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American Purple Top Rutabaga Guide

Rutabaga is a cross between turnips and cabbage. Purple Top is an heirloom rutabaga producing giant yields of yellow roots with purple crowns. It has a surprisingly sweet flavor and is packed with nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin C.


Purple Top rutabagas grow best in cooler weather between 45¬įF-85¬įF. They do great in containers and small gardens. Bank on Seeds recommends transplanting.

If Direct Seeding

  • Direct seed outside 1-2 weeks after last frost date; or
  • Direct seed into a container 12-16 inches deep and wide anytime of the year. It can be placed outside when the temperature is between 45¬įF-85¬įF; or

If Transplanting

Rutabagas usually do not transplant well. However, if you do, start the seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in biodegradable pods that will let the roots grow through; clingwrap the top of the container to seal in the warmth. Germination is best and fastest between 70¬įF-75¬įF. It can be transplanted outside 6-8 weeks later.

Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep and 6 inches apart with rows spaced 24 inches apart. Germination will take 5-15 days.


Rutabagas like well-draining, light soil free of weeds. They also love full sun but does tolerate partial shade. Water regularly and consistently to keep the soil lightly moist, not soggy. Check the top 2-3 inches of soil and if it’s dry, then water it. Make sure to water at the base and not from above the plant to prevent rot or disease. Getting the right amount of water will help the rutabaga taste better.

Adding a layer of mulch helps in retaining moisture, regulating temperature, and preventing weed growth. If you weed by hand, make sure not to disturb the roots of the rutabaga. Use 10-10-10 fertilizer or aged compost or aged manure.


Rutabaga develops in 90 days. The flavor tends to get better after a light frost and people love rutabaga for harvesting in fall and into the winter. You can pull with hands or carefully dig out the roots when they reach 3-4 inches in diameter.


Aphids, Cutworms, cabbage looper and cabbage worms, flea beetles, slugs ‚Äď handpick, neem oil, insecticidal soap, companion plant or spray with pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

Black rot, clubroot - do not water from overhead, keep free of weeds, ensure enough air circulation, cut off affected parts, fungicide, neem oil, rotate crop every 3 years

*Companion rutabagas with peas and onions. Avoid planting with cabbage, kale, and mustard greens.*

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