Growing Tips: Rutabaga

Quick Reference:

Plant seed 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep spaced 1 to 2 inches apart. Germination: 8 to 16 days. Plant spacing in the garden, 5 to 6 inches. Shallow planting provides warmer soil but soil must be kept moist at all times until seedlings emerge Plant seed 1/4 inch deep

When and where to plant:

Rutabagas prefer cool weather and produce high quality roots, maturing late summer in Alaska. Rutabagas are often confused with turnips and are grown the same way except they take a month longer to mature. They are frost tolerant and can be planted soon as the soil can be prepared and has warmed in the spring. Choose a sunny location, cultivate any good garden soil to a depth of at least 8 inches, enrich with plant food, rake the soil surface smooth then plant seed directly in the garden, firm soil over seed and keep moist until seedlings emerge.


Rutabagas MUST be protected from root maggots. Rutabaga roots are large, thin plants so they are 5 to 6 inches apart when they are young. For mild roots keep soil moist, weed free and apply plant food every 4 weeks during the summer.


Dig roots before the soil freezes in fall. Rutabagas store well in winter.