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Radishes Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus

Previously known as:

  • Raphanus sativus
Phonetic Spelling
RAF-an-us raf-an-IS-trum sa-TEE-vus
Description

Radishes have been in cultivation for thousands of years and are grown all over the world. The fleshy taproots range from 1 inch to 3 feet long depending on the cultivar and come in colors including white, pink, red, purple and black.  They are fast growing vegetables, ready to harvest in 3-6 weeks, making them great for use in a children's garden.  The edible white or pink flowers have a spicy flavor and are often used in salads.  The leafy tops can also be eaten and are best cooked to improve the texture.  While most commonly grown for food, they are also grown for livestock forage and as a cover crop for breaking up compacted soil.

Radishes grow best in full sun to part shade and a well-drained loamy or sandy soil.  While they can grow in partial shade, at least 4 to 5 hours a day, it will take longer for the root to grow to a harvestable size.  Lighter, looser soils will yield a smoother, rounder, and more tender root.  Light soils need to be watered more frequently and consistent moisture is needed to produce a good flavor.  Roots will turn woody with age, hot weather, and if the plant bolts, although if this happens the flowers can be harvested and used instead.

Radishes are a cool-season crop and grow best in spring and fall.  In NC, plant seeds sometime in mid February to early April for a spring crop and from August to mid September for a fall crop.  Plant the seeds of smaller cultivars 1/4 to 1/2 in deep and larger cultivars up to 1 in deep.  Thin small varieties to 1-3 in apart and large varieties 4-6 in.  Longer varieties need deep soil that raised beds readily provide, at least 2-3 feet deep; smaller varieties can easily be grown in containers at least 2 quarts in size and 4-6 in deep.  Plant new seeds every 2 weeks to extend the harvest.

Radishes are ready to harvest in as little as 3-6 weeks, whenever they reach a useable size.  They are ready when you can see the tops start to peak through the soil.  Small varieties can be pulled by hand; for large varieties, use a spade or fork to help pull the root from the soil.  Small roots last 1-2 weeks in the fridge while large ones like Daikon can last up to 2 months.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems: While diseases are less commonly a problem, look out for insects that damage the roots such as flea beetles and and root maggots.  Swede midge may attack the leaves, causing crinkling and distortion.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Caudatus'
    "Rat's Tail"– grown for large, fleshy, edible pods; no edible taproot; can grow several feet tall
  • 'Cherry Belle'
    Round, red roots 3/4 in wide; great for children's gardens
  • 'Easter Egg'
    Round roots that are a mix of red, purple, and white; great for children's gardens
  • 'Longipinnatus'
    "Daikon" or "Mooli"– extremely large mild-tasting taproot
  • 'Sparkler'
    Round 1 in wide roots, white with red speckles from the top; great for children's gardens
'Caudatus', 'Cherry Belle', 'Easter Egg', 'Longipinnatus', 'Sparkler'
Tags:
#container plant#easy to grow#edible flowers#fast growing#vegetable garden#edible roots#vegetable#childrens garden#edible garden#edible leaves#raised beds#cool season vegetable#container vegetable garden#shade tolerant vegetable
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Caudatus'
    "Rat's Tail"– grown for large, fleshy, edible pods; no edible taproot; can grow several feet tall
  • 'Cherry Belle'
    Round, red roots 3/4 in wide; great for children's gardens
  • 'Easter Egg'
    Round roots that are a mix of red, purple, and white; great for children's gardens
  • 'Longipinnatus'
    "Daikon" or "Mooli"– extremely large mild-tasting taproot
  • 'Sparkler'
    Round 1 in wide roots, white with red speckles from the top; great for children's gardens
'Caudatus', 'Cherry Belle', 'Easter Egg', 'Longipinnatus', 'Sparkler'
Tags:
#container plant#easy to grow#edible flowers#fast growing#vegetable garden#edible roots#vegetable#childrens garden#edible garden#edible leaves#raised beds#cool season vegetable#container vegetable garden#shade tolerant vegetable
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Raphanus
    Species:
    raphanistrum
    Family:
    Brassicaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mediterranean
    Edibility:
    While most commonly grown for its spicy root, the leaves and flowers are edible as well. Some varieties grow large edible seed pods. Roots and pods can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. Flowers are eaten raw and leaves are best cooked due to their coarse texture.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Siliqua
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Pods with a distinct lumpy shape and tapered points that produce 2-12 seeds per pod. Most are no more than a couple inches, though some varieties grow extremely long pods.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Four-petaled white to purple flowers with prominent veining.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Hairy compound leaves, round at the tips with deep lobes. Vary in size with the size of the cultivar's root.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting