How to Grow Endive from Seed?  Choosing Seeds – Harvesting Endive  

Anyone who enjoys gardening and is considering starting their own vegetable garden will find growing endive in their own backyard to be a rewarding experience. Just imagine a sunny corner in your garden, where you can grow your very own crisp and slightly bitter Endive. That sounds great, right?  if you’re one of the novice gardeners, you might be asking yourself, “How do I grow endive?”. Well, endives are actually not that difficult to grow. Since it belongs to the same family as lettuce, it grows somewhat similarly. It grows quickly and easily as a cut-and-come-again crop because the plants require little space and can be harvested for their leaves in as little as a month, usually with two or more pickings before they begin to flower.

How to Grow Endive from Seed

Let’s explore the world of endive gardening and learn how to grow this leafy delight in your own backyard step by step with ReadZiD.

Before planting endives there are three basic essential things to take care of. They are-

Preparing The Soil: 

It is ideal to grow endive plants in full light at 60°F. Although in the summer it can handle some shade. Select an area that will receive at least 6 hours each day of direct sunlight. These plants need soil that is wet, well-drained, and rich in organic content. Until you are ready to plant, keep the space free of weeds by completely pulling them out, loosening them up with a little digging, and covering the ground between the rows with aged animal dung or compost mulch. If you want to grow them in heavy soil, consider planting in an 8-inch-tall, 3-foot-wide raised bed.

Preparing The Soil for endive seed

Choosing The Perfect Type of Seed: 

Endive comes in a wide range of appealing colors, sizes, and leaf forms, with numerous variants available for each kind. Some types grow better as cut-and-come-again crops, while others grow better as full heads, and some cultivars self-blanch. As sowing and harvesting times differ according to the variety, you should read the information on the packet before planting seeds. 

endive seed

      You can pick between two varieties of endive:

  • Batavian or Escarole – These have broad, flat, big leaves in a range of hues. They are more durable and advantageous for harvesting in the winter.
  • Curly or Fringed Frisée – These have a lovely, loose rosette of frilly, thin leaves that are perfect for salads in the summer. They typically have a higher heat tolerance.

When to Plant Seeds?

It’s ideal to plant endive in April or May, three weeks before your last frost date. For a fall harvest, plant a fall crop in the late summer by sowing seeds or transplants. You can also start seedlings indoors three to four weeks before your planting date to get a head start on the season.

  • Sowing:

 Endive seeds do not need any pre-sowing treatment such as soaking or stratification. You can plant its seeds right in your garden at a depth of 5mm and a spacing of 20-30cm. The soil should be kept moist but never dry or wet.

At a soil temperature of 15–18 °C, endive seeds should begin to sprout in 4–7 days. Once established, seedlings can be moved into the garden after being raised in trays or other containers. Young seedlings need to be protected from pests, animals, and weather before that. The time when seedlings are typically 5–10 cm tall, have their first genuine leaves and are large enough to handle. transplant them to the garden. You can sow them both indoors and outdoors.

  • Sowing indoors:

You can get a head start and earlier harvests by sowing indoors. Pick bolt-resistant cultivars for early sowings and keep them indoors until well into spring because endive plants tend to bolt, or begin flowering prematurely if exposed to temperatures below 5°C (41°F) for an extended period of time.

The first sowings can be started indoors in pots or modules as early as February, and the young plants can be transplanted outside in late spring. To ensure that plants grow consistently, harden them off carefully. In order to transplant your small batches of seeds outdoors throughout the spring and summer, you can either sow them outside starting in April.

  • Sowing outdoors: 

From April through August, you can sow endive seeds outdoors in rows that are 30 cm apart, and 1 cm deep. As the seedlings ripen, gradually thin them out until they are spaced 23-38 cm apart, depending on their final size. From early spring until late summer, sow endive seeds outside once the soil is warm enough. Alternatively, seedlings can be started inside or under a cloche or fleece. For continuous harvests, sow little batches every few weeks.

Plant Care:

You should take good care of the plants if you want to get the best results from this leafy green vegetable. To prevent drying out and lessen bitterness before harvest, endives should be routinely watered, mulched, fertilized, weeded, and blanched. 

  • Watering Seedlings and Plants: 

In particularly warm climates and well-draining soil, you should water endive seedlings and plants regularly. Because dry soil can cause plants to bolt, resulting in crop failure. Water the soil when it dries out around 5 cm below the surface. By removing a small bit of soil with your finger, you may verify this.

Water deeply in the early morning or late afternoon. To avoid fungus infections, avoid watering plant leaves. When you are growing endive in containers, remember to water on a daily basis because the small amount of compost may dry out quickly, especially in the summer.

  • Applying Mulch:

Use a thick layer of mulch, such as well-rotted manure or garden compost, around endive plants, to preserve moisture in the soil and keep weeds at bay.

  • Feeding or Fertilizing:

In general, endive doesn’t need to be fed, however, on light soils or while growing in a container, you can apply a general-purpose liquid feed twice a week during the summer. No further fertilizer should be required if the soil is properly prepared. In poor soil, a high-nitrogen fertilizer or one designed for leafy greens or herbs might be beneficial, as can giving your plants a boost. When transplanting or once seedlings reach a height of 5 to 10 cm, you can use a slow-release fertilizer.

  • Weeding:

Weeds compete for water, nutrients, and sunlight with your plants.  So to limit the competition for water, light, and nutrients, keep endive plants weed-free. I am quite sure that you don’t want to waste all that good soil on weeds when you’ve undoubtedly worked hard to make your land more fertile, right?

  • Blanching the Endive Plants:

Blanching endive plants basically means covering them to block light. Usually, this is done to remove the bitterness from the leaves and restore the endive’s traditional yellow/white color. As a result, the leaves will gain a softer, more delicate texture.

There are several methods for blanching. 

  • Like, you need to fold the outer leaves over the middle of the plant and bind them with string a couple of weeks before harvest.
  •  Another way is to put a tile, piece of cardboard, or dinner plate over the plant’s core to create the recognizable “sunburst” appearance.
  • The most common one is to cover the entire head with a bucket or a huge plastic pot with any drainage, about 10 days before harvest, which works just as well.

You should make sure of the fact that the leaves are completely dry before blanching to prevent rotting. When done, the central leaves should be much paler and fragile. Blanching typically takes two weeks, but it could take longer in cooler autumn weather. Only a few plants should be blanched at a time since they need to be utilized right away because they lose their quality quickly afterward, especially in warm or wet weather.

How to Harvest Endive:

In around 90 days, your endive will be ready for harvest. The leaves will be lush and green. Harvesting shouldn’t be put off because the leaves could turn harsh and bitter. The leaves at the plant’s base should be removed before harvesting. When gathering leaves, pinch off the outer leaves while keeping some on the plant for future development. You can just cleanly pluck or use gardening shears.

Pick when you need it because once harvested, it won’t last very long. If you harvest a head in the morning, it will last longer. This is due to the fact that plants ‘breathe in’ and absorb moisture at night and ‘breathe out’ and release moisture during the day. You can keep leaves in the refrigerator for a limited time in a perforated plastic bag.

Diseases and Issues That Frequently Affect Endive Growers Include:

Like many plants, endive is prone to a variety of pests, illnesses, and other issues. The most typical issues you could run into when growing endive plants are listed below:

  • Bitter taste: 

Plants that grow too slowly, experience a growth setback, or are picked too late may all contribute to the bitter taste. Harvest the plants when they are still young and sensitive. Before planting, amend the soil with aged manure. Deeply water the plants frequently. 

  • Bolting: 

When a plant blooms too early and sets seed, it is said to be bolting. A time of unfavorable weather could cause bolting. Only plant seeds when there is no longer a risk of frost or when it is exceedingly hot outside. Water plants thoroughly and frequently in hot weather to prevent heat stress.

  • Unformed head:

Typically, warm weather or plants that develop too slowly without enough water or nutrients are to blame. Make sure the endive you are cultivating has the ability to generate heads. Endives should be grown in autumn and spring in warm climates to avoid excessive heat. Make careful to apply enough compost or fertilizer and to water frequently.

Endive Common Disease:

The most common diseases of endive include :


  • Type and cause:  

It is a fungal type disease that is caused by a fungal plant pathogen named Microdochium panattonianum.

  • How to identify:

You will notice Dry spots that are small, irregularly shaped, and gray to tan in color on the leaves which can result in dead tissue. The affected leaf might wither if it has a lot of spots. Large necrotic patches may form as lesions coalesce, making the leaves yellow and wilt. In dry centers, lesions may split or crack.

  • Management:

To keep this disease under control, you must refrain from overhead watering. You shouldn’t overcrowd plants and ensure adequate air circulation. Reduce soil compaction to improve drainage. When plants are wet, avoid working around them. Besides this, you can weed out all cruciferous plants that could serve as a fungus reservoir.

Bacterial Soft Rot: 

  • Type and cause: 

It is a bacterial disease that is caused by a bacteria named Erwinia spp. The Enterobacteriales bacterial genus Erwinia includes gram-negative bacteria related to Yersinia, Shigella, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli as well as a majority of plant pathogenic species.

  • How to identify:

This bacterium thrives in cooler temperatures.  This results in spots of brown water-soaked foliage that eventually turn yellow. If you observe carefully you will notice that the surface of lesions typically cracks and exudes a slimy liquid. It turns tan, dark brown, or black when exposed to air. 

  • Management:

Since there are no chemical remedies for bacterial soft rot, cultural practices are the only means of control. You must get rid of the infected plants if you want to solve this issue. Avoid watering from above and try your best to avoid damaging heads during harvest. When plants are wet, stay away from them.

Bottom Rot:  

  • Type and cause: 

Bottom Rot is caused by Rhizoctonia solani, a fungus that can survive indefinitely.

  • How to identify:

In this disease, lower leaves of the endive develop small red to brown spots on their undersides that can quickly spread, causing the leaves to rot. Leaf lesions may ooze an amber-colored liquid. As the lettuce head’s stems rot, it turns slimy, brown, and collapses; infected tissue may show a tan or brown mycelial growth.

  • Management:

The most effective way to treat this disease is to apply fungicides along with cultural control. Before planting, plow the ground properly. You should rotate your crops on a regular basis. Try to choose varieties with erect growth habits to minimize leaf contact with the ground.


  • Type and cause:

 It is a fungal disease that is caused by Pythium spp. and Rhizoctonia solani which is actually a fungal growth that reaches seeds or tender seedlings from the soil.

  • How to identify:

In this disease, the main symptom is poor seedling germination. Seeds may not germinate or young plants may start to rot as they emerge from the earth, turning mushy and soft at the base before dying. Sooner or later, you’ll notice young, brown-colored, decomposing roots. 

  • Management:

 In order to prevent this disease, you can plant pathogen-free seeds or transplants grown in sterilized soil. Treat seeds with a fungicide to eradicate any fungi or wait until the soil is warm before planting seeds shallowly.

Downy Mildew:

  • Type and cause:

Bremia lactucae is the cause of downy mildew. It is an obligate oomycete parasite which is a species that only develops on the tissues of living plants.

  • How to identify:

This fungus causes young leaves to lose moisture and fall off. Eventually, both sides of the leaves develop whitish-gray patches on their undersides. Because of this older leaves develop a papery texture.

  • Management:

The main methods of disease control involve the use of fungicides and the planting of resistant varieties. You should refrain from overhead watering to stop this. Don’t overcrowd plants and make sure there is enough air circulation.

Common Pests:

  • Aphids: 

Aphids are sucking insects that are greenish, red, black, or peach in color and feed on the undersides of leaves that might spread disease. They create a sticky coating on the foliage that ants love.

To control this, introduce or attract natural predators such as lady beetles and wasps that feed on aphids into your garden. You can also use a powerful spray or insecticidal soap to remove them.

  • Cabbage Looper

These worms are roughly 1-1.5 inches long and green with a white stripe on either side. They make their way through the heads.

You should choose them by hand. Floating row coverings can help prevent eggs from being laid on the plants.

  • Flea Beetles: 

These little hopping beetles feed on plant foliage and have the potential to spread illness.  

To control this, plants from a different plant family can be used to rotate crops. To stop young foliage from being harmed, use floating row coverings.

  • Leaf miners:

These insects bore just beneath the surface of the leaf, causing uneven serpentine lines. The larvae are little black and yellow flies, while the adults are yellow cylindrical maggots. They normally do not destroy plants, but they do disfigure the foliage.

            To control this the only thing you can do is to remove affected foliage.

  • Slugs and snails: 

These are mollusks that feed largely at night on fragile leaves and shoots, leaving slime trails behind them.

To protect your endive from slugs and snails you need to remove garden trash and weeds to practice good garden sanitation. You can plant debris to improve airflow and lessen the amount of moisture that slugs and snails need to survive. You can also sprinkle eggshells or wood ashes around plants.

In conclusion, growing an endive from seeds is an easy and satisfying process. By following these easy instructions, you can harvest an abundance of crisp, fresh endive leaves directly from your garden and enjoy the delectable flavor of homegrown, organic endive in your salads and dishes. Happy gardening! 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the ‘scatter seed’ method applicable for planting endives?

Definitely, roughen the soil, scatter the seeds over the top in a uniform layer, and then quickly smooth the earth back over the seeds to cover them.

  • Can you eat endive sprouts?

Yes, but make sure to get rid of any hulls the seed did not scatter.

  • Why are the leaves blanched?

Blanched endive has a milder flavor than raw endive.

  •  Is it possible to cook endive?

Yes, but instead of cooking endive, we advise growing it as a salad green.

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