Growing Chicory in Pots, Indoors, Home Garden

Growing Chicory in pots

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a blue-flowered perennial plant of the family Asteraceae has grown for use as a salad green. Chicory plant is an acquired taste. Many people find the plant leaves bitter, but it’s easy to look after and has a long growing season. Growing potted Chicory plants is a great method to enjoy them up close and in small spaces. In the garden, Chicory is appreciated for its brilliant blue flowers, which could be more white or pink, depending on the pH level of your soil. Chicory is very easy to grow, but it has long taproots like its cousin, the familiar yellow dandelion. If you use the roots, planting Chicory in pots makes the plant very easy to harvest. If you grow Chicory for the leaves, Chicory in a container can be conveniently located indoors. In this article we also discuss below topics;

  • How do you plant Chicory
  • Tips for growing Chicory plants
  • Growing Chicory plant problems
  • How do you grow Chicory indoors
  • How long does Chicory take to grow
  • Process of Chicory seed sowing
  • How do you care for potted Chicory plants
  • Chicory indoor care
  • Where does Chicory grow best
  • How long does it take to grow Chicory
  • Potted Chicory care

A step by step guide to growing Chicory indoors

Chicory needs little care if planted in a garden bed with deep, fertile soil and full sun exposure. The flowers should be regularly pruned during the summer months since Chicory will prolifically self-sow and overtake your garden if allowed to set seed. Chicory plants are easy to grow in the garden as a cool-season crop. Seeds and transplants are the primary means of growing Chicory plants.

Varieties of Chicory herb plants

There are mainly two types of Chicory plant. Whitloof Chicory is grown for the large root, which is used to make a coffee supplement. It can be forced to use the tender white leaves called Belgian endive. Radicchio is grown for the leaves, which can be in a tight head or a loosely packed bunch. Radicchio plant is best harvested very young before it turns bitter. There are many varieties of each type of Chicory plant. Whitloof Chicory plants to grow are Daliva, Flash, and Zoom

Varieties for planting Chicory for leaves only include Rossa di Treviso, Rossa di Verona, Giulio, and Firebird

Soil requirement for growing Chicory

Chicory can grow within well-drained land where is fertile with nutrients. However, the Chicory will grow inside other soils when they are improved with organic fertilizers and a lot of compost manure. Chicory plant grows on a range of soil types. However, silt loams with good summer water-holding capacity and that aren’t prone to water logging are best. Heavy clays and poorly drained soils are not recommended for planting Chicory. Chicory can tolerate acidic soils; however, the optimal pH level is 5.6 to 6.2.

Chicory plant likes a sunny spot with well-drained soil. If you can, prepare the soil for spring sowing by digging in the winter season, adding plenty of well-rotted manure. A week before sowing sprinkles a general-purpose fertilizer over the area and rake into the surface.

How to sow Chicory seeds

  • Sow seeds in July or August, for Chicory plants ready to be picked from October to December.
  • To sow in rows, stretch a length of string between two canes to make a straight line and then make a shallow trench, about 1cm deep, with a garden cane.
  • Sow Chicory seeds thinly, then cover, water and label.
  • Alternatively, fill a large 45cm diameter pot with compost, level, and tap to settle and aim to leave a 2cm gap between the surface of the compost and the rim of the pot. Sow seeds thinly across the surface and then cover with a 1cm layer of vermiculite.

Planting Chicory

Seeds can be started indoors 5 to 6 weeks before they are moved outdoors. In warm climates, sowing outdoors and transplanting occurs September through March. Planting Chicory in cooler climates must be done three to four weeks before the danger of frost has passed. Sow Chicory seeds about 6 to 10 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. You can always thin the Chicory plants if they crowd each other but close planting discourages weeds. The seeds are planted about ¼ inch deep and thinning is done when the plants have 3 to 4 true leaves. You can sow a crop for fall harvest if you choose a variety that has an early maturation date. Planting Chicory seed about 75 to 85 days before the anticipated harvest will ensure a late crop. Chicory herb plants that are to be forced for blanched leaves will need to have the plant roots dug up before the first frost. Cut the leaves to 1 inch and store the roots for 3 to 7 weeks in the refrigerator before forcing. Plant the roots individually after chilling to force the plant leaves to grow in a tight, blanched head.

Process of growing Chicory plant

Step 1) Plant Chicory in a sunny bed if growing for its roots or under partial shade if growing it to harvest the plant leaves. Select a bed with draining soil and moderate fertility. Avoid beds with clay-based soil since the plant roots will not develop properly.

Step 2) For module trays, sow approximately 1cm deep and plant out 3-4 weeks later (once they have reached 10cm tall) leaving 15 to 20cm between plants. Make sure the soil is moist and then seedlings do not dry out. Then, water well until they are firmly established.

Step 3) To sow direct, sow about 1 to 2 seeds every 10cm in rows 20cm apart. Once established, thin plants to 15 to 20cm in the row. To grow in a pot, fill a large 45cm pot with good quality potting compost and sow the seeds thinly across the surface and then cover with a 1cm layer of vermiculite.

Step 4) Prepare the planting bed in early spring once soil temperatures warm to 18°C. Weed the bed thoroughly. Break up the soil with a cultivating fork and work a 4-inch-thick layer of compost into the bed to 8-inch depth.

Step 5) Dig 1/16-inch-deep furrows along the bed and space the furrows 2 to 3 feet apart. Scatter Chicory seeds into the furrows at a rate of 2 every inch. Cover the Chicory seeds with a thin layer of soil.

Step 6) Mist the bed heavily to settle the soil onto the Chicory seeds. Use a garden hose with a misting nozzle and avoid saturating the soil since the seeds are buried very shallowly and will easily dislodge under a heavy stream of water.

Step 7) Watch for germination starting in 7 days, but don’t be discouraged if it takes up to three weeks for the seeds to sprout. Thin the seedlings to one every 6 inches, if growing them for roots, or leave them closely spaced if growing them for the plant leaves.

Step 8) Spread about a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch between the rows to discourage weed growth and to help maintain soil moisture. Water once a week to a 1-inch depth and allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering to keep the roots from rotting or growing too rapidly, which will result in a fibrous, bitter crop.

Step 9) Side-dress the rows with a 2-inch-thick layer of well-composted manure once the plants grow to about 4 inches in height. Add more manure in mid- to late summer to encourage the production of large, healthy plant roots. Then, prune off the flower heads as they emerge during the summer months. Watch for buds as early as May, but be prepared to prune the Chicory plants well into October.

Step 10) Harvest the plant leaves before the middle rib thickens and becomes hairy if consuming them raw. Harvest the mature plant leaves for cooking. Dig up the roots for consumption in mid- to late autumn since cool weather increases the size and quality of the plant roots.

Caring for potted Chicory plants

  • Plant Chicory seed in spring or summer, and then harvest the plant about 3 months later. If you live in a warm climate, plant in late summer and harvest in the spring season. If you prefer, you can start with a small plant at a greenhouse and nursery that specializes in herbs.
  • Select a container with a drainage hole in the bottom. Use a deep container if you plan to grow Chicory for the roots. Fill the container with good quality and well-drained potting mix.
  • Like most herbs, Chicory doesn’t require much fertilizer, and too much can make the plant weak and floppy. A little compost mixed into the soil at planting time is sufficient. If the Chicory plant looks like it needs a little help, use a water-soluble fertilizer or fish fertilizer diluted to half strength. Chicory plant needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Watering and weeding requirement for growing Chicory

Make sure to water evenly throughout the season and too much water; however, should be avoided to prevent rot. Don’t let Chicory dry out entirely, either. Chicory plants need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.

Keep weeds away from Chicory plants. Weeds tend to outcompete Chicory and spread disease, which is why you must focus on removing them immediately.

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Fertilizing requirement for Chicory

Apply a nitrogen fertilizer about a month after Chicory plants have been transplanted outdoors. Don’t over-fertilize, though, it can lead to weak root growth.

Common problems with growing Chicory

Rotting – leaves rot in damp conditions or when Chicory plants are grown undercover.

Remedy – Remove damaged plant leaves, and improve ventilation undercover.

Slugs and snails – These feed on the young seedlings and you’ll see the tell-tale trail of slime on the soil around the crop, as well as on the leaves.

Remedy – There are many methods to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers, copper tape, and biocontrols.

Chicory harvesting

You can start harvesting the baby Chicory leaves as soon as they are ready.  Or leave to form a compact head and it will feel firm and plump to touch when it’s ready.  Cut the plant at ground level and it will come back if you don’t dig it up for forces. Harvest Chicory roots by pulling them straight up from the potting soil and harvest Chicory leaves by cutting them at ground level when they’re tender usually about 6 to 8 inches long. If you wait too long, the plant leaves will be unpleasantly bitter. To force in winter, you can dig up a few plant roots and put them in big pots or buy dormant plants in pots in the autumn.  If using your own, cut the plants back to about 2cm of foliage, dig up the plant roots and plant them in a big pot.

Commonly asked questions about growing Chicory

Questions about growing Chicory.
uestions about growing Chicory
Will Chicory grow in shade?

Chicory must be planted in full sun and will not tolerate much shade. The maintenance of the Chicory plant is minimal. In the summer season, as Chicory plants begin to sprout flowering stems, mow the stem down to encourage new leaf growth.

Is Chicory easy to grow?

The Chicory plant is used both for its leaves and its roots. Chicory plants are easy to grow in the garden as a cool-season crop. Seeds and transplants are the primary means of growing the Chicory plant.

Does Chicory reseed itself?

Not typically grown in the formal gardens, Chicory plant is left more to wildflower patches and roadsides. Considered invasive by many, they reseed themselves, but when conditions are met; full sun and well-drained, pliable soil.

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