Endive Escarole Growing Guide

Flat-leaved varieties are known as escarole, these cool-season greens are known for their sharp, bitter taste. More tolerant of heat and cold than lettuce, frilly-leaved endive makes an attractive addition to ornamental plantings.

Site Characteristics

„ full sun
„ part shade
Partial shade beneficial in hot weather.
Special locations:
„ outdoor containers

Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual
Biennial grown as an annual.
Height: 0.5 to 2 feet
Spread: 0.5 to 2 feet
„ frost - Light frost in fall enhances flavor.

Growing Information

How to plant:
Propagate by seed
Germination temperature: 35 F to 85 F - 75 F is optimal
Days to emergence: 5 to 7
Seed can be saved 5 years.

Maintenance and care

Like lettuce and other cool-season greens, endive needs short days and cool temperatures.
Direct seed ¼-inch deep in rows 18 inches apart 2 to 4 weeks before average last frost. Make succession plantings for continuous harvest. Thin to 8 to 12 inches.

For extra-early crops, start seed inside 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Transplant into garden about 2 weeks before last frost.

To prevent plants from going to seed (bolting), keep them well-watered and shaded when temperatures are above 75 F. Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
For fall harvests, direct seed in garden about 2 to 3 months before expected fall frost. Light frost enhances flavor.

Blanch heading varieties for a milder flavor. A week or so before harvest, pull outer leaves over head and tie. Make sure leaves are dry to avoid rot. Other blanching alternatives include placing a flower pot over the plant, or covering with a cardboard disk or plastic container.

Self-blanching varieties are available. Close plant spacing (about 8 inches) encourages self-blanching.




"Curly leaved” endive varieties have heavily curled, deeply toothed leaves that form rosettes. The leaves can hold water, making these varieties prone to leaf diseases, especially in fall-harvested plantings.
“Flat-leaved” endive varieties, called escarole, have leaves that are broader, flatter, and only slightly crumpled, and so are not as prone to diseases. They also form loose heads, are hardier, and are more tender and milder tasting than curly endive.

Do not confuse these crops with Belgian endive; also known as witloof chicory, white endive Cichorium intybus (Belgian endive) Compositae Family
Grow the roots like carrots during summer. (They can be ground for a coffee substitute.) Harvest and store for forcing gourmet “chicons” - 4 to 6-inch spindle-shaped heads or buds -- for winter salads.

For spring plantings, look for slow-bolting varieties that can withstand the heat of early summer longer before going to seed (bolting).

Some heirloom varieties have purplish-red leaves.