Beta vulgaris (Garden Beet Group) 'Bull's Blood'
Common Name: beet
Type: Annual
Family: Amaranthaceae
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall

Culture

Garden Beet Group consists of a number of different cultivars which are grown for production of the underground beets (beetroots) commonly purchased in grocery stores around the world. These plants are typically grown in moist, light, fertile, organically-rich, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Plants thrive in cool summer temperatures, but are tolerant of heat and humidity. Plants grow best with daytime temperatures between 55-80 degrees F. If temperatures rise well above 80 degrees F., the plants will often bolt. Add nitrogen fertilizers to the soils as needed. Seeds (actually dried "seed clusters", each with 3 or 4 seeds) are typically sown in the ground in early spring for harvest from late spring to early fall in Zones 3-7, but are sown in summer for harvest over winter in Zones 8-10. Several seedlings will emerge from each seed cluster. Young plants should be thinned carefully by hand. Plants typically need regular and consistent moisture. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Best growing season temperature is 55-75 degrees F. When grown in vegetable gardens, plants should be grown in rows about 18-24" apart. Harvest beets when the globular roots reach about 1.5-3” in diameter (depending on intended use). Small beets are more flavorful and tender than large beets which usually become fibrous, wrinkled or soft with age. Beets should be stored in cool dry locations.

Noteworthy Characteristics

A Cultivar Group is an assemblage of named cultivars within a species which have similar characteristics based primarily on description and usage. Garden Beet Group cultivars are tuberous-rooted Beta vulgaris cultivars which are grown as vegetables primarily for enjoyment of their tasty underground tuberous dark red roots known as garden beets, but in some cases are also grown for the ornamental attractiveness of their foliage. Garden beets are commonly grown in home vegetable gardens as annuals. Plants grow in basal clumps of ovate to ovate-oblong, long-petioled leaves (to 12-18” tall). Leaves can be eaten as a potherb or salad green, but plants in this group are primarily produced for their tasty underground beets rather than their leaves. Garden beets are commonly sold in grocery stores with leaves attached.

Cultivation of Garden Beet Group plants first gained momentum in the 16th century in Europe. Today, beets are typically harvested when the tuberous roots are 1.5-3” in diameter. Leafy tops can be eaten as a vegetable. Leaf color and shape will vary from cultivar to cultivar. Beets are typically dark red in color. Beet roots reach maturity in 80-95 days.

Non-showy, greenish flowers of this biennial bloom in the second year, and are not seen when plants are grown as annuals.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for beet.

Specific epithet comes from Latin meaning common.

Bulls Blood’ is an heirloom Garden Beet Group cultivar that was developed around 1840. It grows to 2’ tall in the garden. It is grown not only for enjoyment of its tasty beets but also for its flavorful purplish-red leaves which make excellent additions to salads. Regardless of culinary value, ‘Bull’s Blood’ is also grown today in beds, borders and containers solely for the ornamental value of its attractive dark purplish-red foliage which provides excellent contrast with other garden plants. When cut in cross section, the flesh of this beet is bright red with showy pink rings. In Sweden, red food coloring may be legally produced only from this cultivar.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Beets may suffer from fungal leaf spots, downy mildew, powdery mildew and root rots. Nematodes may attack roots. Watch for leaf miners, flea beetles, aphids and caterpillars.

Garden Uses

Vegetable gardens for harvest of tuberous beets. Young leaves may be added to salads. Beets are also used to make pickles. Ornamental foliage is attractive in beds, borders and cottage gardens.