How to Grow Radicchio from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow radicchio at home? Good news! It’s not that difficult and can also be quite a lot of fun. I give you all the information you need to grow radicchio from seed to harvest in a step-by-step approach.
Moreover, I also answer various questions that might occur during your radicchio growing project.
Enough talk, let’s get it done! 😉
Table of Contents
Radicchio Plant Profile
|Size||Around 1 foot tall and 1 foot spread.|
|Climate||The best temperature to grow radicchio is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit daytime temperature and between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit nighttime temperature. Thus, radicchio grows best in rather cool climatic zones.|
|Sun Exposure||Radicchio grows best in sunny environments and you should therefore offer your radicchio plants the sunniest place possible.|
|Soil Requirements||Radicchio grows best with rather neutral soil conditions with a pH between 6.5 and 7.|
|Country of Origin||Italy.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy. As long as you follow all the instructions in this article, you can expect pretty decent radicchio yields.|
|Perennial?||Yes, radicchio is perennial, even though it is usually harvested within the first growing year.|
|When should you start?||If you want to start indoors, you should start growing radicchio around one month before you expect the last spring freeze. If you want to start outdoors, wait until one week before you expect the last spring freeze.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can harvest one radicchio head per plant. While this may not sound exciting, radicchio heads can get quite big and you will be able to eat several times of it.|
|What to do with it?||Apart from many nice salads, you can also make a nice risotto with it.|
What Types and Varieties of Radicchio can you grow?
Although rather unknown to the general public, there are many radicchio varieties you can grow.
I listed the most popular radicchio sorts for you in the following:
- Bel Fiore
My favorite radicchio variety for growing purposes is the Perseo radicchio since it provides pretty decent harvests and also tastes quite well.
However, tastes are different and especially if you have never planted your own radicchio at home, you should rather pick a handful of different radicchio varieties to grow rather than to rely on just a single one.
Only then will you be able to figure out which radicchio variety you like most and can continue to grow this variety in future years.
Moreover, growing more than one radicchio variety is also more interesting than just growing a single one since you can expect to harvest radicchio of many shapes and colors.
Therefore, just pick some of the most popular radicchio varieties and you are good to go.
When should you start to grow Radicchio?
You can start growing your radicchio in spring for a summer harvest or in summer for a fall harvest. However, I prefer to grow chicory early on in the year.
If you want to start like me, I suggest you start growing radicchio around one month before the last freeze in your region.
Please note that this is only true if you start growing radicchio indoors and transplant your seedlings later on.
If you want to directly start growing radicchio outdoors, you should sow your radicchio seeds around one week before you expect the last freeze so that your seedlings will not die off due to cold weather conditions.
However, to optimize the germination rate of your radicchio seeds and to maximize the chance that your seedlings turn into successful plants, I suggest you start indoor between March and April and you will be good to go.
How long does it take to grow Radicchio from Seed to Harvest?
It will take between 80 and 100 days to grow most radicchio varieties from seed to harvest.
However, please note that the overall time to grow radicchio also depends on the soil conditions you provide for your plants, on the climatic conditions and also on your individual experience in gardening.
While an experienced gardener may be able to grow radicchio from sowing to harvest in under 80 days, you might need more than 100 days if you haven’t grown radicchio before.
Hence, don’t get discouraged if it takes you a little bit longer. In fact, growing plants at home is not only about the yield, it is about loving the process.
Therefore, see it positive. The longer it takes you to grow your radicchio plants, the longer you can enjoy your growing project.
What is the best Climate to grow Radicchio?
Radicchio is a cool-weather crop and grows best in moderate to cool climatic zones.
However, this doesn’t mean that you are not able to grow radicchio in warmer climates.
It just means that the growth behavior as well as your yields may suffer if you don’t provide those optimal conditions.
If you live in warmer climatic zones, you can still grow radicchio.
However, make sure that you start pretty early in the year with your growing project so that your radicchio will be ready to harvest before it gets too hot outside.
What Temperatures does Radicchio like?
Radicchio grows best with daytime temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, as mentioned before, you should not worry too much if you can’t provide those optimal conditions for your radicchio plants.
In fact, you can still produce pretty decent yields, it will just take you a little bit longer.
Moreover, also seed companies did a great job over the past years and many radicchio varieties are pretty tolerant regarding different climatic conditions.
Hence, as long as you don’t live in the tropics or in Antarctica, you should be able to grow radicchio in a decent manner.
What should you plant next to your Radicchio?
If you want to learn what to plant with your radicchio, make sure to check out my article regarding the best and worst radicchio companion plants.
What do you need to grow Radicchio?
To make your radicchio growing project as successful and enjoyable as possible, I recommend you get the following equipment:
- Growing bed (to grow your radicchio seedlings, only necessary if you don’t grow your radicchio directly outside)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your radicchio)
- Radicchio seeds
- Fertilizer (you can also make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Compost (optional)
- Passion for growing your own radicchio 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Radicchio?
You will only be able to get one radicchio head per plant. However, please note that this doesn’t mean that your yield will be small.
In fact, radicchio heads can get quite big and you will be able to make a decent number of salads out of it if you follow all the steps in this article.
Especially if you have a big garden, you can produce pretty high radicchio yields and chances are that you will be even able to give away some of your radicchio harvest to your family and friends.
Why should you grow your own Radicchio?
There are various reasons why you should grow radicchio in your garden or on your balcony.
While it might not make sense from an effort or from a financial perspective, growing your own radicchio can still be quite a lot of fun.
In fact, I really love growing my plants at home and if you also have a passion for gardening, growing radicchio at home will not feel like work, but rather like a hobby.
Moreover, by growing your own radicchio, you also do no longer have to rely on buying it from the store.
Radicchio from conventional grocery stores is often contaminated with harmful substances from herbicides and pesticides which are used in conventional agriculture on a regular basis.
However, those substances can be pretty bad for our health. By growing radicchio at home, you can make sure that you grow it in a completely organic manner and your health will likely thank you for that in the long run.
In addition, growing radicchio at home can also significantly reduce your overall stress level.
In fact, it can be quite peaceful and relaxing to just sit in your garden or on your balcony right next to your plants.
I really love the atmosphere and if you are currently stressed from your job or from your private life, I definitely recommend you try gardening since it can be a great way to release stress.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you should grow radicchio at home and even though it might not make sense to grow radicchio from a purely financial perspective, it can still make sense to improve your overall quality of life.
Growing Radicchio: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Radicchio
I hope you are as passionate about growing radicchio as I am. If you are, we can now get into the actual details of how to grow radicchio in an optimal manner.
The first important step is to select the optimal site for your radicchio plants for which I give you detailed information in the following chapters.
Does Radicchio like Sun or Shade?
Radicchio grows best in full sun. However, even though you might not be able to provide sun for your plants in your garden or on your balcony all day long, you will still be able to grow radicchio.
It will just take you a little bit longer and your yields may not be that big.
Just choose the sunniest spot in your garden or on your balcony for your radicchio plants and you did the best you could to make your radicchio plants feel comfortable.
What are the Soil Requirements of Radicchio?
Radicchio is rather tolerant towards different soil conditions. While the best soil pH to grow radicchio is between 6.5 and 7.5, your radicchio plants will grow in a decent manner as long as you are not too far off the scale.
More important than the pH of the soil is that the soil is rich in nutrients and that it is also well-drained so that water can run off and your radicchio roots will not rot.
To create an optimal soil mix, I recommend you just get some potting soil from the garden center and mix it will soil from your garden.
You can also add some compost to make the soil even richer in nutrients and you will be good to go.
How much Space do Radicchio Plants need?
You should plan at least 2 square feet of space for each radicchio plant you want to grow.
However, please note that this is only the bare minimum and especially if you have a big garden with plenty of space, I recommend you offer much more space to each plant.
The more space your radicchio plants will have, the better they will grow since they will get more sunlight and also don’t have to compete for nutrients with other plants.
Should you grow Radicchio in a Pot or in your Garden?
I recommend you grow radicchio in your garden rather than in pots since they will simply have more space to develop and to grow in an optimal manner.
Moreover, by growing radicchio in your garden, you can also offer them more natural growing conditions.
Sure, if you currently live in a flat and don’t have a garden, you can also grow radicchio in pots.
However, in this case, make sure that you use pretty big pots so that your radicchio plants get sufficient nutrients.
2. Plant Radicchio Seeds
After you have found the perfect location for your radicchio plants, it is time to talk about the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Radicchio Seeds or Seedlings?
While you could just get your radicchio seedlings from your local garden center, I am not a big fan of that.
In fact, I rather like to grow my own radicchio seedlings from scratch to get the full growing experience.
It is just quite interesting to grow radicchio from seed and it fascinates me to see such a big plant growing from such a tiny seed.
Therefore, to get the full growing experience and to grow radicchio from seed to harvest, I recommend you just grow your own radicchio seedlings instead of getting them from the store.
It is not difficult and I will show you in detail how to do it in the following.
Should you buy Radicchio Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
Before you can start growing radicchio seedlings, you first have to get your seeds.
While it is possible to extract seeds from the crops for many other plants like tomatoes or melons, this is not true for radicchio.
In fact, if you have never grown radicchio before, you will just have to get some seeds from a seed company for your first year of growing.
Of course, once you have grown your first radicchio yourself, you will be able to save some seeds which you can use for many growing years to come.
However, until then, just get some radicchio seeds and you are good to go.
How to plant Radicchio Seeds
Now that you got your seeds online or from your garden center and the right time of the year has come, you can now start to plant your radicchio seeds.
I personally prefer to start growing radicchio seedlings indoors and transplant them outdoor later on since you can just start earlier in the year and you can also increase the chances to raise successful plants.
For that, just grab your growing bed and put some potting soil in it. Place your radicchio seedlings onto the soil.
Leave at least 3 inches of space between each radicchio seed so that your seedlings will get sufficient light and nutrients to develop in a healthy manner.
After placing all of your radicchio seeds onto the soil of the growing bed, cover them with a layer of around 1 inch in height.
Place your growing bed in a bright spot inside your home and also make sure that the inside temperature is rather warm so that the germination rate can be optimized.
Water your growing bed and you are good to go. Make sure that you plant enough seeds. Many beginners make the mistake to expect one seedling from one radicchio seed.
However, it doesn’t work like that! 😉 Some seeds will just not germinate and you have to account for this issue.
Hence, make sure to grow many more seeds than you want to get seedlings.
A good ratio between radicchio seeds and the required number of seedlings is 2:1.
Only then can you be pretty sure that you will indeed produce enough seedlings.
If you really produce too many radicchio seedlings, you can still just give them away to your friends.
How long does it take to see the first Radicchio Seedlings?
You will usually see the first radicchio seedlings after one to two weeks.
Yet, depending on how much soil you used to cover your seeds, it can even take longer.
Hence, just stay patient and wait around one month to evaluate whether you produced enough radicchio seedlings or not.
If you are not satisfied with the number of seedlings you produced after one month, it is time to plant some more radicchio seeds in your growing bed.
How to protect your Radicchio Seedlings indoors
Since you have planted your radicchio seeds in your growing bed indoors, you will not have to take additional protective measures at this point.
Of course, this will change as soon as you transplant your radicchio plants outside.
However, for now, they will be pretty safe in your growing bed. Just make sure that your pets are not able to reach your growing bed in case you have some 😉.
When should you transplant your Radicchio Seedlings?
Sooner or later, the time will come when you have to transplant your radicchio seedlings outdoors.
For me, the time has come when the following main criteria had been met.
First, you should make sure that your radicchio seedlings have a minimum size.
I suggest you wait with transplanting your seedlings outdoors until they reached a high of at least 4 feet.
Only then will they be resistant enough to deal with the harsh reality outdoors.
Moreover, you should also make sure that the overall climatic conditions are right to transplant your seedlings.
This basically means that you should wait until the last freeze of the year will be over to make sure that your seedlings survive the cold.
When both criteria are met, you should start preparing your growing site in your garden.
The best and most space-efficient way to grow radicchio is to plant it in rows.
For that, make sure that each row has at least 2 feet space to each other and that the plants in each row have at least 1 foot of space to each other.
Also make sure that each row will be around 1 foot deep. Just grab a shovel, dig holes and prepare your rows accordingly.
After you dug your rows, you can now fill them will a soil mix of potting soil from your garden center, the soil from your garden and you can also add some additional compost or natural fertilizer if you want to.
After you filled those rows, plant each seedling with sufficient space to each other as mentioned before. After you transplanted all of your radicchio seedlings into your garden, just water them.
Alternatively, if you want to grow radicchio in pots rather than in your garden, just fill your pots with potting soil, transplant each seedling into one pot and water your pots.
Place them in a sunny spot on your balcony and you are good to go.
What kind of Protection do Radicchio Seedlings need outdoor?
Now that your radicchio seedlings have to deal with the hard reality outdoors, it is time to add some protection to them.
While you could just rely on chemical substances to keep away snails and other unwanted animals, I don’t recommend you do so since those substances are extremely harmful to our environment and also to your soil.
Instead, go for some eco-friendly options like slug fences. Slug fences are a simple but yet effective tool to keep away several attackers from your radicchio seedlings and I highly recommend you just get some of those instead of relying on chemical measures.
3. The Radicchio Growth Process
Now that you protected your radicchio seedlings properly, there is some time to relax.
In fact, the hardest part is already done and from now on, your radicchio plants will soon get bigger and stronger.
However, there are still some things to take care of which I discuss in the following.
Should you prune your Radicchio?
No, you should not prune your radicchio plants. In fact, pruning them would do more harm than good and could significantly lower your yield since you will harvest the actual plant material.
Hence, just let it grow and you are just fine.
Do you have to pollinate your Radicchio Plants by Hand?
No, you don’t have to pollinate radicchio per hand.
In fact, nature will do all of the work for you and there is no need for any manual action regarding the pollination of your radicchio plants.
Should you stake your Radicchio?
I would also not recommend staking your radicchio plants.
Since they will stay rather small and compact, radicchio plants are quite resistant against wind and other outside influences, even if you don’t stake and stabilize them.
Hence, just let nature do its work, enjoy the progress of your plants and don’t interfere with natural processes too much.
You will be surprised how good the end result will be! 😉
4. The Radicchio Harvest
After closely following all the steps to grow radicchio from seed to harvest in this article, you can expect pretty decent results when the time is right to harvest your radicchio.
When should you harvest your Radicchio?
You should harvest your radicchio around 3 months after you started your growing project from seed and when the radicchio heads reached a decent size.
Make sure to just harvest the head and leave the rest of the plant in the ground. By doing so, you may be able to grow one more radicchio head in the following months.
How to store your Radicchio?
The best location to store your radicchio heads is either in the fridge or in a dark, cold and dry spot inside your home.
However, I still advise you to eat your radicchio right after the harvest since it will taste the best and will also contain the highest concentration of nutrients at this point in time.
What should you do with your Radicchio?
Radicchio is perfect to make various sorts of salads. You can even make a risotto with radicchio if you want to.
There are so many different recipes and if you are a creative person, you can even create your own radicchio dishes and share your recipes with your family and friends.
Radicchio Plant Care Tips
Now that you got a step-by-step approach on how to grow radicchio from seed, it is time to give you some more general information that is necessary to grow your radicchio in the best possible manner.
How often should you irrigate Radicchio?
You should water your radicchio plants on a regular basis.
While they might not need too much water at the beginning when they are still quite small, they will need plenty of water once they get bigger and outside temperatures increase.
Hence, make sure that the soil never completely dries out.
However, I don’t mean the soil surface. I mean the soil below the ground where the roots of your radicchio are.
If you are not sure whether your radicchio needs water or not, just dig a small hole with your finger next to your radicchio plants and feel if the soil is still wet.
If so, there will be no immediate need to water your plants. If the soil is dry, irrigate your radicchio as soon as possible.
Of course, over time, you will develop a pretty good sense regarding when it is time to water your plants.
You can also see it from the leaves. When your radicchio leaves begin to hand, this is often an indication of water shortage.
Hence, just have a close look at your plants or use the trick mentioned above and you will be good to go.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Radicchio Plants?
The best time to water your radicchio plants is in the early morning. However, don’t worry too much about the exact time of the day.
Just make sure to water your radicchio on a regular basis and if this is in the evening rather than in the morning, it will still not matter too much for the success of your growing project from my experience.
How often should you fertilize your Radicchio Plants?
I have already shown you earlier in this article how to prepare a nutrient-rich soil mix. If you followed the soil recipe, there will be no need to use any additional fertilizer.
In fact, fertilizing your plants too much can do more harm than good and you should therefore be quite careful if you still want to use some additional fertilizer for your radicchio growing project.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Radicchio Plants?
If you want to use additional fertilizer, make sure that you use organic fertilizer instead of chemical alternatives to protect our environment and also the local flora and fauna.
You can buy those organic fertilizers online or in your garden center. You can even produce your own natural fertilizer.
Just grab some stinging nettles from your local forest or meadow, put them in a bucket full of cold water and let them sit for a few days.
After the time is over, remove the stinging nettles from the bucket and you produced your own natural fertilizer, congratulations!
You can now just add some stinging nettle liquid to the water of your watering can and you are good to go.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Radicchio?
Your stinging nettle liquid is not only a perfectly natural fertilizer, it can even be used as natural pesticide.
You just need to spray some stinging nettle liquid onto your radicchio and chances are that pests will disappear pretty soon since they often don’t like the taste of stinging nettles at all.
There is also no need to use chemical herbicides.
Just remove weeds by hand instead.
If you want to learn more about pest control, also make sure to get additional information on how to control radicchio pests and plant diseases.
What’s left to say?
First of all, I really appreciate that you have read my radicchio grower’s guide to the end. I know it has been quite long.
However, I just wanted to provide you with all the information that is necessary to grow radicchio from seed to harvest in the best possible manner.
I hope you like what you’ve read. If so, make sure to share my article and also have a look at my growing radicchio FAQ section!
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.