Radicchio, endive, chicory & escarole.

General. Chicory is a perennial, but usually grown as an annual. Radicchio are a type of chicory. Endives are annuals. Both are closely related and one is often called the other. Escarole is a type of endive. Most chicory forms some sort of head and most endives are loose leaf, but not always.

All grow best in cool weather and are normally grown in spring (from transplants) or fall (direct seed or transplants). Like lettuce, color deepens as it becomes cooler. The beautiful brilliant red/white radicchio like Treviso, Palla Rossa, or Rossa di Verona are often ‘forced’. Forcing means in the fall you dig up the plant, cut off the head, cut the root back to 10-12 inches and replant it in a pot, usually filled with peat moss. Cover it with a pail, black plastic, etc. to keep out light and let it regrow at 50-60 degrees (a basement works well). In two weeks or so, you will have new growth which is bitter/sweet and has that beautiful contrasting color of white stems and red leaves. Of course, you do not have to force your chicory. Just grow it and enjoy it. Or you can have your cake and eat it too; dig it up, cut off the head and eat it, then bring it inside and force it.

Endives, including escarole, are often ‘blanched’ to lighten color and change the taste somewhat. It is fairly simple to do. Seven to 14 days before harvest, withhold light from the plant. You can do this by putting a pail or pot or plastic bag over the plant or you can tie up the leaves with string. If you do this, make sure the leaves are dry and you untie it if the leaves get wet.

Culture. All prefer soil conditions similar to lettuce: loose, well-drained soil with a higher than average fertility, especially nitrogen. In the north, spring crops can usually be grown with 4-6 week transplants set out four weeks or so before the last frost date. For fall crops, direct seed or set out transplants in July or very early August. Escarole and endive can go out a bit later. Direct seed 3-4 seeds every 12-16 inches in rows 16” apart. Set transplants at same depth they were growing. Provide a constant source of water. All of these will take very low temperatures and survive temperatures in the low 20s. Looseleaf varieties will survive the winter if given some protection or grown in an unheated greenhouse. In warmer areas (parts of zone 6, 7, 8, etc.), you can leave them in the ground all winter. If your climate is warm enough, you can even ‘force’ them outside. Since chicory is a perennial, they will regrow the following spring. However, quality is not as good as those grown as annuals.

Diseases and pests. Nothing much bothers these. You might have some problems with wire worms or root maggots in the early spring, but these can be controlled by using paper collars.

Harvest, storage and use. Force or blanch as described above if you want. Cut, rinse & store in the crisper, preferably in a plastic bag. Don’t just use them in salads. You can quarter them (leave the stem so they don’t fall apart), dip in egg and breadcrumbs, and fry in olive oil. Escarole with beans is an excellent winter meal.

It feels like spring, and is starting to look like it, too, with the hedges sprouting new leaves daily and the spring flowers now at their early best. But, despite this, the vegetable garden is playing hard to get. A common misconception about vegetables is that there is a spring harvest that runs parallel to the floral one and somehow matches it in abundance. There isn’t. It doesn’t.

Now is the fag-end of the vegetable year in my garden. It is too early for any new outdoor vegetables other than rhubarb and sorrel – neither of which really qualifies as a vegetable at all. The former plays the role of fruit and the latter a herb, although rhubarb stalks are as much a vegetable as celery, and sorrel, which adds a sharp lemony edge to fresh spring eggs, is simply a herbaceous perennial.

The truth is that March and April and most of May are months of doing and waiting, with almost nothing to show for it. At the moment, my own patch has lots of soil, some in weathered clods ready for the final cultivation before sowing, a few beds teased into a fine tilth but pummelled by rain, and an embarrassing number of my 32 vegetable beds unattended since the last crop was cleared.

Yes, the garlic that I put in absurdly late is up; and yes, there are still leeks and cabbages and celeriac, but all struggling on beyond the call of duty. However, there is an astonishingly bright flare of colour and productivity from two beds where there are rows of red leaves bursting up as though they had been fired like rockets from way below the ground and exploded out into the light. They come from the chicory ‘Red Treviso’ which, all winter, has been supplying us with crimson, slightly bitter leaves that perfectly compliment the rather blander tastes and textures of the various winter lettuces I grow under cover.

It’s odd how some vegetables are owned by the garden and some fall squarely into the fiefdom of the kitchen. Runner beans, pumpkins, broad beans and cabbages are leased to the kitchen from the garden. But lettuces, garlic, carrots, tomatoes and chicory, for example, don’t seem to properly come into being until they enter the kitchen. It is as though they are stored outside in the ground. None more so than chicory.

It was not so long ago that chicory meant just two things to British gardener and cook alike: witloof chicons or radicchio. But over the past five years, seeds have been introduced from Italy that have expanded this range hugely. All chicories are easy to grow although none of them are fast. My ‘Red Treviso’ for example, were sown last June and I started to harvest from them in October, although they did not hit their stride until the New Year.

All chicories grow in two stages. The first develops the root system, usually with a mass of green leaves, which can be picked either for salads or cooking, although they are often very bitter. In the case of curly endive, the initial leaves can be made more palatable by blanching them, either by putting a bucket or pot over them or by tying them up.

However, after about three months these first leaves undergo a change. This transformation varies from variety to variety, with some dying right back, some changing shape and some changing colour in response to daylight length and temperature. Some varieties have a kind of self-blanching mechanism where the outer leaves protect the inner ones from light, which results in these being paler and less bitter.

Broad-leaved varieties of endive, such as ‘Cornet de Bordeaux’ or hardier, curly-leaved ones like ‘Coquette’ or ‘Frisee de Ruffec’ are tougher and better for winter standing. I sow them in early August and harvest in late September. They will overwinter under a cloche, but very quickly bolt in spring.

In the first few years that I grew chicory this confused me. For a start, the enormous amount of top growth looked nothing like the chicory portrayed on the packet. I had also sown it at the same spacing as lettuce, which wasn’t generous enough. Chicory is susceptible to rotting in where leaves come into contact with each other.

On individual plants this can manifest itself as a brown, slimy carapace that has to be peeled away so that the healthy leaves below can get some light. This is especially true of radicchios such as Palla rossa or ‘Cesare’ or ‘Red Verona’, all of which have a dome-shaped top. This year I tried sowing radicchio rather late, hoping to shortcut the process of bulky, inedible green leaves and go straight into the production of the much sweeter and more familiar tight ball of red and white leaves. It didn’t work.

For a while I would grow radicchio and not know what to keep and what to throw away. I have learnt, from trial and error, that I must throw away a lot. So now I take barrowloads of chicory leaves off the plants.

For chicories such as ‘Catalogna’, endives, radicchio or Grumolo verde it becomes a gradual process of replacement as we go into autumn, so by the time we go into November the plant looks dramatically different from its summer self. In the case of witloof or sugarloaf chicory, ‘Spadona’ and ‘Red Treviso’, I will cut the whole thing to the ground in early autumn leaving just a stump of root showing. This will quickly produce droplets of leaf to harvest.

In the case of ‘Red Treviso’ – my current favourite – they are best really quite small, between 1in and 3in long. I harvest them by coppicing a head at a time and the regrowth gradually spreads, giving more at each gathering. However, by late spring it is time to dig it up.

Finally, I have decided, after 10 years of very mixed results, to stop growing witloof chicory. The chicons I can buy in the shops are nicer and bigger. I will use the space for more radicchio.

Your roots

The weather at this time of year is unguessable, so it could be hot and sunny as you read this – but that does not mean that frost is not still a real danger, and especially so following a very mild spell when there will be a flush of tender new growth. Be prepared. The easiest and best solution is to get some horticultural fleece and use it to drape over shrubs, such as camellias or magnolias, or on the ground over young seedlings. I fix it in place with clothes pegs, which looks a bit mad but it works.

In the south you can plant dahlias now if you put them in good and deep – about 9in. By the time they reach the surface the risk of hard frost should be over. In the north it is best to wait another month.

If you have pots of daffodils, hyacinths or other early bulbs that now are over and look a mess, give them a good water and put them aside in a sheltered place that gets some sun. Over the next three months, the goodness for next year’s flowers will be created and stored so do not be tempted to cut back the foliage, however messy it looks. If your daffodils are in a container or otherwise have failed to flower, carefully split them and replant/repot so they have more space and nutrients.

· Monty Don is away until 6 April, but this coming Thursday you can speak to him live online at 3pm. If you have any questions you would like him to answer, post them now care of OM, or email them to [email protected] or go to www.observer.co.uk/magazine.


Chicory is enjoyed for its roots and its tender shoots. Including this versatile plant in your home vegetable garden will give you plenty of choices in your kitchen.

Chicory tolerates cold and can be grown for its roots anywhere in the United States. Plant seeds an inch deep in the garden two to three weeks before the average date of last frost. Thin the plants to 12 to 18 inches apart. If chicory is planted in well-cultivated soil rich in organic matter, it should develop large roots.


Foliose varieties are eaten fresh as leafy salad greens or as blanched heads. To produce blanched heads, dig the roots out before a hard freeze. Cut off the tops about two inches above the crown, or top, of the root; store the roots in a cool place. In winter, force the roots in a cool, dark room by planting them in moist sand. Keep the emerging shoots covered with seven or eight inches of sawdust and water the plant occasionally. In three to four weeks, when new shoots emerge, cut the heads from the root. An easier and less expensive way to blanch the heads is to harvest by hand. Break or cut the heads just above the root, wash and trim them, and pack them into lightproof cardboard boxes. They must not be exposed to light, except for short periods, as even a small amount causes the outer leaves to turn yellow or green, making them bitter and impairing their quality.

Harvesting Chicory

Chicory is grown either for its root, which is roasted as a coffee substitute, or for its tender shoots, which are known as Belgian endive. For salads, harvest when the crowns are full and well colored. The darker the color, the more bitter the taste. Radicchio may or may not form a head, depending on temperature and varietal selection. If planting for the roots alone, they’ll be ready to harvest in about l20 days.

There are several unique types of chicory you can choose from for your home vegetable garden. We’ve listed the different varieties of chicory below.

  • Magdeburg, harvest at 100 days, is grown for its root, which is roasted as a coffee substitute.
  • Brussels Witloof is one of the most famous forcing types, also grown for its root.
  • Chioggia, harvest at 67 days, has a round head that is usually red, but there are also greenish-yellow and reddish-white types.
  • Witloof Zoom is a forcing sugarloaf variety that produces tightly packed high-quality leaves.

Want more information about chicory? Try:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Find delicious recipes that feature chicory.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.

Chicory, Belgian endive, and radicchio are cool weather crops, all grown from the same plant. Sow chicory seed in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Grow chicory and radicchio in temperatures ranging from 45° to 75°F. Plant chicory and radicchio so that it comes to harvest in cool weather.

Chicory, Belgian endive, and radicchio are different varieties of the same plant, Cichorium intybus.

• Chicory produces a rosette of green leaves that can be used in salads. The dried, fleshy taproot of chicory can be ground and used as a substitute for coffee.

• Belgian endive is grown for its pale-green, tightly-wrapped leaves used in salads; the plant near maturity is trimmed and buried in damp sand and grown on to create a dense, succulent blanched head.

• Radicchio, also called Italian chicory, is grown for its rosette of broad red leaves used in salads; its leaves are similar to the leaves of chicory but with more biting flavor. Radicchio often forms a head 3 to 5 inches across.

Chicory and endive should not be confused. They belong to the same botanical family and often are used interchangeably, but they are not the same plant. Chicory, Belgian endive, and radicchio are the plant Cichorium intybus. Endive and escarole are the plant Cichorium endivia. If you want to produce chicory root or the Belgian endive grow chicory; if you want to grow red-leafed radicchio choose a radicchio cultivar. If you are growing endive specifically for greens, grow endive or escarole.

Chicory is a hardy perennial with a long, fleshy taproot, a rosette of leaves, and a branched flower stalk topped with pale blue flowers.

Chicory has two stages of development. The first stage produces the rosette of leaves and the harvestable root. In the second stage, the harvested root is re-buried upright in damp sand or soil until it produces a new sprout or narrow head of blanched, pale green leaves known as Belgian endives.

Yield. For chicory root, plant 1 to 2 plants per household member. For radicchio, grow 5 to 6 plants per household member. For Belgian endive plant 6 to 8 plants per household member.

Chicory (top photo is radicchio)

Planting Chicory and Radicchio

Site. Grow chicory in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade. Plant chicory in soil rich in organic matter that is well-drained and free of lumps that might cause the roots to fork or split. Add aged garden compost to planting beds before growing. Chicory prefers a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.8.

Planting time. Chicory and radicchio is a hardy, cool-season perennial grown best in spring and early summer in cold winter regions and in fall and winter in warm-winter regions. Sow chicory seeds in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Cool temperatures produce the sweetest tasting chicory and radicchio. Sow chicory seeds in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Grow chicory and radicchio in temperatures ranging from 45° to 75°F. Plant chicory and radicchio so that it comes to harvest in cool weather. Chicory and radicchio require 85 to 100 days to come to harvest depending upon the variety. Belgian endive heads are most often grown indoors as the second stage of plant growth; climate is not a factor.

Planting and spacing. Sow chicory and radicchio seed ¼ inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart. Thin plants from 6 to 18 inches apart when the seedlings are four inches tall. You can eat the thinnings.

Companion plants. Greens. Not peas or beans.


Growing Chicory and Radicchio

Growing chicory for roots. Grow chicory for its roots in organically rich soil cultivated to 18 inches deep. Roots will be ready for harvest about 120 days after planting.

Growing radicchio. Choose from heading and semi-heading varieties. Radicchio is best planted for fall harvest; sow seeds in the garden 85 days before the first frost in fall; radicchio requires a long, cool season. Place a plastic mulch or plastic sheeting around the radicchio plants–white, black, or clear. Growing radicchio on plastic, not the soil, will increase the heading percentage significantly.

Growing Belgian endive. To produce a blanched head, dig up the chicory root and cut off the top about 2 inches above the crown or top of the root. In a cool, humid place such as an outdoor pit, cold frame, or root cellar, bury the root to force it to produce a blanched sprout: first, cut off the root tip so that the root is 6 to 8 inches long; set the root upright at a slight angle in a box, pot, or other container filled with fine sand or a mix of sand and peat moss just covering the top; water thoroughly, and keep at a temperature of 60° to 70°F. The tight, pale-green head will develop in 3 to 4 weeks.

Container growing. Radicchio can be grown in a container. Chicory root can be grown in a deep container.

Chicory and Radicchio Care

Water and feeding. Keep plants evenly moist. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and again at midseason.

Pests. Chicory has no serious pest problems.

Diseases. Chicory has no serious disease problems.

Belgian endive

Harvesting and Storing Chicory and Radicchio

Harvest. Chicory root will require 85 to 100 days to come to harvest. Belgian endive will require 3 to 4 weeks after starting the forcing and blanching process; cutaway leaves when they are 5 to 6 inches about 1 inch above the soil and bury the plant to grow to harvest when new heads are 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Radicchio is ready for harvest when leaves are 3 to 5 inches tall when a head has formed or leaves can be harvested loose.

Storing and preserving. Chicory will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week; roots will keep for 4 to 5 months. Radicchio and Belgian endive will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

Chicory and Radicchio Varieties to Grow

Common name. Chicory, witloof, French endive, Belgian endive, succory.

Botanical name. Cichorium intybus

Origin. Asia, Europe


Why Grow It?

A bitter leaved, tangy salad plant, chicory is easy to grow and adds a nice texture to winter salads in particular. There are three types:

  1. Red chicory often known as radicchio or Italian chicory
  2. Forcing chicory – which is ‘forced’ by depriving the plants of light to produce tender, sweet white growths called chicons (which are a lot like tender cos lettuce)
  3. Sugarloaf chicory which is like lettuce

Chicory can be grown in a raised bed or open ground, or even in a pot – so it’s ideal for the balcony grower. You can grow them as baby leaves or let them grow on to produce a compact head. Forcing chicory can often be the only way of having tender young salad leaves in a very cold climate as you are forcing them indoors in pots – and the little chicons are a delicacy.


Chicory can be sown direct or in module trays or pots for later planting (about three weeks after sowing). Sow indoors or under cover from March. Germination takes between one to two weeks. Sowing every two to three weeks should produce a reliable, consistent crop. A late sowing in August will give you leaves to harvest up to Christmas.


For module trays, sow approx. 1cm deep and plant out 3-4 weeks later (once they have reached 10cm tall) leaving 15 to 20cm between plants. Make sure the soil is moist and the seedlings do not dry out. Water well until they are firmly established.

To sow direct, sow 1 to 2 seeds every 10cm in rows 20cm apart. Once established, thin plants to 15-20cm in the row.

To grow in a pot, fill a large 45cm pot with good quality potting compost and sow the seeds thinly across the surface and cover with a 1cm layer of vermiculite.


You can start harvesting the baby leaves as soon as they are ready. Or leave to form a compact head – it will feel firm and plump to touch when it’s ready. Cut the plant at ground level. It will come back if you don’t dig it up for forcing (see below). The raddichio varieties grown for their red leaves will be green in the summer and only go red in the colder weather of autumn/winter.

To force in winter, you can either dig up a few plant roots and put them in big pots or buy dormant plants in pots in the autumn. If using your own, cut the plants back to about 2cm of foliage, dig up the roots and plant them in a big pot. Put a bucket over the top of the pot to block out light and store in a shed or somewhere frost free. Tender white chicons will form over winter – these can be cut off and eaten, and the process can then be repeated for spring. After this, remove the bucket from the top and allow plants to grow as normal.

Recommended Varieties

Witloof de Brussels, Red Treviso, Pallo Rossa


Sometimes you can have an issue with the leaves rotting in damp conditions (particularly those grown under cover) – make sure they have adequate ventilation and keep removing rotting leaves.

GIY Tips

  1. Keep the soil evenly moist – plants that are stressed from lack of water produce bitter leaves
  2. The dried tap root of chicory can be ground and used as a substitute for coffee.

Radicchio – Key Growing Information

SCIENTIFIC NAME:Cichorium intybus
CULTURE:For North American production, these varieties are vast improvements over older types, but are still not perfectly uniform or completely predictable. Although bred for specific seasons, it is still best to trial more than one variety, using succession plantings to determine which one suits your conditions. Radicchio is hardy and can be planted as early as the soil can be worked. It is a cool weather crop and grows best at temperatures of 60-65°F (15.5-18.3°C). Careful variety selection is important for hot weather plantings. Sow every 3 weeks for a continuous supply of fresh radicchio.
THERMAL DORMANCY:Radicchio seed can enter thermal dormancy when exposed to high temperatures above 77°F (25°C). Optimum germination results at soil temperatures of 60-68°F (15.5-20°C).
TRANSPLANTING:Sow in flats, 4 seeds/in., or in 3/4″ plug trays, barely covering seeds with fine vermiculite, 3-4 weeks before transplanting outdoors. Shade the flats on sunny, warm days if necessary to keep the soil surface cool, below 75°F (24°C), until germination. If sowing into flats, transplant 1-2″ apart into flats, pots, or cell-type containers about 2 weeks later. Harden seedlings by reducing water and temperature for 2-3 days before planting outdoors. Properly hardened transplants can survive temperatures as low as 20°F (-6°C). Transplant 8″ apart in rows 18″ apart. Transplant shallowly so that the base of the plant will be slightly above the soil to discourage bottom rot.

DIRECT SEEDING:Seeds will germinate from 41-85°F (5-29°C), but the highest germination percentage will occur around 75°F (24°C), depending on the variety and seed lot. Sow seeds 1″ apart, rows 12-18″ apart. Cover seed lightly, about 1/8″, and firm soil gently. Thin to 8″ apart; thinnings may be transplanted. Dry soil must be watered to ensure coolness and moisture, and for uniform germination.
SALAD MIX/BABY LEAF:Sow 2-4″ wide bands, 6 seeds/in. Cover seeds lightly, about 1/8″. Firm soil gently, and keep surface moist until emergence in 3-5 days (or longer in cold weather). Harvest at 5-6 weeks.
NOTE:Radicchio grows best in cool or mild weather, i.e. fall, winter, and spring. Summer crops can be successful if nights are cool (below 60°F/16°C).
DAYS TO MATURITY:From transplanting; add 14-21 days if direct seeding.
AVG. DIRECT SEEDING RATE:1M/220′, 5M/1,100′, 10M/2,200′, 131M/acre at 3 seeds every 8″ in rows 18″ apart.
TRANSPLANTS:Avg. 500 plants/M (2 seeds per cell thinned to one seedling).
SEED SPECS:SEEDS/OZ.: See individual varieties.
PACKET:See individual varieties.

Radicchio Growing – How To Grow Radicchio In The Garden

If you have a desire to expand the types of salad greens you routinely use, you may want to try radicchio growing. There are a few radicchio varieties to choose from, all of which are easy to care for and grow.

What is Radicchio?

Radicchio is a member of the Chicory family (Asteraceae), commonly found and utilized in many areas of Europe. Radicchio’s popularity has more recently crossed the pond and is now commonly utilized in restaurants in salads, sautéed, and often used as a garnish due to its ruby hue. Radicchio (Cichorium intybus) can now be found at farmers markets and even the local grocery produce department.

Radicchio has burgundy colored leaves with white ribs, resembling a small cabbage head, and is not to be confused with radichetta, another chicory type with the red coloration but lacking the heading form. Radicchios leaf texture is similar to that of the French endive, another popular heading chicory variety.

How to Grow Radicchio

Depending on your USDA zone, radicchio may be grown as a spring, summer or fall vegetable, but the most common red leaf heading radicchio does best grown in cool temperatures. Radicchio is frost tolerant for a short period of time and growing temperatures may range as great as from 30-90 F. (-1-32 C.). However, higher temperatures for any length of time will burn the leaves of the radicchio.

While the plant prefers plenty of sunlight, it tolerates shade in the garden as well. Radicchio will grow in a variety of soil conditions from sandy to clay-like loam, but it much prefers a soil pH of 7.5-8.0, excellent drainage and adequate irrigation.

Radicchio can be direct seeded or transplanted depending on the time of year and what climate you are in. If transplanting, start the seeds indoors four to six weeks before transplantation. Generally, you should direct sow after the danger of frost has passed. Plants should be 8-12 inches apart in the row depending on the cultivar.

Maturation occurs around the 125-130 day mark. Radicchio plants need a constant amount of irrigation due to their shallow roots and to encourage the growth of the tender shoots.

Radicchio Varieties

There are many varieties of radicchio intended for optimum commercial growth in specific climes. A couple of types, which can be found in a good seed catalogue, include:

  • ‘Guilo’ – performs well in most of the country and is planted in spring or early summer, or seeded in the fall through winter for climates similar to Florida.
  • ‘Augusto’ – recommended for planting in late August for fall crops.

Care of Radicchio Pests

Radicchio plants are often attacked by the same types of pests as the cabbage family such as aphids, many beetle types, thrips and ants.

The care of radicchio affected with these pests can be countered by any number of chemical or biological controls. Consult with your local garden supply on methods of control related to your specific insect invader, type of plant and climate.

Radicchio is not only susceptible to the harsh effects of the sun and a sundry of pests, it can also be affected by a variety of fungal issues and powdery molds. These usually occur due to inadequate drainage and are most commonf in areas of the country with extremely wet conditions.

Radicchio, sometimes called Italian chicory, is similar to cabbage and nothing like a radish. Often used as a salad green, the leaves are deep red or purple with white ribs. Radicchio has a strong, bitter flavor (unless cooked) and offers great nutritional value. Here are some tips on how to grow radicchio in the home garden.

Radicchio is a perennial that will come back year after year once established in your garden. Grow radicchio during the cooler parts of the growing season. Plant in the early spring, about 4 weeks prior to the last frost or as soon as the soil can be worked. Fall crops grow well too. Sow seeds at mid summer in most regions or mid to late fall in the far south or warmer growing climates, usually about 10 weeks prior to the first frost of autumn.

Mature radicchio plants can handle a little frost. Mid summer heat will cause radicchio to go too seed. In warm climates, fall heat can cause immature radicchio to bolt early, so it may be best to only grow in the spring in these regions or late in the fall if winter is mild.

Radicchio will grow anywhere that has consistent temperatures of 50° F – 70° F for 60 – 90 days. Plant it in an area of the garden that gets full sun. Radicchio will also grow in containers. Provide at least an 8-inch pot for each plant.

Radicchio grows best in fertile, fast draining soil. Amend your garden soil with lots of mature compost before planting. Aged manure will also do the trick.

Sow radicchio seeds very thinly, only ¼ inch deep. It’s best to just sprinkle soil over them lightly. Keep the soil moist and they should sprout in 6 – 10 days. Thin to 12 inches between plants once they become established.

Transplant indoor grown seedlings after 4 – 6 weeks.

Water radicchio frequently but lightly. Unlike most vegetables, they do not like long soaks. You may need to water every day during warm weather.

Radicchio will benefit from a thick layer of organic mulch spread around the base of each plant. This will keep the soil moist and prevent root competition from weeds.

In general, radicchio is pretty resistant to diseases. Pests like slugs, caterpillars and aphids can be a problem but the strong flavor of radicchio tends to turn off most bugs and varmints. Keep them at bay by practicing clean, healthy gardening and imploring organic pest control. Beer traps and organic sprays work great when hand picking isn’t enough.

Harvest radicchio once the entire head is firm. Slice off the entire head at ground level when ripe. Harvest spring crops when the air is still slightly cool and before the heat causes it to go to seed. Harvest fall crops just after the first couple light frosts. The frosts will take some of the bitterness out of the leaves.

Radicchio is best eaten fresh. It doesn’t store well, but will last a few day if put in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Add a wet paper towel to the bag to give it a little more life.

Do you have questions or tips on how to grow radicchio? Let us know in the comments section below.

How to Grow and the Benefits of growing Chicory from Wild Chicory Heirloom Seeds

by Arlene Wright-Correll
Home Farm Herbery

At Home Farm Herbery we harvest these seeds at the end of each season and resell them to raise money to send to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and we offer a limited number of packets that containe Approx. 100 Seed Pkt. $7.99 with free shipping and each order comes with a free complimentary herb or herb blend of our choice so buy yours today. Plus all our seeds come with special planting instruction sheets and other free goodies we can think of.

Each packet comes with the following instructions on planting and growing wild chicory.
How to Grow Chicory and Step by Step Guides to Chicory growing
1. Arrange the soil. Chicory can live or grow within well drained land where is fertile with nutrients. However, the Chicory plant will grow inside other soils when they are improved with organic fertilizers and a lot of compost manure.
2. Spread the plant/seeds for 9 inches to 1.5 foot apart with 1.5 inches deep. Try to grow this plant/seed in early spring until summer for the period of one month following the final frost.
3. Expect the plant/seeds to sprout and separate seedlings to have them grown up over 8 inches apart. The sprouting time for Chicory growth is from 2 to 4 weeks.
4. Remove the wild weeds from your sprouts and spray water onto them well. If you would love to harvest either plants or roots, you can do after three months and a half. The foliage can be picked out of the garden or used within a new salad.
5. This phase is the time when seed Chicory starts to shoot or germinate. Therefore, arrange pots to plant the Chicory roots. This time, the soil should be fine for them like sand kept in a shed with the cool temperature.
6. Trim their roots on a straight line, one to three inches above its crown.
7. Grow the cut roots to stimulate the crown to be one or three inches on top of the ground.
8. Store other upturned pots above the root tops. Block pot holes to prevent daylight from impacting the plants/seeds.
9. The tender and small leaves are harvested after around 7 weeks. The shoots are valuable in favor of their soft texture and mild flavor.
Nutrition / Benefit
The Chicory or Cichorium intybus is invented as food such as Crispy chicken breast plus fennel salad and braised chicory, potato salad with Finger licking ribs, Stuffed saddle, Roast pheasant plus wild mushrooms and caramelized walnuts, Braised chicory with beans and so on. Moreover, within Chicory there are several vitamins such as Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-Complex, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Additionally, Chicory is produced as Chicory Syrup also known as Inulin. The Inulin always supports the ability of people’s bodies to absorb or attract calcium which assists in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.
Furthermore, Chicory can be added to a lot of coffee in order to mellow the coffee quality in favor of young generations. Currently, in the America and other European countries there is a lot of consumption with popularity as well.
Chicory, also known as Cichorium intybus, is a perennial herbaceous, somewhat woody and erect plant with brilliant blue flowers. Different varieties are developed for roots, chicons, or salad leaves which are ground, baked or used for additive or coffee substitute. It is planted as a forage plant in favor of livestock. The Chicory plant lives as a wildlife plant beyond roadsides within native Europe such as Australia and North America where this plant has turned naturalized. Anyway, “Chicory” is the popular name as well in the U.S.A for a curly-leave plant – Cichorium endivia. Chicory is a very versatile plant that is equally cherished as a flower and as an herb. Chicory seeds can be planted in the most challenging of conditions, and actually tend to thrive in less-than-ideal soil. Though chicory is most famously used in teas, it has also traditionally been used to flavor coffees as well.
No one needs a green thumb to grow this plant.
May the Creative Force be with you.

Arlene Wright-Correll Posted by Arlene @ 11:28 AM CDT

Growing chicory from root

Mine has also been flowering for about the last two or three months. If I don’t cut it back, it will keep sending up stalks and flowering until the cold weather arrives. At that point, it reverts to whatever form the leafy type is (I have witloof, radicchio, frastagliate, and two others) and spends the winter slowly growing leaves. By October or November, all of the stalks are dried up and it begins to regrow at the base.
Last July we had a very wet month, I imagine it was a lot like your rainy season, and the seeds held up well. If you wait for the little seed capsules to turn from green to brown, that is when you can pull them and open them up to get the dozen or so seeds that are inside. A stem can contain a mix of brown and green capsules, and if you wait for them all to turn brown, you may find that a large number have burst open on their own and dropped their seed. You may want to go out on a weekly basis with a cup and squeeze the brown seed pods so they drop their seeds into the cup. Just like cutting the leaves, the seeds of chicory are also something that you can come back again and again to collect.

Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Early planting followed by cold temperatures may increase incidence of bolting, as chicory needs a cold period to induce flowering. Commercial cultivars of Cichoriumintybusvar.sativumare available.

Propagation method

Seed at 0.5 to 1cm depth to achieve 150000 plants/ha.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Late April/early May.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

9 cm

Between row spacing

45 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

>10°C (hot soil temperatures may inhibit seed germination).


No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.Research from Belgium indicates chicory root production requires (/ha): 150-180 kg N, 60-80 kg P and 240-300 kg K. for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soils. Sandy or loam soils.

Soil pH

pH 6 on light soils, pH 7 on heavy loam soils.

Special requirements for growth habit

Boron deficiency in the soil may cause heart rot.

Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive (young seedlings).

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions. Moisture availability is critical to uniform germination of the seed.

Days to harvest

Roots are harvested in late fall prior to first frost, after which the quality of the inulin declines.

Specialized equipment

Sugar beet digger.

Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market. Inulin content is the main quality parameter for the industrial/medicinal markets.

Additional Harvest Notes


Post harvest
Special handling/curing:

Roots should be washed to remove excess soil.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 95%

Temperature: 2°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 12-16 weeks

When I first learned that chicory grew wild in southern Ontario, foraging for it and roasting the root of this coffee alternative was in the back of my mind as a fun thing to try. Last weekend—with the ground moistened from recent rains, some spare time in the countryside, purple flowers sighted in the fields, and a few youtube tutorials under my belt—I finally got around to giving it a go. And, although quite labor intensive, the resulting bitter home brew was much more complex, sweet, and delicious than I had anticipated!

Roasted chicory root is an infamous, inexpensive, and caffeine-free coffee substitute. Sometimes it’s mixed into pre-ground coffee as cheap filler (folks who grind their coffee at home shall not be duped!). Throughout history, non-coffee growing populations have turned to chicory when coffee is scant— during economic downturns such as the Great Depression, or as a reaction to a morally imposed coffee ban. Many of us only recently learned from Blue Bottle Coffee that chicory can also be added to roasted arabica as a welcome flavoring. When mixed with milk and sugar, the resulting decadent, French-inspired, coffee and chicory beverage is called New Orleans Style Coffee.

Of course, I am interested in chicory because of its relationship to coffee, but I am also intrigued by the notion of a bitter brew that wont leave me with the jitters. Since sleep has been elusive for me this year (and not being able to sleep is the worst!), I have started to seek out more low-to-no caffeine coffee alternatives. The best part about chicory is that I can harvest, roast, and experiment with brewing it myself. If you live in North America or Europe where this plant grows, perhaps you can, too!

Here’s how I made a roasted chicory coffee substitute—

How to grow chicory

Chicory is an acquired taste. Many people find the leaves bitter, but it’s easy to look after and has a long growing season.


It can be cooked or eaten as a winter salad, as it’ll keep growing until early spring. There are three different types of chicory: ‘forcing’ chicory grown for plump hearts that are good for blanching; red chicory or radicchio, that’s great for colourful salads; and ‘non-forcing’ or sugar loaf chicory that can be cooked in a variety of ways or eaten raw. Chicory varieties are either perennial or biennial and will tolerate a range of climates and soil types.

Find how to grow chicory in our handy grow guide.

Chicory varieties are either perennial or biennial and will tolerate a range of climates and soil types. Chicory seedlings in a tray of individual plugs

Sowing chicory seeds

You can start in March, sowing seeds into modules to grow in a greenhouse. Or sow the seeds of ‘radicchio’ types of chicory outdoors, directly into well-prepared soil from late spring through the summer. Sow seeds 1.5cm deep and either so broadcast or in rows 30cm apart and thin seedlings later.

Packing soil around chicory roots in a pot for forcing

Tending your chicory crop

Generally chicory thrives in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Thin out seedlings to 25-30cm apart between plants and keep weed-free. Module-grown plants can be transplanted to a cloche in autumn to extend the season.

For forcing varieties, you will need to lift the roots in November, throwing away the smaller ones. Cut back leaves to 2.5cm and pack the roots horizontally in sand. Store them in a cool shed until needed. To produce chicons, plant a few roots in medium-sized pot of moist compost, with the tops just above the soil. Cover with either a black polythene bag or another pot and keep at 10-15°C (50-59°F).

A lush crop of chicory ready to harvest

Harvesting chicory

Non-forcing chicory can be cut from late summer until October. Look for fully formed hearts to the plants and cut them to just above soil level. The stumps will resprout if left so you can harvest more leaves later.

If you’re growing forcing types of chicory, the ‘chicons’ are ready to harvest after around four weeks under cover, when they’re about when 15cm high.

Digging up chicory plants

Storing chicory

Plants can be pulled up by their roots and will keep for a few weeks in a fridge. Or store in a cool shed, protected against frosts with straw.

Glossy, maroon chicory

Preparation and uses

There are lots of ways to use chicory, both cooked and raw. See what chicory recipes our friends at Olive magazine have to suggest.


Chicory is relatively free from pest and diseases.


Organic tip

The traditional method is to sow broadcast or randomly, allowing the plants to self-select and thin themselves out. If left to run to seed, chicory plants make beautiful flowers that are edible in salads.

Green and maroon leaves of chicory ‘Kristalkopf Snowflake’

Chicory varieties to try

  • ‘Kristalkopf Snowflake’ – a ‘non-forcing’ chicory with heads of crispy leaves with a soft heart
  • ‘Rossa di Treviso’ – a tall-growing ‘non-forcing’ chicory with heads of maroon and white leaves with thick, pure-white stems
  • ‘Variegato di Castelfranco’ – a glorious ‘non-forcing’ chicory which has pretty variegated green leaves with maroon spots. Harvest young leaves on a cut-and-come-again basis or allow hearts to develop and use whole in stir-fries
  • ‘Palla Rossa’, RHS AGM – a ‘non-forcing’ chicory with heads of maroon leaves with prominent white veining, and a firm heart. A reliable variety that does not bolt
  • ‘Pan di Zucchero’ RHS AGM – a sugar-loaf variety with dark green outer leaves. Good for blanching the hearts
  • ‘Witloof de Brussels’ – this is one of the famous forcing or Witloof varieties. These are originally closely related to dandelions, and are therefore not fussy about soil – in fact they prefer not to have any added compost or manure

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