Radicchio–also called red chicory–is a cool-weather crop. Radicchio is grown for its rosette of broad red leaves used in salads; its leaves are similar to the leaves of sugarloaf chicory but with a more biting flavor.
Radicchio is a form of chicory which is a perennial, but radicchio is commonly grown as an annual. Radicchio has loose-leaved heads early in the season; the heads become tighter (and redder) later in the season as the weather cools. Heads can be 3 to 5 inches (7-12 cm) across. Improved cultivars form heads earlier than older varieties.
Here is your complete guide to growing radicchio.
Radicchio Quick Growing Tips
- Sow radicchio seed in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring.
- Grow radicchio in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F (7-18°C).
- Plant radicchio so that it comes to harvest in cool weather.
- Radicchio requires between 60 and 100 cool days to reach harvest depending on the variety you grow; if you grow radicchio in spring make sure there are enough cool days before warm weather comes.
Where to Plant Radicchio
- Grow radicchio in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade.
- Plant radicchio in soil rich in organic matter; add aged garden compost to planting beds before growing.
- Radicchio prefers a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.8.
When to Plant Radicchio
- Radicchio is a hardy, cool-season perennial commonly grown as an annual.
- Radicchio is best grown best in spring and early summer in cold winter regions and in fall and winter in warm-winter regions.
- Sow radicchio seeds in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring.
- Grow radicchio in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F.
- Radicchio requires 60 to 100 days to come to harvest depending upon the variety.
More planting tips at Radicchio Seed Starting Tips.
Planting and Spacing Radicchio
- Sow radicchio seed ¼ inch (6mm) deep and 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) apart.
- Thin plants from 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) apart when the seedlings are 4 inches tall. You can eat the thinnings.
- Space rows 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm) apart.
- Radicchio yield: grow 5 to 6 radicchio plants per household member.
Water and Feeding Radicchio
- Keep radicchio evenly moist.
- Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and again at midseason.
Radicchio Companion Plants
- Grow radicchio with greens such as lettuce. Not peas or beans.
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.
Container Growing Radicchio
- Radicchio can be grown in a container. Choose a pot at least 12 inches (30 cm) wide and deep.
Radicchio Pests and Diseases
- Radicchio can be attacked by aphids, armyworms, flea beetles, leafhoppers, slugs, and snails.
- Downy mildew can attack radicchio.
How to Harvest Radicchio
- Radicchio is ready for harvest when leaves are 3 to 5 inches tall when a head has formed or leaves can be harvested loose.
- Cut full heads as soon as they are firm. Harvest before a heavy frost.
More tips at How to Harvest and Store Radicchio.
Storing and Preserving Radicchio
- Radicchio will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 to 3 days wrapped in a moist paper towel.
Radicchio Varieties to Grow
- Carmen (75 days); Castle Franco (85 days); Chioggia (80 days); Early Treviso (80 days); Giulio (60-100 days); Milan (90 days); Prima Rossa; Red Treviso (85 days); Red Verona; Rossa di Verona (85 days); Rossana Radicchio (90 days); Rouge de Verone (85 days). Giulio is a good choice for spring. Augusto is a good choice for fall and winter crops.
- Common name. Radicchio, Italian chicory, heading chicory, rosette chicory, spring chircory
- Botanical name. Cichorium intybus
- Origin. Northern Italy
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