Horseradish plant: sizzling roots for culinary adventures

For people wondering what is horseradish? Here's a fun fact: horseradish roots have been around since 1,500 BC. BC! Horseradish is a spicy root vegetable that is popularly used as a spice. The plants have always been cultivated. In fact, they were mentioned in Greek mythology, where the Delphic Oracle Apollo admitted that horseradish roots are as precious as gold.

Horseradish may not look like much, but it is certainly a basic spice that is used in many households. What is surprising about horseradish plants is that even if they contain the name "horse" they are poisonous to these animals!

These perennials are so strong and resilient that they can thrive in almost all conditions. Horseradish is traditionally used as a natural remedy for coughs and colds and is definitely a valuable plant. Read on to find out how to grow this versatile plant in your garden!

Good products for growing horseradish:

Brief instructions on care

Horseradish plantThe horseradish plant produces spicy, edible roots. Source: Winhide

Common Name (s) Horseradish, red cole
Scientific name Armoracia rusticana
Months to harvest About 6 months
light Full sun to partial shade
Water: About 1 "water a week
ground Loamy soil with a lot of organic content
fertilizer If necessary, fertilize in the spring or use compost
Pests Flea beetles, cruciferous vegetables, caterpillars, root knot nematodes, beet leafhopper
Diseases Rust, root rot

All about horseradish

Horseradish plants in the cornerHorseradish leaves are also edible, albeit a bit bitter. Source: UnconventionalEmma

Although the plant is commonly known as horseradish, it bears the botanical name Armoracia rusticana. Sometimes this plant is known as Red Cole. The peppery roots of this beautiful plant have been a spice for more than 3,000 years. The history and use of horseradish roots can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when people in Europe seasoned pieces of meat with them.

For those who ask, "Why is it called horseradish?" Well, the perennial found its name through an interesting process. Horseradish became known in German under the name "horseradish" or sea radish. This is because the roots grew by the sea. However, many English-speaking people mispronounced the word "sea" and called it "mareradish".

And so the plant eventually became known as horseradish. The word "horse" indicates the roughness and size of the plant. Horseradish comes from West Asia and Southeast Europe. It is also commercially manufactured in many U.S. states such as New Jersey, Wisconsin, California and Illinois.

It belongs to the same family as other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, mustard and wasabi, the family of the Brassicaceae. Horseradish root is used both as a spice and as a spice. It can grow up to 1.5 meters tall and is mainly cultivated for its white, large, tapered root, which is perfectly edible.

Those who have grown horseradish will know that the plant is very aesthetic. The leaves have a unique growth pattern; They form a characteristic rosette that sprouts into single or multiple stems. Each leaf has long petioles with a crumpled or smooth texture.

Horseradish leaves are colored dark green and between 11-39 inches long. But horseradish is really known for its large, fleshy and extremely thick taproot. It has a cylindrical shape and grows up to 20 cm long, which makes it a coveted plant for enthusiastic gardeners.

The horseradish flower has a white color and is produced on grapes. Overall, horseradish can take up to a year to grow. So if you plant it in the fall, you can count on the harvest in the fall season of next year. This is one reason why wild horseradish is grown as an annual herb.

Horseradish is a root plant and is effectively grown from its bulbous roots and seeds. Armoracia Rusticana was popular in the culinary world. The horseradish meat is chopped up and grated into a sauce or used as a spice. Horseradish root has a pungent taste, so it can be used instead of real wasabi. Horseradish sauce, known in the UK and Poland, is made from grated horseradish and vinegar. To soften the heat, it is occasionally mixed with sour cream. This sauce is also served in salads, sandwiches and with roast beef.

Plant horseradish

Horseradish seedlingHorseradish leaves have slightly toothed edges. Source: Danny Baza Blas

Growing horseradish is easier than you think. Horseradish roots are cold-resistant and can therefore adapt to a variety of weather conditions. Here you will find a brief overview of when, where and how horseradish can be grown.

When to plant

If you want new plants, you need to choose the right soil and temperature conditions carefully to ensure a successful harvest. The best time to start horseradish, especially in the United States, is spring.

Whether you're growing horseradish from the crowns or roots, it's best to plant them well a few weeks before the last frost date. Make sure you plant in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. This ensures that the horseradish roots germinate successfully.

If you grow horseradish in containers, the best time to transplant them into an outdoor garden is the early growing season, just before the new growth begins. You can also replant them after the end of the season if you may harvest horseradish roots.

Where to plant

The decision about the location is extremely important. Horseradish grows best on well-drained, but moist, muddy soils. These can of course be found in the river bottom. However, if you grow them in your garden, you can use a growing field of sandy loam or enriched clay.

Note that these plants need fertile soil with a neutral pH to grow successfully. Make sure the sun is full for the best growth. A 3-inch layer of organic mulch keeps the soil moist and reduces weed growth, but keeps it a few inches from the base of the plant.

Horseradish plants have a habit of spreading, so you don't need more than two roots to produce enough for your whole family.

When planting, prepare the soil at least 10-12 inches deep and add compost and sand to keep the soil rich and loose. If you are planting in raised beds, your plants should be 18 to 24 inches apart to ensure enough space for root development.

How to plant

You can grow horseradish from seeds by sowing them in the ground and covering them with a small amount of loose compost and soil. Once the seedlings appear, you can thin them out and make sure they are at least 1 foot apart.

Dig holes at least 8 cm deep and 12 cm wide. Plant it at a 45 degree angle with the larger end facing the top of the bottom line. Cover the hole with 2 to 4 inches of soil to the crown and water the plant.

Alternatively, you can grow horseradish plants in pots with good drainage holes. The containers should also be deep enough to stimulate healthy and deeper root growth of at least 24-36 inches.

Growing horseradish

Healthy horseradish plantsSome healthy horseradish plants. Source: UnconventionalEmma

Now let's discuss the crucial details for growing and maintaining the horseradish plant! These care guidelines should ensure success.

Sun and temperature

Horseradish needs full sun to grow, although it partially tolerates the sun. Give young plants at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, if possible more. It prefers a temperature between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Horseradish is cold-resistant, but extremely sensitive to excessive heat. Keep an eye on the temperature. It shouldn't exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If this happens, donate some shade by hanging a shade fabric over the plants, or move them to a cooler place.

Water & moisture

Horseradish can tolerate some neglect. Pouring about an inch of water once a week is enough, but short droughts are acceptable. Water the soil only to reduce the risk of plant diseases such as rust.


The perennial can be grown on rich clay, sand or clay soil as long as it is loose and well ventilated. If you prefer, your plants prefer the soil to be a bit muddy.

It requires fertile soil, so make sure you add compost to the soil. The ideal pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.5. Make sure that your floor drains excess moisture well and that no water collects on the floor surface.


Fertilize in spring with a low nitrogen and high phosphorus fertilizer for larger, healthier roots. If you have worked the soil heavily with compost, you may not need any fertilizer at all!


Pruning horseradish is usually not necessary. This is done primarily to prevent the suction cups from inhibiting the growth of the main shoots. Remove the sucker blades when they are 6 to 8 inches long. These leaves grow outside the crown of the plant.

Make sure you cut only these and leave the dense leaves growing directly from the center of the crown. You want to continue growing here!


Horseradish can be propagated from seeds or from root segments.

Simply leave some of the roots in the soil when you harvest. New plants form from these roots. If you hibernate them in the ground, be sure to cover the roots with a thick layer of compost to reduce the likelihood of freezing.

You can also sow seeds in well-cultivated, compost-rich soils. Depending on the conditions, they will start to sprout in 7-15 days.

Harvest and store horseradish

Half-peeled horseradish rootA partially peeled horseradish root. Source: cv47al

Harvesting and using your products is the best part. If you grow horseradish, you can have a great harvest for next year too! Here you will find brief instructions on when and how horseradish has to be harvested.


The ideal time for harvesting is in autumn. For me it is the beginning of October, when the first frosts have already damaged the leaves. Carefully lift and loosen the soil around the horseradish plant with a clean digging fork. When all sides are detached, take the plant and gently pull it away from the ground. Be careful not to damage the roots.


The entire horseradish root should be stored without washing or peeling. Wrap them in dark plastic to block out light and store them in the refrigerator. This way, it usually takes about two weeks.

You can also peel and grate the root and mix it with vinegar. Be warned, horseradish releases an isothiocyanate aroma that can be very strong when rubbed! If you're the type who cries chopping onions, you may want to do this step outside where you have fresh air. A food processor can also help you break it down.

Quickly fill a container with your grated horseradish and add white wine vinegar. This provides enough acid to keep the strong roots in the fridge for up to two weeks. Avoid using apple cider vinegar as it discolors the white grated horseradish.

You can also cut your horseradish into 1-inch pieces and place them in a freezer or vacuum bag. Store it in the freezer until you need to use it and defrost it before use. Grated horseradish only lasts a few weeks in vinegar and quickly loses its effectiveness. If you freeze the excess, you can enjoy it all year round.


Horseradish plants with some insect damageSome pests eat horseradish leaves. Source: Graibeard

Horseradish is quite robust, but prone to some pests and diseases. Let's go through this now!

Growing problems

Over watering is a danger to horseradish. Excessive soil moisture can promote root rot. However, be careful not to leave it under water, as roots with low moisture will become woody and boring.

Protect your plants excess heat to avoid the greens wilting. Use of a shade fabric may be required in midsummer.


A number of pests nibble on the leaves of the horseradish. Among these are Flea beetle and Caterpillars. While the damage to flea beetles is mostly cosmetic, caterpillars can clear a plant of its leaves. Use a Bacillus Thurigiensis spray to remove caterpillars and pyrethrin sprays to get rid of flea beetles. Neem oil should prevent both.

Where the bigger problem comes in are pests that damage these spicy roots. Cruciferous vegetables, which are the larvae of certain types of flea beetles, can burrow into the roots. Root node nematodes can also lead to disfigurement and damage to the roots.

Pyrethrin will also deal with cruciferous vegetables, but you should use useful nematodes to remove root-knot nematodes.

Finally, that Sugar beet cicadas does not do serious harm to the plant itself, but is a vector for a specific plant disease. It transmits the pathogen that causes a brittle root disease and a curly top. To keep these cicadas at bay, this can be done with insecticidal soap. Otherwise, the pyrethrin that you use against the flea beetles cannot be used.


Some forms of Rust fungus can also affect your plants. Apply sulfur powder or neem oil to the leaves to prevent this, or use a copper-based fungicide to eliminate white rust breakouts.

If the soil is too wet, different rots can affect the roots of your plant. Make sure that you do not pour over and that no water collects on the surface of the floor.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Can you eat the leaves of the horseradish plant?

A: Horseradish plants are grown mainly for their roots. However, their leaves are so edible with a peppery, pungent and slightly bitter taste. You can cook them or eat them raw.

Q: Can you plant horseradish from the supermarket?

A: If they are very fresh, you can. Look for healthy horseradish roots in your grocery or kindergarten. Cut off the bottom 2 inches of your roots and let them dry thoroughly for a few days to form a cornea on the cut edge. Then plant as if they were a new plant, about 1 inch below the surface of the earth. As soon as it starts to grow again, it develops new leaf growth.

The green thumbs behind this article:
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime gardener

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