How to Grow Black Mustard: A Beautiful and Useful Herb

Black mustard (Brassica nigra) is one of the oldest and most useful spices and herbs known. Prized for its young leaves that are used as salad greens, its mature leaves eaten boiled or sauteed, and its seeds ground into a tart condiment, this beautiful herb native to North Africa and Eurasia has spread worldwide.

Both commercial and residential growers have planted it widely, leading to its introduction into local ecosystems.

This easy-to-grow herb thrives in almost any soil condition and reseeds readily, resulting in rapid spread.

Unfortunately, this has also led to black mustard being labeled as invasive in some areas. But with proper management, black mustard can be enjoyed by all!

Botanical Name Brassica nigra
Common Name Black mustard
Plant Type  Herb, Annual
Mature Size 2 to 8 ft. tall
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, Moist Loams,
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time March to June
Flower Color Bright Yellow
Hardiness Zones USDA zones 4-7
Native Area  North Africa, Eurasia

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy:

  • Black mustard is very easy to grow and will thrive in almost any soil condition.
  • It also reseeds readily which results in rapid spread and this has allowed the plant to naturalize almost everywhere it has been introduced.
  • A consequence of rapid spread has led some areas to label black mustard as invasive.
  • Adding to the problem is that many people consider it a weed and don’t bother removing it from their gardens.
  • To prevent your black mustard from going rogue, be sure to deadhead regularly (remove spent flowers) and thin out seedlings when they appear.
  • Doing these things will help keep your black mustard under control while still allowing you to enjoy its beauty and benefits.

Lighting and Temperature

Black mustard prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade.

It is a cool-season plant that grows best in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

In warmer climates, black mustard will bolt (go to seed) quickly.

To prevent this, sow seeds in late summer or early fall so the plants can mature before the weather gets too hot.

If you live in an area with cold winters, you can sow black mustard seeds indoors about four weeks before your last frost date.

Transplant seedlings outdoors once they are big enough to handle and the danger of frost has passed.


Black mustard will grow in almost any type of soil but prefer rich, moist loams.

The soil should be well-drained to prevent the roots from sitting in water and rotting.

A layer of mulch around the plants will help keep the soil moist and cool.

Fertilize black mustard plants monthly with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20.


Fertilizer is not necessary if you are growing black mustard in rich soil. However, if you feel your plants are not growing as vigorously as they should, you can fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20.


Black mustard plants can get quite tall and leggy, so pruning is often necessary to keep them under control.

Cut the plants back by a third in early spring to encourage bushy growth.

You can also cut the plants back after they have flowered to prevent them from going to seed.


Black mustard plants need regular watering to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Overly dry or wet conditions can cause the plants to bolt. Mulching around the plants will help reduce evaporation and keep the roots cool.


Black mustard plants can get quite tall, so pruning is often necessary to keep them under control. Cut the plants back by a third in early spring to encourage bushy growth. You can also cut the plants back after they have flowered to prevent them from going to seed.


Black mustard plants will flower in early to mid-spring. The flowers are small and yellow and they give way to seed pods that turn brown when they are ready to harvest.

Harvesting Black Mustard

Mustard is a versatile plant that can be harvested in a number of ways. One popular method is to cut the plants and return them to the field.

This allows the plants to regrow and produce more mustard greens. However, as the temperatures begin to rise, you should be on the lookout for plants that bolt and begin to produce seeds.

These seed pods can be used as a complete cooking spice. You can also make your own mustard powder by grinding the seeds into powder and mixing it with vinegar and other ingredients. Harvesting mustard in this way provides you with a versatile crop that can be used in a number of different ways.

Propagating Black Mustard

Growing black mustard from seed is a simple process that can be done directly in the soil.

Because the seeds are small, it is best to sow them in rows, cover them with a thin layer of soil, and thin out the plants once the seedlings sprout.

Black mustard grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It is a fast-growing plant that can reach up to three feet in height. Once the plants mature, they produce yellow flowers that give way to seed pods.

The seeds can be harvested and used for cooking or replanting. Black mustard is an annual plant that will need to be reseeded each year. However, its ability to self-seed means that it will usually come back on its own, making it a low-maintenance crop.

How fast does black mustard grow?

Black mustard is a fast-growing plant that is often used as green manure. It can produce a large quantity of biomass in just eight weeks, making it an ideal way to improve soil fertility.

However, black mustard is not very winter-hardy, so it is typically only planted during the spring and summer months.

Despite its relatively short lifespan, black mustard can have a big impact on the health of your soil. By adding organic matter and increasing soil porosity, it can help to improve drainage and aeration.

It can also help to increase the overall fertility of your soil. As a result, black mustard is an excellent choice for those looking to improve the condition of their garden.

So, if you’re looking to improve your soil health, black mustard is a great option. Just be sure to plant it during the spring or summer months and give it plenty of room to grow.

With a little care, you’ll soon have a healthy crop of black mustard.

Are mustard plants perennial?

Mustard plants are annuals, meaning they only live for one growing season. However, they are fast-growing plants that can quickly cover the ground with their foliage.

Mustard plants prefer warm temperatures and high humidity, but they can also tolerate dry conditions. Their taproots can grow up to 5 feet deep, making them excellent at uptake of water and nutrients from the soil.

Therefore, mustard plants are well-suited to a variety of growing conditions and can be a valuable addition to any garden.

How do you grow black mustard?

Black mustard (Brassica nigra) is an annual plant that grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. The plant is typically sown from seed that is sown directly in the soil.

To do this, the seeds are first sown in rows and then covered with a thin layer of soil. Once the seedlings have sprouted, they are then thinned out so that only the strongest plants remain.

Black mustard will flower in late spring or early summer, and the seeds can be harvested in late summer or autumn.

When growing black mustard for its seeds, it is important to note that the plant self-pollinates, so there is no need to grow more than one plant.

Can I sprout black mustard seeds?

Yes, black mustard seeds can be sprouted. Once sprouted, they can be used in a variety of dishes for added flavor and visual appeal.

Mustard seeds are relatively easy to sprout, and they germinate quickly. To sprout mustard seeds, simply soak them in water overnight, then drain and rinse them the next day.

Continue to rinse and drain the seeds twice a day until they have sprouted. Once sprouted, mustard seeds can be used in salads, wraps, sandwiches, dips, and other dishes.

They add both flavor and visual interest to food and make a great addition to any meal.

Does mustard come back every year?

Mustard is an annual plant, meaning it only lives for one growing season before dying and producing seed for next year’s crop.

The good news is that mustard plants are extremely willing to grow back if you choose to remove and then compost massive quantities of mustard greens that have been grown in summer.

In just 2 weeks, you will see a flurry of new, tender leaves will appear from the center of the plants. So if you’re looking for a low-maintenance crop that doesn’t require replanting every year, mustard is a great choice.

Just be sure to harvest it before the first frost hits, as the greens will quickly become bitter once the weather turns cold.

What is the life cycle of mustard?

The life cycle of mustard begins with germination, when the seed absorbs water and begins to sprout. Over the next few days, the cotyledons, or first leaves, emerge from the soil and begin to photosynthesize.

Mustard plants then enter the stage of stem elongation, during which they rapidly grow taller. After a period of several weeks, the plants enter inflorescence, when flowers begin to bloom.

Eventually, the flowers give way to fruits, which ripen and mature over the course of several weeks. Finally, senescence sets in and the plant begins to die back.

The entire life cycle from germination to senescence typically takes around three months.

What is the difference between a mustard tree and a mustard plant?

The main difference between a mustard tree and a mustard plant is their size. A mustard tree can grow to be quite tall, while a mustard plant is usually much smaller.

Mustard trees also have larger leaves than mustard plants. Mustard plants are usually grown in gardens, while mustard trees are more often found in the wild.

Both mustard trees and mustard plants produce seeds that can be used to make mustard sauce.

However, the seeds of a mustard tree are generally considered to be more bitter than those of a mustard plant. Ultimately, whether you prefer a tall mustard tree or a small mustard plant will depend on your personal taste.

Where does black mustard grow?

Black mustard grows best in regions that experience a moderate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 15-25 degrees Celsius. The soil in which it is grown must be well-drained and rich in organic matter.

When planting, the seeds should be sown at a depth of 1-2 centimeters and then covered with a thin layer of soil.

Once germinated, the seedlings should be thinned out so that they are spaced 20-30 centimeters apart.

To ensure a good yield, the plants should be watered regularly and given a balanced fertilizer every few weeks.

With proper care, black mustard will flower within 4-6 weeks and the seeds will be ready for harvest 8-10 weeks after planting.

What is the lifespan of a mustard plant?

The lifespan of a mustard plant varies depending on the type of mustard. Yellow mustard can live a cycle that lasts between 80 and 85 days. Brown mustard matures in 90 to 95 days.

Since oriental and brown mustard varieties break more quickly as compared to yellow mustards, these varieties must be harvested prior to the time that the pods are dry.

Mustard plants are usually ready for harvest 35 to 45 days after sowing. Therefore, the lifespan of a mustard plant can range from 35 to 95 days.

How do you grow mustard at home?

Growing mustard at home is easy and only requires a few simple ingredients. All you need is mustard seeds, water, and vinegar. To start, soak the mustard seeds in water for 24 hours.

Then, drain the seeds and mix them with vinegar in a ratio of 1:3. Let the mixture sit for another 24 hours before draining it again. Once drained, the mustard seeds are ready to be used.

You can add them to recipes or grind them into a paste to use as a condiment. With a little time and effort, you can easily grow your own mustard at home.

Jessica Miles

Jessica Miles is a writer for Botanique Boutique, a plant and gardening blog. She has always loved plants, flowers, and anything green. When she was younger, she used to watch her grandfather garden and would be in awe of the beautiful flowers he would grow. Now Jessica writes about all things related to plants and gardening - from beginner tips on how to start growing your own plants, to in-depth guides on caring for a specific type of flower or plant. She loves helping others learn about this fascinating hobby, and hopes that her writing will inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature!

Recent Posts