by Matt Gibson
Radishes are among the easiest vegetable plants to grow in the garden. This cool season crop is hardy, prolific, and quick to mature and become ready to harvest multiple times per growing season. You can plant radishes in both the spring and fall, which will help keep your cupboards stocked with the rich peppery flavor and crispy texture of your favorite radish varieties. Suspend your radish growing in the summer, as extremely hot temperatures cause radishes to bolt, making them useless to a vegetable gardener.
An excellent source of vitamin C, radishes make great companion plants for low lying vegetable beds, as they improve the soil quality around them as they grow. The root vegetable is a common sight in modern kitchens, and is often added to salads, appetizers, soups, tea sandwiches, and more. The bright red fruit can be sauteed, steamed, roasted, or served raw, but it is not the only edible part of the radish. The tender, green leaves will add a peppery zing to any salad, and even the immature seed pods have a sharp, aromatic bite that make them perfect for soups, stews, and stir-fries.
Varieties of Radishes
The list of known radish varieties is a long one, as radishes come in different sizes, shapes, and colors, as well as a range of flavor profiles that are distinct to their species. Luckily, we shortened the list significantly for you, including the more popularly cultivated species, as well as a few of the more unique varieties that you may want to try.
Common Radish Varieties
- Cherry Belle – Often found in the supermarket and delicious in salads, this small, round, red radish is what most people picture when someone mentions radishes.
- White Icicle – Similar to daikon in flavor, fruit is about 5 to 8 inches long when mature. Pungent, spicy, best when pickled young. Takes 30-40 days to mature.
- Fire And Ice – This species gets its name due to its unique color split, as fruit is red on the top and white on the bottom. Oblong in shape, and sweet, mild, and delicate in flavor.
- Daikon Long White – Provide at least four inches of space between each planting of these massive radishes, which can reach up to 18 inches in length. Delicate, crispy, and slightly-sweet, daikon radishes need 60 days to mature.
- French Breakfast – This popular, extra-crunchy, elongated radish is red with a white rounded tip. Ready for harvest in just 25-30 days, with a slightly pungent smell but mild flavor profile.
- Sparkler – A round, bright red radish with a distinctive white tip and all white insides. Mild and delicate flavor.
- White Beauty – A small white, round radish known for its sweet juicy flavor. White on the inside and out.
- Pink Radish – There are several radish varieties known for their beautiful pink skin, including Pink Celebration, Pink Summercicle, and Lady Slipper, as well as the more common Pink radish. All of these varieties are small, flavorful, and mature in just around a month.
- Early Scarlet Gold – A juicy and tender heirloom radish known for its round shape, red skin, and white flesh.
Other Interesting Species to Try:
- Watermelon – Watermelon radishes actually kind of look like watermelons. Reaching baseball size upon maturity, the watermelon is an heirloom radish with white skin and bright reddish-purple flesh. Give three inches of space between each plant and allow 50 days to reach maturity.
- Green Meat – Green on the inside and out, the Misato Green, or Green Meat radish has spicy outer skin, and mild flesh inside.
- Easter Egg – With this variety, the color you end up with will be a surprise, ranging from white or pink to red or purple. Thin slices will bring a lot of flavor to whatever dish you add it to.
- Black Spanish – These interesting little round radishes have coal black skin, white flesh, and a mild flavor.
- Malaga Violet – If the majority of radishes that you have tried have been too spicy for your palate, try growing the Malaga violet. This polish variety contains a sweet and mild taste, and dark purple flesh. Takes 30-40 days to mature.
- Zlata – Zlata radishes catch the eye with their unusual yellow skin and oval shape. These strong, spicy radishes are usually ready in around 30 days.
- Chinese Rose – Purple-red on the outside with white pink veins inside. At first it has a somewhat delicate taste, but the senses are soon overwhelmed by its pungent smell and flavor.
Growing Conditions for Radishes
When selecting a location for your radish plants, be sure to pick an open, sunny location and pick companion plants that won’t tower over your radishes. When radish plants get too much shade, they tend to focus their efforts on producing larger leaves, leaving an underwhelming harvest, so a location that gets lots of sunlight is a must.
As radishes are a root vegetable, the soil is the most important factor for optimizing production. You will want a loosely compacted soil that is high in organic matter. If you have a soil that is heavy on the clay side, you will want to mix in some sand to improve the overall drainage. If your soil is low on organic matter, add in a rich layer of aged compost or all-purpose fertilizer as soon as the soil becomes workable. Take some time to till the soil in your beds where you are going to plant your radishes, removing any large debris, such as rocks and big blocks of compacted dirt.
In order to stop the spread of diseases and deter garden pests, grow radishes using a three year crop rotation. Only grow radishes in the same location on a three year cycle.
How to Plant Radishes
For spring planting, sow your radish seeds about 4-6 weeks before the average last date of frost. Plant radish seeds directly into the garden soil, as transplanting can disturb their root systems. Sow seeds one half to one inch deep and one inch apart (unless otherwise specified) in rows spaced 12 inches apart. Until the weather becomes too hot, around every 10-12 days, plant another round of radish seeds. Continuing to plant means you will continue to harvest, keeping your cupboards stocked through the late spring and early summer months.
Plan for a fall harvest as well, if you like, sowing seeds about 4-6 weeks before the first fall frost. Even if you forget to plant them until the end of summer or the beginning of fall, you can still reap a good fall harvest to produce, so never give up on your radishes.
Care of Radishes
Once your radish plants are about one week old, thin them out to about one every two inches. Crowded radish plants don’t grow well, so give your plants plenty of room to spread out and develop.
Consistent, evenly applied moisture is highly beneficial to keep the soil evenly moisturized but not waterlogged. A drip irrigation system may be your best way of achieving this to perfection. A thin layer of mulch can help with water retention.
Many radish varieties will mature in as little as a month’s time. For most varieties, once the roots are around one inch in diameter at the soil surface, is a great time to test to see if they are ready for harvesting. Simply pull one out and give it a try, then harvest the rest if you think that they have matured based on your sample.
Do not leave mature radishes in the ground for long periods, as they will begin to rot quicker than you might think. Cut the tops, thin the root tail, wash and dry thoroughly. Store in plastic bags in the refrigerator and enjoy within the next few weeks. Radish greens can also be kept and stored separately in the refrigerator in plastic bags and will stay good for around three days.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Radishes
Weeds are the most common sight when it comes to radish trouble, so keep a close eye on your garden beds, pulling up any weeds you see on sight. Though radishes are typically pest and disease free, there have been cases cabbage root maggot infestation, as well as issues with clubroot.
Common Questions and Answers About How to Grow Radishes
Are radishes heavy feeders?
Some vegetables are heavy feeders, meaning they require a lot of nutrients to produce fruit at full capacity. Radishes are not heavy feeders, but they are not low-demand vegetables either. Radishes fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. This means that though radishes don’t require a high amount of fertilizer to thrive, they will not perform at full capacity in unfertile soil. Just before planting your radishes, work some all-purpose fertilizer into your soil. For every 100 square feet of soil, apply about one pound of 10-10-10 or 16-20-0 fertilizer to the soil.
Are radishes hard to grow?
Radishes are often recommended to grow in a child’s garden as a beginner crop, leading one to believe that they are very easy to grow. However, radishes are most likely recommended for children because seedlings pop up quickly and easily and radishes are ready to harvest in just under four weeks. Early success is vital to keeping a child’s interest piqued. In actuality, though radishes may be easy to grow, growing good radishes is sometimes a bit more tricky.
Radishes are one of the fastest growing crops and are ready to harvest in just four short weeks after sowing, but sometimes the radishes that are harvested are too spicy, too mushy, or have been tunneled through by root maggots. Radishes also have a tendency to bolt to flower or seed when the days get longer and if they are not harvested in a timely manner, gardeners may find themselves with radishes with spongy textured interiors, a far cry from the crispy delightful radishes that we covet for our fresh garden salads.
In short, radishes may be easy to grow, but they are a bit harder to grow well. Some gardening sites would have you believe that radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but those with a bit of experience know that growing the perfect radish is a bit more tricky.
Can I grow radishes in the summer?
Though radishes are often referred to as summer radishes, they are actually intended to be grown in the spring or fall and harvested before summer begins. Radishes can be grown during the summer, but the hotter the weather, the more spicy the radish. Winter radishes are planted during the middle of summer, but they are then grown for two to four months for a late fall or early winter harvest.
Can radishes get too big?
Radishes grow quickly and need to be harvested as soon as the fruit reaches its mature size. This is not because the radish becomes too large if not harvested in a timely manner, but because unharvested radishes become woody or overly spicy if left in the ground for too long. There are some varieties of radish, such as daikon, Spanish black, watermelon, and German giant radishes, that grow very large and are still tasty and healthy, however, smaller varieties of radishes need to be harvested when they reach maturity to retain their best flavor and natural texture.
Can radishes grow in hot weather?
When the warm weather season arrives, it is time to stop sowing radishes, as radish plants will not tolerate heat and will bolt and go to seed quickly. However, in mid to late summer, it is time to plant winter radishes and a few spring radish varieties for quick fall harvests.
Can you eat radish leaves?
Radish greens are quite edible, but usually the coarse texture of adult radish plants keep the leaves out of many recipes. In salads and in recipes for cooked greens, the young and tender leaves of the radish plant can be used with splendid results. Radish leaves have the perfect texture to be used for pesto as well.
Can you grow radishes from a radish?
If you cut off the top of a radish and place it in water, it will grow more leaves, but will not produce an edible radish. Radishes are generally grown from seed, sprouting seedlings in just three to four days and producing edible radishes in just three to four short weeks.
Can you grow radishes in pots?
Radishes can be grown in containers easily and with a little extra care, can be as successful as radishes grown in the ground. Use large pots or containers and select radish varieties that are round instead of long. Sow seeds only a half an inch deep and water frequently. Keep your radish containers in a sunny spot and thin seedlings to about one inch apart.
Do radishes grow above ground?
If radish seeds are planted too shallow or if the soil is too compacted, sometimes radishes will grow above the ground. Radishes need several inches of loose, friable topsoil with lots of organic matter for ideal growth. To avoid above ground radishes, work the soil a bit deeper than normal before planting and amend the soil so that it is loose and full of organic matter. Thin the plants to one inch apart as soon as seedlings emerge and practice maintaining even soil moisture. You can also try planting the seeds deeper than recommended. In the early 1960’s, gardeners experimented with planting radishes up to three times deeper than the suggested depth and found that it increased the size of the radish roots and led to perfectly healthy fruit production.
Do radishes need a lot of water?
Radishes need a good amount of water to thrive but too much water can lead to growing problems. Keep the soil moist but not soggy and make sure that your seedbed has proper drainage so that there is no standing water where your radishes are growing. Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, instead attempt to keep it moist at all times.
Do radishes reseed?
If allowed to bloom and set seed, radishes will produce ripe seeds in time for fall seeding in most climates. To encourage self-seeding radish plants, select vigorous plants from a larger planting and allow those plants to go unharvested until they bloom and produce seeds.
How deep do radishes need to grow?
For most radish varieties, the soil should be tilled at least eight to 20 inches deep before planting radishes. For cylindrical varieties, the soil should be tilled to at least 24 inches deep. For container gardens, plant globe radishes in well-draining pots that are at least eight inches deep, or 10 to 24 inches deep for cylindrical varieties. When planting seeds, it is recommended that radish seeds be sowed only one half inch below the soil’s surface in a high quality, well-draining medium. However, studies have shown that radishes can be planted as deeply as one and a half inch below the surface and still sprout and produce healthy, fruit-bearing plants. In fact, when planted deeper, radish plants develop stronger roots and fruits are less likely to unintentionally grow above ground.
How deep should a container be for radishes?
When planting radishes in a container garden, use a well-draining pot that is at least eight inches deep for globe varieties. For cylindrical varieties, choose a well-draining pot or container that is 10 to 24 inches deep.
How do I grow radish seeds?
Directly sow seeds outdoors one half to one and a half inches deep in rows that are one foot apart. For spring planting, plant seeds four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area. Radish seedlings sprout easily and have very delicate root systems, so it is best to plant them directly into the garden instead of starting seeds indoors and transplanting them after they sprout so that you don’t disturb their roots.
For a continuous harvest of radishes in the late spring and early summer, plant another round of seeds every 10-12 days as long as the weather is still cool. For fall planting, you can plant radishes later than any other root crops and still get a harvest. Simply sow seeds four to six weeks before the first fall frost date and you should be ready to harvest your crops just before the first freeze.
How do I know when radishes are ready to harvest?
Round spring radishes are one of the most fast-maturing vegetables that you can grow, ready for harvest in just three to four short weeks. Oftentimes, you will see the top part of the radish peeking out from the soil. When the root is nearly one inch in diameter at the soil’s surface, it is ready to harvest. Radishes can be picked by gently loosening the surrounding soil or by simply pulling them upwards. Just to be sure, pull one radish out and give it a taste test to be sure that it is ripe before harvesting the rest of your crop.
How do you eat radish seed pods?
Radish seed pods can be eaten raw and are similar to sugar snap peas. Toss them in a salad, use them as a dip for hummus, eat them by themselves as a fresh green snack, or toss them into a saute or stir-fry dish. Another refreshing way to enjoy radish seed pods is to pickle them by soaking them in vinegar for a couple of hours. There is simply no wrong way to eat radish seed pods.
How do you make radishes grow faster?
To give radishes a boost to help them grow faster, add a starter fertilizer, such as a 5-10-10 at a ratio of 20 pounds to 1,000 square feet and mix it into the top six inches of soil before planting your radish seeds. Keep an eye on the size of your radishes and check on them as early as two or three weeks after planting as some may mature in less than a month if given a boost with well-fertilized soil.
How fast do radish seeds grow?
Radish seeds typically germinate within three to four days if provided with ideal conditions, however, it can take as many as ten days for radish seeds to produce sprouts. The key to getting radish seeds to sprout is the temperature. Radish seeds will not germinate in temperatures below 40 degrees (F) or above 85 degrees. Proper spacing is also an important factor in germination. Seeds should be sown one half-inch deep and one inch apart for ideal conditions.
How long does it take to grow a radish?
Radishes are one of the fastest growing vegetables, growing from seed to maturity in just three to four short weeks. Sow radish seeds every two weeks in well-draining, fertile soil for a steady supply of radishes throughout the entire summer.
How many radishes will one plant produce?
One radish seed produces only one radish plant and one radish plant produces only one radish. Luckily, radishes grow very quickly, so if you want a lot of radishes, just plant a lot of seeds, and you will have an abundance of radishes in three to four weeks.
How much sunlight does a radish need?
Radishes require a minimum of six hours of full sunlight exposure each day, though they are tolerant to a small amount of shade as well. Because radishes are a cool weather crop, growing them in a partially shady area allows you to extend the growing season longer than you might otherwise be able to, as lower soil temperatures will keep radishes growing instead of bolting and focusing their production on seed pods instead of fruit.
How much water does a radish seed need to grow?
Radishes need about one inch of water per week, otherwise they will become woody and develop a bitter taste. If your radishes are not receiving one inch of water per week from the rain, manual watering will be necessary.
How often do you water radishes?
Radish plants can handle light waterings about four or five times per week, however, the frequency of watering is less important than the consistency of moisture in the soil. The goal is to keep the soil evenly moist at all times without allowing the soil to become soggy from over watering.
How tall do radishes grow?
Small spring radishes grow anywhere between six and 18 inches at maturity with a spread of six to nine inches. Winter radishes have much larger above-ground growth in comparison, reaching an average of 2 feet in height once the roots have matured. When they bolt, they send up a flower stalk that can grow as tall as most human beings, averaging around six feet in height.
Is radish a root or a bulb?
The part of the radish that the plant is cultivated for is the root, and radishes are known as a root vegetable. However, the bulbs, seed pods, and leaves of the plant are all edible and are all commonly used in culinary circles.
What bugs eat radishes?
Radishes are cultivated to be consumed and are common fixtures in the diets of many different cultures around the world. It should come as no surprise that many insects find the root vegetables irresistible as well. Bugs that eat radishes, and radish greens include aphids, cutworms, flea beetles, harlequin bugs, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, snails, and slugs. Keep bugs away from your radish plants by cleaning up the area around your radish plants and by using organic and chemical controls.
What is the best fertilizer for radishes?
Radishes require an all-purpose fertilizer mixed into the soil just before planting. The best fertilizer N-P-K ratio for radishes is a 16-20-0, but a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer will also work. Apply a ratio of one pound for every 100 square feet of soil.
Where do radishes grow?
Radishes can be grown wherever there is ample sunlight and moist fertile soil. In the United States, radishes are grown commercially in almost every state, but most of the radishes cultivated in the US are grown in California and Florida, with radishes from Wisconsin available throughout the summer and winter months. As radishes are annual plants, they have no USDA zone rating.
Why are my radishes all tops and no bottoms?
Overcrowding in the garden bed is the main reason why radishes grow with a heavy top and virtually no bottoms. When planted in a garden bed, it is best to give each plant at least four inches of separation and each row three inches of space. Over fertilization can also be the cause of producing radishes with mainly tops and no bottoms.
Why are my radishes flowering?
Radishes planted too late in the spring or too early in autumn are exposed to longer days and warmer weather than radishes will tolerate. Summer weather will lead radishes to bolting, which will make the flavor of the radish woody and bitter, as well as too spicy for consumption.
Why are my radishes woody?
Radishes need to be harvested as soon as they reach maturity. Radishes that are left in the ground for too long will either become too woody and bitter or too spicy. Harvest your radishes after they have had three to four weeks to mature, as leaving them in the ground will drastically affect the quality of the fruit.
Why can’t I grow radishes?
There are several reasons why radishes may not form bulbs if the proper growing environments are not provided. Common problems include overly compacted soil, overcrowding, excess nitrogen in the soil, and bolting. Relocation, proper cultivation, and thinning will often solve the problem.
Why do my radish leaves have holes?
Small holes in the leaves of radish plants are usually a sign of a flea beetle infestation. Though flea beetles are too small to notice with the naked eye, the holes they leave in the foliage of the radish plant are evidence enough of the problem. In severe cases, flea beetles can cause so much damage that radishes will not mature. Keeping the soil around the seedlings well watered can help solve the problem. Also, covering the rows with a fine mesh or garden fleece will keep flea beetles off your radish plants.
Want to Learn More About Growing Radishes?
This short informative video from YouTube personality and expert nutritionist Dr Eric Berg DC discusses the many health benefits of adding radishes to your diet:
There are hundreds of different radish recipes that you can find online, in books, and magazines. YouTube chef Christine Tizzard shows off three different ways to use radishes in her vlog Cooking up a Storm with Christine Tizzard. In just over 10 minutes, she teaches you how to make your own pickled radishes, how to roast your radishes in the oven, and how to make delicious-looking open-faced radish sandwiches:
This short tutorial video shows you how to grow full size radishes in seed starting containers with only a small amount of soil:
Expert advice is invaluable. Even when you think you know everything there is to know about a certain gardening technique, hearing about the trials and errors of an experienced gardener’s perspective will undoubtedly open up a whole new chapter of understanding on the topic. YouTube gardener Gary Pilarchik admittedly struggled with radishes at first, but he learned a lot from his mistakes and continued to refine his technique until he was cultivating high quality radish crops every growing season. In this five minute film, Gary shares four important tips that he picked up along the way: