Crisp and spicy, the radish is one of the earliest cultivated crops. Believed to originate in southeast Asia, it was also one of the first European vegetables to be introduced to the Americas.
A member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family, the radish is, in my opinion, one of the most versatile inclusions in the vegetable garden. Popular for their crunchy texture and peppery flavor, the radish is pleasingly easy to grow. Sometimes classed as a cruciferous vegetable, the radish (Raphanus sativus) is related to other brassica crops such as cabbages, kale, broccoli, cauliflowers and turnips.
As well as highlighting 20 of the most interesting types of radishes, this guide will also provide you with all the growing and care information that you need to successfully cultivate this cool weather crop.
The radish is a staple of the vegetable garden.
What is a Radish?
Primarily grown for their large, edible taproot, all types of radishes can be cultivated as either annual or biennial plants. The edible taproot can be round, tapered or cylindrical depending on the variety.
Small types of radishes, such as the Cherry Belle, rarely exceed 1 inch in diameter while large cultivars like Daikon can measure 24 inches in diameter. Different types of radishes also come in a range of different colors. As well as the common red shades, you can also find pink, mauve, white, yellow and black radishes.
There are 3 types of radishes:
Early types require the cool months of early spring and fall to grow, Maturing quickly, Early types are typically ready for harvest 20 to 30 after germination.
Midseason radishes are summer crops that are more heat resistant than other types. In areas that don’t enjoy the intense heat of summer, Midseason radish seeds can be sown from May until August. Smaller than other types of radishes, Midseason radish plants typically take 30 to 40 days to mature.
Late, or Winter types of radishes can be sown in warm regions throughout the winter months. In temperate areas they can be sown from late summer well into the fall. Many of the larger radish varieties are Winter types. Requiring longer to grow than other types of radishes, Winter types can take 60 to 70 days to mature.
There are many different types of radishes.
Almost all types of radishes can be eaten raw, in salads or as a healthy snack, or roasted. Most varieties are crunchy and have a pleasing, spicy taste.
The following are 20 of the most versatile or flavorsome of the many types of radishes currently available. Suitable for growing in a range of conditions, the following suggestions are easy to cultivate and satisfying to eat.
1 Watermelon Radish
Ideal for containers and small spaces, the Watermelon Radish is a Daikon cultivar. It is slightly more sweet and less peppery in flavor than other types of radishes. Taking 50 to 60 days to mature, space the seeds roughly 3 inches apart when sowing.
Watermelon Radish taproots are beige and white in color with a hint of green. As the name suggests, when cut open the inside looks like a watermelon, bright pink with a white border.
2 French Breakfast Radish
Red in color, the Fresh Breakfast cultivar is one of the many types of radishes that are quick to mature. This makes it ideal for planting in areas that enjoy long hot summers.
Ready for harvest just 25 to 30 days after sowing the seeds, French Breakfast is a heirloom cultivar. More elongated than other round varieties, French Breakfast is red in color with a white tip. Popular for its pleasant, crisp flavor, French Breakfast can grow to a length of 2 inches.
The French Breakfast radish is red with a white tip.
3 Fire ‘N’ Ice
An oblong type of radish, Fire ‘N’ Ice is popular for its crisp texture and mild, sweet flavor. An improved French Breakfast cultivar, Fire ‘N’ Ice is pleasingly reliable, growing to a length of 4 inches the top half of the root is bright red while the lower part is white.
Maturing in around 25 days, after harvest the foliage can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator. This helps to keep it fresh for a little longer.
4 Pink Celebration Radish
Ready for harvest in just 30 days, Pink Celebration is popular for its round shape and pleasing pink color. A crisp, mild flavor further adds to the attraction. Pink Celebration is ideal for growing in pots and container gardens. It can also be used to plug gaps in vegetable beds.
Other popular pink types of radishes include Pink Summercicle, Pink Beauty and Lady Slipper.
Pink radish plants are a colorful addition to the garden.
5 Zlata Radish
Zlata is one of the more unusual types of radishes. A yellow oval shaped root with brown-yellow skin, Zlata can resemble a small potato. Despite its unconventional appearance, Zlata has the distinctive strong and spicy radish flavor. Ready for harvest in 30 days, the tender green leaves are ideal for using in salads. Zlata can be grown in both pots and planters.
The roots of Hailstone resemble a baby turnip. Like turnips, Hailstone’s can be roasted. The baby greens can also be cooked. This is a pale, round type of radish which is mild and juicy in flavor. When eaten raw the firm flesh has a pleasing crunchy texture.
Quick to mature, Hailstone is usually ready for harvest around 25 days after sowing the seeds. The mature taproots are around 2 inches in diameter. Hailstone is an ideal choice for succession planting in early spring or late summer. Like other types of radishes, Hailstones struggle in summer heat.
Hailstone taproots are round and entirely white.
7 Plum Purple
One of the more colorful types of radishes, Plum Purple is a purple or burgundy colored vegetable that adds vibrant color and interest to salads and dishes. The flesh is sweet and crispy, further adding to the attraction.
Easy to cultivate, Plum Purple taproots are ready for harvest around 3 weeks after sowing the seeds. Quick to grow and suitable for planting in a range of environments and spaces, Plum Purple is one of the more versatile types on our list.
8 Daikon White Radish
Daikon White is one of the larger types of radishes. Mature taproots can reach up to 14 inches in length. White in color, Daikon White has a pleasing, delicate and crispy flavor. Like other types of radishes, a regular drink of water encourages the taproot to slightly sweeten. Maturing in 60 days, space Daikon White seeds 4 inches apart.
Daikon White is longer and more elongated than other types of radishes.
9 Malaga Violet
Some people find radishes to be too spicy in flavor. Malaga Violet is the ideal compromise. Prized for its earthy, mild flavor, visually Malaga Violet is one of the more unusual types of radishes. Dark Purple in color, Malaga Violet is native to Poland. When cut open Malaga Violet reveals a crisp white center which contrasts nicely with the outer purple skin. Early to mature, Malaga Violet is usually ready for harvest in 35 days.
10 Cherry Belle
A round variety, Cherry Belle is one of the most popular types of radish amongst gardeners. This is because it is an easy to grow, reliable variety with a crispy, sweet pungent flavor. Ideal for salads and sandwiches, you can harvest Cherry Belle in around 25 days. Round and bright red in color, the mature root is around an inch in diameter.
Cherry Belle is what most people imagine a radish to look like.
11 Bartender Mammoth
Bartender Mammoth can, on first inspection, resemble a pink carrot. Capable of growing up to 9 inches long, despite its appearance, it is most definitely a radish. An heirloom type, Bartender Mammoth has a crisp spicy taste and a sweet finish. An ideal choice for a healthy snack, the plants are ready for harvest 35 to 40 days after sowing the seeds. Bartender Mammoth tolerates a little more heat than other large radish varieties.
12 Chinese Rose
Chinese Rose is an elongated radish which is purple-red in color. The colorful skin contrasts nicely with the taproots white, pink-veined flesh. A resilient cultivar, Chinese Rose is pleasingly resistant to low temperatures. This makes it ideal for early fall plantings.
Displaying a delicate, pungent flavor, Chinese Rose taproots are typically 6 to 8 inches long. A Daikon type, Chinese Rose, takes around 55 days to mature.
The elongated root of Chinese Rose.
13 Crimson Giant
A giant when compared to globe and icicle types of radishes, mature Crimson Giant taproots look similar to golf balls, measuring 2 inches in diameter. This means that while it is large, Crimson Giant is smaller than many Daikon radishes.
Taking just 30 days to mature, Crimson Giant is suitable for growing in both spring and early fall. Producing plum colored orbs, Crimson Giant is a great way to add crispy texture to salads. The edible roots can also be roasted, but do tend to lose their pink coloring when cooked.
14 Dragon’s Tail
One of the more unusual types of radishes, Dragon’s Tail, is an aerial radish. This means that it is the seed pods, not the roots, that are edible. The pods are light and crunchy with a spicy flavor. If you don’t want to eat it, Dragon’s Tail is also a good ornamental choice.
These are lacy, leafy plants that flower in pink and white colors. Pick the pods when they are 3 to 6 inches long and still thin. Once they plump out the texture of the pods becomes rough and the flavor overly hot. Ideal for stir fries, Dragon’s Tail takes about 50 days to mature from seed.
15 Golden Helios
Yellow in color, with contrasting white skin, Golden Helios is among the more distinctive types of radishes. Maturing in around 30 days, the crisp, juicy roots are at their best if harvested when they are roughly 1.5 inches in diameter. If left in the ground and allowed to become too big, Golden Helios can become bitter.
Golden Helios leaves can be picked before the roots mature. These attractive leaves are green with purple streaks making them a colorful addition to salads and stir-fries.
16 German Giant
German Giant is a large hybrid type. Maturing in around 30 days, the plants can be left in the ground until they are the size of a baseball. Unlike other types of radishes, German Giants do not spoil if they are left in the ground for too long. Instead they retain their sweet flavor and crisp texture. Additionally, the leaves can be used as salad greens.
German Giant is one of the larger varieties.
17 Green Lubo Improved
Green Lubo Improved is one of the Asian types of radishes that are best planted in later summer for a fall harvest. If stored correctly they can keep for around 8 weeks during the winter. A reliable type, Green Lubo Improved produces light green roots that are 5 to 7 inches long.
A pleasingly uniform variety, Green Lubo Improved plants are typically ready for harvest 58 days after sowing the seeds. Interestingly, unlike other types of radishes the foliage of Green Lubo Improved is spineless.
Another of the types of radishes that are quick to mature, Perfecto is ready in just 25 days. At this stage the taproots should measure 1 inch in diameter. A pleasingly juicy radish, Perfecto stays crisp even if they are left in the ground for a little too long.
Perfecto’s greens are ready for harvest when they reach 2 inches in length. The attractive leaves are decorated with red streaks. These contrast nicely with the rich red roots. Cutting Perfecto open reveals a bright white skin.
Perfecto varieties are round, red and quick to grow.
19 Red King
Red King is one of the large Daikon types of radish. Mature Red King’s have smooth red skin and measure 5 to 8 inch long and 2 inches wide. These are one of the larger types of radishes and can weigh up to one pound. Even at this size the flesh remains crisp and juicy.
Mature and ready for harvest in around 60, Red King seeds can be sown in spring and late summer in cooler areas. Red King is also increasingly popular in slightly warmer climates because it is slow to bolt and retains its flavor and texture after maturing. Further adding to the attraction, Red King keeps fresh in the refrigerator for 6 to 10 weeks. The leaves, which have red marks and red stalks, are a flavorsome substitute to kale or turnips.
20 White Icicle
White Icicle is a fast growing heirloom variety that is usually planted in the spring. The white flesh of White Icicle is crisp with a slight hint of pepper. The tapered taproot can be 5 inches long. White Icicle crops are typically ready for harvest in around 30 days.
Mild and juicy, as a rule you should aim to harvest White Icicle when it is roughly the size of your little finger. Like other types of radishes, leaving White Icicle in the ground for too long can cause it to spoil and lose its flavor.
White Icicle produces edible white, elongated roots.
Caring for a Radish Plant
All the types of radishes listed above are easy to grow. If you are growing from seed, many varieties can be sown multiple times throughout the growing season for a steady supply of fresh radishes. This is known as succession planting. Most types are ready for harvest 3 to 4 weeks after planting.
In addition to being easy to grow, the radish is also a largely problem free plant. Adopting a crop rotation system, so that you change the planting position of all your vegetables on a yearly basis, helps to prevent many common diseases.
You can sow radish seeds in the spring and the fall. Avoid growing all types of radishes during the warmest summer months. The heat of summer can cause radish plants to bolt, making them inedible.
Remember as well as the root the foliage is also edible.
How to Sow Radish Seeds
A root crop the radish is best sown in position.
All types of radishes are best planted in a sunny position. Too much shade can cause the plants to focus their energy on producing large foliage. This is at the expense of producing an edible root.
Before planting weed and work over the soil, removing rocks and breaking up large clumps of earth. Like other root vegetables such as carrots, the radish is grown primarily for its roots.
The soil should be rich in organic matter and well draining. There are a number of ways to improve heavy clay soils such as working in compost. You can also work some all-purpose fertilizer into the soil, as soon as it is workable, before sowing the seeds.
You can start sowing radish seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date. You can also sow seeds in the fall or late summer, as soon as the temperatures start to fall. In general you can sow seeds when the soil temperature rises above 40 ℉. Germination is most successful when the temperature ranges 55 to 70 ℉.
Continue to sow seeds until 4 to 6 weeks before the first forecasted fall frost. In areas that don’t experience frosty winters you may be able to grow radish plants throughout the winter months.
Don’t worry if you don’t use all your radish seeds in the first year. They have a fairly long shelf life. If stored correctly the seeds will remain viable for up to 5 years.
Directly sow the seeds half an inch to an inch deep in rows that are 1 to 12 inches apart. Large types of radishes require more space than smaller varieties. Consult the seed packet for the specific spacing requirements of your chosen variety. If you struggle to handle the seeds, a Gostur Hand Seed Dispenser enables you to evenly sow and correctly space out all varieties of seed.
If you are growing radishes in pots, fill the pot with fresh, general purpose compost and sow a few seeds in the center. Your chosen pot should be wide enough to comfortably hold the mature plant and at least 6 inches deep. Oblong types of radishes may require a pot that is around 10 inches deep.
For successive planting, sow a handful of seeds every 7 to 10 days while the weather remains cool.
Radish seeds are quick to germinate.
As the radish plants grow you may need to thin them out to prevent overcrowding. Growing radish plants should be roughly 2 inches apart when they are a week old. If the plants are too close together the roots struggle to develop correctly. Thinning out can be done by simply cutting away the crowded greens as the soil line. These greens are edible and can be added to a salad.
You can also carefully lift the excess plants and replant them elsewhere. Immediately after replanting, transplants often appear to struggle and seem stressed. A little extra care should encourage them to recover.
Water growing plants regularly. This helps to prevent the roots from becoming bitter. Aim to keep the soil moist or damp to the touch. It should not be waterlogged. If you are unsure, a soil moisture sensor is a good investment.
While a watering can works fine, if you want a low maintenance way to keep your plants healthy and hydrated, a Hotwol Irrigation Drip Kit is a great choice. Easy to install this system enables you to keep your plants watered while also reducing your water waste. It is also a versatile kit, suitable for a range of different sized gardens and greenhouses.
As long as your soil is enriched before sowing, there is no need to fertilize growing radish plants.
Common Radish Problems
White Rust is a fungus that causes white blisters to form on the underside of leaves is a nasty fungal disease as is Clubroot. In both cases lift and destroy the affected plants. Do not place the infected radish plants on the compost pile. In the case of clubroot you may also need to solarize the soil. Correctly caring for your plants and rotating the crops helps to prevent both issues.
Cabbage root maggots and worms can both target these plants. Cabbage root maggots cause growth to become stunted or plants to wilt. The foliage can also fade. Garden Netting Row Covers are a good way to protect plants as are collars, which can be placed around the stem of the plant.
Flea Beetles, which create holes in the foliage can also be deterred by mulching and using row covers,
Cabbage worms create large holes in the foliage. They also lay yellow eggs on the underside of the league. Handpick away any cabbage worms if you notice them on your plants. You can also protect the growing crops with row covers. Companion planting is another reliable way to protect your crops without resorting to chemical treatments. Thyme is a particularly useful companion.
Another good companion plant is the marigold. This is one of the best pest repelling flowers. Other good companions include:
You can also use radish plants as trap plants next to onions. Here the radish draws the root maggot away from the onion. Radish trap plants should be destroyed once the onions are harvested.
Do not plant radishes near potatoes or hyssop plants.
When to Harvest
Many types are ready for harvest 3 to 4 weeks after planting. Most radishes are ready for harvest when the roots are 1 inch in diameter at the soil surface. Before lifting the entire row, lift one radish as a test plant.
Try not to allow the radishes to remain in the ground for too long after they mature. The plants do not keep well in the ground. In the fall, aim to lift the entire crop before the first frost.
Lift the radish as soon as it reaches the correct size.
To store your radish crop, cut away the top and thin the root tail out. Wash away the first and store in plastic bags in the refrigerator. You can store radish greens separately from the root for up to 3 days.
If you want to learn more about correctly harvesting radish plants, our when to harvest radishes guide has all the information that you need.