Salsify and scorzonera are cool-weather root crops. Salsify and scorzonera, are sometimes confused. The roots look very similar; salsify has a whitish root; scorzonera has a black root. The roots and leaves of salsify and scorzonera are edible.
- Salsify is a hardy biennial vegetable grown as an annual. Salsify is grown for its long, tapered, carrot-like off-white root (with white interior) which is tender when harvested young. Salsify tastes a bit like oyster and is often referred to as “vegetable oyster” or “oyster plant.” The botanical name of salsify is Tragopogon porrifolius.
- Scorzonera is a black-skinned root vegetable with white flesh that resembles salsify. Scorzonera is sometimes called black salsify or Spanish salsify. The botanical name of scorzonera is Scorzonera hispanica.
Here is your complete guide to growing salsify and scorzonera.
Salsify and Scorzonera Quick Growing Tips
- Sow salsify and scorzonera as early as 2 weeks before the last expected frost in spring when the soil temperature has reached about 40°F (4.4°C).
- In mild winter regions, sow salsify and scorzonera in early autumn for a winter harvest.
- Salsify and scorzonera require 120 to 150 days to reach harvest and are best when they come to maturity in cool weather.
Scorzonera and salsify are members of the dandelion tribe of the daisy family and the two are just about as easy to grow as dandelions. Salsify has almost grass-like leaves. Scorzonera has broad lily-of-the-valley-like leaves, The growing requirements of salsify and scorzonera are the same.
Where to Plant Salsify and Scorzonera
- Plant salsify and scorzonera in full sun.
- Sow seeds in soil rich in organic matter that is well-worked to the depth of 8 to 12 inches (20-30cm).
- Remove all stones and soil lumps from planting beds; obstacles in the soil can cause roots to fork and split.
- Salsify prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
When to Plant Salsify and Scorzonera
- Salsify and scorzonera are hardy cool-weather root crops.
- Sow salsify and scorzonera 2 weeks before the last expected frost in spring when the soil temperature has reached about 40°F (4.4°C). In mild winter regions, sow salsify in early autumn for a winter harvest.
- Salsify and scorzonera require 120 to 150 days to reach harvest and are best when it comes to maturity in cool weather.
- Salsify and scorzonera can be harvested after the first freeze in autumn. Do not allow salsify to sit in the garden after temperatures rise above 85°F (29°C); roots will become stringy and fibrous.
Planting and Spacing Salsify and Scorzonera
- Sow salsify seed ½ inch (12mm) deep and ½ inch apart.
- Thin successful seedlings to stand 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) apart.
- Space rows 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) apart.
- Yield: plant 10 salsify or scorzonera plants per household member.
Salsify and Scorzonera Companion Plants
- Grow salsify and scorzonera with other root crops including carrots, turnips, rutabaga, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Container Growing Salsify and Scorzonera
- Salsify and scorzonera, like many long-rooted crops, are not a good choice for container growing unless the containers are 10 inches or deeper.
Water and feeding Salsify and Scorzonera
- Keep salsify and scorzonera planting bed evenly moist to prevent the roots from getting stringy.
- Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting.
- Side dress salsify and scorzonera with compost at midseason.
- Manure or too much nitrogen added to the soil before sowing can cause roots to fork and split.
Salsify and Scorzonera Care and Maintenance
- Keep planting beds weed-free.
- Mulch planting beds with 1 to 2 feet (30-61cm) of straw if the harvest is planned after the onset of freezing weather.
Salsify and Scorzonera Pests and Diseases
- Salsify and scorzonera have no serious pest or disease problems.
How to Harvest Salsify and Scorzonera
- Salsify and scorzonera roots 12 inches (30cm) long or longer are ready for harvest.
- Lift roots whole by hand or with a spading fork being careful not to break roots.
- Roots require 120 to 150 days to reach harvest.
Storing Salsify and Scorzonera
- Salsify and scorzonera can withstand freezing so leave roots in the ground until you want them.
- The longer salsify is in the ground the less it tastes like oysters.
Storing and Preserving Salsify and Scorzonera
- Salsify will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
- Remove the tops before refrigerating. Roots can be kept in a cold, moist place for 2 to 4 months.
Salsify and Scorzonera Varieties to Grow
- Varieties. ‘Giant Russian’, ‘Sandwich Island Mammoth’, ‘Scorzonera’.
About Salsify and Scorzonera
- Salsify common name. Salsify, oyster plant
- Salsify botanical name. Tragopogon porrifolius
- Scorzonera common name: Black salsify, Spanish salsify
- Scorzonera botanical name: Scorzonera hispanica
- Origin. Southern Europe