How to Grow Radishes in Containers
Botanical Names: Raphanus sativus
No yard? No problem! You can still plant radishes – those colorful little globes filled with crunchy taste – in pots on a porch or balcony.
Beware, though, your growing radishes will need an extra measure of tender loving care in order to thrive. Still, if you keep the containers close by and tend them every few days the results can be outstanding, and your harvest goes just a few feet to the table. If planted in succession over the course of the entire growing season there’s no reason not to get a harvest that lasts for months.
Here are some quick tips about growing radishes from seeds in containers:
- Select large pots or other containers that will retain plenty of moisture but with room for drainage at the bottom.
- Choose seeds for radish varieties that are round rather than long, so that developing roots aren’t crowded or cramped, and buy a mixture of maturing times (from 20 to 50 days).
- Fill the pots with high-quality potting soil, and experiment with adding some sterile composted soil, peat moss, or other material to provide nutrition and a loose consistency.
- Sow the seeds only ½ inch deep, a few at a time, and cover them with soil. Then water.
- Water some more, keeping them from becoming dried out. Radishes need plenty of water to make the mature root bulbs plump but they shouldn’t get soggy.
- Keep the containers in a sunny spot but keep any extra seeds in the refrigerator.
Growing radishes in a container is only part of the story. Radish seeds will germinate quickly and show some green growth within a week. Once the greens reach a few inches in height, thin the young plants so they are about one inch apart. It’s okay to plant other things nearby. Since radishes do best with only light weeding – because deep hoeing would damage the roots – containers are a perfect way to go.
Radish greens are delicious and nutritious, so use the thinnings in salads or along with other cooked greens. The larger the radishes grow, the more vigorous the greens. As you harvest completely mature table radishes to eat, cut off the greens, cook them, and serve as a gourmet dish. A dash of lemon juice, wine vinegar, or hot sauce makes a great topping.
Another suggestion for how to grow radishes in a pot: replant another batch of seeds every two to three weeks as space allows. That way you stretch the growing season and the harvest. Radishes prefer cool soil, so start your container garden early in spring.
To grow big daikon radishes or the icicle-type long radishes, just make sure to select a container that’s quite deep. These longer-season radishes can grow to a foot long!
If you have limited yard space, learn how to grow radishes in containers from the experts at DIY Network.
How to Plant Radishes in Containers
Easy to grow and quick to harvest, radishes provide almost-instant gratification for little effort. While radishes (Raphanus sativus) grow well when sown directly in the garden, they also can thrive in a pot. In fact, growing radishes in containers is easy, and it can even provide plenty of crunchy, tangy bites earlier than when grown directly in the garden, depending on the location of the container. Radishes are a cool-season crop that grow in USDA hardiness zone 2 to 11, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.
A Radish for Any Season
Radishes are generally categorized as either “spring” or “winter” types, according to University of Illinois Extension. Spring types are further categorized into either early or late varieties. Early varieties grow best in the spring when the days are still cool, while late varieties can handle a bit more heat, so they can be planted for summer harvesting. These same early spring varieties can be planted again in late summer so that they’ll mature in the cooler days of fall. Spring varieties range from 22 to 30 days from germination to harvest.
Winter radishes are not just spring varieties planted in late summer – they grow more slowly than spring radishes and become larger, with a range of 52 to 70 days from germination to harvest. They stay crisp and sweet longer, although they usually do have a stronger, sharper flavor. But unlike spring types, they can stay in the ground longer to create a treat in late fall and winter when very few edibles are available in a garden.
The University of Illinois Extension recommends these varieties:
- Spring early: ‘Burpee White,’ ‘Champion,’ ‘Cherry Bell,’ Cherry Queen Hybrid,’ ‘Early Scarlet Globe,’ ‘Easter Egg,’ ‘Fuego,’ ‘Plum Purple’ and ‘Snow Belle’
- Spring late (for spring or summer harvest): ‘French Breakfast’ and ‘Icicle’
- Winter: ‘China Rose,’ ‘Chinese White,’ ‘Round Black Spanish’ and ‘Tama Hybrid’
Growing Radishes in a Container
Growing radishes in a pot is similar, of course, to growing them directly in the garden, with a few exceptions. The location of the pot matters; the plant must be watered more frequently and – here’s the fun one – you don’t have to wait for the soil to warm in spring. So you might be able to harvest them earlier if you can place your pot in a protected location. To produce an early crop, plant spring radishes in late winter in a pot either in the house or outside, advises the University of Illinois Extension service. Once the plants have germinated, be sure they get enough sun but remain protected from freezes or cold winds. Bring the pot in at night if you expect a hard freeze.
Choose any size pot for radishes, since their roots are so shallow and the plants are not large. Be sure it has good drainage holes. Fill it with a high-quality potting mix that will drain well. Using a light, well-draining soil is critical, according to Fine Gardening, because clay soils encourage hotter-tasting radishes. As a root crop, radishes need potassium, so don’t load up the pot with a high-nitrogen fertilizer or you’ll get lots of beautiful greens but not much root growth. Add a bit of composted manure and some wood ashes or greensand for potassium.
Plant seeds directly in the pot at a 1/4 to 1/2 inch depth. Thin spring varieties to 1/2 to 1 inch between plants. Winter radishes need more space, about 2 to 4 inches. Place the pot in a sunny location and water it regularly; soil that dries out produces radishes that are woody and bitter.
Harvest the radishes when the roots are less than 1 inch in diameter. They mature rapidly, so be sure to check their size frequently, since over-large radishes begin to lose their sweet flavor.
How to Plant Radishes in Containers. While most vegetables are suitable for planting in containers, some large vegetables with extensive root systems require containers that take up valuable space on a patio or balcony. Radishes are ideally suited for container growing, as the flavorful, fast-growing vegetables …