Do Radishes Grow Above Ground? (How and Why You Would Want To)

Radishes are deliciously tangy vegetables, great for both for snacking and cooking. Not only are they tasty, but also a healthy addition to your diet! But do radishes only grow in the ground, or do radishes grow above ground, too?

Radishes grow underground unless the soil is compacted, and then they grow slightly above the ground. Growing above the ground can lead to radishes with split or sunburned tops. The best way to avoid radishes growing above ground is to work the soil to a depth of 14 inches.

Radishes are easy to grow at home and learning all about them can help you grow a perfect crop. One of the more confusing things that can happen with radishes is that they start growing above ground. Don’t worry, if this happens to yours then we’ve got all the info you need right here.

An image of radish vegetables on soil in garden.

What To Do When Radishes Grow Above the Ground

When planting radishes, make sure to work the soil to a depth of at least 14 inches and plant seeds deep enough. Loose soil will leave plenty of growing room to keep radishes growing, happy, and healthy. Compost and manure will also help refresh and improve soil over time.

If there are radishes growing above ground, don’t panic. The first thing that needs to be done is to work out what problem is causing the radishes to grow above ground.

Compact soil has bad drainage, but also means that growing roots push against the ground, which in turn pushes the actual radish above the soil.

While it’s a problem, it’s normally quite easy to solve. Even if not, it’s a learning opportunity, and I’m sure your next crop will be fantastic as a result!

Another issue that can lead to radishes growing above the ground is planting the seeds too shallow. Even when the ground is nice and loose, the roots pushing up will inevitably push the radish a little, and if they’re in shallow soil this can lead to them growing above ground.

Plant radishes at a depth of between 1/2 and 1 1/2 inches.

Where Do Radishes Usually Grow?

Radishes are root vegetables, so they almost always grow underneath the ground. Radishes can also grow in just water. However, this isn’t as handy a tip as it sounds; when grown in water, usually only the leaves of the plant tend to grow, and they are inedible.

The best environment for radishes to grow is light, sandy soil, which has been well-drained and loosened prior to planting. Radishes respond well to soils with added compost, as this not only helps it become loamier but also provides organic matter that helps boost radishes’ growth.

How Deep Do Radishes Grow?

Radishes grow in topsoil, with the roots normally extending up to 14 to 16 inches. The exact depth of the radish depends on the variety, as well as other conditions such as weather and soil type.

Quite a few factors affect how deep radishes can grow. These include the depth the seeds are planted at, the looseness of the soil, and the variety of the seeds.

Make sure your radishes are planted somewhere they’ll get plenty of sunlight and be protected from extreme temperature changes, and make sure the soil is kept moist.

For the radish roots to grow as much as possible, they need to be planted between 1 to 3 inches apart from each other. The exact spacing varies based on the variety, so take a look at the seed packet before planting to be sure that you know exactly how much space yours need.

Pro tip: Planting radishes close together will only backfire. Make sure you space radishes appropriately, or you’re going to be thinning like crazy and still not getting a lot of radishes.

How Tall Should Radishes Grow?

Radish leaves can grow up to a foot tall, but the leaves don’t matter. Radish roots can grow anywhere from 1 to 3 inches tall for regular varieties or up to two feet tall. Radish circumferences can be anywhere from a quarter-inch to 46 inches. Radishes taste best at about 1 inch in size.

The final size of a radish depends largely on the variety. Some types, such as the Scarlet Globe radishes, develop into small ball-shaped roots, while others develop into much larger cylindrical white radishes.

The largest radish in the world, grown by Manabu Oono of Japan, grew to 46 inches in circumference, weighing a whopping 31.1kg! Wow, that’s a whole lot of salad!

As exciting as that sounds, most varieties won’t come anywhere near this.

  • Small red radishes, such as the French Breakfast Radish, generally grow between one and three inches in length.
  • However, white radishes (particularly popular in Asian cuisines) grow much larger, about the size of large carrots and even bigger.
  • Daikon radishes grow to a normal length of between 8 and 24 inches.

When buying radish seeds, read the package to get a good idea of how large your radishes are likely to grow.

Regardless of the variety, gardeners tend to agree that radishes are most delicious when picked before growing to their maximum size. A good rule of thumb is to pick them once the roots reach a thickness of one inch, as after this they can become harder and less edible.

When radishes stay in the ground for too long, they also become much spicier due to their increased nitrogen content.

Pro tip: If you forget to harvest a crop in time, you’d better hope you’re feeling brave when you come to taste it!Some radishes can get dang spicy! 

An image of woman's hand holding fresh radish harvest in garden.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

There’s lots to know about radishes! If you are thinking about planting them, it would definitely be a good idea to check out some specific tips for growing them.

Hopefully, we have condensed all the answers that are needed in this article on radishes and growing them under versus above ground, but if you’re after some more information then check out some of the great sources below I’ve written and published on this site that answer similar questions.

They’re all great articles answering common questions, so don’t feel bad if you want more information. It’s always better to know more, so that we are the best-informed gardeners and homesteaders we can be.

Cite this article as: “Do Radishes Grow Above Ground? (How and Why You Would Want To).” Backyard Homestead HQ, 12 March 2022, backyardhomesteadhq.com/do-radishes-grow-above-ground-how-and-why-you-would-want-to/.

Resources

It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders.

  • “4 Common Radish Growing Problems and What to Do About Them.” The Spruce, 22 Dec. 2020, www.thespruce.com/radish-growing-problems-1402994.
  • “How to Grow Radishes / RHS Gardening.” Royal Horticultural Society, www.rhs.org.uk/vegetables/radishes/grow-your-own. Accessed 19 Feb. 2022.
  • Mohammad, Awais. “Why Are My Radishes Growing Above Ground? | Vegetable GardenerX.” Vegetable GardenerX | Grow What You Eat, 11 Jan. 2021, vegetablegardenerx.com/why-are-my-radishes-growing-above-ground.
  • White, Caren. “How to Grow Daikon Radishes.” Dengarden, 7 Jan. 2022, dengarden.com/gardening/How-to-Grow-Daikon-Radishes.
  • “Why Are My Radishes Growing above Ground?” Movie Cultists, moviecultists.com/why-are-my-radishes-growing-above-ground. Accessed 2 Feb. 2022.
  • Yablonski, Briana. “How to Plant and Grow Daikon: Add Some Zing to Your Garden.” Gardener’s Path, 5 Jan. 2022, gardenerspath.com/plants/vegetables/grow-daikon.

By Kimberly Starr

I'm a ginger who loves being outside, homesteading, and spending time with my family. I believe humor is the best medicine, followed very closely by chocolate and tacos.