Overcoming Obstacles: 4 Typical Challenges Encountered in Radish Cultivation

Radishes are one of the fastest and easiest vegetables to grow at home, but can be fussy when it comes to their growing conditions. Home gardeners can encounter four common issues when growing radishes. These include being too spicy, not forming bulbs, having tough, woody skin, and cracking the vegetables. All of these problems can be avoided if your radishes are grown in the right conditions.

01

Problem: Ultra-Spicy Radishes
French Breakfast Radishes
The Spruce by Marie Iannotti
Radishes are often a problem because they’re too hot. The red globe radish that is often used in salads, although some radishes have a higher spice content than others, should still be very tasty. The radishes may be too spicy to eat if they’ve been growing for too long. They either grew slowly or were too old.

Radishes prefer cool temperatures, but they need to be sufficiently warm and moist to grow before the temperature really rises. It grows fast, so it is best to harvest the radish as soon as its size is mature. Radishes don’t get sweeter when stored in the earth, unlike carrots or beets. The radish gets spicier if you wait too long. If you want to plant more than you can consume at one time but don’t have enough radishes, you should try succession planting instead of planting large areas at once.

02

Radishes with cracks
Sliced Radishes
Tetra Images / Getty Photos
Radishes can split as they age and mature. Cracking Cracking can be caused by uneven watering. If you try to compensate for a drought by watering the radish all at once, the radish will grow inside too quickly and split. You should give your radishes at least one inch of water every week.

Radishes that are cracked or split can still be eaten. You can still use them for salads if they have a few cosmetic cracks. Once you slice them, no one will be able to tell.

03

Radishes that are tough and woody
Black Spanish Radish
The Spruce by Marie Iannotti
Radishes can become woody and tough if they are left in the garden for too long. Radishes must grow rapidly to be tender and plump. Radishes will grow slower if they don’t receive the cooling temperatures and regular water they require. You may even be tempted to let them sit in the soil to fill out. Then they will start to become hard and dry.

Radishes can be grown in the spring and fall. Some radishes like the “black Spanish” variety prefer to be grown during the shorter days of autumn. The radishes are planted in the fall and harvested the following spring. Although they may look tough, the skin of black radishes is quite soft. The white flesh is very spicy.

04

Problem: No bulbs, only leaves
Radishes ‘White Icicle Radishes’
The Spruce by Marie Iannotti
Radishes which do not form bulbs are of little use to gardeners who want radish for salad. Hot weather is the most common cause of radishes only growing greens. The radish plant will bolt and try to set seeds when the weather gets warm.

Planting too thickly, and not thinned out between plants by about 1 to 2 inch is the cause of lack of growth. The plants will not grow if they rub against each other.

Radishes can also be underdeveloped due to a lack of sunlight. Radishes are tolerant of a little shade if temperatures start to rise, but need direct sunlight for several hours in order to develop fully.

It might be easier to grow a long, thin radish, such as ‘white-icicle. This variety has a longer root than round globe radishes, so it requires less space. It can take them a few extra days to mature but you won’t need so many.

If you’d like to completely avoid this problem, you could grow edible podded-radishes. These are radishes that are grown for the crunchy, tangy seeds, similar to a rat’s tail. These plants are tolerant of hot weather and pests, but they never form bulbs.


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