Radicchio plant: lettuce famous person of the previous world

The radicchio plant is part of a much larger chicory family known for its crisp leaves in recipes like a salad with blue cheese or even roasted with olive oil and salt. His family is also known for its famous roasted and dried roots, which can be made into a coffee alternative. But these fun little heads with slightly bitter leaves are wonderful plants for the garden. Longer lasting than many other lettuce plants, this addition to the garden rotation is worth it!

Like endive, it belongs to the Compositae family and originally comes from Eurasia and North Africa. Since then, it has spread around the world, and even has a wild cousin that grows in several western US states with bright blue flower stems that soar nearly 4 feet high.

This easy-to-grow plant is a great no-till plant and a wonderful starting plant for any home gardener. Able to take a first or last frost when ripe, these plants are wonderfully hardy and beautiful!

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Brief instructions for care

Caring for the radicchio plant is easy, especially in the cooler months. Source: Rigid

Common name (s) Italian chicory, chioggia, trevisio, radicchio, radichetta
Scientific name Cichorium intybus var. Folios
Days to harvest 55-70 days
Bright Full sun to partial shade
water 1-2 inches; Keep the plant evenly moist
floor Well-drained rich soil; Sand to clay
fertilizer 10-10-10
Pests Aphids, ants, thrips
Diseases Powdery mildew, downy mildew

Everything about radicchio

Radicchio is a lively, cold-loving plant that invigorates salads and roasts! These brightly colored little plants are mainly grown as a cold weather plant and are known for their bitter taste and beautiful round shape. These plants may look like cabbage at first glance, but radicchio or Cichorium intybus var. Foliosum is actually more closely related to the boat-shaped endive than cabbage.

Radicchio leavesThe crisp, piquant taste of radicchio makes it perfect in salads. Source: desert hedgehog

Most radicchio plants will usually grow around 0.5-1 & # 39; tall and form a lumpy mass of leaves that make up the radicchio head. Radicchio grows green leaves that can turn deep red in cool weather and soil temperatures, although some varieties are always green in color. Most of the leaves are curved or cup-shaped with white midribs that shine through the entire leaf. While the outer leaves can hang large and to the side, the center of the radicchio forms the entire head in its usual round shape.

Radicchio has a strong preference for cooler weather, which is why this is such a wonderful fall harvest. In hot weather, radicchio tends to turn bitter and then burst, sending out a long stalk of smaller and smaller leaves and eventually cream-colored daisy-like flowers.

Best planted in fall, this plant will tolerate some heat and frost, but prefers the cooler air temperatures in fall and early spring. Before planting, look out for your first frost date if you sow in autumn, or your last frost date in spring. The mature plants can tolerate frost, but seedlings cannot. Sow seeds with 60+ days of good weather on the horizon. Radicchio grows quickly from seeds and can be sown directly or transplanted.

Like many other salads, radicchio grows from a central taproot. Further ray roots grow horizontally directly below ground level. This shallow-rooting system is responsible for most of the plant's water and nutrient uptake during the growing season.

Most radicchio grow quickly from just a few seeds and germinate in just about a week. Most of them have reached their mature size within two months. First, they form some messy clumps of leaves and send out their leaves. Over time, the inner leaves develop their classic round shape. They begin to germinate or sow if left in the ground too long or when warm weather approaches in late spring. While at this stage they can get too bitter to enjoy the food, they begin to bloom to multiply. Let this process happen, and the flowers will become seeds that you can collect for next year's harvest! Alternatively, leave the flowers to the pollinators.

Types of radicchio

Radicchio generally grows in three different growing habits. The first is the more popular Chioggia type, which develops a round head. This variety includes the Radicchio Rosso, which is most commonly found in stores. The second type is the elongated type in which the leaves grow in an oval cup shape. This variety includes the spectacular Radicchio di Treviso with thick white ribs and dark red, almost magenta leaves.

There are also loose leaf varieties, but these are much rarer. Seed choices for radicchio are generally not as narrow as other more common garden vegetables, so expect more variety from your seed packets when sowing radicchio. If you're interested in growing one of these heirloom varieties, try Radicchio Castelfranco – a green and red spotted variety with loose leaves that is sure to add something interesting to your spring harvest!

Planting radicchio

Radicchio is a great option for container horticulture or for your first attempt at growing from seed. For a shallow rooted plant that needs moist soil, try growing your plants in an area that is either full shade in fall and early spring, or partial shade when temperatures exceed 70 degrees.

You can start sowing about a month before the last frost to extend your growing season and plant out plants as soon as weather permits. Seedlings can die from a first or last frost that their mature selves can withstand. So start several rounds of radicchio seeds to ensure an adequate harvest.

If you are direct sowing your plants, you will need well-drained soil rich in old compost or some other nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Place your radicchio seeds about 3-4 inches apart at a depth of 1/4 "-1 / 2" deep in rows about two inches apart. Remember, a great way to gauge how deep your seed should be planted is to sow it at twice the depth of the seed's width.

Once your plants are about 2 inches tall, you can thin (or plant out) them about 10 inches apart, then add mulch to keep the soil evenly moist.


Radicchio plant from Rossa di VeronaRossa di Verona is a popular variety of the radicchio plant. Source: Vahe Martirosyan

Radicchio is a pretty easy vegetable to grow, it has a few needs that, once met, almost guarantee success in the garden! Make sure you get off to a great start, and it will pretty much take care of itself by the time it is harvested.

Sun and temperature

Radicchio plants love sunlight, but not too much heat. Although it can handle full sun to light shade, do consider the ambient temperature of your garden. If you are growing in spring when the weather is getting warmer, plant in the afternoon shade when the days are warm. Plant in full sun in the fall when the days cool down. Since radicchio only needs about 3 hours of sunlight per day, you can be flexible when sowing this vegetable!

Ripe radicchio can tolerate light frosts or a few warm days, but it is best grown on mild weather days between summer and winter. A prolonged frost could kill it. Conversely, a prolonged period of heat can cause the leaves to burn or the radicchio to become bitter. Depending on which zone you are in, you can grow them all winter for a winter harvest (think USDA Zones 9-11).

Water and moisture

Radicchio plants love moisture! These plants cannot tolerate periods of drought, so make sure you install a drip or soaking system or have a solid watering schedule before adding radicchio to your garden.

Radicchio plants are best watered in the morning and given enough time to absorb and settle the water before the heat of the day comes. If you are planting in a sunny area or need to conserve water for some reason, a great way to keep your soil moist is by mulching the soil right around your plant to a depth of 1 to 2 inches, evenly around the roots of your seedling wet.

The best way to provide water for radicchio is to use drip irrigation. This prevents mold by pouring right at the root line and getting the water exactly where it needs to go. Remove water-sucking weeds from the area. Radicchio needs 1-2 inches of water per week. If in doubt whether your plants need more water, do a finger test. Simply insert your finger into the soil at least 2-3 inches, then pull your finger out. If you feel moisture, there is no need to water. When your finger comes out bone dry, the radicchio needs to be poured.


Radicchio isn't very picky about the type of soil it's grown in. It can handle sand, clay, or anything in between when it comes to soil type. It takes soil that has either been enriched with compost or other rich organic material. It also needs drainage.

Although it tolerates a wide pH range, it thrives in soil with a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8.


Like all leafy vegetables in cool weather, radicchio requires a generous amount of nitrogen. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth and if you are growing radicchio for its leaves it will require nitrogen applications as it grows. This can be done either as a simple fertilizer or from the compost incorporated into the soil at the time of planting.

Applications of phosphorus and potassium aid in root development and overall growth. This is best given at the time of sowing or transplanting. Try a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer. A slow-release granule works best in sandy soils, and a liquid option is better for clay soils.


Radicchio grows in a hilly clump with several slack, large leaves at the base of the plant. These large and limp leaves can be a problem as they touch the ground and spread disease from the ground. Try cutting off a few of these that are touching the ground.


Radicchio is very easy to grow from seeds. With a germination time of around a week, you will have seedlings in no time!

Harvest and storage

Radicchio di ChioggiaThree little heads by Radicchio di Chioggia. Source: PetitPlat

As with most lettuce greens, if you are growing radicchio, you will likely grow radicchio to have fresh salads for your dining table in early fall or spring. With this in mind, keep in mind that radicchio doesn't last as long as other vegetables.


Your radicchio should be harvested once the heads have reached a usable size. You can either harvest the heads whole or harvest the outer leaves and carry on for multiple harvests.

To harvest, hold onto the “head” or “heart” of the plant and twist the entire plant out of the ground. Then cut off the root system with a cutter or saw knife and remove any damaged outer leaves. They should have a nicely shaped radicchio head.


Radicchio lasts longer than regular iceberg lettuce. If carefully stored in a cool, ventilated area, it can last up to two months without refrigeration if you avoid overcrowding! Keeping it in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator can extend your winter harvest. If you grow radicchio late enough, you can enjoy this fall harvest and the delicious radicchio harvest well into winter!


Radicchio in late autumnThe radicchio plant opens its leaves in late autumn. Source: Melinda Young Stuart

There are a few problems that could prevent a perfect harvest. By planning the right varieties of radicchio in advance, keeping your soil moist with mulch and minimal weed growth, and promoting good air circulation, you can avoid problems before they start!

Growing problems

The most common problem with growing radicchio is its bitter taste as soon as it starts to screw. This is pretty common in the spring when warmer temperatures hit. Growing radicchio certainly involves some weather predictions, but you can help keep your plant from germinating by sowing bolt-resistant seeds. Proven bolt-resistant varieties such as & # 39; Giulio & # 39; and & # 39; Silla & # 39; are great seeds to try.


As with other lettuce crops, radicchio can be attacked by a few small pests that come along and eat away at its leaves. You may not spot the attacking bugs, but you can see their damage, lots of holes in your otherwise healthy radicchio head! Much of this damage can be caused by Flea beetle, Aphids, or Cabbage grapple. Use insecticidal soap to get rid of these pests or, as a stronger option, pyrethrin. BT is extremely effective against cabbage eaters. Alternatively, you can use a barrier such as a row cover to physically keep insects away from your plants.

Ants can sometimes show up in your patch of radicchio uninvited, and while they do not target your plants on their own, they can often bring other pests such as aphids with them. Organic ant baits are effective means of eliminating them, but it is better to keep the soil consistently moist. Ants don't like it when their home is damp.


Radicchio plants can sometimes fall victim to powdery mildew. These diseases thrive on damp leaves, poor air circulation, and insufficient direct sunlight. When they appear, either through white powdery spots on their leaves, as is the case with mildew or as gray mold and speckles of leaves with Wrong mildew, apply a fungicide to stop the growth.

When it comes to mold or bacterial leaf spots in the garden, the best medicine is prevention. Try to fight off these and other diseases like bacterial disease or Black rot by always planting in well-drained soil, watering in the morning, not letting the foliage get wet, not overplanting and overfilling the radicchio heads and suppressing weeds. Prevention is stronger than any fungicide.

frequently asked Questions

Inner leaves of green radicchioA look at the inner leaves of the green radicchio heads. Source: stijnh

Q: is radicchio difficult to grow?

Answer: Not at all!

Q: is radicchio a perennial?

A: Not really. It can be grown as a perennial, but few do.

Q: Can you eat screwed radicchio?

A: It's not poisonous, but it's not as pleasant as radicchio before it goes through. When you eat this, expect a very bitter and tough plant.

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