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Radicchio Seed Starting Tips

Radicchio in gardenRadicchio grows best in the cool weather of spring and fall.

Radicchio has a lettuce-like head that colors to a deep rosy red as the weather grows cold in autumn or winter. The slightly bitter taste of radicchio sweetens with cooler day temperatures.

When to Plant Radicchio

  • Direct seed radicchio in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked or start seed indoors 8 weeks before the last frost in spring protected by a plastic tunnel.
  • Seeds germinate quickly even in cold soil and light frost will not harm the seedlings.
  • Avoid growing radicchio during the summer. Warm temperatures cause radicchio leaves to become bitter and pungent.
  • Radicchio matures in 75 to 110 days depending on the variety.

Radicchio Sowing and Planting Tips

  • Radicchio can be grown from seeds or transplants.
  • The seed is viable for 5 years.
  • Start indoors 12 to 8 weeks before the last frost or sow; transplant maturing seedlings into the garden 2 weeks before the last frost. Or direct-sow seed in late summer for autumn or winter harvest.
  • The optimal growing air temperature for radicchio is 45°-65°F (7-18°C).
  • Sow seed ¼ inch (6 mm) deep.
  • Sow seeds 2 inches (5 cm) apart; later thin seedlings 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) apart. Make sure there is good air circulation around maturing plants to avoid disease.
  • For intensive planting space plant 8 inches (20 cm) apart in a staggered pattern.
  • Radicchio grows best in full sun but can tolerate light shade.
  • Prefers a soil pH between 5.0 and 6.8.
  • Seed germinates in 5 to 7 days at or near 60°F (7°C)—but sometimes seed can take up to 2 weeks to germinate if the soil is cold.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist until seeds germinate then keep the soil moist until seedlings are well established.
  • Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of sowing; compost will feed the soil and aide moisture retention.
  • Avoid planting radicchio where endive and escarole have recently grown.
  • Make successive sowings every few weeks for an extended harvest.
  • Fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion at half strength.
  • Aphids, flea beetle, leafhoppers, armyworms, snails, and slugs can attack radicchio.

Interplanting Radicchio

  • Interplant radicchio with lettuce.

Container Growing Radicchio

  • Grow radicchio in a container at least 12 inches (30 cm) wide and deep.
Radicchio in garden
Radicchio ready for harvest

Radicchio Recommended Planting Calendar

  • 8 weeks before the last frost in spring: direct-sow in a plastic tunnel or cold frame.
  • 8 weeks before the last frost in spring: start seed indoors for transplanting later.
  • 2 weeks before the last frost in spring: direct sow in the garden.

For Fall Harvest and Winter Harvest:

  • 6-5 weeks before the first frost in fall: direct-sow in the garden for a fall crop.
  • 5-3 weeks before the first frost in fall: direct-sow in a plastic tunnel or cold frame for winter harvest.

Radicchio Recommended Varieties

  • ‘Rossa di Treviso’ and ‘Rossa de Verona’ are standards.
  • ‘Giulio’ for spring crops.
  • ‘Augusto’ for fall and winter crops.

Botanical Name: Cichorium intybus

Radicchio belongs to the Compositae (Asteraceae) or sunflower family.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Radicchio

Radicchio Serving Raw and Cooking


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