Chicory is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia. It is grown worldwide as an ornamental plant and planted in gardens as an alternative to coffee. Chicory has been used traditionally in many cultures, including the Mediterranean and Indian regions, for centuries.
Growing From Seed
Chicory Plants from seed are a simple but slow process. Plants from seeds take longer to grow than plants from cuttings or divisions. Plants grown from seeds will have more pronounced characteristics than those grown from cuttings or divisions but can be used for many purposes.
The seed should be kept in a cool place and germinate within two weeks. It should be kept moist during this period but not wet. Once your seed has sprouted, move it into an area with full sunlight and keep it well-watered throughout its life cycle.
The Chicory Plant grows in the USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. It can be found in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It grows best in areas that have a mild climate with little to no frost.
The mature size of the chicory plant is 1.2–1.5 m tall and 0.6–1.2 m wide. It produces large, deep-green leaves arranged in a rosette at the top of the plant, with flowers spaced along the stems (rarely alternate on a single stem). The basal leaves are opposite, but those above it often alternate in clusters of 2–4, each with a petiole 5–18 cm long. The flowers are large for chicory, about 3 cm across, and blue-purple with white inner petals.
The Chicory Plant needs light to grow. This plant can be grown indoors in a sunny spot or outdoors in partial sunlight. The plant will tolerate low light conditions but will not produce as much as it would if exposed to more light. The chicory plant prefers temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but its best growth occurs between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant may suffer damage if the soil temperature is too cold or too hot.
The chicory plant prefers moist soil but not standing water. If the soil gets too wet around the roots, they can rot and die. This is especially true after taking cuttings from your main plant. You should immediately remove and replant these plants in a pot or window box with suitable drainage holes to dry out before they rot.
Watering is essential when growing chicory plants indoors in pots or seedlings. A little bit of water daily will help prevent root rot, although you do not want to overwater them as this can cause their leaves to wilt and drop off.
The Chicory plant can be grown in almost any well-drained soil in a sunny spot. It prefers rich, moist soils and even tolerates quite dry conditions. The best results are obtained when the soil is rich in organic matter, such as well-decomposed leaf mold or compost. The Chicory plant needs fertile soil to develop its roots and flowers. It likes a pH between 5 and 6 but can grow neutral or slightly acidic (around 6.5). This plant does not like very alkaline or salty soils.
Fertilizing The Chicory Plant
The chicory plant needs a lot of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). It also needs trace elements like boron, zinc, and copper. A well-balanced fertilizer will provide all these nutrients to your chicory plant. You can use any one of the following types of fertilizers for your chicory plant:
Organic fertilizer: Organic fertilizers contain no artificial chemicals or synthetic ingredients. They are made from natural sources that are safe for plants. These include manure, compost, kitchen scraps, and cottonseed meal. The best organic fertilizers contain slow-release nitrogen (N) along with other essential nutrients like phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and calcium (Ca). Organic fertilizers are more expensive than synthetic ones but more effective at nourishing plants.
Synthetic fertilizer: Synthetic fertilizers include ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, urea, and ammonium chloride, among others which contain synthetic chemicals such as ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate that are not found naturally in our soil or water supply.
Pests and Disease Problems
The most common pest problems for chicory are flea beetles, aphids, and cabbage worms. Flea beetles are the most severe problem for seedlings in fields. These tiny black beetles feed on the foliage of young plants and can cause severe damage to the leaves. Aphids often appear on the underside of leaves, sucking juices from the plant. They tend to cause pale green spots on the leaves and are often first noticed when they cluster near the base of a plant. Cabbageworms are small flies that lay eggs in leaf tissue. The larvae hatch as white grubs tunnel through the plants' stems. They can be controlled by applying an insecticide formulated for this pest control at planting time or when you see them first appearing on your plants.
The main pruning requirement for chicory is to remove old foliage. This encourages new growth and keeps the plant from becoming too leggy. A chicory plant will grow outwards and upwards if left alone, eventually forming a large bush or tree. You can prevent this by pinching off the tops of the plant when you see it starting to grow outwards.
When To Plant It
There are three main seasons: spring, summer, and fall. Spring is the best time to plant chicory because it has the most sunlight and moisture. However, if you can't wait that long, you can take advantage of the cooler temperatures in summer and fall to get your crop started early.
How To Plant Chicory Plants in Your Garden
Dig a trench 6 inches deep and wide, place the root ball in the bottom of the trench, and cover it with soil. Water well and keep moist until roots are well established, then water every other day until plants are established, then alternate watering once a week.
Once planted, keep weeds down to encourage root development and resist crown rot as much as possible by mulching around the base or adding organic matter to the soil.
How To Transplant Chicory Plant in Your Garden
You can also transplant chicory in your garden to grow more plants or have a few extra beds. To transplant chicory, follow these steps:
- Dig up the plant and pull it into sections about 4 inches wide and 2 inches thick. This will help with root growth once you put it back in the ground.
- Fill a bucket with about 1 inch of potting soil or compost and add some fertilizer if needed, then place each piece of the chicory plant into the bucket and let it sit for a few hours until all pieces are moistened evenly throughout.
- Remove any debris from around each piece of root before gently pushing it back into the soil around its base using your hands or wooden spade, making sure not to damage any new roots as you do so.
Chicory is a sun-loving, drought-tolerant perennial with lovely blue flowers. This attractive, fragrant herb is native to Europe and grows well in containers and as ground cover.