If you have ever grown horseradish, then you are only too well aware that it can become quite invasive. No matter how carefully you dig it up, there will undoubtedly be some bits of root left behind, which will then be only too happy to spread and pop up everywhere. The solution, of course, would be container grown horseradish. Keep reading to find out how to grow horseradish in a container.
Before we get into horseradish container growing, I want to share some interesting horseradish history. Horseradish originated in southern Russia and the eastern region of Ukraine. An herb, it has traditionally been grown for centuries for not only culinary use but medicinal use as well. Horseradish was incorporated into the Passover Seder as one of the bitter herbs during the Middle Ages and is still used to this day. In the 1600s, Europeans were using this spicy plant in their foods. In the mid-1800s, immigrants brought horseradish to the United States with the intention of developing a commercial market. In 1869, John Henry Heinz (yes, of Heinz ketchup, etc.) made and bottled his mother’s horseradish sauce. It became one of the first condiments sold in the United States, and the rest is history as they say. Today, most commercially grown horseradish is grown in and around Collinsville, Illinois – which refers to itself as “the horseradish capital of the world.” It’s also grown in Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and California as well as in Canada and Europe. You, too, can grow horseradish. It can be grown as an annual or as an herbaceous perennial in USDA zone 5. I couldn’t resist imparting some interesting facts, but I digress, back to planting horseradish in pots.
How to Grow Horseradish in a Container
Horseradish is grown for its pungent, spicy taproot. The plant itself grows in clumps with the leaves radiating out from that root. It grows to between 2 and 3 feet (61-91 cm.) in height. The leaves may be heart-shaped, tapering, or a combination of both and may be smooth, crinkled, or lobed. The plant blooms in late spring to early summer and becomes a fruit that contains four to six seeds. The main taproot, which can reach more than a foot (31 cm.) in length, is off-white to light tan. The whole root system can be several feet long (1 m.)! That’s why container grown horseradish is a great idea. You would have to dig a heck of a hole to get the entire root system out and, if you don’t, here it comes again, and with a vengeance the next season! When planting horseradish in pots, choose a pot that has drainage holes and is deep enough to encourage root growth of 24 to 36 inches (61-91 cm.) deep. Although horseradish is cold hardy, plant your container grown root after all danger of frost has passed, or start it indoors. Take a 2 inch (5 cm.) piece of root cut at a 45-degree angle. Place the piece vertically in the pot and fill it in with potting soil amended with compost. Cover the root over with one inch (2.5 cm.) of the soil mix and one inch (2.5 cm.) of mulch. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, and place the pot in a full sun to semi-shady area.
Horseradish Care in Pots
Now what? Horseradish care in pots is pretty nominal. Since pots tend to dry out more quickly than in gardens, keep a close eye on moisture; you may have to water more often than if the root was in the garden. Otherwise, the root should begin to leaf out. After 140 to 160 days, the taproot should be ready to harvest, and you can make your own version of Mr. Heinz’s mom’s horseradish sauce.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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