Rutabagas: The Underrated Veggie


If you’re looking for an underrated vegetable to add to your garden, rutabagas are a great choice! Rutabagas are a type of turnip, and they are related to cabbage.

They are a cool-weather crop, so they can be grown in the wintertime. Rutabagas have a spicy flavor that gets sweeter when cooked.

Botanical Name Brassica napus (Napobrassica Group)
Common Name Rutabaga, Swedish turnip, swede
Plant Type Root vegetable
Mature Size 12 to 24 inches tall, 9 to 12 inches wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Loamy, well-drained
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral (6.0 to 6.5)
Bloom Time Rarely flowers
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones 3 to 9
Native Area Europe

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy

When growing rutabagas, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

• They need full sun and well-drained soil.

• The plants are hungry, so make sure to fertilize them regularly.

• Water them deeply, but don’t keep the soil too wet.

• They’re susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, so be on the lookout for problems and act quickly if you see any.

Rutabagas are ready to harvest when they’re about the size of a softball. If you wait too long, they’ll get woody and tough.

Lighting and Temperature

Rutabagas need full sun to grow properly. They will tolerate partial shade, but they won’t produce as many roots if they don’t get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

As for temperature, rutabagas are a cool-season crop. They can handle frost and even some snow, so they’re a good choice for gardening in areas with short growing seasons.

The plants will start to bolt (produce flowers and go to seed) if the temperatures get too warm, so it’s best to plant them in the spring and harvest them before the summer heat arrives.


Rutabagas need loose, well-drained soil to grow properly. They won’t do well in heavy clay soils that stay wet for long periods of time.

The plants also prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH in the range of neutral to slightly acidic (between about six and six and a half).


Rutabagas are heavy feeders, so they need regular applications of fertilizer to produce large roots.

You can side-dress the plants with compost or manure when they’re about six inches tall and again when they start to form roots. You can also use a general-purpose fertilizer according to the package directions.


Rutabagas don’t need to be pruned, but you can remove the leaves if they start to yellow or get damaged.

The leaves are edible, so you can cook them like kale or other greens. Just make sure to remove any that are diseased or insect-infested.


Rutabagas need about an inch of water per week, so make sure to water them deeply and regularly.

You can tell when the plants need water if the leaves start to wilt or turn yellow. If the soil feels dry several inches below the surface, it’s time to give the plants a drink.


Rutabagas are ready to harvest when they’re about the size of a softball. If you wait too long, they’ll get woody and tough.

To check for doneness, poke a root with your finger. It should be tender but not mushy


Rutabagas rarely flower, but if they do, the flowers will be yellow.

The plants will also start to bolt (produce flowers and go to seed) if the temperatures get too warm, so it’s best to plant them in the spring and harvest them before the summer heat arrives.

Common Pests and Diseases

Rutabagas are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including:

• Cabbage worms

• Cabbage loopers

• Cutworms

• Aphids

Some of the diseases that can affect rutabagas.

Rutabaga Varieties

When it comes to flavor, American top onions are light and mild, with just a hint of sweetness. They’re also relatively low in sulfur, which gives them a less pungent and more pleasant flavor than some other types of onions.

American top onions are typically large, and they mature in 90 to 100 days. The most widely planted cultivar is the Purple American Top, which features large bulbs that reach maturity in a fairly short amount of time.

However, there are also some longer-maturing cultivars, such as the Laurentian Heirloom, which takes between 90 and 120 days to reach full size.

While it takes a bit longer to mature, the Laurentian Heirloom is known for its consistent flavor and larger bulb size.

Pike is another long-maturing cultivar, taking between 100 and 120 days to reach full size. Pike onions are similar to “Laurentian” onions in terms of flavor, but they’re a bit harsher and have a more pungent aroma.

How long does it take to grow rutabaga from seed?

Of all the root vegetables, rutabaga (Brassica napus) is one of the longest to mature. However, if you start plants from seed, you can enjoy homegrown rutabaga in just a few months.

Sow seeds indoors in late winter or early spring, about 10-12 weeks before your last frost date. Plant the seeds ½ inch deep in seed-starting mix and keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Once seedlings emerge, thin them to 3-4 inches apart. When transplanting seedlings outdoors, be sure to harden them off first by gradually acclimating them to the outdoors over a week or so.

Rutabaga is ready to harvest when the roots are 3-4 inches across. Lift plants with a garden fork and enjoy your homegrown rutabagas roasted, mashed, or added to soup.

Are rutabagas cold hardy?

Rutabagas, also known as swedes or yellow turnips, are a root vegetable that is popular in many parts of the world. Though they are often lumped together with turnips, rutabagas are actually a different species entirely.

Both turnips and rutabagas are members of the Brassica family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Rutabagas are generally larger and milder-tasting than turnips, and their skin is typically a deep purple or blue-gray color. One of the most notable features of rutabagas is their cold hardiness.

They can withstand light frosts and even some snowfall without being damaged. As a result, rutabagas are often one of the last vegetables to be harvested in the fall.

In fact, they are sometimes referred to as “winter turnips.” While they can be eaten raw, rutabagas are usually cooked before being eaten.

They can be boiled, mashed, roasted, or added to soups and stews. So if you’re looking for a versatile root vegetable that can withstand cooler temperatures, a rutabaga might be just what you need.

How deep do you plant rutabaga seeds?

Rutabaga, a root vegetable that is part of the cabbage family, is a delicious wintertime treat. Rutabaga seeds can be planted with rows of 14 up to 18 inches in distance.

The key to getting a bumper crop of rutabaga is to work the soil thoroughly to create an ideal seedbed, and then include fertilizer in a thorough manner. Seeds should be planted 1/2 inch deep with 4 inches between the plants.

The initial seeding may be more compact, and later the plants are thinned out to 4 inches of distance.

When harvesting rutabaga, make sure to wait until after the first frost for the best flavor. Enjoy your homegrown rutabaga in soups, stews, or roasted as a side dish.

What temperature do rutabagas grow in?

Rutabagas are a winter vegetable that thrive in cooler temperatures. They can be planted in late summer and will continue to grow through the fall.

Once the weather starts to cool off, the rutabagas will start to form their bulbous roots. For best results, they should be grown in temperatures ranging from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rutabagas are a hardy vegetable that can withstand frost, so there is no need to worry about them if the temperature dips below freezing. However, if the weather is too warm, they will not form their characteristic roots and will not be as flavorful.

When selecting a spot to plant rutabagas, make sure to choose an area that will remain cool throughout the growing season.

How much space do rutabagas need?

Rutabagas are a hardy vegetable that can tolerates cold weather and frost, making them a great choice for fall gardens. They are best planted in the summer months, however, in order to produce a fall harvest.

Rutabagas need plenty of space to grow, so be sure to plant seeds 1 to 2 inches apart in rows that are 18 up to 30 inches apart.

Once seedlings have sprouted, trim them down to leave about three to six inches space between the plants. When rutabagas are ready to harvest, cut them down to an 8-inch space.

With proper care and attention, rutabagas will provide a bountiful harvest that can be enjoyed all season long.

How long does it take rutabaga to grow?

Many factors, including the type of rutabaga, the climate, and the growing conditions, can affect how long it takes for rutabaga to mature.

In general, most varieties of rutabaga will be ready to harvest between 80 and 100 days after planting.

However, if the weather is particularly warm or cool, or if the plants are not getting enough water or nutrients, they may take longer to mature.

Rutabaga that is allowed to mature for a longer period of time will usually be larger and sweeter than those that are harvested earlier.

For this reason, many gardeners prefer to wait until closer to the 100 day mark before harvesting their rutabagas.

What grows well with rutabagas?

Root vegetables are a staple of many cuisines around the world, and rutabagas are no exception.

Also known as Swedish turnips or yellow turnips, rutabagas are a type of winter squash that is often used in soups and stews.

Like other root vegetables, rutabagas need to be grown in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.

They also benefit from being planted in companionship with other vegetables. Beets, turnips, carrots and potatoes are all good plants to grow alongside rutabagas.

This is because they share similar growing requirements and can help to improve the yield of each crop.

In addition, these vegetables can also be used in many of the same dishes, making them a convenient addition to the kitchen garden.

Where do rutabagas grow best?

Rutabagas are a versatile root vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. While they are often overshadowed by other vegetables, rutabagas actually have a number of benefits that make them worth considering.

For one, rutabagas are relatively easy to grow. They prefer full sunlight but can also tolerate some light shade, and they thrive in loose, deep soil.

Additionally, rutabagas are a versatile ingredient that can be used in everything from stews to pies.

So if you’re looking for a vegetable that is easy to grow and versatile in the kitchen, rutabagas may be the perfect choice for you.

When can you plant rutabagas?

Rutabagas are a vegetable that many people are not familiar with. Rutabagas are actually a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, and they have a similar shape to a turnip but they are typically larger and they have a yellowish-purple skin.

Rutabagas are a cool weather crop, which means that they do best when they are grown in cooler temperatures.

The best time to plant rutabagas is between late May and the beginning of June. This will give the rutabagas enough time to grow before the weather starts to get too hot.

When planting rutabagas, you should plant the seeds about one to two inches apart, in rows that are 18 up to 30 inches apart. Seeds from the two species can germinate rapidly, so you should be able to see seedlings emerge within about ten days.

If you plant rutabagas at the right time and take care of them properly, you should be able to enjoy a autumn harvest.

Do rutabagas need full sun?

Rutabagas are a heartier root vegetable, able to withstand colder temperatures and frost better than other vegetables. When deciding whether or not to plant rutabagas, full sun is a defining factor.

They will need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day in order to grow properly. This is especially important when the sun is at its strongest, typically during the late spring and early summer.

Rutabagas can also tolerate mild shade, but it’s important that they still receive plenty of sunlight throughout the day.

Another factor to consider when planting rutabagas is the quality of the soil. They are tolerant of ordinary soil, but the roots will increase in size if the soil is enhanced with compost or other organic materials.

With proper care and conditions, rutabagas will thrive and provide a tasty addition to any meal.

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!

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