Chicory: Cichorium intybus
Chicory is a hardy and versatile plant that grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9 and grows to an average height of about 3-5 feet when mature. This robust European native has the beneficial characteristic of being able to thrive just about anywhere when it comes to the environment. However for optimal growing conditions; they prefer deep, moderately fertile soils. It's best practice to avoid planting in clayey soils as it inhibits root development. This species also prefers lots of sunlight to grow optimally. Chicory has a very vertical growth habit, in regards to its overall mass. The vast majority of its foliage is closer to the ground, radially spreading out and around the base of the plant. That is to contrast its tall, branching, slender stems that soar above the foliage and are dotted with delicate light blue flowers. When using chicory in a landscaping or gardening situation, it has a quite a few appeals.Chicory, visually, when integrated into a full meadow or garden scheme the roaming leaves, branching stems, and flowers, that are present from July to October, add fullness and an endearing "wild" authenticity to the atmosphere of a space. The leaves are dandelion-like in shape and pleasantly green in color, large and broad at the base and thinning up the stem to allow the flowers to stand alone. The flowers themselves are small, about 2-4 cm in diameter and aster-like in appearance. Outside of the visuals, its root system is ideal for helping in maintaining the balance and health of soils because it's able to pull nutrients from deep in the soil profile. On top of that, it's a vigorous perennial species that will return for many years of enjoyment. Additionally, for those interested in edible gardens or tea gardens, chicory is an excellent addition because both the leaves and roots can be eaten. The roots can be used in teas or coffee to add robustness to the flavor.