Beet Plant Height: Do Beets Get Big?
By: Amy Grant
For those gardeners with smaller garden plots or who wish to container garden, the conundrum is what veggies to plant to make the most of this limited space. Squash can literally take over even when it’s grown vertically, as can many tomato varieties. Cauliflower and broccoli are garden hogs too. How about root veggies like beets? How tall do beet plants grow?
Do Beets Get Big?
Beets are cool season veggies grown for both their roots and the tender young tops. They thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, and are perfect for not only large gardens but for those with smaller spaces since they require little room – with a spread of only 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) up to 12 inches (30 cm.). Beets do not get big, as the roots only get about 1-3 inches (2.5-7.5 cm.) across.
How Tall Do Beet Plants Grow?
Beet plants grow up to two feet in height. However, if you want to harvest the greens, they are best when they are small and tender, from 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) to about 4-5 inches (10-12 cm.). Be sure to leave some of the foliage so the roots will continue to grow. You can pretty much retard beet plant height by snipping the leaves back. Beet greens don’t have a long shelf life either, so it’s best to eat them that day or 1-2 days thereafter.
Beet Plant Height and Companion Planting
There are many varieties of beet that come in hues from ruby red to white to gold. Golden and white beets have some advantages over red varieties. They don’t bleed and are perfect married with other roasted vegetables. They also tend to be sweeter than the red cultivars. That isn’t to say that red beets are a lesser variety of beets. Almost all beets contain 5-8% sugar with some of the newer hybrids far exceeding this percentage with around 12-14% sugar.
While I mentioned above that beets do not get big, there are some forage beets, those that are fed to livestock, which can weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kg.). Chances are good that you are growing beets for yourself in this instance and won’t be growing such gargantuan roots.
Because beets tend to take up little room, they make great companion plants. Radishes are also cool season but they are sown and harvested earlier than beets. Planting them in the beet bed is a great way to prepare the soil for the incoming beets. Beets also get along well with:
Read the seed packets of other veggies though to be certain that they will not overtake a small garden area.
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Beets Plant Profile
The Spruce / Adrienne Legault
The beet plant (Beta vulgaris) is a fast-growing vegetable that can be grown just about anywhere. Although beets are known as a root crop, all parts of the beet plant are edible. Tender beet greens can be harvested when thinning a row of beets, and mature leaves make good greens when it's time to pull up the whole plant. The most commonly known root beets are red, but golden and striped varieties are now popular, as well.
Beets are a cool-season vegetable crop, and you may be able to get both an early crop planted in the spring as well as a crop planted in the summer or fall. Most beet varieties are ready to harvest about two months after planting.
|Botanical Name||Beta vulgaris|
|Common Name||Beet, beetroot|
|Plant Type||Annual vegetable|
|Mature Size||12 to 18 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to part shade|
|Soil pH||6.0–7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral)|
|Bloom Time||Not grown for flowers|
Beet Growing Problems
Beets are relatively disease- and pest-free, and even the problems they do have are relatively easy to manage. For instance, you can prevent diseases by rotating crops of beets, spinach, and Swiss chard with other types of vegetables. And use cover crops during the off-season, advises George Abawi, Ph.D., a plant pathologist at Cornell University.
Beet-leaf miners (Pegomya hyoscyami) can become a problem. Even if they do get into your beet leaves, you can just tear off the damaged portion, says Mary Ballon, owner of West Coast Seeds in Delta, British Columbia, She favors the "two fingers" method as the best way to control this pest, which tunnels into the leaves.
"Do a daily inspection of the leaves by feeling around the leaves for any bumps, and apply two fingers," Ballon says with a laugh. "It is the only pest that sits still to be squished!" To keep leaf miners and other pests away, simply place row covers over your beets during the insects' busiest time between May and late June.
Beets grow best in a soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8. Beet “seeds” are actually fruits containing several seeds. Thus, when seeded, beets are typically thinned to one plant. Each seed is planted 1-2 inches apart and thinned to one plant every 3 inches. Beets can be either direct-seeded or transplanted. Beets should be sown beginning 6 weeks before the last spring frost and in August for fall beets in West Virginia.
When transplanted, beets are sown in small cell containers and transplanted 4-6 weeks later.Beets are spaced approximately 2-3 inches apart with rows 12-18 inches apart. If the objective is to harvest beet greens for a salad mix, the beets can be broadcast- seeded over a raised bed.When the leaves are approximately 2 inches long, they can be harvested.
Beets should be sown beginning 6 weeks before the last spring frost and in August for fall beets in West Virginia.
A staple in our gardens, beets grow easily and you won’t have to wait long to harvest their tasty roots. You can eat their green tops, too, so they’re a dual-purpose crop! Learn all you need to know about growing beets—from planting to harvest.
Beets—or “beet roots”—are a colorful, cool-season crop that is easy to grow from seed in well-prepared soil and grows quickly in full sun.
They are a great choice for northern gardeners because they can survive frost and near-freezing temperatures. This also makes them great as a fall crop.
If you are a beginner, look for bolt-resistant varieties, which have less of a chance of bolting (maturing too quickly) in warm weather. There are many different varieties of beets, showcasing deep red, yellow, white, or striped roots of different shapes.
Beet roots can be harvested from the time they’re about the size of a golf ball to the size of a tennis ball larger roots may be tough and woody. Plus, beet greens have a delicious and distinctive flavor and hold even more nutrition than the roots!
Planting Dates for BEETS
When to Plant Beets
- Start your first round of beets in early spring, as soon as the soil is workable. Make successive plantings every 2 to 3 weeks until mid-summer.
- Successive plantings are possible through summer as long as daytime temperatures don’t exceed 75°F (24°C).
- In soil that’s at least 50°F (10°C), germination takes place in 5 to 8 days. In soil colder than that, germination may take 2 to 3 weeks.
- Tip: To speed up germination, or when planting in areas with low moisture and rainfall, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting.
- For a fall harvest, sow beet seeds from mid-summer through early fall, starting about 4 to 6 weeks before your first fall frost.
- Winter crops are a definite possibility in Zone 9 and warmer. Plant beets in early to late fall for a winter harvest.
Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site
- Plant beets in full sun. They should ideally receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Avoid planting beets where Swiss chard or spinach has recently been grown, as they are cousins of beets and are susceptible to similar pests and diseases.
- Beets prefer well-prepared, fertile soil, but will also tolerate average to low soil fertility.
- To allow the round beet roots to develop properly, soil should be free of rocks and other obstacles.
- Soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is best and slightly alkaline (7.0+) soils can be tolerated. Beets do not tolerate acidic soils (pH below 6.0).
- Poor soil can be amended with a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer prior to planting. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.
How to Plant Beets
- We prefer to sow beets directly in the garden so that we don’t have to disturb their roots, though beets—unlike many root crops—do generally tolerate being transplanted while still young. However, since they are cold tolerant, beets typically have no trouble being started outdoors.
- Sow seeds ½-inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in rows that are about 1 foot apart. After sowing, cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Each wrinkled beet “seed” is actually a cluster of 2 to 4 seeds, so you will need to thin the young plants to 3 to 4 inches apart once the greens get to be about 4 inches tall. This allows their roots to grow to their proper size.
- Tip: When thinning, don’t pull up the plants, as you may accidentally disturb the roots of the beets you want to keep. Instead, just snip off the greens (and eat them).
- Make sure soil remains moist for optimal germination. Soak seeds for 24 hours prior to planting to speed up germination.
Check out this video to learn how to plant beets.
5) Keep soil evenly moist
Although the ideal time to harvest beets may be fall and winter, getting seeds to germinate in dry and hot summer conditions can pose a problem. A hard crust of soil tends to form at the top of summer seed beds, which can be impenetrable to young seedlings as they push toward the soil surface. Keep seed beds consistently moist during the first week after sowing (watering at least daily). Once a crust forms on the soil surface, it is hard to remove, so as insurance I also add a layer of potting mix over my seeds – the seedlings have no difficulty popping through the loose mixture, and it also marks exactly where my seeds were planted to make weeding easier!
Don’t forget about water once your beets get growing. Fluctuations in moisture can cause roots to become woody or crack, so provide water during dry spells to promote a palatable and consistent harvest.
Beets are far more cold-tolerant than people realize. These are from our winter low tunnel beds, harvested in spring to make room for new plantings.