How To Plant Horse Radish [ Full Guide ]

Horse radish, also known as Armoracia rusticana, is a robust, perennial plant that is cultivated for its pungent roots. Planting horse radish requires careful consideration of location, soil preparation, variety selection, and proper handling of the roots. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the step-by-step process of planting horse radish, ensuring that you can successfully grow this flavorful and versatile plant in your garden.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Horse Radish

  1. Choose a location with full sun or partial shade.
  2. Prepare the soil by ensuring it is well-drained and fertile.
  3. Select the horse radish variety suitable for your growing region.
  4. Purchase healthy horse radish roots from a reputable source.
  5. Cut the roots into sections, ensuring each piece has at least one viable bud.
  6. Plant the horse radish roots vertically in the prepared soil, with the top bud just below the surface.
  7. Water the planting area thoroughly and maintain consistent moisture.
  8. Mulch the area to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  9. Monitor and care for the horse radish plants as they grow.

Now, let’s explore each of these steps in detail to ensure a successful horse radish planting experience.

Choosing The Right Location

Selecting the right location is crucial for the successful growth and development of horse radish. Consider the following factors when choosing a location for planting:


Horse radish plants thrive in locations with full sun to partial shade. Ensure that the chosen site receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. In regions with hot summers, providing some afternoon shade can be beneficial to prevent the plants from wilting under intense heat.

Soil Drainage

Horse radish prefers well-drained soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Avoid planting in areas with compacted or heavy clay soils that retain excess water. If your soil has poor drainage, consider raised beds or adding organic matter to improve the soil’s structure.

Soil Ph

The ideal soil pH for horse radish cultivation is between 6.0 and 7.0. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH of the planting site. If the soil is too acidic, adding lime can help raise the pH to the optimal range.


Horse radish plants can spread vigorously, so it’s essential to provide ample space for their growth. Allow for at least 24-36 inches (61-91 cm) between plants to accommodate their expansive root system and prevent overcrowding.

Preparing The Soil

Proper soil preparation sets the stage for healthy and vigorous horse radish growth. Follow these steps to prepare the soil for planting:

Soil Testing

Before planting horse radish, conduct a soil test to assess its fertility and nutrient levels. Soil testing kits are available at garden centers or through local agricultural extension offices. The results will guide you in making any necessary soil amendments to create an optimal growing environment for the plants.

Soil Enrichment

If the soil test indicates deficiencies in essential nutrients, enrich the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. Work the organic matter into the soil to improve its structure and fertility. This process helps ensure that the horse radish plants have access to the necessary nutrients for robust growth.

Weed Control

Prior to planting, remove any existing weeds from the designated area. Weeds can compete with horse radish for nutrients and water, so it’s crucial to start with a weed-free planting site. Consider using a natural mulch to suppress weed growth and retain soil moisture once the horse radish is planted.

Soil Loosening

Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches (30 cm) using a garden fork or tiller. This improves soil aeration and facilitates root penetration, allowing the horse radish plants to establish themselves more effectively.

Drainage Considerations

Inspect the soil for drainage issues and take corrective measures if necessary. If the area tends to become waterlogged, consider installing a drainage system or choose raised beds to promote better root health and prevent water-related problems.

Selecting The Horse Radish Variety

When selecting a horse radish variety, consider your local climate and growing conditions to choose a cultivar that will thrive in your area. Some popular horse radish varieties include:

Maliner Kren

This variety is known for its vigorous growth and pungent flavor. It is well-suited to cooler climates and can thrive in regions with mild summers.

Big Top

Big Top is a cold-hardy variety that produces large, straight roots with a distinctive, sharp flavor. It is a popular choice for home gardeners and commercial growers in cooler climates.

Variegated Horse Radish

This variety is prized for its attractive foliage, featuring variegated leaves with splashes of creamy white and green. It adds visual interest to the garden while providing the pungent flavor characteristic of horse radish.

Planting Zones

Verify that your chosen horse radish variety is suitable for your USDA planting zone. Different varieties have specific temperature and climate requirements, so selecting a variety that aligns with your local conditions is essential for successful cultivation.

Purchasing And Preparing The Horse Radish Roots

The key to successful horse radish cultivation lies in starting with healthy and viable roots. Follow these steps for purchasing and preparing horse radish roots for planting:

Source Of Roots

Purchase horse radish roots from a reputable nursery, garden center, or online supplier. It is essential to obtain roots from a reliable source to ensure their quality and viability for planting.

Root Inspection

Upon receiving the horse radish roots, inspect them for signs of decay, mold, or damage. Discard any roots that appear compromised, as they may not produce healthy plants.

Pre-planting Preparation

Before planting, trim the roots to ensure they are clean and free from any damaged or rotting sections. Soak the trimmed roots in water for a few hours to rehydrate them and promote the development of new roots once planted in the soil.

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Division Of Roots

Cut the horse radish roots into sections, ensuring that each piece is around 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) long. Each section should contain at least one viable bud, as this is where the new growth will emerge. Utilizing healthy root sections is crucial for successful establishment and vigorous plant growth.

Planting The Horse Radish Roots

Now that the soil is prepared and the horse radish roots are ready, it’s time to plant them in the designated area. Follow these steps for successful planting:

Planting Depth

Dig planting holes that are approximately 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) deep. Place the horse radish root sections in the holes vertically, with the top bud positioned just below the soil surface. Planting the roots too deep can hinder their emergence, while planting them too shallow may lead to desiccation.


Space the horse radish root sections at least 18-24 inches (46-61 cm) apart to allow ample room for their growth. Ensure that the sections are evenly distributed across the planting area, taking into account the plants’ expansive nature.

Soil Firming

After placing the root sections in the planting holes, gently firm the soil around them to ensure good soil-to-root contact. Avoid compacting the soil excessively, as this can hinder root development and water penetration.


Thoroughly water the newly planted horse radish roots to settle the soil around them and promote initial root establishment. Maintain consistent soil moisture in the following weeks to support the development of the plants.

Growing horse radish can be a rewarding experience, especially when you follow the proper planting procedures. By choosing the right location, preparing the soil, selecting a suitable variety, and handling the roots with care, you can successfully establish healthy horse radish plants in your garden. Remember to provide ongoing care and maintenance as the plants grow, and you can look forward to a bountiful harvest of pungent, flavorful horse radish roots. With this comprehensive guide, you have the knowledge and tools to embark on a successful horse radish planting journey and enjoy the culinary delights this versatile plant has to offer.

Timing: When To Plant Horse Radish

Horse radish (Armoracia rusticana) is a pungent, flavorful root vegetable that can add a zesty kick to your meals. It is a member of the Brassicaceae family and is known for its strong, spicy taste. While it can be purchased from grocery stores, many gardeners enjoy the satisfaction of growing their own horse radish. Planting horse radish requires some attention to detail, but with the right techniques, you can cultivate a bountiful crop in your own garden.

The ideal time to plant horse radish is in early spring or late fall. This cool-season crop prefers to be grown in temperate climates with temperatures ranging between 45°F and 70°F (7°C and 21°C). Planting horse radish during the cooler months allows the roots to fully develop and ensures a more intense flavor.

Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil by removing any debris, weeds, or rocks. Horse radish thrives in well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. If necessary, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage.

Planting Techniques

  1. Choose healthy horse radish roots: Horse radish roots, also known as crowns, can be obtained from a nursery or a reputable seed supplier. Select roots that have a firm texture and plump appearance. Avoid any roots that are soft, shriveled, or show signs of disease or damage.

  2. Prepare the planting site: Horse radish grows best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Select a well-drained location in your garden that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. It is important to ensure that the soil is loose and friable, allowing the roots to grow long and straight.

  3. Divide the roots: If you have purchased a large horse radish root, it can be divided into smaller pieces for planting. Each section should be around 4 to 6 inches long and contain at least one bud or eye. Using a sharp, sterile knife, carefully cut the root into individual sections, ensuring that each piece has enough healthy tissue for successful growth.

  4. Planting depth: Dig a trench that is about 8 to 10 inches deep. Place the horse radish root sections horizontally in the trench, with the bud or eye facing upwards. Space the sections about 18 to 24 inches apart to allow adequate room for the roots to grow. Cover the roots with soil, leaving about 2 inches of the root exposed above the soil surface.

  5. Watering: After planting, give the horse radish roots a thorough watering to settle them in. Ensure that the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged. Throughout the growing season, continue to provide regular, deep watering to keep the soil consistently moist.

  6. Support with stakes: Horse radish plants can grow quite tall, reaching heights of up to 3 feet. To help support the plants, insert stakes into the soil at the corners of the planting area. Tie the plants to the stakes using soft twine or garden tape as they grow. This will prevent the plants from toppling over and ensure that they grow upright.

Watering And Fertilizing Requirements

Horse radish requires consistent moisture throughout the growing season to develop strong, healthy roots. While the plants can tolerate some drought, it is important to avoid prolonged dry periods as it can lead to stunted growth and a decrease in root quality. Here are some guidelines for watering and fertilizing horse radish:

  1. Watering frequency: Water deeply once a week or more frequently during dry spells, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist. Avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Mulching around the plants can help retain soil moisture and reduce the need for frequent watering.

  2. Fertilization: Horse radish is a nutrient-hungry plant and benefits from regular fertilization. Before planting, incorporate well-rotted compost or aged manure into the soil to provide organic matter and essential nutrients. Additionally, apply a balanced organic fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 blend, at a rate of 1 pound per 50 square feet. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and timing.

  3. Side-dressing: Midway through the growing season, around 6 to 8 weeks after planting, apply a side-dressing of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. This will help promote leafy growth and ensure the development of robust roots. Avoid fertilizers high in phosphorus, as it can negatively affect root development.

  4. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the base of the horse radish plants. Mulching helps to conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and moderate soil temperature. It also adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down over time.

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Mulching For Weed Control

Weeds can compete with horse radish plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Therefore, it is important to minimize weed growth in the planting area to ensure optimum growth and development of the horse radish roots. Mulching is an effective method for weed control. Here’s how to effectively use mulch in your horse radish garden:

  1. Apply mulch: Once the horse radish plants have established, apply a layer of organic mulch around them. Ensure that the mulch is spread at least 2 inches deep to effectively suppress weed growth. Avoid placing the mulch directly against the plant stems to prevent rot and disease.

  2. Weed the area: Before applying mulch, remove any existing weeds or weed seeds from the planting area. This will help prevent weed growth from beneath the mulch.

  3. Monitor and maintain: Regularly inspect the planting area for any emerging weeds. Remove them promptly by hand or using a garden tool, ensuring that the weed roots are completely removed. This will prevent the weeds from competing with the horse radish plants for resources.

  4. Reapply mulch: To maintain weed control, periodically check the mulch layer for thinning or decomposition. If necessary, add additional mulch to ensure a sufficient thickness and continue to suppress weed growth throughout the growing season.

Planting horse radish can be a rewarding experience for any gardener. By following the proper techniques and guidelines, you can successfully grow this pungent root vegetable in your own garden. Remember to select healthy roots, plant them at the right depth, provide adequate watering and fertilization, and mulch for effective weed control.

With a little care and attention, you will soon be harvesting fresh horse radish roots to add a flavorful kick to your meals. Enjoy the process of growing and harvesting your own horse radish and savor the taste of this zesty vegetable straight from your garden.

Pruning And Maintenance

Horse radish (Armoracia rusticana) is a perennial plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is known for its pungent, spicy flavor and is often used as a condiment or seasoning in various dishes. Horse radish is also known for its health benefits, as it is rich in vitamin C and contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Choosing The Right Location

Before planting horse radish, it is important to select the right location in your garden. Horse radish prefers full sun or partial shade, and well-drained soil that is not too sandy or clayey. The soil should have a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. It is also essential to choose a location that is away from competing plants, as horse radish can be aggressive and potentially choke out other plants.

Preparing The Soil

Horse radish plants thrive in loose, well-draining soil. To prepare the soil for planting, start by removing any weeds or grass from the area. Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of about 12 inches. If the soil is heavy or compacted, consider adding organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve its overall texture and fertility. This will provide the horse radish with the necessary nutrients and help retain moisture in the soil.

Planting Horse Radish Crowns

Horse radish is usually propagated from crowns, which are the small sections of the root that have developed buds. You can purchase horse radish crowns from a local nursery or an online supplier.

To plant horse radish crowns, follow these steps:

  1. Dig a trench about 8 to 10 inches deep and long enough to accommodate the crowns. The trench should be wide enough to space the crowns at least 12 inches apart.
  2. Place the crowns in the trench with the buds facing up. Space them evenly, making sure that each crown is well-covered with soil.
  3. Fill the trench with soil, gently firming it down around the crowns.
  4. Water the newly planted crowns thoroughly to settle the soil around them.

Watering And Feeding

Horse radish plants require consistent moisture to thrive. Water the plants regularly, especially during dry spells or hot weather. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Applying a layer of mulch around the plants can help retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth.

Fertilizing horse radish is not typically necessary, as the plants are relatively low-maintenance. However, you can give them a boost by applying a balanced organic fertilizer before planting and a light side-dressing of compost or well-rotted manure in early spring.

Controlling Weeds

Keeping the area around the horse radish plants free from weeds is crucial, as weeds can compete with the plants for nutrients and water. Hand-pulling weeds or using a hoe to lightly cultivate the soil around the plants can help control weed growth. Applying a layer of mulch around the plants can also suppress weed growth and keep the soil moist.

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Protecting Horse Radish From Pests And Diseases

Common Pests

While horse radish plants are generally resistant to pests, there are a few common ones that can cause damage. Monitor your plants regularly and take necessary measures to control the following pests:

  1. Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects can cluster on the leaves and suck sap from the plant. You can spray water or use insecticidal soap to remove them from the plants.

  2. Cabbage root fly: The larvae of this pest can cause damage to the roots of horse radish plants. To protect your plants, cover them with a floating row cover or install collars around the stems.


Horse radish plants can also be susceptible to certain diseases. Here are a couple of common diseases and how to manage them:

  1. Clubroot: This fungal disease affects the roots, causing them to become distorted and swollen. It can lead to stunted growth and poor root development. To prevent clubroot, ensure proper crop rotation and avoid planting horse radish in areas where members of the cabbage family have been grown in the past. Make sure the soil is well-drained and amend with lime to maintain a pH level around 7.0.

  2. Downy Mildew: This disease appears as yellowing or browning on the leaves along with a white, powdery coating on the undersides. Improve air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent downy mildew. Applying a copper-based fungicide may also help control the disease.

Harvesting Horse Radish

Horse radish roots can be harvested approximately 12 to 18 months after planting. It is recommended to harvest horse radish in late fall or early spring, when the plants are dormant. The cooler temperatures during these periods lead to the accumulation of pungent compounds in the roots, resulting in a more intense flavor.

To harvest horse radish, follow these steps:

  1. Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil around the base of the plant, being careful not to damage the roots.
  2. Gently lift the plant out of the ground.
  3. Shake off the excess soil, and use scissors or a knife to remove the foliage, leaving about an inch of stem.
  4. Rinse the roots with water to remove any remaining soil.
  5. Trim off any damaged or diseased parts of the roots.

Storing And Using Freshly Harvested Horse Radish

Freshly harvested horse radish roots can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months. To store horse radish roots, follow these guidelines:

  1. Trim the roots to a length of about 6 inches.
  2. Wrap the roots individually in damp paper towels or place them in a plastic bag with some moist sand or peat moss.
  3. Store the wrapped roots in the refrigerator or cellar at a temperature between 32 and 40°F (0-4°C).

When you’re ready to use the horse radish, carefully peel the outer layer of the root and grate or grind it into a paste. Mixing it with vinegar or lemon juice can help preserve the flavor and prevent discoloration. Freshly grated horse radish can be used as a condiment or ingredient in various dishes, including sauces, dressings, and marinades.


Growing horse radish in your garden can be a rewarding experience. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant, maintain, and harvest horse radish. Remember to choose a suitable location, prepare the soil, provide adequate water and nutrients, and protect the plants from pests and diseases. With proper care, you’ll be able to enjoy the pungent and flavorful horse radish in your culinary creations for years to come.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Horse Radish?

The ideal time to plant horse radish is in the early spring, as soon as the ground is workable and the threat of frost has passed.

How Should I Prepare The Soil For Planting Horse Radish?

Horse radish prefers a well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0-7.0. It is recommended to add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil before planting to improve its nutrient content and texture.

How Do I Plant Horse Radish?

Begin by preparing a shallow trench in the soil, about 6-8 inches deep. Cut your horse radish root into sections, making sure each section has at least one bud. Plant the sections in the trench, spacing them about 18-24 inches apart. Cover the roots with 2-3 inches of soil.

How Much Sunlight And Water Does Horse Radish Need?

Horse radish requires full sun to thrive, so make sure to choose a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. It also needs consistent moisture, so water deeply once a week, making sure the soil stays consistently moist.

How Should I Care For And Harvest My Horse Radish Plant?

Keep weeds under control by regularly pulling them out or mulching around the plant. In the fall, cut back the plant to the ground and cover with a thick layer of mulch to protect it from harsh winter conditions. You can harvest horse radish roots in the fall by digging them up with a spade or fork. Leave some roots in the ground to regrow for next year.