Asian Mustard offers a sweet, peppery taste that’s a real kick in the mouth.
It makes an excellent substitute for spinach and can be used as a culinary ingredient in dishes you already cook.
Did you know that if you already eat spring mix salads, you probably already tried it before.
But when you grow it yourself, you can get an unlimited supply. And organic one at that.
So let’s dive in and learn how to grow and care for Mizuna plants in your garden.
(Cover image by isaac’licious, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.)
Last updated: 8/5/21.
Quick care guide: Asian Mustard Greens (Mizuna)
|Scientific name||Brassica juncea|
|Other names||Brown mustard, Chinese mustard, leaf mustard, Oriental mustard, vegetable mustard|
|Soil type||Loamy, well-draining|
|Soil pH||6.0-7.5 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline)|
|Sunlight requirement||Full sun, partial sun|
|Bloom season||Spring, summer|
|Colors||White, green, yellow|
|Max height||3 feet|
|Max width||2 feet|
|Ideal temperature range||50-70F|
|Watering requirements||Often during first year of growth, spring, and summer|
|Days until germination||1-2 weeks|
|Days until bloom||1-2 years|
|Speed of growth||Moderate|
|Hardiness zones||4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10|
|Plant depth||0.25 inches|
|Plant spacing||6-10 inches|
|Common pests||Aphids, slugs, snails, beetles, leaf beetles, caterpillars, ants, cabbage loopers, and some wildlife|
|Common diseases||Downy mildew, yellow blotching, rust, leaf spot, root rot, blight, stem rot, and white rust|
|Grown in container||Yes|
|Care level||Low (very easy)|
|Uses||Decoration, edible, indoor plant, recipes, seasoning, soups, salads|
Mizuna is a soft, tender serrated leaf vegetable that’s extremely versatile and can be used for a variety of dishes.
Scientifically known as Brassica rapa (var. japonica), Asian mustard is grown for its mild flavor and soft texture. It’s commonly used in culinary recipes such as salads, soups, stir-fries, seafood, or as a substitute for other green broadleaf plants.
The flavor is easy on the palate and the texture is extremely soft. Mizuna also can be used as a landscaping plant because of its gorgeous green coloration and easy maintenance.
Because it’s tender, it resists plant bolting so you have more time to harvest without it going bitter. This is plus compared to other veggies that bolt like crazy once you miss the harvesting window like raddichio.
It’s also known as Japanese mustard greens, Asian greens, water greens, or kyona.
Mizuno has jagged leaves, also known as serrated edges. The leaves are feather-like and are grouped with turnips in the same genus. However, it’s not a bug.
You’ll find that whatever purpose you plan to use it for, it’ll be easy even for the beginner. Mizuna is also very easy to regrow.
So if you shop for it as part of your routine, save yourself some cash on your next grocery haul. Grow it yourself organically.
What does it taste like?
Mizuna has a sweet flavor that’s easy on the taste buds. The flavor can be bitter if harvested too late, but generally, it should be very sweet and easy to eat.
The leaves have a slight spice to them followed by a sweet aftertaste. It’s tender and you’ll find it in spring salad mixes.
Is it easy to grow?
Yes, Asian mustard is easy to grow. Any beginner with some time on their hands can grow it passively. Once you get it started, it only requires minimal care to prosper.
Plus, if you decide you don’t like the taste of it, after all, let it grow as a landscaping plant to fill the gaps in your garden that need some coverage. It makes an excellent addition to your organometal garden, edibles, or even grown in containers.
Mizuna grows and is ready for harvest early in the spring, with only a short time to harvest. So you can enjoy it much earlier than other veggies.
Types of Mizuna
Some culvers you may want to check out:
- Kyona Mizuna (feathery leaves, mild flavor)
- Purple Mizuna (green leaves)
- Central red (narrow leaves)
- Lime streaks (tiny leaves)
- Red streaks (good for summer salad)
Mizuna is easy to propagate and there are multiple ways to do it. The more accessible way is to just buy a packet of seeds from your local nursery and follow the directions on the back of the package.
You can often snag more than you’ll ever need in one just packet for a few dollars, so the price is no barrier to enjoying this veggie.
Growing from seed
Check out the package for exact directions on how to grow your mizuna. Depending on the strain you bought, directions will vary.
Typically, you’ll want to sow them when the temperature is cool. Asian mustard doesn’t do well in heated attempts and will scorch if it’s too hot. Keeping it in the cool range will yield those sweet leaves you’re looking for.
Note: You can start sowing indoors using a seed starter if you wish. But direct sowing into your garden will save you the trouble of having to transplant your plants later.
Plus, you’ll likely be sowing a ton of seeds, so it’s not worth the effort of moving them one by one to their permanent location in your yard.
So that’s why I’ll stick with direct sowing. If you’re growing Mizuna outside of the right hardiness zone, then you may want to start them indoors. It’s nuanced.
Sow seeds about 1 month before the last frost date. This will give them plenty of time to perk up and withstand the cold. If you expect it to be extremely cold or you’re growing in a colder region, start by showing them inside your house.
Find a location in your garden with full sun if you’re in a lower hardiness zone. Warmer zones will want to plant in partial shade so it doesn’t burn and dry up.
Sow seeds 6-8 inches apart. Remember that these plants are tiny and produce little yield per plant. You’ll want to grow them in larger numbers to produce enough for you and yours.
For one person, at least 3 plants should be enough to sustain a few salads here and there throughout the season. If you eat more or have more people to feed, then plant more.
Plant 2-3 seeds about .25” deep in each hole. For maximum space-saving, plant in rows. If you have a tiny garden, this approach works well.
But not as good as vertical planting, which seems to be the new trend for tiny gardening.
Use organic, nutrient-dense soil.
For best results, grow in a garden or plot dedicated to just edibles. Avoid planting with other brassica plants to avoid pests. In other words, don’t plant with bok choy, radish, kale, broccoli, etc.
These will compete for nutrients and transmit pests if they have any. Read the section on companion planting to know what to plant with your mizuna.
Amend your soil with compost to improve drainage. The soil needs to be well-draining, as you’ve probably heard many times before.
If you’re growing on a raised plant bed, you can add some rocks or sand at the base to help prevent clumping. The soil should be rich, dense, and soft.
Expect germination within 2 weeks. The seeds will sprout quickly with minimal care. Water generously the first time around, then reduce watering to just keep them moist. If growing indoors, use a humidity dome to help them germinate.
For a larger crop yield, plant in succession. For example, plant the first batch, then plant the next one 1 week later.
Continue and you’ll have yielded for weeks while reducing risk from weather damage. If you get a yield that grows into winter, you can harvest sweet tender leaves.
Continue watering and checking in daily. The crop will grow quickly into the summer. Keep the temperature below 70F for best results.
If you expect a heatwave, use an umbrella or pair with tall plants to provide shade so they don’t scorch. If it’s too hot, mizuna tends to resist bolting for a short period. But you need to harvest it if you anticipate the heat to continue. They can also handle some frost.
For those that expect summer to approach quickly with blazing temps, consider growing all of your batches in the shade. This way, you can extend your harvest season.
Otherwise, full sun suits regions with stable temps all year round.
If you want to grow mizuna in containers, the same process applies to them.
But note that when you plant in a pot, the water will evaporate quickly, so you need to water it more often. Additionally, the soil must drain well and there should be plenty of drainage holes on the base.
Don’t overwater and don’t over-fertilize as this can lead to buildup in an enclosed environment. The nice thing about plants is that you can move them around as needed. If it’s too hot, cold, rain, snow, whatever.
You can move it around as needed.
How to grow Mizuna mustard greens
Here are some general guidelines for mizuna care.
Depending on the cultivar you’re growing, your needs may differ. However, these should work as an overarching theme for your plant to thrive.
If you have any questions, post them in the comments section and let me know!
Mizuna grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-10. If you’re growing out of these zones, you can grow it indoors or within a greenhouse to control the weather.
The soil should be rich, fertile, and organic if needed. It grows best in compost-rich soil that’s out of direct sunlight for hot zones.
Choose a well-draining soil that is balanced for vegetable planting. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy but should have some nutrients loaded into it.
Brownie points for moisture-retaining soil. Mulch can help suppress weeds.
Asian mustard does well in acidic soils with a pH range between 6-7.
You can amend your soil if needed to slightly bring down the average pH of your substrate in your garden or just get some soil that’s within the range. If you don’t know your soil metrics, use a soil test kit to find out.
The pH won’t make or break your plant though.
Space mizuna 6-10 inches apart to minimize competition and maximize yield. The larger varieties should be given more space.
If you’re growing as a microgreen, you can spin randomly and then thin as they grow up. Neary veggies that are taller make excellent companion plants to give the cool loving mizuna some shade.
Plant each seed 0.25” inches deep. Don’t push or press to firm the soil. Sprinkle the backfill over it lightly.
Plant in full sun unless you’re in a warmer region. Mizuna is a cool weather plant so don’t plant in direct sunlight as it can scorch. For cooler zones, full sun is recommended.
Otherwise, plant it in partial sunlight. It can benefit from the shade from its neighbor companion plants that are taller if you have no shade.
You can also use an umbrella or other artificial sunlight filter to help block out sunlight.
Mizuna can tolerate temperatures between 40-80F. For ideal growth, it should be between 6-70F depending on the species. It doesn’t tolerate heat well, so keep it out of scorching sun. Use umbrellas or taller companion neighbors to give it shade.
Mizuna tolerates average humidity between 40-60%. Don’t let the humidity raise too high or else it may lead to plant rot or fungal issues. You can reduce humidity by reducing watering or pruning the leaves when they get dense.
Provide your plants with nonstop water for the best possible yield. Mizuna is a thirsty brassica and will need a constant supply of water to grow. Aim for 1-2 inches of water per week.
Adjust accordingly to rain and drought. The soil should be moist, but not wet. You can use a soil meter for precision. Water at the base of the plant, not the leaves.
Wet leaves lead to rot and fungal problems. Supplement with mulch or use moisture-retaining substrate. This will help reduce watering. Do not let the soil dry out between waterings!
Mizuna benefits from balanced plant food applied during the growing season. Nothing fancy is needed. Use as directed. Look for something made for vegetables with an NPK of 5-5-5. Additionally, using diluted fish emulsion can be beneficial for them.
Mizuna doesn’t need any regular pruning, unless you’re gathering the leaves to eat. In the winter, you’ll want to deadhead it completely down to the stalk. Otherwise, let it grow.
If it gets out of control, then you can cut the entire thing down and use it as compost.
Check on your plants regularly to remove any weeds that are popping up. Mizuna won’t be able to beat the weeds and get outcompeted for nutrients. To remove any weeds you come across regularly.
If your soil is especially prone to weed plants, add some mulch around the soil to help keep them away. This is best suited for organically rich soil as weeds will have a good time growing it in.
Harvesting is best done when the sprouts are about 3 inches in height. They can be cut cleanly from their stems or picked if you want to remove them from the soil with the roots and leaves.
The right time to harvest varies but generally will take about 2-3 weeks from planting. Yes, they’re ready to harvest VERY QUICKLY compared to other brassicas.
If you want them to continually grow for you, cut the plant about 1 inch above the crown and let it regrow. This is known as the cut and come again method in growing plants. Cut out the entire thing and then use it. Let it grow and repeat.
Lastly, you can just cut what you need. When they get about 3-8 inch leaves, you can trim them off on demand. Use them right away or place them in a wet towel for storage in the fridge.
Cut leaves should be rinsed and then dried before you eat them.
Some tips on maximizing your yield:
- Leaves are bitter as they get older
- Younger leaves are sweeter
- Leaves will become tougher if you cut them too late
- When leaves are more than 3-4 inches in length, they should be used for cooking, not salads because they get tough
- Any leaf over 5 inches will be very tough to chew raw and should be cooked
- Only cut ⅓ of the total leaves of the plant at any given time so it can still photosynthesize
- Cut the entire plant and use it before winter, generally around 40-50 days
- When your plant is taller than 6 inches, it should be used or deadheaded before winter
- Plants over 10 inches should be composted as they’re way too bitter and tough to eat
- The flowers can be eaten as they add a spicy taste
If you want to save some mizuna seeds for next season so you don’t have to buy seeds again, you can leave the flowering stalks to grow and let them get pollinated.
Bees and birds will do their thing, then the seed pods will grow on their own. Let them develop and then save the seeds inside by harvesting them.
Split the pods, collect the seeds, then put them somewhere dry for next season.
When you harvest and end up with a surplus, you can store them warped in a wet towel in an airtight container. It stays good in the fridge for a few days.
But they go bad pretty quickly, so you should only harvest what you plan to use and nothing extra.
They also don’t do well in the freezer, so you should eat them before they go bad. Pick only what you’ll use.
- Companion plants
Mizuna grows easily in containers and takes well to it. Choose a container with multiple drain holes and is at least 6” in width and depth.
Plant in fertilizer well-draining soil. Don’t over-fertilize and don’t overwater as the buildup is prominent in containers.
Sadly, this mustard is prone to pests that love to feed on its tender leaves.
Some of the most common bugs you’ll see eating it are aphids, slugs, snails, beetles, leaf beetles, caterpillars, ants, cabbage loopers, and some wildlife may munch on it.
You can handle most of them using natural methods like dish soap, manual removal, or insecticidal sprays. Avoid using any dangerous compounds on your fruiting plants.
There are also some disease that brassica is susceptible to, including downy mildew, yellow blotching, rust, leaf spot, root rot, blight, stem rot, and white rust.
You can eliminate most of them by not overwatering and regular harvesting to prevent buildup of moisture in the substrate.
If you have an a lot of leaves, you should prune or use them so water can evaporate.
This veggie is a good addition to stir-fries, salads, or wraps. You can substitute spinach with mizuna as they’re similar in texture.
Some people like the bigger leaf greens, and some cultivars fit the bill. Look for Florida Broadleaf and you’ll get some huge greens.
Eating them raw isn’t advisable because they’re pretty tasteless. If you harvest them too late, they also get bitter and tough to chew.
The best is when they’re harvested early so you get that soft tender leaf with the sweet taste.
Other common questions about mizuna care
Here are some commonly asked questions about mizuna that you may find beneficial.
If your question isn’t here, post it at the end of this page to get an answer.
How long does it take to grow Mizuna?
The average time to harvest is about 21 days.
Some variants may take up to 40 days while others are as quick as 14 days. Local conditions, temperature, water, competition, and soil quality all are variables. If you provide everything perfectly, you should expect it to grow like crazy and ready to eat!
Compared to other genus members, Asian mustard is amazingly quick which makes it so cheap to produce. Seeds are cheap. Produce is cheap. Labor is cheap.
Is Mizuna a mustard green? Or lettuce?
It’s part of the brassica genus and is considered a leafy green. It’s neither or. It is part of the same group that includes other cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, kale, broccoli, Brussels sports, etc.
It’s not considered lettuce or mustard green because those are their own plants. However, it’s often referred to as “Japanese mustard green.”
What can I substitute for Mizuna?
You can use spinach, mustard greens, kale, or watercress. Use younger leaves to match the texture of mizuna.
What does mizuna lettuce taste like?
It has a sweet, peppery taste with a soft texture. The flowers are spicy and add a kick to the mouth. It’s mildly bitter if left to grow and can add a nice flair to raw and cooked recipes.
Mizuna companion plants
Some of the best companion plants are onion, lettuce, curry, celery, beans, endive, mustard, tatsoi, beans, beetroot, cabbage, cucumber, marjoram, peas, strawberries, and dill.
These won’t compete for nutrients. Choose taller companion plants to give shade for the shorter mizuna for a symbiotic relationship.
You may find these references useful:
Enjoy your Asian mustard!
You now know all the basics for growing and caring for Asian mustard.
Grow it on your own and enjoy the salads, soups, dishes, and whatever else you plan to use it for. This simple leafy green is easy to grow even for the beginner and yields quick results.
It’s a good way to get into gardening for those that are impatient. It doesn’t get any easier than mizuna IMO.
Do you have any questions? Post a comment and let me know.
I’ve always been interested in gardening, but I never took it seriously until I was forcefully gifted an orchid. This was what got me into the hobby and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy writing about it, but not nearly as much as getting into the dirt and sculpting the perfect decorative ornamental to enjoy for the times.