Common chicory

Louisa Louisa
05/04/2023 · 4 minutes reading time

Help your October plant grow big and strong.

Here´s what´s ahead:

Getting Started

You might have seen common chicory growing alongside roads, with its beautiful blue flowers. The whole plant from flower to root is edible. However, it not only adds some excitement to your plate, but it also has a long history of use in traditional medicine and as a coffee substitute. The cherry on top: it's super easy to care for.

The most important information at a glance:

  • Seed depth: 0.5 - 1 cm

  • Temperature: 20 - 25 °C

  • Germination period: 7 - 21 days

  • Sowing indoors: February - April

  • Relocate outdoors: May - July

  • Direct sowing outdoors: April - June

  • Harvest leaves/flowers: April - October/in 2nd year, June - October

  • Plant spacing: 30 cm

  • Root depth: 30 - 90 cm

  • Location: sunny

  • Nutrient requirements: medium


Sowing indoors:

  • From February to April.

  • Fill seed trays or pots with potting soil.

  • Remove the seed paper from your calendar and tear it into small pieces.

  • Spread the paper in the trays or pots at a distance of 2 cm.

  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil (approx. 0.5 - 1 cm). Chicory is a light germinator, meaning if the layer of soil is too thick, the seeds cannot germinate.

  • Place the pots or trays in a bright, preferably sunny window sill.

  • Moisten the soil regularly until germination.

  • The first seedlings should sprout in 2 to 4 weeks.

Direct sowing outdoors (recommended):

  • From April to June.

  • Make grooves in the soil (0.5 to 1 cm deep, 30 cm apart).

  • Tear your seed paper into small snippets and distribute them in the grooves at a distance of 30 cm. You can also sow a little closer together, but then you will have to separate the seedlings later.

  • Fill the grooves with soil and moisten them regularly until the seedlings start to grow.

  • Place a close-meshed protective net over your bed or balcony box to protect the seeds from hungry birds.



  • After a few weeks, when the seedlings are about 5 cm tall, it is time to prick them out.

  • Fill larger pots with all-purpose soil.

  • Carefully lift the seedlings out of their old pots with a pricking stick or spoon handle and transfer them to the new pots.

  • From May, after the Ice Saints, you can also put the seedlings outdoors.

  • Directly sown plants do not need to be pricked out. However, if they grow too close to each other, separate them. Remove weaker plants so that the others have enough space to grow.

  • Final plant spacing: 30 cm


  • Sunny

  • Soil: well-drained, dry

  • Add a little sand to the soil. This will ensure that it is well-drained.

  • Good neighbours: bean, fennel, kohlrabi, lettuce, tomato.

  • Bad neighbours: endive, cucumber, oat root, parsley


  • Avoid waterlogging. Check the soil with your finger before watering and only water when the soil is really dry.

  • When grown in pots, chicory needs a little more water than in a bed.

  • Remove weeds regularly.

  • Fertilising is not necessary.

  • In winter: The chicory is hardy and does not need any additional protection. Just cut it back a little in autumn.


  • Aphids: Spray plants with a mixture of water and soap.

  • Slugs and snails: As a preventive measure, put up a slug fence around the plants and water in the morning instead of in the evening (moisture in the evening attracts slugs). If a few slugs do make it to your plant, collect them and release them far away.

Harvest & Storage

  • Harvest leaves from April to October and use them fresh.

  • Flowers only grow in the second year and can then be harvested from June to October. You can use them fresh or dry them.

  • The roots can also be used. After digging them up, you can wash and dry them. When dried, you should store them in an airtight and dry container.



  • Leaves can be used just like you would use spinach. However, they taste a little bitter when raw.

  • The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

  • Chicory tea: Pour hot water over dried or fresh flowers and steep for about 5 minutes.

  • Chicory syrup: Mix sugar with the same amount of water and boil, then add the flowers and leave to infuse for a day, adding a little lemon juice for flavour. Then strain and bottle.

  • Healing properties: Can help with digestive problems and skin impurities.

  • Contains iron, bitter substances and vitamin C, among other things.