Growing wasabi is one of the challenging jobs in the world of home gardening. Why? Because this plant can be very fussy. There are a lot of things to consider before getting it ready for this Japanese herb.
The level of humidity, water content, and the environment in growing wasabi can be quite specific. This plant is also considered as a tough herb to maintain and cultivate.
But no need to worry, below are some guides and things to know before you begin.
What You Should Know Before Growing Wasabi
To be sure, we’re not gonna talk about the green stuff which you often have in the Sushi meal. It will be about the Wasabi plant species.
It’s also known as Wasabia japonica. This herb is originated from the mountain area of Japan which belongs to the Brassicaceae family.
The amazing fact is that you can eat all of its plants’ parts. You can also have them as one of the ingredients in the cooking. Because wasabi is more than just a green paste at the side of your Sushi meal.
For the record, the paste comes from the roots, not the leaves. Even it’s quite hard, people still can grow them in their backyard or indoor home garden.
If you learn how to grow wasabi at home, the job won’t be so hard. With patience and good maintenance, people can have this herb well grown in the garden, indoor or outdoor.
Maybe, you even will get to know a few secrets about it here.
For people who have ever tried Sushi, they must be getting a chance to taste the wasabi paste. So, what does it taste like? Well, it has a very unique flavor that is quite close to Western horseradish or hot mustard.
Japanese people love to have it as a substitute for chili pepper because of the spicy bitter taste. Compared to horseradish, wasabi is sweeter and smoother.
Types of Wasabi Plants
Mainly, this herb grows in the northern parts of Japan. Until these days, many countries cultivate plants such as New Zealand, China, Korea, Taiwan, and even in the US.
The states like Oregon, North Caroline, and Tennessee begin to plant them on a large scale.
There are some types of this herb you may need to know before growing the wasabi plant.
Moreover, there are two major categories Seiyo-wasabi and Hon-wasabi. Honwasabi is the one grown in Japan which is the original version of this plant.
The most popular types in the Honwasabi category is the Mazum and Daruma. To this day, there are an infinite amount of wasabi types out there.
Propagation in Growing Wasabi
This is the method of gardening that involves producing new plants through natural processes from various sources like cuttings, seeds, and other parts of the plant.
It’s something to do with wasabi because it’s tough to find plantlets at the ordinary garden centers.
You can easily get the wasabi seeds and plantlets through online stores. After getting the products, you have to soak them in distilled water. Leave it for a night.
This method will get the outer covering to be softer and easy to remove. It can also expedite the germination.
The next step or propagation is to draw rows in the area of planting. Give it around five to six inches of space in between.
Set the rows up to 2 inches of depth and 2 inches of width. Sow a single seed per hole. Then, water them thoroughly before covering with soil.
The most important thing to do is to keep the soil moist around the plants. If you are planning for growing wasabi in pots or containers, set them in one or two inches of depth and space in between.
After they become seedlings, thinning the weak ones and begin to transplant them to a bigger pot. Propagation can also use plantlets that you can find surrounding the mother plant.
The Best Time to Grow Wasabi Plant
So, when is the best time to grow wasabi? It’s in the late fall up to mid-winter season. That’s because the seeds need cold temperatures to break the dormancy. They need about to months until February.
Growing wasabi in a hot climate will need some special treatments. Since the seeds need a really low temperature to germinate, use an artificial cold treatment for that.
Two varieties, Daruma and Shimane, are quite recommended. Keep them in the refrigerator and start planting when the temperature is around 50 to 55 Fahrenheit.
Choosing the Pots
Growing wasabi in containers can be very successful. You can start in one or two-gallon containers using a quality potting mix.
This plant can’t be in the indoor area the whole day. It should be in a place like a patio, balcony, or any outdoor area. Whenever it’s too hot or too cold, just bring them inside.
That’s the privilege of using pots or containers in growing wasabi. Moreover, it’s not just about the depth, but also the width.
When you’re using the pots with the standard size of 10 to 12 inches of depth. The width should also be in a similar size. It’s an ideal container. So, there’s no need to use other containers when it’s time to replant after a year.
The Best Location and Condition
Wasabi’s plant is quite fussy. The garden area should meet the conditions it needs. You should find the best spot around the house indoors and outdoors.
On the contrary, the homeowner can just create the right conditions for the plant.
Typically, this herb plants in moist and timbered areas. So, locate the potted wasabi in an area that’s humid and temperate. The temperature of your location should be between 45 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wasabi would be very hard to grow in a location where the temperature often rises or falls out of range. For those who live in a place with a hot climate, consider having a sheet or tarp to shade the garden so it won’t get too much heat.
That’s why growing wasabi as part of your urban gardening project is just right. Just protect them from direct sunlight. For a balcony garden, it’s recommended to have it facing North or East.
Soil for Wasabi Plant
For Wasabi, you should use the organic-rich, crumbly, and loose soil. The most important feature that it has to contain is good drainage and the ability to retain moisture.
Set the pH range around six to seven. To get better drainage, just add coarse sand into the potting mix.
One thing for sure, keep it moist, not waterlogged or muddy. Try watering the potted soil, see whether it soaks in well or not.
If the absorption is quite slow, use more compost. When it drains easily, it will be perfect for growing wasabi roots.
There are some alternative options to try to give the best treatment for the wasabi plant. If you grow it on the ground, plant them nearby a pond that has a natural stream.
For the potted garden, build a small waterfall right next to it to give continuous water splash on them.
The Importance of Watering
Just like many other plants in pots, water is crucial. Wasabi needs more than ordinary. It needs deep and regular watering.
Water will keep the soil moist. It will also maintain the coolness around the plant and the level of humidity it needs for growing well.
Prevent overwatering the wasabi because it can make the root rot, especially when you’re growing wasabi at home.
If you have lettuce plants in the garden, you will know how to water the wasabi. They are quite similar in watering needs.
There is one more thing to keep in mind. Don’t get the plant to wilt and dry out. It will die sooner than you might think.
Fertilization for Wasabi Plant
It’s enough for wasabi to have only the compost and well-rotted manure.
However, the addition of fertilizer will complement the growth of the plant. Just have a slow-release fertilizer like 12-12-12 during the planting.
Using about one to one and a half grams per square foot will be adequate for about 4 months. Besides the slow-release one, you can have the liquid version of fertilizer that contains a lot of sulfur.
Sulfur is a great chemical element to enhance the flavor and spiciness of the wasabi. They use a sulfur foliar spray In commercial gardens. It’s done 1 to 3 months before the harvesting time.
Having Epsom salt in the kitchen? apply it to the plant since it has the same ingredients.
Pest and Diseases in Growing Wasabi Plant
Don’t forget to prune away the dead, diseased, damaged, and wilted leaves from the plant. Those things would attract more diseases and pests to ruin other parts of the plant.
Speaking of pests and diseases, you will face some of them while taking care of this herb.
Watch out for alfalfa looper larva, slugs, aphids, and cranefly larva. Avoid those insects by keeping the wasabi plant in a cool area.
If you’re growing them in the home garden, just handpick and squeeze the pests one by one. It would be an easy job.
Some people may not like squeezing like that. They can spray the affected area with insecticidal soap.
For prevention, spray the plants with neem oil. Or, you can just remove the plant when it’s affected severely.
What about diseases? You will face issues like root rot, leaf spot, ad rhizome rot. One thing to do is to improve the watering method.
You might consider growing wasabi indoors because it would help you deal with the problem.
Harvesting and Storing the Wasabi
As said before, all of the parts of the wasabi plant are edible, leaves, stems, flowers, and even the roots (rhizome). That’s what’s so great about this herb.
You can harvest the leaves, flowers, and stems when the plant is four to six inches tall. For the roots, just pull the entire plant up. After the harvesting, store the rhizome in the fridge to keep it fresh. It should only be inside for a month or so.
However, you can enjoy the best flavor of wasabi right after harvesting. Its freshness will taste even better than you imagine.
Clean the roots and grate them to make it ready for the side dish of your meal. It should be consumed within 30 minutes.
The wasabi root can last longer if you dry and grind it. Moreover, the grower can get the best shape of the rhizome after 15 months to two years of caring.
People can enjoy eating wasabi in both raw and cooked forms which include stir-frying and sauteing.
Make it a part of your salad ingredients. Top some of them for the udon, soba, and miso soup. The paste version of it would enhance the flavor of sausage and chicken dishes.
However, there’s a side effect when eating wasabi. So, pregnant women and people who are about to get surgery should avoid it. It’s because consuming this plant might slow blood clotting.
Besides being a delicious addition to meals, wasabi also offers some health benefits. From the rhizome, it contains anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial contents that are good for your body.
Potential Health Benefits
Wasabi plant contains some properties that are good for your health. According to studies, this herb provides a stomach-calming and anti-bacterial contents. One pleasing benefit is promoting fat loss.
According to some research, the wasabi leaves have properties that may prevent weight gain. However, the result is not promising since it’s not yet proven to be effective in human testing.
In the US, it’s tough to find wasabi products that majorly contain authentic material. It’s often substituted by horseradish which tastes quite similar.
Make sure you have the real one by reading the label carefully. But then, you should prepare for an expensive price to get it.
Many people consider growing wasabi as a difficult gardening job. After reading all of the things in this guide, you now know how to deal with this unique Japanese plant.