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Growing Radicchio in Pots from Seeds – a Full Guide

Introduction to growing Radicchio in pots

Radicchio has a lettuce-like head that colors to a deep rosy red as the weather grows cold in autumn or winter season. The bitter taste of Radicchio sweetens with cooler day temperatures. Radicchio is also called red chicory, adds color to your garden and dinner table. It can save you some money since Radicchio in the grocery store can be pricey. There are many kinds, colors, and different forms. The Radicchio is a low-growing plant with bitter, reddish-green outer leaves and a compact heart. The beautiful red and whiteheads of Radicchio grow to the size of oranges or grapefruits. The plant leaves are slightly bitter like endive but sweeten slightly with cooler day temperatures. In this article we also discuss below topics;

  • How do you grow Radicchio seeds
  • How long do Radicchio seeds germinate
  • Radicchio plant care
  • Growing Radicchio from seed
  • Tips for Growing Radicchio in pots
  • Different varieties of Radicchio
  • Growing Radicchio problems

A step by step guide to growing Radicchio in pots

Different varieties of Radicchio

Chioggia – Chioggia is the classic variety you normally see at the store. It looks like a purple color cabbage head but has a stronger flavor. The supermarket standard features a tight and cabbage-like head of leaves and a slightly astringent flavor that breathes life into salads. Chioggia is commercially obtainable year-round.

Treviso – This Treviso variety looks like large, red endive, and has a mild flavor. It is tall and pointed with deep-red leaves. The plant leaves are narrow and structured, giving the plant a bit of a football shape. Tall and pointed, Treviso looks like large red endive, with a similarly mild flavor. The sturdy, narrow plant leaves are made for scooping up dips.

Treviso Tardivo – Treviso Tardivo is an enticing variety as it goes through a longer growth period that increases its flavor profile.

Castelfranco – This type has creamy white color leaves with red speckles rather than the deep-red color that you’d expect. It is a bitter green but prepared the right way it’s a treat. The gateway bitter green. Creamy white color leaves have deep red speckles and a delightfully gentle bite.

Puntarelle – Puntarelle is a difficult variety to find, but it’s worth the hunt. The Puntarelle plant looks like a clump of fennel topped with asparagus stems. Then, this type needs to be blanched for the best flavor.

Where to grow Radicchio

Radicchio plant will grow anywhere that has consistent temperatures of 10°C – 21°C for 60 – 90 days. Plant Radicchio in an area of the garden that gets full sun. Radicchio will also grow in containers and provide at least a 12-inch pot for each plant.

Radicchio starting indoors

Plant Radicchio seeds in biodegradable containers and then harden off for one week before planting in the garden. Transplant in the spring while temperatures are still cool but not freezing and plant in the fall as temps start to cool down.

Sunlight and soil requirements for growing Radicchio in pots

Radicchio plat prefers to have a sunny location in your garden, but it can handle a bit of shade, especially in the fall. Spring planted Radicchio must be planted in full sun to give it some warmth during the cooler weather. For your fall crop, choose a location that has a bit of afternoon shade to help the seeds germinate and not suffer in the heat.

Mix organic matter into the soil before planting and the goal is to add some texture and nutrients to your soil. Organic matter helps to improve the moisture content in the soil. Due to its shallow roots, the Radicchio plant needs to have the ground consistently moist. Radicchio prefers a sandy, humus-rich loam with a pH level between 6.0-6.5. Radicchio plant grows best in fertile, fast-draining soil. Amend your garden soil with lots of mature compost before planting and aged manure will also do the trick.

Container growing Radicchio

Normally, growing Radicchio in a container at least 8 inches wide and deep. Radicchio plant grows fabulous in containers so long as you use a seed-starting potting mix with the proper nutrients. Use a large pot that is at least 8-inches deep, and make sure to water the plants frequently. One of the nice things about growing Radicchio in containers is that you can move the plants to the shade when the temperatures start to get too hot during the day.

Sowing Radicchio seed

  • Radicchio is always grown from seed. Start seedlings growing indoors some 4 to 6 weeks before planting outdoors in the prepared growing bed.
  • Sow seeds in a seed tray (flat) and then cover the seeds lightly with 3mm or less of compost. Seeds will sprout in 7 to 14 days.
  • Alternatively, sow Radicchio seeds direct into the vegetable garden early in the season, once the frosts have passed or when the heat of the summer has ceased.

The process of growing Radicchio in pots

Step1) Purchase the Seeds

Radicchio is a spring or autumn leaf vegetable with a sharp and slightly bitter taste. While some gardeners start the Radicchio seeds indoors for later transplanting, most simply sow the seeds directly into the garden bed.  Popular varieties are Red Surprise and Verona Red. It is considered to be a gourmet type of vegetable. There are mainly open leaf and headed varieties; the headed varieties are the most popular. Plant leaves are maroon or reddish, with white veins.

Step 2) Prepare the Site

Radicchio plant likes fertile, well-drained soil in a mostly sunny location. With a garden fork, work some compost or soil conditioner into the top 5 or 6 inches of soil. Form rows in the garden bed approximately 24 inches apart.

Step 3) Plant the Radicchio

A sprinkle seed along the rows and it is fine if seeds overlap as the seedlings will be thinned later on. Cover the seeds with ¼ inches of fine garden soil and gently water them in. Keep the bed moist until the Radicchio seeds germinate.

Step 4) Thin the Seedlings

The Radicchio seeds must germinate in about a week. When the seedlings are 1 inch tall, thin them so that the plants are spaced 8 to 15 inches apart. To remove them, simply snip the Radicchio plants at the soil line with a pair of scissors.

Step 5) Watering the Radicchio

One of the secrets to growing the Radicchio plant is to give it plenty of water. When the Radicchio plants get drought-stressed, the leaves turn tough and bitter. Add a generous layer of mulch around the base of the Radicchio plants to cool the roots, prevent weeds, and maintain adequate moisture.

Step 6) Harvest the Radicchio

Radicchio matures in 80 to 90 days. As soon as the heads are compact, firm, and about the size of a baseball, simply cut the plant off at the soil line by using a sharp knife. It is best to eat Radicchio soon after harvesting it, but it will keep for as long as a week in the refrigerator.

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Radicchio planting tips

  • Radicchio plants can be grown from seeds or transplants. The seed is viable for 5 years.
  • Start indoors about 8 weeks before the last frost or sow; transplant maturing seedlings into the garden 2 weeks before the last frost. Or direct-sow Radicchio seed in late summer for autumn or winter harvest.
  • The optimal growing air temperature for Radicchio is 7-18°C.
  • Sow seed about ¼ inches deep.
  • Sow seeds about 2 inches apart; later thin seedlings 8 to 10 inches apart. And, make sure there is good air circulation around maturing plants to avoid disease.
  • For intensive planting space Radicchio plant 8 inches apart in a staggered pattern.
  • Radicchio grows best in full sun but can tolerate light shade.
  • Prefers a soil pH level between 5.0 and 6.8.
  • Seed germinates in 5 to 7 days at or near 7°C but sometimes seed can take up to 2 weeks to germinate if the soil is cold. Keep the soil evenly moist until seeds germinate.

Watering and fertilizing Radicchio plant growing in pots

Water Radicchio plant frequently but lightly. Unlike most vegetables, they do not like long soaks and you may need to water every day during warm weather. Radicchio plants will benefit from a thick layer of organic mulch spread around the base of each plant. Then, this will keep the soil moist and prevent root competition from weeds.

Mix well-rotted manure into the soil before planting to give Radicchio seedlings a nutrition boost. Side dress with a low-nitrogen fertilizer four weeks after putting the Radicchio plants in the ground. You don’t want to fertilize Radicchio with too much nitrogen because it can cause the plant to bolt. And, too much nitrogen increases bitterness.

Care of Radicchio pests and diseases

In general, the Radicchio plant is pretty resistant to diseases. Pests like slugs, caterpillars, and aphids can be a problem but the strong flavor of the Radicchio plant tends to turn off most bugs and varmints. And, keep them at bay by practicing clean, healthy gardening and imploring organic pest control. Beer traps and organic sprays work best when handpicking isn’t enough. Water can be used to remove aphids from Radicchio plants. Then, wash the plant off with water occasionally as needed early in the day.

Molds and rot from heavy rains could be prevented by growing undercover. Tip burn is a calcium deficiency within the Radicchio plant that can be caused by an imbalance with over nutrients. Make sure you have limed the soil, do not over-fertilize, and then harvest just before full maturity to avoid it.

Radicchio plants are attacked by the same types of pests as the cabbage family such as aphids, many beetle types, thrips, and ants. The care of the Radicchio plant affected with these pests can be countered by any number of chemical or biological controls. Consult with local garden supply on methods of control related to your specific insect invader, type of plant, and climate. Radicchio plant is not only susceptible to the harsh effects of the sun and a sundry of pests; it can be affected by a variety of fungal issues and powdery molds. These occur due to inadequate drainage and are most common in areas of the country with extremely wet conditions.

Radicchio harvest and preserving tips

  • Harvest individual plant leaves any time.
  • Harvest heads when they are firm to touch, usually 60 to 65 days after sowing.
  • Radicchio plant makes a great lettuce substitute in salads. Plant leaves can be sautéed or steamed as well as eaten raw.
  • The older the head the more bitter the flavor.
  • After a frost, harvest the head, remove and discard any plant leaves that are frozen on the outside.
  • Store in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 weeks.

Commonly asked questions about growing Radicchio in pots

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Questions about growing Radicchio.
Questions about growing Radicchio.
Is Radicchio easy to grow?

Radicchio plant is hardy and can be planted as early as the soil can be worked. It is a cool-weather crop and grows best at temperature levels of 15-18°C. Careful Radicchio variety selection is important for hot weather plantings.

How do you know when Radicchio is ready?

Heads are ready for cutting when they are firm to the touch (usually after about 60 to 65 days), similar to iceberg lettuce. To harvest, cut the entire Radicchio plant just above the soil line. Harvest heads when they are young.

Why is Radicchio so expensive?

Several types of Radicchio are expensive as they are cost-intensive to cultivate as some are deprived of light as they mature.

Can you grow Radicchio in pots?

If you are short on garden space, you can grow Radicchio in large pots without any problems. Keep it to one plant for every 8 inches of the container, and water them frequently. They could even grow better than out in the garden because you can move the pots into shadier surroundings as the season heats up.

Is Radicchio a perennial?

Radicchio plant is a bright, purple-red, cool-weather-loving perennial. Like a cabbage, it grows heads that can be chopped up and thrown into a salad and cooked other items.

Is chicory the same as Radicchio?

The common English names of these closely related plants are the cause of much confusion. Chicory is used for the green varieties of Cichorium intybus, while Radicchio is used for those that display red coloration.

How long does Radicchio last in the refrigerator?

Radicchio will store in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 weeks.

How do you make Radicchio taste good?

Radicchio owes its characteristically bitter edge to naturally occurring chemical compounds released when the vegetable is cut and chewed. Though, because these bitter compounds are water-soluble, you can tone down the bitterness by soaking the cut leaves in water.

Why does my Radicchio taste bitter?

Radicchio does tend to have a bitter taste, but it will taste bitter right before it is about to bolt in hot weather.

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