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Wasabi plants growing among rocks beside water
Wasabi makes a wonderful indoor plant. The stem can be grated and used to spice up Japanese cuisine, and the foliage makes a great addition to salads. Sometimes referred to as the hardest plant in the world to grow, it’s well worth the effort.

What you need to know about wasabi

Name: wasabi, Japanese horseradish, Wasabia japonica, Eutrema japonica.

Height: 30–45cm.

Foliage: evergreen rhizomatous perennial with large, heart-shaped leaves up to 30cm.

Climate: prefers a humid environment in summer, with temperatures no lower than about 10°C and no higher than 20°C for much of the year. Best suited to the sub-tropics or tropics, although it can be grown in a sheltered microclimate or indoors in other areas.

Soil: improve soil with organic matter such as well-aged manure or compost prior to planting. If growing in pots, choose a premium potting mix with excellent water storage capacity, as wasabi prefers a moist soil.

Position: a shaded position with protection from wind, cold, sun and extremes of temperature. Self-watering pots are a good idea if growing indoors.

Flowering: small white flowers appear in spring. These are also edible, although they will only appear under ideal growing conditions. 

Feeding: annual applications of well-aged manure are ideal.

Watering: water daily in warm dry weather. Wasabi is a water plant in its natural habitat, so needs to be watered regularly.

Appearance and characteristics of wasabi

Wasabi is a lush evergreen perennial with large, heart-shaped leaves. The foliage makes a statement in the shade, while the rhizome can be harvested for cooking after two years. Wasabi plants are fragile, so avoid high-traffic areas, where breakages are more likely. 

A bunch of harvested and washed green wasabi roots

Uses for wasabi

The wasabi rhizome is popular grated as wasabi paste, while the leaves make a spicy addition to salads. Flowers are also edible, and are traditionally served as tempura in Japan.

More than just an edible plant, wasabi is also a stunning indoor or water plant, best suited to shaded areas and indirect sunlight. It’s a perfect solution for dark, shaded areas under the canopy of other plants or in the shade of your home or neighbouring fenceline.

How to plant and grow wasabi

  1. Plant wasabi in well-prepared soil. 
  2. Squeeze the pot and remove gently. 
  3. Wasabi foliage is fragile, so be careful. Rhizomes will generate new foliage, but care should be taken to minimise damage at planting. 
  4. Plant at the same height as the soil in the pot. 
  5. Firm down the soil and water. 
  6. Plants will spend the first year settling into the soil (or potting mix, if growing in pots or containers) before putting on more growth in their second season. Harvest rhizomes after two years; leaves can be harvested as required.

Wasabi propagation

Propagation is usually by seed, although unless growing conditions are ideal, plants struggle to set viable seed. Wasabi is commercially propagated by tissue culture.  

Caring for wasabi

Water daily and protect from extremes of weather, including frost, heat or direct sunlight. Provide shade if required, or mulch to reduce the likelihood of frost damage. Applications of seaweed solution will help protect plants in winter and summer. 

Treat for pests as soon as possible to prevent defoliation of the rhizome, which can dramatically set back growth and development. 

Daily watering is required, unless your wasabi plant is grown beside a pond. Annual top-dressing with well-aged manure is usually enough, although additional applications of a seaweed solution will help improve plant vigour. 

Diseases and pests affecting wasabi

Snails and slugs adore wasabi’s spicy leaves, eating it to the ground at every opportunity. Protect your plant with a circle of snail and slug pellets.

Wasabi is a brassica (related to cabbage), so watch for cabbage white butterfly, caterpillars and aphids. If present, apply Derris Dust or spray with Dipel. As this is an edible plant, always use organic treatments to keep your plants healthy and pest-free. 

Because wasabi likes water, a common mistake is to leave it wet. In a stagnant, waterlogged environment, wasabi is prone to rot. Good drainage and regular watering is best.

Safety tip

If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

If you like this then try

Horseradish: a spicy rhizome that’s easy to grow and is often used as a substitute for wasabi. 

Japanese ginger: an easy-to-grow rhizome that complements Asian cuisine.

Garlic: a culinary staple that is super easy to grow at home.

Start growing today

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.