UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Belgian Endive

Garden Help > Vegetables

The Basics

Belgium endive (also known as witloof chicory) is a leafy crop whose leaves are used in fresh salad or cooked as vegetables. It is grown in two steps.

  1. Plants are grown in the ground over the summer, then the roots are harvested.
  2. The roots are trimmed of all green leaves, then are replanted in sand in a dark location to force new growth.

The result growth is the familiar pale torpedo-shaped head of dense leaves, called a chicon.

When to plant: Direct seed in July–Aug

Harvest window:

  • The first harvest is the roots. They should be grown for about four months before harvest.
  • Commercial Belgium endive is grown in warm, humid conditions and harvested in 3–4 weeks when 4–6" in length.
  • Growing in Santa Clara Valley during the cool season, you can harvest individual leaves over a period of several weeks. See our Belgian Endive Trial for details on how we grew it.

Care overview:

  • The more robust the roots, the more growth you will get when forcing new growth
  • It is critical to keep the forced growth in complete darkness or the leaves will be bitter

More links:

Webmaster Email: webmaster-mgsantaclara@ucanr.edu