Guide to Growing Black Salsify (Scorzonera Hispanica)

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Scorzonera Hispanica root veggies may also be known as Spanish salsify, black salsify, viper’s wort, black vegetable oyster plant, Spanish salsify, and serpent root. It is similar to salsify in that it has a long, fleshy taproot, but with white flesh on the interior. The leaves of scorzonera root are wider and more oval-shaped, making them suitable for salad greens. Scorzonera root veggies are more vigorous than salsify.

How To Grow Black Salsify (Scorzonera Hispanica)

Black Salsify (Scorzonera Hispanica) can grow for 120 days. Propagate the Black Salsify by seed in fertile, well-draining soil that has a fine texture to allow for the growth of straight, long roots. This vegetable prefers a soil pH of 6.0 or higher.

Before sowing, amend the soil by adding 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm.) of organic matter. Organic matter, or 4 to 6 cups (about 1.29 L.) of all-purpose fertilizer for every 100 square feet (9.29 sq. an area of about 1.2 m2. To reduce root malformation, remove any large rocks or other impediments.

Plant the seeds at a depth of 1/2 inch (1 cm). In rows of 10-15 inches (25-38cm.) apart. Then, thin black salsify up to 2 inches 5 cm. apart. Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist. In mid-summer, side dresses the plants using a nitrogen-based fertilizer.

Black salsify roots can keep at 32°F (0 C.) with a relative humidity between 95 and 98 percent. The roots can withstand a slight freeze, and can even be kept in the garden until they are needed. The roots can be kept in cold storage with high relative humidity for up to two to four months.


In full sunlight, plant Scorzonera Hispanica and Black Salsify. You can sow seeds in soil rich with organic matter, which has been well-worked to a depth of 8-12 inches (20-30 cm). Take out all soil lumps and stones from your planting beds. Roots can split if there are obstacles in the soil. Salsify prefers soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8.


Black Salsify or Scorzonera Hispanica, and other cool-weather root crops are extremely hardy. When the soil temperature reaches about 40°F (4.4°C), sow scorzonera and salsify 2 weeks before the last frost in spring. For a winter harvest in mild winter areas, sow salsify in early autumn.

To reach harvest, scorzonera and salsify require 120 to 150 days. They are at their best when they mature in cool weather. After the first autumn freeze, scorzonera and salsify can be harvested. After temperatures reach 85°F (29°C), do not let salsify sit in your garden. Roots will become stringy or fibrous.

Scorzonera Hispanica Planting and Spacing

Sow the seeds 1/2 inch (12mm) from the ground and 1/2 inch apart. Thin, successful seedlings should be spaced 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) apart. Place rows 18-24 inches (45-61cm), apart.

Companion Plants

You can grow salsify or scorzonera alongside other root crops like carrots, turnips, and potatoes.

Harvest, Storing, and Preserving Scorzonera Hispanica

Salsify and scorzonera roots 12 inches (30 cm) long or more are ready to harvest. You can lift roots by hand, or use a spading fork to dole out roots. Be careful not to damage roots. To harvest roots, takes 120 to 150 days.

You can freeze scorzonera and salsify, so keep the roots in place until you are ready to use them. Salsify tastes less like oysters the longer it is in the ground. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to four weeks. However, before refrigerating, remove the tops. You can keep roots in a cool, moist area for up to 4 months.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.