in a container that is at least 12 inches deep. A large clay pot or wooden barrel will work well as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom. You can also plant horseradish in the ground if you live in an area where it will survive winter temperatures below 15°F (5°C).
Preparing Soil for Planting
Plant horseradish in fall or spring, depending on your climate. In warm climates where winters are mild, plant in fall after harvest time to give the roots time to grow before winter arrives. In cold climates with shorter growing seasons, plant horseradish in the rich soil line as early as possible to give it as much time as possible to mature before frost hits.
Horseradish needs regular watering during its first year of growth. The plant also benefits from an inch of water every week during its second year. Once established, horseradish is fairly drought tolerant but root growth will benefit from occasional watering during hot summers or periods of drought conditions in your region.
Horseradish plant prefer cool weather and grow best when temperatures don’t exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). When temperatures get above 90 F (32 C) in summer, the roots may start to rot, so it’s best to plant horseradish roots in early spring or late summer when temperatures are milder.
Pruning is not required but can be done to maintain a desired shape. Horseradish roots do not require pruning, but if you wish to keep the plant small, you can prune it back by about half its size each year after harvesting horseradish. The best time to prune is in the late fall or winter.
You can store horseradish in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks after being cut from the plant. Before storing, wash off any dirt or debris from the horseradish root, then trim off any leaves that may still be attached. You can store your freshly cut roots or store them neatly by grating horseradish first and keep them in a plastic bag or wrap it in aluminum foil before storing it in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
To keep your crop fresh longer, place it on top of its own greens in an airtight container or perforated plastic bag. Store this container at room temperature or freeze horseradish in the refrigerator away from foods with strong odors such as onions and garlic.
How to Plant Your Horseradish Root
You can plant the roots in the fall or early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Horseradish plants are hardy, so they can be planted in your garden in any season. However, fall is the best time to plant its roots because it gives the root plenty of time to grow before the ground freezes when winter sets in.
You can buy horseradish roots from a nursery or order them online. If you have a home garden, you can grow your own from seed or from a root cutting. Regardless of how you get your roots, you’ll need to prepare them for planting by curing them for about four weeks before planting.
Choose your variety. There are two main types of horseradish: common and curled. Curled varieties are grown for their spicy, curled leaves and thick roots; common varieties produce straight roots with few leaves and less heat.
Carefully dig a hole about 1 foot deep and about 1 foot wide for every plant you want to plant. Make sure the hole is large enough for the root ball to fit comfortably. You should also make sure that the hole is deep enough that it will not fill up with water once you put your horseradish thin roots into it.Do not plant your horseradish too deeply, as this can cause rot problems for your plants later on down the road. If needed, add some organic compost or soil amendments to help loosen up heavy clay soils before planting your horseradish root.
As soon as the soil is ready, place some fertilizer around each horseradish growing hole and then place your horseradish root into the planting hole with its roots facing downward. Make sure that there are no air pockets around the roots when placing it into the ground as this could cause problems later on down the road as well
Water thoroughly after planting, keeping the soil moist for about two weeks until new growth appears above ground. After that, water whenever your garden needs it, but not too much — horseradish roots don’t like wet feet!
Once established and growing well, add an organic compost, fertilize your plant monthly during its first year with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 or 10-10.
How to grow horseradish from root cuttings?
Horseradish is a root vegetable, so you can grow it from a root cutting. The roots/root cuttings should be planted in early spring and will produce new roots within 2 to 3 weeks.
To grow horseradish from root cuttings:
Cut off pieces of roots with at least two or three buds on it, using a sharp knife or clippers. Ensure that you leave at least two inches of stem attached to the bud (stems grow roots more easily than leaves).
Plant your entire root cuttings in pots or directly into the ground or root cellar so that they are about six inches deep, at roughly a 45-degree angle, with their tops just below the surface of the moist sand. The potting mix should be fertile and well drained to ensure that your cuttings do not rot before they have time to produce new roots and shoots.
Water them regularly so the soil remains moist but not soggy for at least three weeks after planting (they may take longer).
After the lateral roots have formed, stop watering until fall, save roots until when you can harvest them for use in recipes!
How to grow horseradish from seed?
Horseradish plant is also very easy to grow from seed, so if you want an organic way to get your hands on some, here’s how:
The first step in growing horseradish is finding the right seeds. You can purchase them online or at most seed stores. The best time to sow them is in late winter or early spring – before the last frost has passed.
Sow the seeds about ½ inch deep into moistened soil in early spring after all danger of frost has passed.
Cover the newly planted seeds with a light layer of sand or fine gravel to prevent the developing seedlings from drying out. The seeds should germinate within one to two weeks.
Once the seedlings are established, thin them to one per foot so that they don’t compete for nutrients and water. Horseradish roots form quickly, so keep mulching around them to keep weeds at bay and moisture in the soil test around the roots.
Transplant into a sunny location once they’re about 6 inches tall and make sure they get plenty of water during dry spells.
Tips for Growing Horseradish Plants
You can grow new plant in your garden if you have the right conditions. Here are some tips for when you decided in planting horseradish.
Know your horseradish. Several types of horseradish grow well in different climates. Choose one that suits your growing area best!
Sow seed early. It’s best to start sowing your roots as soon as you can work the soil. If you wait too long, the ground freezes and the soil will be too cold to germinate the seedlings. Horseradish roots are extremely hardy, so they can handle some frost. But if you want to start the growing season early, sow your seeds as soon as the ground can be worked.
Sow thickly for better germination. Sow your roots seed thickly in rows about 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. This gives them more space to grow, which helps them avoid competition with other plants for nutrients and water in the soil. You should expect about a 50% germination rate from your initial planting (so if you plant 100 seeds, only 50 of them will grow).
Trim it back for a second harvest. When you’re ready to harvest your roots, simply trim off the leaves with a pair of scissors or snip them off with pruning shears. Don’t let them go to waste: Dried horseradish leaves are edible, too!
Don’t over-water your horseradish plant! Horseradish grows best in well-drained soil so water only as needed and only when the top inch of soil feels dry during hot weather.
Keep the soil loose between plantings. So it won’t pack down around the root ball when you transplant it into your garden bed or damp sand.
How to Harvest Horseradish
The first step to harvesting grown horseradish is to choose a healthy plant. Look for plants that are not wilted or damaged in any way. If the leaves are yellowish, this indicates that the plant may be suffering from root rot, a common problem with horseradish.
Next, dig up your horseradish roots using a shovel or spade. You can harvest as many roots as you need at one time. When you have dug up all of your roots, cut off the top 1/3 to 1/2 inch of the root with a sharp knife or garden fork, using a sawing motion to cut through the root at an angle, leaving as much flesh attached as possible.
After you harvest horseradish roots, wash them thoroughly under cold running water until no dirt remains on them. Gently scrub off any remaining dirt with a vegetable brush or sponge if necessary.
Store your harvested horseradish in a cool place from direct sunlight until ready to use. Place it in an airtight container or plastic bag to prevent moisture from damaging it while it’s waiting for you to cook with it.
Pests, Diseases, and Treatment
There are no pests or plant diseases horseradish is specifically susceptible to. However, there are a few pests that may affect them indirectly by feeding on other plants in your garden or root cellar landscape, such as:
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck new plant juices. They often congregate on the undersides of leaves and stems, especially where there is a lot of succulent new growth. Aphids are generally green, but they can also be black, yellow, or pink.
Treatment: Horseradish aphids generally don’t do much damage to a horseradish plant. They mostly just look bad. The best way to deal with them is by hand picking them off your plants and destroying them by squishing them between your fingers. If you have a large infestation, use insecticidal soap as well to kill as many as possible.
The caterpillars feed on the leaves of the plant, causing them to become brown and die.
Treatment: If you have a serious infestation of caterpillars, then it may be best to just pull up the plant and start over again with new seedlings or transplants. However, if you have only a few caterpillar eggs or larvae on your new plants, then it’s possible that you can save them from being destroyed by the insects.
The most effective technique for getting rid of caterpillars is handpicking them off of your plants and main root every day. Make sure that you wear gloves when handling these insects since they can bite and sting when threatened or handled roughly. Within two weeks, if you remove all of the caterpillar eggs from your garden area, they won’t return again next year!
This disease is caused by a fungus that lives on the surface of the leaves where it produces tiny black spots that may eventually cause whole sections of leaf to fall off.
Treatment: It’s best to plant resistant varieties if leaf spot is a problem in your area, but even then you should be vigilant about removing infected leaves as soon as they appear so that the disease doesn’t spread rapidly through your new plants.
Mealybugs are tiny pests that feed on plants and leave behind white, cottonlike patches on the foliage. They are usually found under leaves and stems or on roots, but they can also infest flowers and fruit. Mealybugs tend to congregate in high-humidity areas like bathrooms, kitchens and greenhouses, so they often hitch rides inside plant pots before settling into new homes.
Treatment: To control mealybugs, remove affected crinkled leaves from plants and discard them. Apply beneficial insects soap or neem oil as directed on product labels.
This fungal disease causes leaves to appear pale green or yellowish with white spots on them. The fungus also infects flowers, stems and roots. Downy mildew can cause significant damage to the plant if not controlled early on in the growing season.
Treatment: There are no chemical controls for downy mildew, so it’s important to use organic methods where possible. Remove all infected plants from your garden immediately and keep soil free of debris by raking regularly throughout the growing season. Use fungicides such as sulfur spray or neem oil on non-resistant varieties such as open pollinated heirloom varieties or hybrids that do not have resistance built into them.
Crown rot shows up as wilted leaves at the top of the plant. It eventually spreads through the entire plant, causing it to die off completely by fall. Crown rot will often appear after periods of heavy rainfall or during rainy summer when plants are stressed due to lack of sunlight and limited water supply.
Treatment: If you notice signs of crown rot in your horseradish plant, it is best to cut off any diseased areas as soon as possible to prevent further damage. It can also be prevented by planting tolerant cultivars, such as ‘Hoffman’s Early White’ or ‘White Wonder’. These varieties are less susceptible to crown rot than other types of horseradish.
Best Uses of Horseradish
Horseradish has a strong aroma and spicy flavor, making it a great addition to dips, sauces, and spreads. You can use it in any recipe that calls for mustard or wasabi. Add it to your favorite homemade horseradish recipe or try adding it to your favorite ranch dressing recipe. You can even add it to your favorite salsa recipe for an extra kick of spice!
If you love creamy sauces, horseradish is the perfect ingredient! Horseradish roots adds a rich creaminess to any sauce that you make at home. Try using this root vegetable in place of mayonnaise or sour cream in your next soup or dip recipe. You can also use it as a thickener instead of flour or cornstarch in gravies and sauces – it will give them an extra dose of flavor!
Add fresh horseradish root to your next salad for an extra kick of flavor and an extra dose of nutrients. It adds some serious zing without adding much fat or calories. The root contains beneficial antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer and heart disease, according to researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Spicy Shrimp Cocktail
Horseradish is a great way to add some heat and kick to your favorite shrimp cocktail recipe. The fresh root should be grated horseradish and added to your favorite bottled cocktail sauce or simply mixed with mayonnaise, lemon juice, quarter teaspoon salt, and pepper. The spicy root will give your shrimp appetizer an extra kick of flavor without overpowering it.
Another easy way to use horseradish root is by making homemade tartar horseradish sauce at home! All you need is mayonnaise, juice, fresh dill pickles (or sweet pickles), minced onion or shallots, Worcestershire sauce (optional), salt & pepper, parsley flakes (optional), capers (optional) and minced fresh dill weed (optional). Combine all ingredients together in a bowl or a food processor until well mixed then refrigerate until ready to serve with fried seafood such as fried shrimp or fish fillets!
Is horseradish plant invasive?
Horseradish is not invasive. It is grown as an annual vegetable, and will not come back on its own each year.
Is horseradish safe for babies?
Horseradish is safe for babies when eaten in moderation. It can cause irritation to the eyes, mouth and throat if consumed in large quantities. Keep horseradish away from children under 4 years old.
How do you stop horseradish from spreading?
The easiest way to control horseradish is with a pre-emergent herbicide. This will prevent the weed from germinating in the first place. A pre-emergent herbicide should be applied at least two weeks before planting.
Once the horseradish plants have emerged, you can use a post emergent herbicide to kill them. Post emergent herbicides are effective but they need to be applied regularly throughout the season until all of the horseradish plants have died back.
What kills horseradish roots?
Its side roots can be killed by frost or freezing temperatures, so if you want to grow horseradish, you’ll need to plant it in a sheltered spot where it won’t be exposed to cold weather. A good rule of thumb is to plant your horseradish between May 1 and June 15 (when frost danger has passed).
Does horseradish plant flower?
Yes, but it’s not a pretty sight. If you grew horseradish, expect the flowers are small and dull-colored, and they have an unpleasant smell. They also do not produce seeds in most regions of the United States but are self-pollinating, so there’s no need to worry about attracting insects or other pollinators to the new plants.
Why is my horseradish bitter?
If your prepared horseradish tastes bitter, it may be because it was exposed to light or heat before cooking or storing the root vegetable in your refrigerator. To prevent this from happening again, store your horseradish in an opaque container in the refrigerator (it should last 1-2 weeks).
This is a very brief overview of how horseradish grows and what it takes to get started. Of course, an actual gardener must undertake more in-depth research before attempting to grow and love horseradish yourself. You can grow horseradish in a garden or even pot as long as it gets partial sun. It’s one of those ingredients that every good cook should have on hand and adding it to a dish will give you a flavor punch like no other.