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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Horseradish

Horseradish plant1
Horseradish plant in garden
Horseradish plant in the garden

Horseradish is grown for its pungent roots. Horseradish is a large-leaved perennial plant. The leaves are smooth with wavy edges. The roots grow long and narrow, sometimes to 2 feet (.6m) long.

Horseradish is best grown as an annual. In the second year, horseradish’s large roots can become tough and fibrous. For the best flavor, the roots should be lifted with a garden fork at the end of the first season before the first frost in autumn. Start new plants each year.

Grow horseradish is grown from crowns or root cuttings. Root cuttings can be set in the garden as early as four to six weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Grown as an annual, horseradish will be ready for harvest 140 to 160 days after planting.

If horseradish is left in the garden from one year to the next, the roots will readily spread and can easily grow out of control. To avoid horseradish taking over a garden, it is best grown in containers or in planting beds with deep sheet metal or wooden dividers that keep the roots from running.

Here is your complete guide to growing horseradish!

Where to Plant Horseradish

  • Plant horseradish in full sun; it will tolerate light shade.
  • Grow horseradish in rich well-drained soil.
  • Prepare the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches (25-30cm) and remove stones and lumps that might cause the roots to split.
  • Horseradish grows best in rich organic soil. Add aged compost to the planting bed to keep the soil loose. Add sand and compost if the soil is heavy with clay.
  • Horseradish prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8. A soil test will tell you the soil’s pH.
  • Allow 1 plant per household
Grow horseradish in garden
Prepare the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and remove stones and lumps that might cause the roots to split.

Horseradish Planting Time

  • Horseradish is a cold-hardy plant.
  • Set out crowns or root cuttings 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date in your region.
  • Horseradish grows best in cool, moist regions where the temperature stays between 45°F and 75°F (7-24°C).

Planting and Spacing Horseradish

  • Set crowns just at soil level. Plant roots in shallow trenches 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) deep and cover with 2 to 3 inches (5-7cm) of soil.
  • Slice root cuttings at a 30-degree angle or plant with the narrow end down; fill the trench until the wide end of the root is just covered. Space roots 24 to 36 inches (61-91cm) apart.
  • Horseradish planted in the garden should be contained with wooden, metal, or masonry borders set at least 24 inches (61cm) deep around the bed.

Horseradish Companion Plants

  • Grow horseradish with potatoes and yams.

Container Growing Horseradish

  • Choose a container that will allow horseradish roots to grow 24 to 30 inches  (61-76cm) deep.
Pulling horseradish roots
Avoid leaving pieces of the root in the ground after harvest, they will produce a new plant the next year.

Water and Feeding Horseradish

  • Keep the soil evenly moist to prevent roots from drying and turning woody.
  • Fertilize horseradish by adding organic compost to the planting bed every month.

Caring for Horseradish

  • To grow a large taproot root use a spade to slice down around the plant 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) from the base pruning away side roots.
  • Avoid leaving pieces of the root in the ground after harvest, they will produce a new plant the next year.

Horseradish Pests and Diseases

  • Horseradish has no serious pest problems.
  • Horseradish has no serious disease problems
Horseradish roots
Horseradish roots

Harvesting Horseradish

  • Cut sections of root with a sharp knife for use as needed after leaves are about 12 inches (30cm) long (roots will then be 3 to 4 inches/7-10cm in diameter).
  • Horseradish makes its best growth in late summer and fall, so delay harvesting until mid-autumn or later.
  • Harvest all roots before the ground freezes otherwise new plants will spring up the following year.

Storing and Preserving Horseradish

  • Trimmed and washed horseradish roots can be stored in a glass jar or plastic bag for two weeks after harvest in the refrigerator.
  • Grated horseradish can be kept in a glass jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.
  • Whole unwashed roots can be packed in damp sawdust and kept for up to 10 months. This is the best way to preserve the roots’ pungency if roots are not going to be used soon after harvest.
  • To freeze horseradish, grate the roots and mix with vinegar and water.

Horseradish Kitchen Use

  • Horseradish can be used fresh or pickled as a condiment or in sauces.
  • Fresh horseradish can be grated, diced, julienned, or sliced. Use an inch or two at one time, just peel the section you will be using fresh.
  • Add lemon juice to freshly sliced roots.

Horseradish Varieties to Grow

  • Horseradish is non-varietal.

About Horseradish

  • Common name. Horseradish
  • Botanical name. Armoracia rusticana
  • Origin. Eastern Europe


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


Comments are closed.
  1. Wow they grow 30 inches deep? I was considering planting one in a 3 liter soda bottle. I think they are like 9 or 10 inches deep. Way too small or will it still grow some?

    • Horseradish roots can grow to a depth of 72 inches, but more commonly to a depth of 18 to 24 inches. Ten inches is shallow, but you should give it a try–and let us know how it grows.

  2. I bought a horseradish root from the local Kroger grocery store, stuck it in a 16″ deep pot, watered it well and set it in my basement where it received lots of very filtered light (and stays about 55-60 degrees). About 6 weeks later, I saw a couple clumps of little leaves. Within another 2 weeks, I had several leaves about 6″ x 2″ wide – and VERY yummy!
    It’s still mid March in Indiana and likely way too soon to introduce it to the outside world, but I’m soooo looking forward to seeing how it does!
    Wanted to share! Hope someone else tries it!!

  3. I read that you can keep horseradish indefinitely by covering it with sand. So I filled a large pot with sand a put several horseradish roots in it straight down each. In a few weeks I had green leaves 18 inches high! and it kept producing leaves! It sprouted and sprouted and the roots I buried obviously did not keep since they were growing sprouts.

    • The horseradish likely sprouted because the sand was warmer than 36 degrees F, and it may have been stored where there was some light. To store horseradish in sand, a root cellar, or the refrigerator keep the temperature at 32 to 38 degrees in a dark place.

  4. You mention: Harvest all root before the ground freezes otherwise new plants will spring up the following year.

    Why would you not want new plants to spring up next year? When I grew horseradish before we just let it keep regrowing from year to year. Is there a reason for Harvesting all the root?

    • Root crops including horseradish which stay in the ground through the winter can grow on the next season, but the roots can become woody or grainy and less desirable for preparing and eating. Replanting roots in spring in soil that has been freshened with aged compost or organic matter will ensure strong new growth–both leafy and roots.

    • Plant horseradish in the cool time of the year–a few weeks before the last frost in spring. You can protect horseradish from very hot weather and hot sun by placing a frame at the corners of the planting bed and draping shade cloth over the top of the frame. The plant will get morning and late afternoon sun, but not direct midday sun.

    • Leaving the flowers or cutting them away will not affect horseradish root growth. If you want the plant to grow bushy and not up then nip the flowers back and keep the plant compact. Young horseradish leaves are edible with a peppery flavor; older leaves are too coarse to eat. The flowers have not particular flavor and so are not really of use in the kitchen.

    • Flowering does not have a negative effect on the ability of the horseradish plant to produce roots. You can leave the flowers on the plant or cut them off and eat them–they are edible.

  5. My wife and I got horseradish at the farmers market. We were told to plant it and we did but we don’t want it to spread through out the yard. Should we dig it up and replant it? It’s been in the ground about a month.

    • Horseradish will spread unless it is contained. You can sink a bottomless bucket in the ground and plant the horseradish inside; that will contain the roots.

  6. Hello!
    I am in NZ with An HR plant in a raised bed. The leaves are terribly sad and we have had frosts. Should I dig up now or wait till frosts pass which would take us to October potentially? Thanks in advance😁

    • Horseradish roots can withstand frost; the frost or a freeze will cause the top growth to die back at which point you can harvest the roots. It is likely the roots are as large as they will get now if you want to harvest now.

    • Horseradish can be planted at any time of the year where the ground does not freeze. Commonly, horseradish is planted in spring. The site for planting is prepared in autumn with the addition of aged compost or manure to the planting area. Horseradish is propagated from root cuttings. Cut a side root away from the main root; trim off the tips of the root at a slant–do this in the fall after harvest. Store the root cutting in damp sand until late winter or early spring when they can go into the garden. If you plant a cutting in autumn, be sure to allow the cut to cure or harden before you plant it.

  7. I live up-slope in Hawaii at 4000 ft elevation, daytime temperatures up to about 75 in summer, a little less in winter. Nighttime temperatures typically 50’s or 60’s most of the year as low as 45 degrees in the winter with an exceptionally cold night around 40 degrees. We get from 250 to 300 inches of rain a year, and few periods where we get full sun for weeks at a time.
    In the past 15+ years,, we haven’t seen a frost. Does Horseradish need the frost or will it just grow year round?

  8. I live in north central Arkansas and bought and planted some horseradish from a well known commercial nursery 2 springs ago and was told not to harvest them until the second year. I just dug them up today (61 degrees air temp) WOW – I had no idea that they would have such deep and long roots. this should be interesting since I am sure that some runner roots broke off and are still in the garden!

    • Yes, horseradish will run. It is a good idea to place barriers in the soil–such as a piece of sheet metal or an open bottom metal tub–to keep the roots from spreading.

  9. I planted a root that I bought in mid – October in a large grow pot and we keep it in our heated sunroom in moderate to direct sun. It was doing well but most of the leaves have recently died except two large ones and they looked spotted, like they are going to die. I am wondering if I should try to harvest them.

    If I am going to grow in pots again, what would be the best month to plant them and when would I harvest? If growing inside is it possible to plant any time during the year?

    Thank you for a great article and for sharing!!

    • Horseradish needs a period of dormancy in winter. If the soil and air temperature have remained warm through the winter, the plants may be stressed. Make sure the soil is not too moist; constantly moist soil can cause roots to rot. Horseradish makes its best growth in late summer and fall, so delay harvesting until mid-autumn or later.

  10. My family yard has a horseradish plant spot that has to be 80 yrs old. The plants don’t spread. I dug it up to figgure out what it was, yrs ago. Roots were as thick as my forearn. There was no barrier, or gone for years. I read that they dont have varients. Why do my plants…stay put?
    Thank you for any insight.

    • It takes about a year for a horseradish root to gain full size. Feed the plant with high phosphorus and potassium fertilizer such as 5-10-10 to support root growth.

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