Growing Endive & Escarole From Seed

You can start your endive crop early in the spring, or later in the season for a fall harvest. Either way, they love the cooler weather. Fall crops are usually seeded directly into the garden, but you can get an early start in the spring by using transplants.

Plan to start your endive 6 weeks before your last frost date. Your seeds should only be under a thin layer of soil, and keep them moist until they germinate.

To start from seed you will need to work your garden soil to a depth of at least 6". Sprinkle your seeds on the surface of the soil and press the seeds into the soil surface. The seed only needs to be 1/8"-1/4" deep.

If you are planting a large area it is best to work the soil and set aside an amount of soil that you will use to cover the seeds. Work the soil and sprinkle the seeds onto the soil surface. Now you can use the soil you set aside to cover the seeds. I find it is easiest to cover the seeds with soil by hand, sprinkling a thin layer of soil over the seeds.

Fall planting should be done when daytime temperatures are in the 60's and 70's.


Your little endive seedlings can go out into the garden around 2 weeks before you expect your final frost.

If you are going to harvest your endive as complete heads at maturity, put your seedlings 12 inches apart. You can plant them closer together if you are going either cut leaves off throughout the season or pull smaller plants before they take up too much room.

Endive’s roots are shallow, and grow close to the surface of the soil. So you should take care when weeding not to disturb the soil too deeply (like with a cultivator) or you can damage the plants. Either weed by hand, or smother out the weeds with mulch.

Water your plants regularly, making sure you keep the water near the roots rather than all over the leaves.