Daikon radishes are an option for Virginia gardens

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, February 21, 2024

By Mark Carroll

Contributing writer

Daikon radishes (Raphanus sativus longipinnatus) can be a great addition to home gardens in Virginia. These elongated, white-rooted vegetables offer unique flavor and versatility. 

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Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice, cultivating daikon radishes can be a rewarding endeavor. Let’s explore how to grow these nutritious and flavorful root vegetables right in your own backyard.

What Is daikon?

Daikon radishes are a type of Chinese radish, characterized by their large, elongated roots. Some varieties can weigh up to a whopping 50 pounds, although the most common ones mature at 1 to 2 pounds with a leaf spread of up to 2 feet. These radishes are not only delicious, but also packed with essential vitamins and nutrients.

Planting daikon radishes

Timing: In Virginia, you can plant daikon radishes either in early spring or late summer, depending on your local climate. Spring planting ensures a harvest during the warmer months, while late summer planting allows for a fall harvest.

Soil preparation: Daikon radishes thrive in well-draining soil with a pH range of 5.8 to 6.8. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can lead to lush foliage, but stunted root growth.

Spacing and depth: Plant daikon radish seeds directly in the garden. Space them about 1 inch apart in rows that are at least 1 foot apart. Plant the seeds at a depth of ½ inch to provide ample room for growth.

Sunlight and water: Daikon radishes require full sun to part shade. Ensure regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist. Installing drip irrigation can help maintain optimal moisture levels.

Mulching: Apply a 1-inch layer of organic mulch around the plants. Mulching conserves moisture, suppresses weeds and keeps the soil temperature stable.

Temperature: Daikon radishes prefer temperatures below 80°F (27°C). They thrive during the cooler seasons.

Other uses: If you want to eat daikon radishes, you likely want to harvest before they reach the size pictured. Some challenges a home gardener may have to overcome include soil compaction as well as mineral and nutrient depletion in the top 8-12 inches of soil. Since the daikon can grow longer or deeper than most crops even in compacted soil, it can bring minerals and nutrients up into the plant. Simply not harvesting it redeposits those materials when the plant rots into the soil at the top. If not harvesting, the soil benefits are better. It turns out worms love Daikon, so as they feed and thrive where daikon was growing they add castings in that soil as well. 


Growing Daikon radishes in your Virginia home garden is not only a culinary adventure, but garden hack. With proper care and attention, you’ll soon be enjoying these crisp, flavorful roots straight from your backyard or building healthier soil.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.