In The Garden – Radicchio

A few months ago I started experimenting with growing the salad green radicchio. I started the plants from seeds. I also am trying a method that I heard works with cabbage. That method is to use the stem end. Radicchio is cosidered a slightly bitter salad green although it can be mostly red. It is related to endive and escarole. It is in the chicory family. Although for those scientific minded gardeners it is said to be in the Compositae family that includes sunflowers.

Growing radicchio from seeds is basically like most vegetables. I prefer to start seeds in small cell packs rather than direct seeding in the garden. When the first true leaves appear I transplant the seedlings into 4″ pots. Then I transplant into the garden or a large container when plants are 4″ to 6″ tall. I explain this method in detail in my gardening book on the iTunes store (see the link on the sidebar).

The seed method went well except the germination percentage was low. And, the seeds may have been mixed with an odd variety of radicchio. The midrib on the plants from these seeds is red instead of white. The company sent me a replacement packet of seeds they got from Italy. Stay tuned for those results. Here in Hawaii most of the year the temperatures are warm to hot so radicchio will not form heads and the leaves are mostly dark green with tnges of red. The red appears more pronounced as the teperature gets cooler. But the leaves are still edible. In the winter we get a little lower temps and the plants might produce small heads here in Hawaii.

The stem end method is interesting. You get another plant from the original vegetable. This way saves time and money. Radicchio is expensive. But if you purchase one head you can eventually get another plant from it so you can cut the price at least in half. I purchased the radicchio head for these tests. So far it looks like you will only get leaves from this method and it will not form heads. But I only recently started testing this method so keep checking back on any new developments.

With the stem method you purchase a head of radicchio from the store. You the either cut out the stem end right away or wait until you finish eating the leaves. Then you can plant that stem end in the garden or put into a jar top and put on a windowsill for a couple of days, then into the garden. Either way you choose the leaves will appear first and get to a good size before roots develope.

You can watch a video of growing radicchio that is on my youtube channel Wonderful Wandering Topics or go directly to the radicchio video at


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