Growing Guide
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Belgian endive

Vegetable (Cool Season) - Salad Greens

Also known as witloof chicory, white endive
Cichorium intybus (Belgian endive)
Compositae Family

Grow the roots like carrots during summer. (They can be ground for a coffee substitute.) Harvest and store for forcing gourmet “chicons” - 4 to 6-inch spindle-shaped heads or buds -- for winter salads.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

A biennial grown for first-year roots (chicons) which are forced in darkness to produce edible heads.

Ease-of-care: difficult

Requires excellent soil, long growing season, care at harvest and skill and facilities to force roots.

Height: 1 to 1.5 feet

Spread: 0.5 to 1 feet

Foliage color: medium green

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: cushion, mound or clump

Special Considerations
  • frost
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America
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:
Direct-seed in early spring, spacing plants 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Grow and harvest as you would root crops such as carrots. Harvest for forcing around first fall frost. Do not delay harvest or forced roots will bolt.

Store in damp sand or sawdust near freezing (32 F to 35 F). When ready to force, rebury upright in soil, sand, sawdust or other media and move to dark, cool (50 F to 60 F), humid location with good air circulation. Keep media moist but not too wet. “Chicons” should be ready for harvest in 3 to 4 weeks.

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

Look for early varieties that are ready for forcing earlier than mid-season varieties, which usually have better yields. Late varieties withstand cold-storage better.

Varieties ‘Flash’ and ‘Roelof’ do not require soil for forcing.