Growing wasabi root in the test garden

February 28, 2011 | By | Comments (8)

Leave it to Margo to want to grow crops I’d never even consider (like fresh chick peas). This time? Wasabi.

She originally dreamed of it being a part of this season’s springtime Japanese garden, but a quick bit of research revealed that it usually takes about two or three years to reach a harvestable size.

I thought that’d be enough to put the brakes on that idea. But then I remembered — this is Margo.

She’d been corresponding with Doug from Real Wasabi to figure out whether or not we could grow our own in the test garden.

The first thing I learned — listen up, plant nerds — wasabi is a perennial in the Brassicaceae family. WHAT?! Who knew? Non-plant nerds — that’s the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard, cabbage, turnips, and more. The botanical name is Wasabia japonica. I don’t know why I’m so surprised. I  mean, it actually makes sense when you think of it being similar to spicy mustard. It’s just always seemed so much more foreign to me than to be a trusty, old Brassica!

Next I learned that we really don’t have the right growing conditions. Doug relayed that wasabi likes to grow in shady,water-flooded gravel beds. It can be grown in soil, although the taste is “not as clean.” We have dry summers, and Margo agreed with me that we don’t want to create a flooding situation when it’s, frankly, a waste of water.

But this isn’t stopping us (Margo). We’re going to give it a try. And I don’t know why I’m pretending like I’m not curious. I am usually game to try growing anything once (like quinoa, the winnowing of which gave me an asthma attack).

Real Wasabi sells rhizomes this time of year. Soon baby plants will also be available for sale. We’re getting a few sent out early.We’ll put them in the shady spot, hooked up to drip irrigation. I guess we’ll see what an unclean wasabi taste means. Or maybe I’ll scour around the rest of the Sunset gardens to see if there’s any faux river-bed area that stays dark and damp.


Wish us luck. Better yet — has anyone tried this? Stories (both success and failure) are much appreciated.


  1. Growing wasabi root in the test garden |

    […] Visit […]

    January 29, 2014 at 7:29 pm
  2. radyo dinle

    it never seems to end. I have no interest in gardening but wasabi is fascinating.

    October 12, 2013 at 4:43 am
  3. Plant Seeds, Bulbs & seedlings for Sale » How to Grow Wasabi

    […] Growing wasabi root in the test garden – Westphoria – Sunset […]

    August 18, 2013 at 10:30 am
  4. nancyS

    I’ve scrolled through all the posts, did your Wasabi plants survive? Since the plant takes 2-3 years before it can be harvested, you probably haven’t used the roots in the kitchen yet, but I was wondering how successful the plan has been in the soil. My husband and I want to try and grow wasabi this year but we face two challenges, we live in a zone 3 and we have well draining sandy soil with no water course. We are planning on trying to recreate its ideal environment in two experiments. I’d love you hear how your plants are doing.

    March 21, 2013 at 7:00 am
  5. Marc

    I’m currently growing 5 plants just outside of Cambridge in the UK. They are in a raised bed of loam and compost mix surrounded with a bamboo frame supporting 70% shade netting. They have been in the garden for approximately 2 months. The uncommonly warm spring has led to a rollercoaster of rapid growth and near death experiences. The main problem I’ve had is petiole and leaf growth outstripping root growth leading to leaf evaporation issues. Seperate to the inevitable wilting ,the plant then appears to select a leaf to sacrifice and shuts it down. Then there’s the thrip attack, the fungus……it never seems to end. I have no interest in gardening but wasabi is fascinating.

    May 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm
  6. istanbul lounge 2

    thanks for the great article. I like your post I’ll surely be peeping into it again soon!

    March 6, 2011 at 9:41 am
  7. michael

    oh and ps:
    why dont you build a “rain wall”? perfect solution. ask me why and i will divulge.

    March 1, 2011 at 10:07 am
  8. michael

    johanna silver,
    I am a landscape arch. student who enjoys wasabi: it makes my nose tingle and eyes water but its gone as soon as it comes which is nice but, i digress. I met your mom on a flight to denver please check out my blog its called “parshall thesis” its a blogspot.


    March 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

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