Horseradish has long fleshy white roots, large leaves and white flowers. The plant generally grows up to a height of 3-5 feet. It is known to flower by late spring. The roots of this plant are used the most; apart from several medicinal properties, the roots of horseradish have a very pungent taste and hence used for culinary purposes. While the intact root of this plant has no smell, its pungency is released only when it is crushed, grated or cut. It is usually grown from a small root piece, and not from seed. Thus it is a vegetatively propagated crop. It is a hardy perennial vegetable that is grown for its thick yellowish to white taproot. It is cultivated from crown or root cuttings planted in the early spring. It will grow about anywhere, but the roots are larger, tastier, and less branched when given proper care and cultivation.
Scientific name: Armoracia rusticana
Common name: Horseradish
How to grow and maintain Horseradish:
Horseradish will grow in all soil types provided they are well drained, high in organic matter, and fertile. The recommended pH is 6.0 to 7.5. Before planting, incorporate 4-6 inches of well-composted organic matter and 2 ounces of all purpose fertilizer (16-16-8) per square yard of planting area. Double dig this into the soil to provide a good rooting environment for the plants.
Horseradish is propagated from crown or root cuttings. For areas with short growing seasons, use the crown method. Dig a plant and split the root into four equal pieces containing some leaf and root tissue. Let the wounds heal for several days before planting at a 45-degree angle, with the crown positioned one to two inches below the soil surface.
Horseradish is quite drought tolerant, but the roots become woody and has a weak flavor if stressed too much. The roots become very soft and have a strong flavor if over watered. Water horseradish once a week (1-2 inches of water) so it penetrates to a depth of 18-24 inches.
In addition to the fertilizer and at planting, apply 1 teaspoon per plant of nitrogen (21-0-0) 4 and 8 weeks after planting. Too much nitrogen will cause excessive top growth and root branching.
Horseradish roots set out in the spring are of harvestable size by fall. Most growth occurs in late summer and early fall, so it’s best to delay harvest until October or November. Dig up the entire root. A perennial, pieces of roots left in the ground will grow the next spring, but will lack the quality of young roots. Large main roots left in the soil till spring and harvested before new growth begins will have the hottest taste.