United States Edition


Beta vulgaris

Beetroot is part of the Beta (Beet) genus. Its scientific name is Beta vulgaris. The botanical name epithet for Beetroot (vulgaris) means 'common'.

A compact plant grown for both its leaves and its roots. The leaves are tall and held erect from the ground, with a semi-savoyed texture. In most varieties the leaves are dark green and the stems and veins are dark red, although this is not universal. The leaves are edible, and can be eaten either raw or cooked. The root grows into a ball or cylinder ranging from 5cm (2 inches) to 15 cm (6 inches) or more in diameter. The most common varieties produce dark red roots, although pink, gold, yellow and even striped varieties are available. Beets don’t take up a lot of space, and do well in small gardens or containers.

Leaves appear approximately as a   Dark spring green and   Dark red colour. Beetroot grows as an annual and is an edible vegetable. Being an annual plant, it tends to grow best over the course of a single year. Beetroot is known for its mound-forming habit and growing to a height of approximately 35.0 cm (1.14 feet). This plant tends to be ready for harvesting by mid autumn. Popular varieties of Beetroot with home gardeners are Detroit Dark Red, Chioggia, Boltardy, Bull's blood and Early Wonder.

Italy is thought to be the country of origin for Beetroot.

Beetroot is normally quite a low maintenance plant and is normally very easy to grow - great for beginner gardeners!

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Beetroot have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Beetroot

  • Full Sun

  • Medium

Requires loose, well-drained soil. Although fall beets will be the sweetest, you can grow this from 2-4 weeks before the first frost, all the way through summer, and into fall, past the first frost.

Be careful not to let the soil dry out too much during root formation, as this will cause white rings in the beet and they will become tough, woody and inedible 4.

Make sure the top of the beet’s bulb is covered with soil; this keeps the entire bulb the same color and prevents ‘corkiness’ at the top of the bulb 4.

Plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. As a rough idea of the types of climates Beetroot does best in, check to see if your local area is within USDA Hardiness Zones 7 and 10. Beetroot needs a loamy soil with a ph of 6.5 to 7.0 (weakly acidic soil - neutral soil). Keep in mind when planting that Beetroot is thought of as half hardy, so remember to protect this plant from frosts and low temperatures.

See our list of companion Plants for Beetroot to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Beetroot from seed

They can be hard to germinate, so score seeds with nail file and then soak in tepid water 24 hours before planting so that you can separate the seeds.

Thinning is nearly always required as seedlings emerge from a seedball or cluster of several seeds (6-9 seeds). If you don’t thin them, you will get a number of rather pathetic plants which don’t grow to an edible size4.

Because of their long taproot, it is not recommended to transplant beets. They are best sown in place.

Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 5.85 inches (15.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.78 inches (2.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 7°C / 45°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Beetroot about 14 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting Beetroot

Avoid acidic soils. It’s important to space the beets so that they are growing about 1 inch apart. The roots will not develop properly if the plants are crowded together. Thick clumps of seedlings can be transplanted into bare spots. Continue to thin and use the beets as they grow larger. Root size is controlled by the spacing.

Ensure that temperatures are mild (minimum night temperatures should be around 4°C / 39°F) and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Beetroot is a half hardy plant.

Harvesting Beetroot

You can harvest small, tender leaves once the plant is established, but never take more than 1/3 of the plants leaves at any one time.

For tasty and tender beetroot, start harvesting at golfball-size 4. At that time, you can use all the larger, older leaves the same way you would use Swiss Chard or mature spinach.

Seed Saving Beetroot

Seed viability is four years.

Common Beetroot problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Beetroot plants:

  • Cucumber Mosaic Virus

    Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) was first found in Cucumbers, hence its name - however it is not limited to affecting only that plant. Mainly transmitted by Aphids and spread mechanically by humans. Can also be transmitted by seed. Can overwinter in roots of affected plants. Also known as: banana infectious, chlorosis virus, coleus mosaic virus cowpea banding mosaic virus, cowpea, ringspot virus, cucumber virus 1, lily ringspot virus, pea top necrosis virus, peanut yellow mosaic virus, southern celery mosaic virus, soybean stunt virus, spinach blight virus, tomato fern leaf virus, pea western ringspot virus

Beetroot Etymology

When Carl Linnaeus classified beets in his original binomial nomenclature system, he created three varieties: the wild beet, the leaf beet and the root beet. These have sometimes been considered varieties and sometimes subspecies, but they are now all classified as varieties. The type we call beetroot is simply that. It’s the kind of beet that we grow for its root.

The botanical epithet is from the Latin vulgaris meaning “common”.3

Beetroot Folklore & Trivia

Folk medicine used various preparations of beet to treat tumors.1 It was also used for headaches, ulcers, hemorrhoids, and as a hair tonic an emmenagogue.1

Sugar beets have caused renal calculi in sheep.1

Other names for Beetroot

Beet, Betterave, Swiss chard

Beta vulgaris L.

Misspellings: Beatroot, Beets, Manglebeet, Beet Root, Beetroots, Beta vulgarisa

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Beetroot care instructions

How long does Beetroot take to grow?

These estimates for how long Beetroot takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

When should I plant Beetroot?

Our when to plant Beetroot estimates are relative to your last frost date. Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!


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