Grow Radishes in Containers

Updated on April 6, 2016

Twenty three days from start to finish! Yes, that's the exact amount of time it takes radishes to grow from a tiny seed into a pick-able mature root. Now, I don't really know what you consider to be fast, but from a gardening standpoint, twenty three days is extremely quick! Off the top of my head, I can't think of a vegetable crop that grows faster. So, what do you do with such a fast growing crop? Put them to good use, and grow radishes in containers. Every urban container garden should be growing these little soil dwelling gems. If you haven't caught up with the program yet, it's quite alright, because the basics to planting, growing and harvesting radishes in containers will be covered in this article.

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Plant Identification - Radishes

Radishes are a small root crop belonging to the Brassicaceae family. These cousins of other cole crops such as broccoli and cauliflower, have been cultivated for centuries. Growing in many different shapes, colors, and sizes, radishes are a popular crop around the globe.

French Breakfast Radishes in a container.
French Breakfast Radishes in a container.
  • Binomial Name - Raphanus sativus
  • Family - Brassicaceae
  • Spring Varieties - Growing in the cooler weather of spring and autumn, these are the radishes that we associate with most often. Often round or oblong, these radish varieties stay relatively small and have a shorter storage life. Spring varieties are best eaten fresh.
  • Winter Varieties - Less known in the public's view, winter varieties such as Daikon and Spanish black are great storage radishes. These radishes generally grow much larger (6-10+ inches long), and are great for storage in cellars. Winter radishes are normally planted in late summer for an autumn harvest.

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French Breakfast radish seedling.
French Breakfast radish seedling.

Noteworthy Heirloom Radish Varieties -

Variety Name
Type
Days to Maturity
Cherry Belle
Spring
20-25
French Breakfast
Spring
23-28
White Beauty
Spring
25-30
Watermelon
Spring
29-34
Spanish Black
Winter
30-40
Daikon
Winter
50+

Did you Know?

A dozen radishes can be comfortably grown in a standard 12" flower pot. Pretty cool, huh?

Basic Necessities -

  • Containers - Since radishes are fairly small, they can be adapted to grow in a variety of sized containers. I would recommend that your container be at least six inches deep though. Having such a depth will ensure proper formation of the roots. Containers can be round or rectangle shaped.
  • Potting Soil - Radishes really aren't too picky when it comes to potting soil either, but they will do best in soil that drains well and is high in organic matter. A well composted organic potting soil will do great.
  • Sunlight - Growing radishes need a good amount of sunlight to sustain fast growth and root production. Prepare to provide your radishes with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Temperature - Radishes aren't too fond of the hot summer's sun. For this reason, grow radishes during the cooler temperatures of spring and autumn. They'll be much more productive. For continual harvests during spring and autumn, dedicate three containers to growing radishes, planting each with a week spaced between them. Replant as you harvest weekly.
  • Adequate Water - If the potting soil used to grow radishes dries out too much, or too often, it can cause radish roots to become fibrous. On the other hand, over watered and soggy soils can promote root rot. To avoid these conditions, water the potting soil frequently, but always ensure that the soil and container are able to freely drain away excess water.

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Planting & Growing Radishes -

Whereas many garden vegetables need to be started indoors and then transplanted outside, radishes can easily be sown directly into their final container outdoors. There's absolutely no need or sense in transplanting radish seeds.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Radish Sprouts. In a container almost four feet long and eight inches wide, I was able to harvest over 50 radishes!French Breakfast radish seedlings. ~1 week old. Same radishes now two weeks old.Twenty four days in and a bunch were ready for harvesting.
Radish Sprouts. In a container almost four feet long and eight inches wide, I was able to harvest over 50 radishes!
Radish Sprouts. In a container almost four feet long and eight inches wide, I was able to harvest over 50 radishes!
French Breakfast radish seedlings. ~1 week old.
French Breakfast radish seedlings. ~1 week old.
Same radishes now two weeks old.
Same radishes now two weeks old.
Twenty four days in and a bunch were ready for harvesting.
Twenty four days in and a bunch were ready for harvesting.
  1. Two weeks before your average last frost, fill your containers with potting soil and position them in a sunny area.
  2. Plant radish seeds 1/2 inch deep and spaced one inch apart. Fill the entire area of your container with this planting technique. Take caution to leave a least an inch between the rim of your planter and the first set of radishes.
  3. Keep the seeds moist and they should germinate within 5-10 days.
  4. Once most of the seeds have sprouted, thin the seedlings out, so that there is one plant spaced every two inches from each other.
  5. Continue to water, maintaining a soil that is thoroughly moist, but not over watered. Watering every other day should be just fine for your radishes.

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Harvesting Radishes -

In as little as twenty three days, you'll have a crop of radishes ready for the picking. Of course not every radish variety will be ready in such a short time. So, if you're after the fast maturing varieties, try growing Cherry Belle or French Breakfast radishes.

A small bunch of French Breakfast radishes grown in containers 2013.
A small bunch of French Breakfast radishes grown in containers 2013.
  1. Check to see if the radishes are at a good pick-able size. You can uncover the tops of each plant to determine their size. If the radish is slightly thicker than your thumb, it's ready to be picked.
  2. Pull radishes from the ground. The leaves break easily, so pull the radish from the top of the root.
  3. Immediately separate the leaves from the root. If you don't, the leaves will cause the root to lose water and shrivel.
  4. Wash and store in the refrigerator for up to a couple weeks. The radish leaves may be consumed fresh as part of a mixed green salad.

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Bonuses of Radishes in a Garden -

Besides serving as a super-fast growing crop, radishes can also add some functionality to your garden. Here's how to utilize this unique crop:

Radish leaves exhibiting minor flea beetle damage.
Radish leaves exhibiting minor flea beetle damage.

Have you harvested a successful radish crop?

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  • Protection Against Flea Beetles - If you've had an issue with flea beetles attacking your precious seedlings and young crops, planting radishes is a good idea. As young plants, slower growing crops are susceptible to flea beetle damage. To reduce, and even completely eliminate the risk, plant radishes nearby. The rapidly growing foliage of radishes will attract the majority of flea beetles, offering protection for your valued crops. Although the radish foliage will be full of tiny holes, they will still produce roots normally.
  • Squash & Cucumber Benefits - Radishes will naturally repel cucumber beetles and squash borers. As these pests can be very damaging to young plants, why not just plant some radishes nearby and keep them at bay!
  • Natural Garden Marker - Although it doesn't apply to container gardens, radishes can be used as a natural way to mark your garden beds. Create rows or lines of radishes to separate crop sections. Utilizing radishes as garden markers is a great way to organize your garden, and also get a harvestable crop.

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As it turns out, radishes are a pretty useful and delightful crop to have planted in a container garden! Their quick growth will please your early harvesting needs, and their tasty roots will surely satisfy your craving for homegrown produce. Thank you for reading this guide on how to grow radishes in containers, and may your garden be extra productive this year! Please leave me any questions, comments or suggestions that you might have.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        radish man 

        6 months ago

        i live this tutorial

      • profile image

        Laetitia S 

        6 months ago

        I live in Hawaii so it gets quite hot in the spring already. I am hoping to harvest radishes by having them in the shade in the afternoon. My mother always used radish greens to make soup with. It is rather tasty. Thanks for your good advice.

      • profile image

        Tina Scammell 

        16 months ago

        I am just planting: Rainbow Radish, Golden Beetroot, Lemon Crystal Cucumber, Red Dazzle Lettuce & Purple Spring Onion so thank you for your valued information.

        I hv also just put an Avocado Seed on top of glass of water held up by toothpicks..:) I await this space..ha X

      • thumbi7 profile image

        JR Krishna 

        5 years ago from India

        I was looking for a hub like this. For the first time in my life, I have put some radish seeds into containers. Let me see whether it will sprout:)

        Very useful article

        Voted up and shared

      • Trevor A profile image

        Trevor A 

        6 years ago from Iowa

        Thanks for the help

      • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

        Zach 

        6 years ago from Colorado

        Trevor A -

        Just when you thought I wouldn't respond right? Ha. Anyway, harvesting radish seeds is fairly easy! Once your radishes have gone to flower, just let nature take its course. As the plant nears the end of flowering, it will produce "pods" that contain the seeds. Allow the plant to die back and dry a little. The pods can then be picked from the plant and broken open to expose the seeds! Oh, and to avoid woodiness in radishes, plan to grow them in the cooler temperatures of spring or autumn. The heat of summer causes radishes to become very woody very fast! If you must grow radishes during the summer, find a place in the garden that receives full morning sun, but shade in the afternoon. Good luck to you!

      • profile image

        trevor a 

        6 years ago

        it doesn't look like ur posting back to these comments but my radishes got a woody texture and i don't like that so i let them bloom into flowers, how do i harvest the seeds anything fancy?

      • profile image

        Jan 

        6 years ago

        Beautify explained, just what I was looking for, thanks very much.

      • Gracenduta profile image

        Gracenduta 

        6 years ago from Kenya

        Thanks for the hub, i will try it out

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        6 years ago

        The french variety looks very yummy. I didn't know that the leaves could be used as salad greens and I will have to remember to try this next time I have some on hand. The fresh crisp tangy taste of radishes is always good with any salad. I don't think these would grow so well in the hot south climate but I could be wrong. Good hub!

      • phoenix2327 profile image

        Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom

        Three weeks? That is amazing quick. Voted Up useful and interesting. Shared on FB & Twitter.

      • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

        Zach 

        6 years ago from Colorado

        Healthy Pursuits - Thanks for the comment. There are a couple of ways in which you can reduce the spiciness of your radishes. First off, try growing mild French Breakfast, Crimson Giant or White Icicle varieties. Also, water your radishes an hour before you plan to harvest. When radishes are allowed to dry slightly, they concentrate their heat. Watering will help the radish expand and dilute its spiciness. Good luck!

      • Healthy Pursuits profile image

        Karla Iverson 

        6 years ago from Oregon

        Great work! I was wondering what to plant as a first planting in a big pot in my backyard. Now I know. Radishes! Do you have any hints about less hot varieties?

      • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

        Zach 

        6 years ago from Colorado

        Parentsreview - The average last frost will differ with each agricultural zone, but Landsdowne, PA is marked as having an average last frost between April 1-10. You should be just fine planting them in the middle of March. Good luck to you!

      • parentsreview profile image

        parentsreview 

        6 years ago from Lansdowne, PA

        This is great! I'm not a big gardener, but I might give this a try. I know you suggest doing this about 2 weeks before the average last frost, but do you have a date in mind? Maybe March or April? Thanks.

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