Chicory may seem like just another weed growing wild across the United States and much of Canada, but it is familiar to many as a salad green or a coffee substitute. Generations of herbalists have used this traditional herb as a treatment for maladies ranging from upset stomach and jaundice to fever and gallstones. Growing potted chicory plants is a great way to enjoy them up close and in small spaces. Read on to lean more.
About Container Grown Chicory
In the garden, chicory is appreciated for its brilliant blue flowers, which may actually be more white or pink, depending on the pH level of your soil. Chicory is easy to grow, but it has long taproots like its cousin, the familiar yellow dandelion. If you use the roots, planting chicory in pots makes the plant easy to harvest. If you grow chicory for the leaves, chicory in a container can be conveniently located just outside your kitchen door.
Caring for Potted Chicory Plants
Plant chicory seed in spring or summer, then harvest the plant about three months later. If you live in a warm climate, plant in late summer and harvest in spring. If you prefer, you can start with a small plant at a greenhouse or nursery that specializes in herbs.
Choose a container with a drainage hole in the bottom. Use a deep container if you plan to grow chicory for the roots. Fill the container with a good quality, well-drained potting mix.
Like most herbs, chicory doesn’t need much fertilizer, and too much can make the plant weak and floppy. A little compost mixed into the soil at planting time is usually sufficient. If the plant looks like it needs a little help, use a water-soluble fertilizer or fish fertilizer diluted to half strength.
Chicory needs at least six hours of sunlight per day. If you live in a hot climate, place potted chicory plants in a location where afternoons are shady.
Harvest chicory roots by pulling them straight up from the potting soil. Harvest chicory leaves by cutting them at ground level when they’re tender – usually about 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.) long. If you wait too long, the leaves will be unpleasantly bitter.