When to Plant Salsify and Scorzonera

Salsify roots

Plant salsify and scorzonera (black salsify) directly in the garden 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost in spring or as soon as the soil is workable. The soil temperature must be at least 40°F (4°C) for germination.

White salsify roots sauteed or steamed have a delicate flavor similar to that of the oyster. (Salsify is often called “oyster plant”.) Scorzonera is commonly called black salsify; it is black-skinned and white-fleshed and a flavor considered to be superior to that of salsify.

Salsify and scorzonera grow best when temperatures are between 55° and 75°F (13-24°C). Both are long-season crops that need at least 100 days to mature.

In short growing season regions, the yield may be good, but smaller. Where summer weather is very warm, the texture and flavor will not be as good.

Salsify and scorzonera are best planted in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Loosen the soil to a depth of 10 inches and remove any stones or clods, which will cause misshapen roots. Avoid using fresh manure which can cause roots to fork.

Salsify and scorzonera roots can be dug as soon as they are useable size. The best flavor occurs where freezing weather touches the crop before harvest.

Salsify plant

Salsify and scorzonera planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Jan. 1-Feb. 1
Feb. 8Jan. 10-Feb. 10
Feb. 18Jan. 15-Feb. 20
Feb. 28Jan. 15-Mar. 1
Mar. 10Feb. 1-Mar. 1
Mar. 20Feb. 15-Mar. 1
Mar. 30Mar. 1-15
Apr. 10Mar. 10-Apr. 15
Apr. 20Mar. 20-May 1
Apr. 30Apr. 1-May 15
May 10Apr. 15-June 1
May 20May 1-June 1
May 30May 10-June 1
June 10May 20-June 1
Scorzonera root

Salsify and scorzonera planting details

  • Sowing depth: ¼ inch (.6 cm)
  • Space between plants: 2-6 inches
  • Days to sprout: 7-20
  • Days to harvest: 120 or as soon as it reaches useable size
  • Storage period: 8-16 weeks
  • Seed for 100 row feet: ½ ounce
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 90 pounds
  • Suggested varieties: Salsify: Long Black, Mammonth Sandwich Island; Scorzonera: Enorma

More about plant salsify and scorzonera:

How to Grow Salsify

Five Ways to Cook and Serve Salsify

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.

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