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Growing lettuce, endive and radicchio in home gardens

Quick facts

  • Choose varieties adapted to cold climates and that have a short growth cycle.
  • Start seeds indoors in early April for transplanting in late April and early May.
  • Fertilize soil for quick growth and keep the soil moist.
  • Direct seed as soon as the soil is workable in April.
  • Start seeds indoors in July for transplanting in August for a late season crop.
  • Harvest leaves frequently for fresh salads.
  • Use row covers or low tunnels to protect seedlings and plants from freezing temperatures.

Rewarding leafy greens 

Green lettuce plant growing in garden.

Lettuce, endive, and radicchio are leafy greens in the aster family. These plants originated in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, eastern Asia and northern Africa.

In Minnesota gardens, they are rewarding crops but can be challenging.

Before planting

Proper soil preparation is important for success with these salad crops.

Although they may form a long taproot, the smaller horizontal roots close to the surface absorb nearly all the water and nutrients used by the plant. If the soil becomes dry or is low in nutrients, the plants will struggle to grow and their quality will be poor.

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Selecting plants

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Planting

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How to keep your leafy greens healthy and productive

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Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect lettuce, endive, and radicchio. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis.

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can use Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get input.

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Authors: Marissa Schuh, integrated pest management Extension educator, and Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2022

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