Endive lettuce is quite easy to grow. The plants are undemanding and don’t need a lot of care, provided the site conditions are right and you always keep an eye on them. Endive can be harvested just three months after planting.


  • genus of chicory
  • Annual to biennial species
  • Cultivated as a salad only once a year
  • Up to 70 cm tall when in bloom, sometimes even taller
  • The picture The rosette
  • Relatively thick leaves
  • No heads of lettuce in the true sense
  • Bitter taste (due to the milky juice)
  • Originates from the Mediterranean region
  • Up to 8 varieties on offer in Germany

These are divided into two groups

  • Frisee or Curly Endive (Cichorium endivia L. var. Crispum LAM.) – good for fresh consumption, leaves heavily slit and curled, inner leaves light green to yellow and very tender, outer leaves darker and coarser
  • Escarole, escarole, winter endive, smooth endive (Cichorium endivia L. var. Latifolium LAM) = – broad, thick, entire leaves, large, flat rosette, resembles a half-closed head of lettuce, inner leaves are tender and light yellow to green, outer ones are coarser and darker, can be stored well
  • Long-day plants – do not sow too early so that they do not flower in the same year

Interesting Varieties

A distinction is made between the large-leaved Escarole varieties and the fine and curly-leaved Frisee varieties

  • Escorial yellow – very robust, also thrives in rain and cold, wet weather, has a much lower tendency to rot, can cope with light frosts, rather coarse yellow-green leaves, edible without bleaching
  • Escorial green – grow early in the year because the lettuce doesn’t shoot as much, strong green leaves, lighter towards the heart, contains a lot of bitter substances and should therefore be bleached
  • Golda – not prone to shooting, self-bleaching, forms firm heads, can be harvested late
  • Diva – early variety, large, densely filled heads, self-bleaching, resistant to leaf spot, yellowing or rot
  • Eminence – densely filled light heart, light yellow inside, green outside, fast growth, suitable all year round, large heads
  • Frisee Tres fine Maraichere – Frisee variety, fine, filigree leaves, good for year-round cultivation as it does not tend to bolt, does not tolerate frost, rots quickly
  • Myrna Frisee – finely dissected leaves, largely bolt-resistant, large heads with a lot of leaf mass, robust, tolerates wet and cold weather and heat
  • Frisee Milady – finely curled, largely bolt-resistant, can be grown all year round, only slightly bitter, the lettuce becomes milder by bleaching by tying it together

The cultivation of endive

Endives are easy to grow. You can prefer them or sow them directly outdoors, depending on whether you want to use the bed for other purposes. When growing, it is important to know that endives should only be planted in the same spot in the same soil every three years. Sowing or cultivation after potatoes, tomatoes or winter onions is ideal. On the other hand, radicchio, chicory and chicory should not be planted.


Endives are long-day plants, which means that they must not be sown too early, because then they will try to flower in the same year and that is undesirable. So you can start in July, if necessary even in August. Seed tapes are ideal for seeding in situ.

  • Best time from mid-June to mid-July
  • Germination temperature 16 to 20°C
  • Temperatures that are too high can inhibit germination
  • A rather shady place is ideal so that the substrate does not dry out in the summer heat.
  • Morning and evening sun are usually unproblematic.
  • It is possible to sow directly outdoors, but it is better to prefer and plant out when the other crops have been cleared
  • Sowing depth about 1 cm
  • Sow 30 centimeters apart without pulling
  • Keep evenly moist
  • Even short-term drying out can stop the germination process
Tip: In order to achieve a longer harvest time and to ensure that not all endives ripen at the same time, you should sow them at different times, at intervals of two to three weeks.

The care of endives

The most important thing when growing endive is site and soil preparation. This should therefore be started months before sowing or planting. Plenty of compost or manure should be worked into the designated bed. It is best to dig up to a depth of 30 or 35 centimeters and add the grave goods. The soil can then rest and should only be cleared of weeds periodically. You can also cover it with weed fleece if it has not been planted. Alternatively, other vegetables can be planted, which are harvested early. Since endives are planted late, this is definitely a good idea. Potatoes and tomatoes work well for this.


  • If the endive is tied up just before harvest, the outer leaves can bleach better. In addition, the taste is simply a little milder. However, the leaves must be completely dry for this, otherwise rot can occur. Bleached endive has fewer vitamins but is also less bitter.
  • In addition, dust the plants with rock dust, which largely banishes the risk of rotting. This is particularly important when temperatures drop below 10°C.
  • So-called endive hoods made of opaque polyethylene are suitable for bleaching. Alternatively, choose a self-bleaching variety, such as Bubikopf or Diva.


Endive likes the sun. It can be planted in full sun, but needs to be watered well.

  • Sunny locations
  • The location must be very sunny, as endives naturally have a high nitrate content. Lack of light increases this.

plant substrate

Endives make few demands on the plant substrate. It should be permeable, rich in humus and contain some nutrients. Good soil preparation is important. This must be started months before planting. The bed is dug up and freed from weeds and stones. Then plenty of compost or manure should be worked in, preferably 30 to 50 cm deep. It is important that the soil has time to rest.

  • rich in humus
  • nutritious
  • pH 6.5 to 7
  • Soil preparation is important
  • Start months before planting
  • Work in compost or manure
  • Let rest


Plants that have been brought forward are placed in the vegetable patch when they are of the appropriate size. You should have formed at least 6 leaves by now. The planting distance should be about 30 cm. If you place the young plants a little closer together, this has the advantage that less sunlight reaches the leaves. This intensifies the bleaching effect.

  • Do not plant deeper than they were in the seed tray.
  • Other types of lettuce are suitable as neighbors, as well as cabbage, runner beans, leeks and bulbous fennel
  • mulch soil
  • Protect late planted endives from frost
  • Cover with fleece or foil

watering and fertilizing

If the soil is well prepared, fertilizing is hardly necessary. It has to be poured with care. Initially, the plants need a little more water. Once the rosette of leaves has formed, it is better to water less. Permanent wetness must be avoided at all costs, as this leads to rot.

  • Water regularly, especially the young plants
  • Quite a lot of water, but no waterlogging
  • If there is too little water, there is a risk of flowering
  • Once the rosettes of leaves have formed, reduce watering to prevent rot
  • Ideal when it is very hot, which is quite common in the summer months, to shower the salad briefly twice a day, i.e. in the morning and in the evening.
  • Fertilize as desired if the addition of compost is not enough
  • Once or twice more should be enough
  • With good soil preparation and compost mixing, fertilizing is not necessary
  • Too much fertilizer can increase the already high nitrate content.


Endive is usually not overwintered. Take the plants out of the ground when temperatures of -5°C are expected. It should have been harvested by then.

diseases and pests

Diseases are rare. When wet, rot may occur. When it comes to pests, it is mainly snails and aphids that cause trouble. You can collect snails. Alternatively, a raised bed with a snail edge can be very helpful here. Crop protection nets help prevent pest infestation.

  • Snails – collect by hand
  • Aphids – rinse off the lettuce with a lye-water mixture
  • Leaf edge burn – mostly magnesium deficiency – fertilize in a targeted manner
  • Downy Mildew – usually grown after leafy vegetables, remove affected areas to prevent spread

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you store endive?
If the frost comes earlier, the heads without roots can be wrapped in newspaper. They must be really dry. The bundles are stacked in trays and stored frost-free. Alternatively, the plants can be dug up with their roots and stored on foil in the basement. They can also be tucked into the cold frame.

Is it true that black poplars damage endives?
Black poplars are extremely unfavorable for endives, but also for other salads and some types of vegetables. They house root lice and are winter hosts. You better not be around.

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