Growing Horseradish in a Pot

I’ve only been growing horseradish for a couple of years.  The first year I grew it in the ground.  That was last year.  I thought I harvested all of it but despite this I have spent much of this year weeding out horseradish shoots.  The problem with horseradish is that any bit of root left in the ground has the propensity to sprout, so when you dig it up to harvest it you are leaving lots of bits of broken bits of root in the ground, all of which can and will become plants if you let them.  Because they are roots they also spread quite widely, I had horseradish come up in the lawn, through the beds and some was quite a distant from the original plant.  The other difficulty in dealing with them is that poisoning them is fairly pointless as you only get that little piece of root and you have potentially hundreds more bits in the ground.  I found pulling off the leaves the easiest way of dealing with them, and as the season went on less and less appeared.  I will be interested to see if more come up this Spring.

Because of the invasive nature of the plant, I now, much more sensibly, grow horseradish in a pot.  This year I grew it in a 35cm diameter pot.  In retrospect I think it would have enjoyed a slightly larger pot as although the end product was fine the roots did escape the pot quite a bit.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plant this is what it looks like:

This was taken in Spring, by Autumn the plant was much larger.  At the end of Autumn the leaves die down and it is ready to be harvested and washed:

Before trimming off the smaller and hair like roots until you are left with roots of a workable size:

This is about 300 grams of horseradish which is enough for me to enjoy some freshly grated;  it makes a lovely dressing/sauce when combined with yoghurt (preferably Greek), lemon juice and a bit of garlic, and also to make a jar of preserved horseradish.

I put a few bits of root back into a pot (this time a 40cm diameter pot), for next years crop and there is very little I will do to it between now and harvesting next Autumn aside from ensuring it has sufficient water.  And that is horseradishes great attraction – because it is so vigorous it is virtually trouble free – although the slugs do seem to like the leaves.

Oh and while I’m on the subject of horseradish Dave from Dave’s Square foot garden provided this excellent piece of trivia in his comment after my Monday Harvest post:

“Decades ago horseradish was such a valuable crop (due to the large US German population) that there was a commodity market for it. Horseradish was bought and sold by the ton on the St. Louis Commodity Exchange which set the price of horseradish for the US.”

Isn’t that fascinating?  I still have to set a price for it on my spreadsheet perhaps I should write to the St Louis Commodity Exchange and see what they think.

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44 Responses to Growing Horseradish in a Pot

  1. Daphne says:

    I keep thinking about horseradish. I’ve heard it can grow in the shade so I could give it an out of the way spot. But I so hate pots. I always forget to water them when I should.

    • Liz says:

      Mine is in shade for a large proportion of the day – it gets about 3-4 hours sun – if that. I have so many pots it makes forgetting to water them quite difficult but I know what you mean – its especially irritating at this time of year when its cold outside and the things in the ground don’t need it but the pots always do.

  2. bumblelush says:

    Interesting post! I’ve never seen horseradish plants and had no idea that it was considered so valuable.

  3. Wendy says:

    oh, I’ve tried growing it in a pot twice now. getting frustrated since they’re supposed to be so prolific and easy. Perhaps I’m getting some roots that are just dead. Both batches have been very dried out.

    • Liz says:

      I bought mine when it was in a growth stage – ie it had leaves. If you bought dormant roots and they never sprouted then I think you are absolutely right – they’re probably dead. Perhaps look for it again in spring or summer when it should be sprouting.

  4. becky3086 says:

    I remember it growing wild in my friends garden in NH. One year we pulled a bunch of it and ground it up with a hand grinder to make her horseradish. It is a lot worse than grinding up onions that is for sure.
    I have not tried growing it myself as I never have really eaten any.

    • Liz says:

      It gets stronger the more you grind too – I have to admit I do it in the food processor and open the lid very, very carefully.

  5. Mark Willis says:

    Liz, do you what a Wasabi plant looks like. Is it like the Horseradish you have described here?

    • Liz says:

      I have to admit I had to google to check what they looked like a no – the leaves are round and smaller. I’m presuming its related but I have to admit not really knowing. i would love to grow wasabi but I’ve never seen it for sale. Anyone else seen it available?

      • Jodie says:

        Ooh great post- I am thinking of toying with horseraddish AND wasabi! (Liz thanks for the heads up about not putting horseraddish in the ground) Last week I read in the Age that the potato shop at the South Melb market is stocking Wasabi- I went and found they are indeed stocking it (for eating rather than growing!- so no idea if it will sprout) – according to the very friendly proprietor its not the easiest to grow- (it needs constant water but can’t have wet feet- go figure!) in its native Japan it grows in running water near river beds…. BUT THAT is 100% a no no here with Australia’s strict agricultural rules to protect native waterways… anyway she suggested the best way to grow it here is as using a home pond waterfall or water feature. At $200kg its quite an investment so I would like to do some more research…… I would love to know anyone who has successfully grown it.

        • Liz says:

          $200 a kilo is an awful lot of money you’d have to both really love wasabi and be confident it would work wouldn’t you? I’m wondering how different the fresh stuff tastes, although at that price I suspect it will be awhile before I get to find out.

  6. Dave says:

    Not far from St Louis I once saw many fields with an unusual crop growing in them. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was, so I asked someone in a restaurant. It was horseradish! That was near Collinsville, which calls itself the horseradish capital of the world. They had acres and acres of it.

    I grow it in pots like you do. I don’t need it everywhere!

    • Liz says:

      Thats great, I guess somewhere has to be the horseradish capital of the world so why not Collinsville. I have to say though its not something I generally associate with the States.

  7. What a great resource on horseradish! Thanks you Liz! I grow mine in the front and haven’t noticed it in any other places. I left it to overwinter hoping to have more horseradish this year. No, still that single plant. May be I have non-invasive one?

    • Liz says:

      If you haven’t pulled it up it will still be one plant. It multiplies as a result of the harvesting process when you break the roots and any segments left in the ground all become new plants. Until the breaks occur it seems to stay as one.

  8. Louise says:

    Wow, the plant is nothing like I expected…. it looks like a cross between broccoli and an hydranga. I fancy grwing it in a pot, thanks for the tip.

  9. I know exactly what you mean about horseradish – we have some one the plot which needs lots of controlling. When we first planted it people thought that we were tending docks

    • Liz says:

      I can see how if you didn’t weed out all the bits the following year you could have a never ending problem. Hopefully I have avoided that.

  10. Nina says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. I had no idea that horseradish is invasive. It’s something that I don’t really use much but when I have, I’ve really liked it so I might give it a go, in a pot. Where did you get yours? I’ve not seen it around though I’ve probably not been paying attention.

    p.s. No offence meant on my ‘cutting up your kitchen’ comment! I have a questionable sense of humour, sometimes.

    • Liz says:

      I really did laugh out loud (I would have written LOL but I’m way too old (ie over 30) to do something like that). I bought mine at CERES, in Spring from memory.

  11. Sarah says:

    I’ve been growing horseradish in a pot for a while, but haven’t got around to using any – really like the idea of mixing it with yoghurt and lemon juice though, thanks!

  12. Lrong says:

    Good idea to grow it in a pot… in Japan, I have not heard much of people growing horseradish… I suppose the preferred version here is wasabi…

  13. Hi Liz,

    Horseradish is another vegetable I’ve never really got on with but talking to Jekka McVicar yesterday she was trying to encourage us to try it as a dessert by grating it (BTW she recommended putting it in the freezer for a couple of hours as you will be less likely then to cry when grating it) and adding it to thick cream and folding in sliced strawberries…

    • Liz says:

      Hmmmmm, if only it was strawberry season here I would try it. I have to admit not being too sure about this though – its quite an earthy flavour to be teaming with something sweet but maybe it would work…

  14. PeterEthio says:

    Thanks Liz. I bought some horseradish today for the first time and was going to plant it in the vege garden. I thought I’d check first to see if it likes sun or shade when I came across your very informative post. Glad I did! Thanks.

    • Liz says:

      For me it seems to pretty much like all conditions. I’m still pulling up the occasional bit from the garden. I hope yours does well for you too.

  15. julie says:

    i want to thank you for all the info! I absolutely love fresh horseradish but it is hard to find here in Canada. I know when I need it for my seder plate i have to go to several grocery stores before i can find a piece. Now I’m going to try growing it in a pot and that would be absolutely amazing. The only problem is I can’t find the roots anywhere!
    I did a bit of a google search but everyone is sold out.. maybe in the fall.. or i will have to try again next spring. With out weather that’s a long way off! If anyone knows a source online I would love to get that info.
    Thanks again, great post!

    • Liz says:

      Hi Julie, Great to hear from you. I will post a query on my next Harvest Monday post (I get lots of Northern American readers for Harvest Mondays) to see if anyone knows a supplier.

  16. fiona says:

    Thanks Liz for all the good information. I’ve been wanting to grow horseradish for ages and finally got hold of a bit last weekend with leaves – very excited – have the perfect pot!

    Can you plant anything beside it in a companion planting sense, do you know?

    Thanks for the great info.

    • Liz says:

      It gets pretty big so depending on the size of the pot it would probably swamp most things. I have to admit to not being super knowledgeable about companion planting beyond the usual tomato and basil etc combinations.

  17. Claire Bottero says:

    Thanks for all your insight. I have a nice big root that is greenish and has leaf starts, and a big pot! I shall combine and hope. The weather is typically mild here, with the occasional streak of freezing night. Waiting a full year to harvest will drive me nuts. I love horseradish, fresh grated and mixed with some sour cream, Serve it fresh with steak, pot-roast, prime rib, etc.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Claire – I reckon you could have a go at trying to break off a few roots before the year is up – particularly if it is growing really vigorously. You are making me hungry by the way – yummmmmmm.

  18. nancye says:

    Thanks for the information about horseradish. Luckily, I planted my first pot in Australia in September 2013 (our spring). However, I don’t know how to tell when it is ready to harvest without having to turn it out of the pot. Can anyone advise me, please? I have used a prepared commercial horseradish in potato salad mayonnaise – yummy.

  19. Liz says:

    Hi Nancye, Sorry for the delay in responding – I think my first attempt must have been lost in cyberspace somewhere. I harvest mine at the end of Autumn. You could harvest earlier though. Perhaps have a feel around the roots in the pot and see if any seem big enough to pull. Otherwise just before winter is the right time.

  20. Sarah says:

    Do you happen to know if you can eat the leaves?

  21. Debbie says:

    My husband’s family is Slovakian, and horseradish (Hrin) is a must for family gatherings. For the past several years, I’ve been tasked with providing it for Easter (mixed with sour cream), and have been using the ground from-the-store variety; not nearly pungent enuf for most family members – if your lips don’t burn, it’s not hot enuf :) I purchased and planted some roots a couple of years ago, but soon after someone thought they were weeds and dug them up when laying sod. Haven’t replanted, but your experience with growing it in pots has given me the incentive to try again.

  22. Doug Uhlmann says:

    I would like to know if you can overwinter Horseradish in a container. I received a cut top this October and stuck into one of my big pots I have. And it sprouted and has some nice leaves on it now. Can I just wrap it up or just let it go and hope for the best

    • Liz says:

      Doug you don’t say where you are but I will tell you want I do in Melbourne in the hope it is relevant. I harvest the horseradish (ie the roots) in Autumn when the leaves start to die back. I then put a couple of roots back in the pot (I always use the same pot as you never get them all) and just leave it. Spring sees new leaves arrive and it grows until Autumn when I harvest and freeze the roots. If you wanted fresh stuff earlier you could pull up sections of the plants root system and harvest it gradually that way. The plant is really really resilient but then our winters don’t get very cold. Personally I would try a wrapped pot outside but also perhaps keep a small piece of root in a smaller pot in a frost free (but not too warm) location as an insurance policy. Good luck.

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