Growing Red Chicory or Radicchio in the Garden: Complete Guide

Hello to all agrohuerters! Today we are going to talk to you about how to grow red chicory or radicchio in your gardens. We will see step by step how to plant, care for the crop, pests and diseases, harvest, etc. In addition, we must know that there are many other varieties of chicory that we will see throughout the article.

Red Chicory or Radicchio

What is radicchio or red chicory?

Radichhio, Italian radicchio, red chicory,… The name may seem a bit strange at first. However, most of us have seen radicchio or radicchio in the markets.

Its scientific name is Cichorium intybus var. foliosum. It is a variety of chicory known for having purple leaves with white veins. It has a compact bud shape and belongs to the Asteraceae family (also called Compositae).

This crop is well known in Italy, where in several cities such as Treviso, Verona or Chioggia it is classified as a product with a protected geographical designation of origin.

On the other hand, those of you who have tried chicory will have verified that the taste of these leaves is rather bitter.

Red chicory in the market

Benefits of red chicory

Red chicory, in addition to its culinary characteristics, has been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages. For example: it improves the functioning of the liver, it is detoxifying, purifying, healing, sedative, diuretic, etc.

The presence of provitamin A, B group vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium or magnesium stands out.

Recipes with red chicory or radicchio

Undoubtedly the most repeated recipe for red chicory is salads. And as you know, we can make all kinds of salads: with tomatoes, cheese, nuts, peppers, onions, fruit, etc.

Red chicory or radicchio salad

However, apart from using radicchio in salads, we can make other types of recipes such as:

  • Risotto with radicchio and pancetta
  • Noodles with radicchio, hazelnut sauce and honey
  • Grilled radicchio with prawns

How to grow radicchio or red chicory step by step

Once we know a little more about radicchio or red chicory, we are going to learn how to grow it (and add a touch of color) in our gardens with these simple tricks. We will start with the sowing and continue with the different tasks of the crop until we reach its harvest. Here we go!

Work prior to planting

To obtain chicory like the ones we see in the photo, it is very important to follow all the steps well. Therefore, before sowing it is essential to prepare the soil well. To do this, it is important to break the «sole» to avoid future waterlogging by crumbling the soil well.

In addition, we can add organic fertilizer and earthworm humus to favor the substrate and the subsequent development of the crop.

planting of red chicory

The sowing can be done directly in the orchard or previously in seedbeds. The advantage of sowing in seedbeds is to achieve greater uniformity in the crop later. In addition, the amount of seeds used is much less.

On the other hand, if we decide to sow directly in the garden, we will lose uniformity but it will be less laborious. So you choose.

Direct sowing will be carried out on ridges 0.8 meters apart, placing rows of seeds about 30-40 centimeters apart. After sowing we must not forget to apply a small irrigation above.

Normally germination will occur between 5 and 10 days later. The growing cycle for red chicory is usually 70 to 110 days depending on the variety and it is mainly grown in spring and autumn.

Growing red chicory or radicchio in the garden (Source: Bejo)

climate and soil

The radicchio adapts very well to the Mediterranean climate and its mild temperatures.

Likewise, it usually adapts quite well to all types of soils. However, its preferred soil is a loamy, fertile, fresh, permeable soil with a slightly acid pH.


This crop does not require excessive irrigation, however it is important to keep the soil moist without waterlogging.

Red chicory harvest

The harvest or collection of the red chicory will be carried out when the crop reaches the appropriate size and compactness. We must pay attention, because if we leave the crop many days too many in the garden, the leaves will be increasingly bitter.

If we have many chicories planted, it is likely that the harvest will be staggered since the bud does not form uniformly in all of them.

Red chicory or radicchio harvest

Pests and diseases of red chicory

Among the pests and diseases that can most affect this crop are:

  • aphids
  • black donut
  • caterpillars
  • Mildew
  • botrytis
  • sclerotinia
  • Premature rise to flower

Associations of chicory with other crops

The crops with which red chicory can be associated are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower

Other varieties of chicory

In addition to radicchio or red chicory, there are many other varieties of chicory. First of all we must distinguish between wild and cultivated varieties.

Within the cultivated varieties, apart from the radicchio we can find:

  • Sugarloaf, also called escarole or cabbage, is very similar to romaine lettuce.
  • Belgian endive (witlof)
  • Root chicory (Cichorium intybus var. sativum). This variety is very curious because the root is roasted, chopped and ground to be added later to the coffee. During periods of crisis or scarcity, this crop was mixed with coffee. It is less sweet than sugar but can also be used as a sweetener.

If you liked this article, do not miss other crops from the garden such as: m


This is all for today agrohuerters, I hope you liked the article and that you dare to grow red chicory or radicchio in your gardens.

See you in the next article.

Have a nice day!

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