Beta vulgaris (Beetroot)

How to plant and grow beetroot (Beta vulgaris)

Beetroot is a plant grown for consumption of its primary root and leaves, which are very nutritious.  Most cultivars have red or purplish-red roots, but there are also yellow, orange and white cultivars.

Common name: Beetroot
Scientific name: Beta vulgaris
Plant type:
Moisture: ,

From the reddish cultivars is extracted bethanine, used as a red food coloring (the coloring E-162 found in some industrialized foods, such as some tomato sauces and ice cream).

Beetroot originated from the wild species known as sea beet which, as the name implies, is found in coastal regions of Europe, North Africa, South Asia and the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores. Other plants grown with the same wild ancestor are sugar beet, fodder beet and chard.

How to plant beetroot (Beta vulgaris) - beetroot colorful leaves -
How to plant beetroot (Beta vulgaris) – beetroot colorful leaves

A sugar beet is grown for the extraction of sucrose (common sugar) or for the production of alcohol. Its primary root, which stores the sugar produced in the leaves, is generally larger and longer than the root of the beetroot, and can be white or yellowish.

The fodder beet is grown mainly to provide food for livestock, but it can also be consumed by humans, especially if it is harvested at a young age. They are often larger plants and their roots can also be white, yellow, orange or red.

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How long do beets take to grow?

Beetroots are biennial plants, normally blooming in the second year, although they will not bloom unless there is a period of low temperatures in winter and a summer with long days.

Where do beetroots grows best?

Beets grow best in mild climate with temperature between 10°C and 24°C. There are cultivars that grow well at higher temperatures, but especially sugar and fodder beets do not grow well in warmer climates. On the other hand, well-developed plants can support low temperatures and frost.

How to plant beetroot (Beta vulgaris) - sugar beet growing in the field -
How to plant beetroot (Beta vulgaris) – sugar beet growing in the field


Beets require good light, with at least a few hours of direct sunlight daily.

What type of soil does beetroot prefer?

Beets need well-drained, deep, light soil, free of stones and other debris, fertile, rich in organic matter and with a pH between 6 and 7.5.

How often should I water beetroots?

Water beetroots frequently so that the soil is always moist, but without remaining soaked.

How to sow beetroot?

Sow at a depth of approximately 1 cm in the soil, preferably directly at the garden site, as beet seedlings can easily be damaged. It maybe necessary to remove excess plants when the seedlings are 5 to 10 cm tall.

Still, it is possible to sow seeds in other recipients. The transplant of seedlings to a vegetable garden must then be carried out when it reaches approximately 5 cm in height, and the transplant must be done with care so as not to damage the roots of the seedlings.

Seed germination usually takes one to three weeks, depending on environmental conditions.

How to plant beetroot (Beta vulgaris) - seedling growing in the field -
How to plant beetroot (Beta vulgaris) – seedlings growing in the field

How to plant

The recommended spacing for growing beets can be 30 cm between plant rows and 5 to 10 cm between plants.

For sugar cultivars, the spacing can be 30 to 60 cm between rows and 15 to 30 cm between plants.

For fodder beet, the spacing can vary between 40 and 100 cm between the lines and 15 and 60 cm between the plants, depending on the size of the cultivar.


Weed invasive plants that can compete with resources and nutrients. Do not let the beets roots to be exposed to the sun. Cover the roots that are exposed with soil or straw.


Beetroot must be harvested before the roots become fibrous. Leaves can also be consumed.  Harvesting of beets starts 60 to 90 days after sowing. Harvesting should not be too late, as the roots can become fibrous.

The sugar beet harvest takes place 4 to 6 months after planting.

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