Growing Guide
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Vegetable (Cool Season) - Salad Greens

Also known as escarole, frisee
Cichorium endiva (Endive)
Compositae Family

Flat-leaved varieties are known as escarole, these cool-season greens are known for their sharp, bitter taste. More tolerant of heat and cold than lettuce, frilly-leaved endive makes an attractive addition to ornamental plantings.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
  • part shade
Partial shade beneficial in hot weather.

Special locations:

  • outdoor containers
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Biennial grown as an annual.

Height: 0.5 to 2 feet

Spread: 0.5 to 2 feet

Special Considerations
  • frost - Light frost in fall enhances flavor.
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America - Mediterranean origin
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 35 F to 85 F - 75 F is optimal

Days to emergence: 5 to 7

Seed can be saved 5 years.

Maintenance and care:
Like lettuce and other cool-season greens, endive needs short days and cool temperatures.

Direct seed -inch deep in rows 18 inches apart 2 to 4 weeks before average last frost. Make succession plantings for continuous harvest. Thin to 8 to 12 inches.

For extra-early crops, start seed inside 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Transplant into garden about 2 weeks before last frost.

To prevent plants from going to seed (bolting), keep them well-watered and shaded when temperatures are above 75 F. Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

For fall harvests, direct seed in garden about 2 to 3 months before expected fall frost. Light frost enhances flavor.

Blanch heading varieties for a milder flavor. A week or so before harvest, pull outer leaves over head and tie. Make sure leaves are dry to avoid rot. Other blanching alternatives include placing a flower pot over the plant, or covering with a cardboard disk or plastic container. Self-blanching varieties are available. Close plant spacing (about 8 inches) encourages self-blanching.

Browse common endive varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

“Curly leaved” endive varieties have heavily curled, deeply toothed leaves that form rosettes. The leaves can hold water, making these varieties prone to leaf diseases, especially in fall-harvested plantings.

“Flat-leaved” endive varieties, called escarole, have leaves that are broader, flatter, and only slightly crumpled, and so are not as prone to diseases. They also form loose heads, are hardier, and are more tender and milder tasting than curly endive.

Do not confuse these crops with Belgian endive, a member of the same genus which is grown for its roots and forced tops.

For spring plantings, look for slow-bolting varieties that can withstand the heat of early summer longer before going to seed (bolting).

Some heirloom varieties have purplish-red leaves.

Some varieties recommended for New York include:

Florida Deepheart
Full Heart Bavarian
Green Curled
Rhodus (Tres Fine) - hybrid