Growing Guide
 
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Radicchio

Vegetable (Cool Season) - Salad Greens

Also known as Italian chicory, chioggia, trevisio, radichetta
Cichorium intybus
Compositae Family

The small red and white heads of this chicory family member form best in cool weather. It is a staple in Italian salads with its bright color and bitter - but not overpowering - flavor.

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Site Characteristics
Sunlight:
  • full sun
  • part shade
Benefits from partial shade during hot weather.

Special locations:

  • outdoor containers
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Tender perennial grown as annual.

Ease-of-care: moderately difficult

Requires careful timing and still may be unpredictable.

Height: 0.5 to 1 feet

Spread: 0.5 to 1 feet

Foliage color:

  • medium green
  • red
  • variegated

Most varieties are red with white midribs and veins.

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: cushion, mound or clump

Special Considerations
Tolerates:
  • frost
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America - Native to Eurasia and North Africa.
Special uses:
  • edible landscaping
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 45 F to 85 F - 70 F to 75 F is optimum.

Days to emergence: 7 to 10

Seed can be saved 5 years.

Maintenance and care:
Usually direct-seeded as transplants tend to go to seed (bolt) prematurely.

Cultural requirements differ somewhat by variety, so consult seed sources for best practices. Even so, this crop can be somewhat unpredictable. In general, plant older “forcing” varieties in spring, then cut back plants in late summer to produce heads about 4 to 6 weeks later. Newer “nonforcing” varieties do not need to be cut back, and will form heads in fall or even in summer. They generally do not hold their quality as long as forcing varieties.

Direct-seed about 4 to 6 weeks before average last frost. (Nonforcing varieties can be sown through through mid-summer for fall and winter harvest.) Plant seeds to inch deep, 3 to 4 inches apart, in rows 24 inches apart. Thin to 10-inch spacings.

Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Mulch crowns from harvested plants. If conditions are mild, you may get an additional harvest in spring.

Varieties
Browse radicchio varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

Look for either red- or green-heading types. Some red types turn red only in cool weather. Heads are round (chioggia types) or elongated (trevisio types). Loose-leaf radichetta varieties also available.

Traditional older varieties are typically grown through the summer, then cut back to induce heading as cool weather approaches. Newer varieties such as 'Guilio' and 'Silla' are bolt-resistant and form heads without having to be cut back. Even these can be somewhat unpredictable. Carefully study cultural recommendations from your seed supplier for each variety.

See separate listing for endive, a closely related species, Cichorium endiva.
See other listings for related crops of same species: Cutting chicory and Belgian endive

Some varieties recommended for New York include:

Chioggia Red Preco No. 1