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Horseradish Plant Guide: Care, Growth & Tips

Are you curious how to successfully care for and grow a horseradish plant? Do you want to grow this versatile plant to enjoy its flavor and health benefits? This guide will provide you with all the information you need to become a horseradish pro.

Grated horseradish in a white bowl.

Why I Love Horseradish

It’s always a win in my book when something we can grow can be used for culinary purposes and medicinally. I love learning and sharing about how to use herbal medicine at home. This includes how to start using medicinal herbs, how to grow medicinal herbs, designing a cottage garden, and sharing about different medicinal herbs and their uses.

Horseradish is no exception. It’s one of our favorite condiments when mixed with sour cream or homemade butter. It also contains many health benefits. If you’ve ever had a dollop of spicy sour cream on top of a baked potato, you’ve probably experienced its decongestant properties!

It’s important to note that I am not a certified medical practitioner. This post is not intended to diagnose or treat but is for informational purposes only. Please contact your healthcare professional before introducing new herbal and natural remedies into your wellness routine.

What Is Horseradish

Horseradish is a pungent root vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Eastern Europe but is now cultivated worldwide. The plant grows about 2-3 feet in height and is grown for its gnarled root, which is typically grated or ground to release its distinct flavor.

Horseradish plays a significant role in culinary traditions around the world. Ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Egyptians highly valued horseradish for its culinary and medicinal properties. Today, it remains a staple ingredient in many cuisines, especially in Eastern European and American cooking.

Peeled horseradish root.

What Parts of Horseradish Are Edible

While the root of horseradish is typically cultivated for use, the leaves are also edible. The leaves have a sharp, peppery taste, much like arugula or kale, and can be prepared in the same way by chopping them in a salad, topping a sandwich, blending them in your favorite green smoothie recipe, steaming or tossing them in a fresh garden stir fry.

A word of caution, though. While horseradish is edible for humans, it is not safe for your livestock to consume, so be mindful of protecting your grazing animals from the leaves. Don’t use the roots when using medicinal herbs for livestock either.

Types of Horseradish

The most popular horseradish variety is Armoracia rusticana, known for its bold, pungent flavor that adds a kick to any dish. It is versatile and can be used in sauces, dips, and condiments.

If you want to grow something less common, there are a few other varieties to choose from, each offering its own unique qualities:

  • Maliner Kren – This Austrian variety is known for its smooth and creamy texture, making it a popular choice for culinary creations.
  • Bohemian Horseradish – Originating from the Czech Republic, this variety is known for its mild and less pungent flavor compared to Armoracia rusticana.
  • Red Venture – This unique variety features red roots, adding a vibrant touch to your horseradish dishes.
  • Big Top – Known for its large root size and milder flavor, Big Top is a favorite among home gardeners.
A glass bowl of horseradish cream sauce.

Horseradish Health Benefits

Horseradish is not only a flavorful addition to your favorite dishes, but it also offers a range of health benefits. Incorporating horseradish into your diet can improve your overall well-being in various ways:

  • Boosts Immunity – Horseradish is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which help strengthen your immune system. (Source) Regular consumption of horseradish can enhance your body’s ability to fight off infections and reduce the risk of illness. (Source)
  • Relieves Respiratory Issues – The natural compounds found in horseradish, such as allyl isothiocyanate, have been shown to have decongestant properties. Consuming horseradish can help clear nasal passages, alleviate sinus congestion, and relieve respiratory issues. (Source)
  • Urinary Health – Preliminary studies have found that horseradish shows promise in treating urinary tract infections, including those showing antibiotic resistance. (Source)
  • Potential Cancer-Fighting Properties – Glucosinolate, a compound found in horseradish, has been associated with potential anticancer effects. Studies have shown that glucosinolate may help inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells and even induce their self-destruction. While more research is needed, these findings suggest that horseradish may play a role in cancer prevention. (Source)
Horseradish leaves.

Growing Horseradish

When it comes to planting horseradish, following the proper techniques is crucial for a successful harvest. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, these best practices will guide you through creating an optimal growing environment for your horseradish plants.

Planting Horseradish in the Ground

  • Sun – Horseradish plants require full sun exposure. Find a sunny spot in your garden where the plants will receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. This will promote robust leaf growth and enhance the flavor of the roots.
  • Soil – Horseradish plants thrive in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. Test your soil’s pH before planting for the best results. If needed, amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost, to improve its fertility and drainage. Before planting, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches to allow the roots to develop fully.
  • Seeds – Horseradish can be started from seed indoors, but are easier to grow from root cuttings.
  • Root Cuttings – You can either purchase root cuttings from a local nursery or garden store. Look for roots that are firm and disease-free. Or, you can dig one up from an existing plant. Simply dig up your horseradish plant, making sure you don’t damage the roots in the process. Wash off any excess soil and trim the roots into 6 to 8-inch cuttings. Plant the root cuttings vertically into the prepared soil, making sure the ends are facing down and the tops are at ground level.
  • Spacing – When planting horseradish, ensure the root cuttings are placed approximately 2-4 inches deep into the soil. This depth allows for proper root establishment and minimizes the risk of frost damage. Space the horseradish plants about 18-24 inches apart for adequate growth and airflow. After planting, thoroughly water the root cuttings until the soil is evenly damp.

Planting Horseradish in Pots

Horseradish can spread and crowd out other plants in your garden, so growing horseradish in pots can be a good way to contain your plant.

  • Container Size – When selecting a pot for growing horseradish, opt for a deep container that provides ample room for the plant’s extensive root system. A pot that is at least 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide would be ideal. This size ensures the roots have enough space to grow and allows for proper drainage.
  • Sun – Horseradish plants thrive in full sun, so it’s important to place your pots in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Choose a spot on your patio or balcony that offers ample sunlight for the proper growth and development of your horseradish plants.
  • Soil – The soil you use is crucial for the growth and development of your horseradish plant. Use a well-draining potting mix enriched with organic matter. The soil should be loose and fertile, allowing the roots to penetrate easily and obtain essential nutrients. Consider adding compost or aged manure (yearly) to improve the soil’s texture and nutrition.

Homesteading Hack: Grab more information on container gardening here and learn how to winterize your plants in pots here.

Bug damage to the leaves of a horseradish plant.

Caring for Horseradish Plants

The green leaves of the horseradish plant are not only visually appealing but also play a vital role in the plant’s overall health and vigor. It’s important to provide your horseradish with the necessary attention and care. Don’t make the mistake of letting your plant grow without the critical step of pruning.

Pruning horseradish promotes better air circulation and sunlight penetration, reducing the risk of diseases and improving overall plant health. It also helps prevent the horseradish from becoming overcrowded, allowing the plant to allocate resources efficiently and grow robustly.

  • Watering – Water regularly to keep the soil consistently damp, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Homesteading Hack: You can check out our garden watering strategies for more tips on properly watering a garden.
  • Pruning – Horseradish is typically pruned in late winter or early spring before the growing season begins. This timing allows the plant to redirect its energy towards producing new shoots and roots. Look for signs of new growth, such as emerging sprouts or leaf buds, before pruning. It’s important not to prune too late in the season, as this may delay the regrowth process.
    • Carefully observe the horseradish plant and identify any dead or damaged leaves and stems.
    • Using clean and sharp pruning shears or scissors, make clean cuts just above the base of the damaged or dead foliage. Homesteading Hack: Always sanitize your pruning tools before and after use to prevent the transmission of diseases between plants.
    • Dispose of the pruned plant material properly, away from the horseradish bed, to avoid the spread of diseases.
    • Be mindful not to remove too much foliage, which can weaken the plant.
  • Fertilizing – Once every four to six weeks, add some compost tea from homemade compost. This will prevent the soil from depleting.
  • Pest Protection – A common pest that can damage horseradish plants is flea beetles. These tiny insects feed on the leaves, causing small holes and stunted growth. To protect your horseradish from flea beetles, consider using organic pest control methods such as neem oil sprays or floating row covers.
Horseradish growing in the ground.

Harvesting Horseradish

When the growing season for horseradish ends, the leaves begin to die back, signaling it is time for harvest. This usually occurs in the late fall or early spring, depending on your climate.

  • Timing – With proper care and maintenance, your horseradish plants will be ready for harvest in approximately 6-8 months. The roots should reach a size of 8-12 inches in length and be at least 1 inch in diameter. Harvesting during early spring or late fall when the foliage is dormant will yield the best results.
  • Harvesting the Roots – When it comes time to harvest your horseradish roots, the proper tool is essential. A garden spade is perfect for loosening the soil around the roots without damaging them.
    • Start by loosening the soil around the plants, working in a circular motion.
    • Carefully insert the spade into the soil, angling it away from the center of the plant to avoid piercing the roots.
    • Gently lift the horseradish root out of the ground, keeping it intact for the best flavor and yield.
  • Long-Term Storage – After harvesting, remove any small side roots from the main root. This helps concentrate the flavor. Once the roots have been cleaned and trimmed, they are ready to be used in various culinary creations or preserved in one of the following ways for later use:
Storage MethodProsCons
Freezing– Maintains flavor
– Easy to thaw
– Texture may change
– Requires freezer space
Pickling– Adds tangy flavor
– Extended shelf life
– Alters original taste
– Requires pickling process
Root Cellar– Natural storage option
– Maintains freshness
– Requires suitable storage conditions
Herbal remedies on a shelf,

Using Herbal Medicine

Whether you choose to enjoy horseradish as a zesty condiment, a flavorful ingredient in recipes, or for its medicinal benefits, your efforts in growing and caring for this remarkable plant will be rewarded.

If you are ready to learn more about using medicinal herbs for your family, the Herbal Medicine Cabinet: Colds and Flu class is designed just for you. When you sign up, you will no longer be wondering…

  • Which herbs are you supposed to use for various illnesses?
  • Where do you find the best quality herbal medicines?
  • Are all herbs safe to treat your family?
  • And so much more!

With a recent update to include flu and flu-like viruses, this masterclass will allow you to stock your herbal medicine cabinet confidently, using simple herbs to safely, naturally and effectively treat your family this cold and flu season.

FAQ

How deep should I plant horseradish roots?

Horseradish roots should be planted about 2-3 inches deep in the soil.

Do horseradish plants need full sun?

Yes, horseradish plants thrive in full sun and require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Can I grow horseradish in a pot or container?

Yes, horseradish can be grown in pots or containers. Choose a large container with a minimum depth of 18 inches to accommodate the plant’s long roots.

Are the leaves of the horseradish plant edible?

Yes, the leaves of the horseradish plant are edible and can be used in salads, soups, or as a garnish. They have a peppery flavor similar to the roots.

What is the best companion plant for horseradish?

Horseradish grows well with companion plants such as spinach, lettuce, and dill. These plants can help deter pests and provide some shade for the horseradish plant if needed.

When is the best time to harvest horseradish roots?

Horseradish roots are typically harvested in late fall or early spring when the leaves have died back. This allows the plant to store more energy in the roots.

How should I store harvested horseradish roots?

Harvested horseradish roots can be stored in a root cellar or refrigerator. Trim off the leaves and store the roots in a cool, dark place wrapped in damp paper towels or damp sawdust.

Can I cut horseradish roots and plant them to grow more plants?

Yes, horseradish roots can be divided into smaller pieces and planted to grow more plants. Each root cutting should have at least one bud or shoot.

A woman kneeling in a cottage garden next to flowers.
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Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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