This winter radish is the mild-flavored cousin of the common spring radish – it’s also white and carrot-shaped, so you don’t want to confuse this with regular radish seeds!
The name “daikon” derives from the Japanese words dai (large) and kon (root), and it comes in a few interesting lengths and color variations.
If you’re keen to grow this low-maintenance root vegetable, the following will help you get started with premium seed recommendations plus planting guides, care tips, and more.
Daikon Radish at a Glance
Popular Daikon Radish Varieties
The common daikon radish typically resembles a large, chunky carrot with white skin, mid-dark green leafy tops, and white flesh.
This root vegetable can usually be harvested in around 60 days and has a mildly tangy flavor when raw and a sweet/spicy taste when cooked.
You’ll also come across odd varieties of daikon radish that vary in flavor, color, and growing preferences as well as possessing vastly different shapes, lengths, and maturity rates.
Let’s take a look at six of the most popular kinds:
- ‘White Icicle’ – 5-inch fruit, pure-white skin, narrow cylindrical shape, mildly spicy flavor, harvest: 35 days.
- ‘Japanese Minowase’ – 24-inch fruit; white skin; thick, oblong shape; sweet flavor; adaptable to full sun/shade; harvest: 45-60 days.
- ‘Alpine’ – 6-inch fruit; stubbier oblong shape; smooth, green-tinged white skin; strong sweet taste; harvest: 60-70 days.
- ‘Watermelon radish’ – 4-inch fruit, rounded bulb (similar to regular radish), white-light-green skin with vivid pink flesh, sweet/slightly peppery flavor, harvest: 30-80 days.
- ‘Purple Daikon radish’ or ‘KN-Bravo’ – 10-inch fruit; stubby, globular shape with tapered root; pale violet/white skin with pink flesh; sweet flavor; harvest: 50 days.
- ‘Daikon Long White’ – 14-inch fruit; long, slender shape with tapered end; white skin; mildly peppery taste; harvest: 60 days.
Best Places To Buy Daikon Radish Seeds
Daikon Radish Seed Planting & Germination
1. Prepare Planting Site 2 Months Before First Frost
To ensure the radishes mature in time for a fall harvest, prepare a planting bed 2 months before your first local frost date.
In a full-sun location, prepare a loose, well-draining soil bed that is preferably pH neutral, and use good-quality potting soil to loosen up compacted garden soil.
Create furrows in the soil using a rake/fork – seeds will be sown 1 inch apart and rows should be spaced about 12-18 inches apart.
2. Sow Seeds Directly Into Soil & Keep Soil Moist
Moisten the soil bed, and sow seeds 1 inch apart, gently pressing them ½ inch deep into the bed.
Continue watering every few days or whenever the soil bed feels dry – maintaining moist, not soggy soil, is key. Seeds should germinate in 3-4 days.
3. Thin Seedlings to 6 Inches Apart Once They Measure 2-3 Inches
After a week of germinating, seedlings should measure 2-3 inches tall – allow for mature spread by thinning the seedlings so that there is only one radish seedling every 6 inches.
Do this by pinching the shoots at soil level with your finger and thumb or by using clean kitchen scissors.
You can keep these thinned seedlings and wash them thoroughly to consume them raw as microgreens in a salad/sandwich.
Apply a 1-inch layer of mulch around the developing seedlings to help conserve soil moisture.
4. Harvest Radishes in 8-10 Weeks or When Leaves Reach 8 Inches
Radishes should mature in 60-70 days, but this can differ among varieties, so always check individual seed packets for definitive dates.
A general sign is when the radish leaves measure about 8 inches long and the top root is visibly growing above the soil.
Aim to harvest before a heavy frost arrives to prevent root rot.
Growing Daikon Radish Sprouts
- Place 2 tablespoons of daikon radish seeds in a clean sprouting jar, and fill the jar with enough tepid water to cover the seeds.
- Cover the jar with the mesh lid, and soak the seeds overnight for 8-12 hours in a cool, dark location, like a kitchen cupboard.
- Drain the seeds well using the strainer lid, and rinse and drain the seeds three times daily for 3-5 days – returning the drained jar each time to the kitchen cupboard overnight.
- After a few days, white tail-like sprouts should emerge. Empty the jar of sprouts into a clean bowl of water and gently swirl them around to remove any hulls.
- Drain the sprouted seeds one final time, and allow them to dry on a paper towel before storing them in the refrigerator in an airtight container – they should keep fresh for up to a week for use in salads, sandwiches, or stir fry!
4 Tips for Growing Daikon Radish From Seed
- Seeds germinate quickly when mid-late summer soil temperatures remain between 55 and 75°F, but in 40°F soil germination may take up to 2 weeks and fungal disease is more likely, so use a soil temp gauge.
- While direct outdoor sowing is best, those in hot, dry climates may find greater success by starting radish seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before transplanting outside to prevent heat damage.
- Store radish seeds in a paper envelope/bag or plastic container in a dry area at room temperature. Temperatures above 90°F can kill the plant embryo within.
- Be sure to record your progress as you go for future reference – including specific soil used, planting times, outdoor temperatures, etc.
Growing & Caring for Daikon Radish
Now that you have the steps to take your daikon radishes from seed to plant, you’re well on your way to growing crisp and sizable roots, but the work isn’t done after planting!
You’ll harvest the most impressive crop by providing the best possible growing environment.
Loose soil is ideal for the development of large, healthy roots, so look for potting or garden soil formulas containing organic matter like peat moss and perlite.
Alternatively, you can add add plenty of compost to your soil to create a lighter, well-draining consistency.
This root vegetable also performs best in moderately acidic soil (between pH 5.8-6.8), so it’s advisable to use a soil pH meter.
Most daikon radishes require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight to develop decent roots, although some varieties can grow well in 4 hours of full sun and some partial shade.
Watering & Fertilizing
Radish roots will crack and have diminished flavor when underwatered and develop rot when overwatered, so it’s crucial to only water the soil bed when the top ¼ inch has dried.
Provide ½ an inch of water each week, though more may be needed in periods of very hot/dry weather.
As a cool-weather vegetable, radishes won’t require much fertilizing, but if you do use a commercial feed, avoid one with a high-nitrogen content compared to that of the potassium and phosphorus as this will result in large, green foliage but small roots.
Once the leaves reach 8 inches, grasp the leaves where the top of the radish meets the leaf stems, and carefully twist and pull the radish out from the soil.
Brush dirt and debris from the radish, and wrap it in a damp tea towel before placing it in your vegetable crisper to provide the cool, high-humidity environment that will keep it fresh for up to 4 weeks.
Daikon Radish Common Questions:
How Long Do Daikon Radish Seeds Take To Grow?
After the initial germination stage, which can be 3-4 days or 2 weeks depending on soil conditions, daikon radish seeds take roughly 2-3 months to mature.
However, certain daikon radish varieties such as ‘White Icicle’ and ‘Watermelon’ can take as little as 4 weeks to grow.
Can You Eat Daikon Radish Seeds?
Yes, daikon radish seeds can be eaten alone as a snack or added to salads, stews, or used as toppings while baking bread.
They have a crunchy texture and mildly peppery taste that makes them a great addition to many savory dishes.
Are Daikon Radishes Easy To Grow?
Daikon radishes are fairly easy to grow provided they are planted in late summer-early fall as temperature extremes can lead to fungal issues and poor fruit development.
Soil conditions must also be loose, well draining, and moist (not dry or waterlogged) to ensure successful germination.
How Do You Use Daikon Radish as a Cover Crop?
Daikon radishes have a thick, deep-reaching taproot system growing from their tapered base which benefits future crops by helping to break up tough, cloggy soil, improve water percolation and slow soil erosion.
After allowing the radishes to grow to maturity, harvest the vegetables, and add the green tops to the compost heap or distribute them over the grow site to be tilled in as organic matter.