Artichokes are one of the most satisfying vegetables to grow in your greenhouse, garden or allotment. Along with broccoli, leafy greens, and onions, artichokes can be cultivated as a vegetable crop for harvesting during the summer months.
Artichoke is a very delicious and nutritious vegetable that can be grown in most parts of the world by home gardeners. It has been grown for food since ancient Roman times and today it is one of the most widely cultivated vegetables. In fact, even though it is grown around the world, only about 10% of the world’s artichoke consumption is in the United States and Canada.
Growing artichokes is easy with the right information, so let’s learn how to grow them together.
In This Article
Quick Facts About Artichoke Plants
- Scientific name: Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus
- Type of plant: thistlelike perennial plant
- Native to: the Mediterranean area
- Light requirement: full sun to partial shade
- Water requirement: 1 to 2 inches of water a week
- Preferred humidity: cool, humid summers and mild winters
- Preferred temperature: 20-24°C (68-75°F) day; 12-14 °C (54-57 °F) night
- Size upon maturity: five inches in diameter
- Type of native soil: light, fertile, well-draining soil (sandy or loam)
- Soil pH level: between 6.5 and 7.0
- Fertilizer: granulated fertilizer with balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium,
- Word meaning: thistle, or a prickly, flowering plant
- Family: Thistle family
- Growing season: cold winter or early spring
What exactly are artichoke plants?
Artichoke plants are perennial herbs in the daisy/thistle family. Its flower stalks can grow up to three to five feet tall and can be trained to grow more compactly. They also have large, green leaves and produce small, edible flower buds, which are purple or white.
Because of their strong flavor, artichokes aren’t eaten raw; they’re usually steamed or fried before being served as an appetizer with melted butter or dip sauce. Artichokes can also be stuffed with other ingredients like cheese or seafood before cooking them in hot oil until golden brown on all sides
These plants grow best in cold climates during the spring and fall seasons when there’s plenty of sunlight available for photosynthesis.
Cultivation and History
Artichokes were cultivated as a Mediterranean vegetable before being introduced to other parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Artichokes are used both as food and as medicine. They have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years in the Mediterranean region and were distributed throughout Europe by the Romans. In 15th-century Italy, they were called girasoli (sunflowers) because of their resemblance to that flower. They were not known in England until 1609 when they were introduced by French refugees from Spain who had adopted them from the Arabs who got them from Turkey or Persia. The early French settlers in Canada called them artichauts after their homeland’s name for this vegetable, while Spanish settlers called them alcachofas (literally “artichoke hearts”) because they resembled hearts when cut crosswise through their chokes.
There are several types of artichoke plant, each with a different flavor and appearance. You can grow most varieties from seed or from plants.
These are the most common types:
This variety has heart-shaped leaves that are large and tender enough to be eaten raw. They are also called cardoons or cardoni. The plant grow about 3 feet tall and has long stems with edible thistles attached to them.
This variety has a unique shape with pointed ends and often has multiple buds per head. The flavor is milder than other artichokes, and it holds up well to steaming and grilling. It is popular in Italy where it is used as an ingredient in salads and soups.
Green Globe Artichoke
The Green Globe artichoke (also known as baby artichoke) is the most common variety. It’s harvested at around 4 inches in diameter, but most people eat it when it’s about 2 inches wide. This is because it has a tender choke (the part you eat) and thin leaves that won’t get caught in your teeth.
This variety has large, deep green leaves that are very fleshy and mild tasting. It is great for eating whole or cooking in soups and sauces because it doesn’t get woody as it ages as other varieties do. Cheney is an excellent variety for home gardens because it tolerates cooler temperatures well and produces well even in poor soil conditions. It is also resistant to viruses that can affect other varieties such as Verticillium Wilt Virus.
The Violetta artichoke is a rare variety that has small, purple-tinged buds. They have a sweet flavor and are excellent steamed or braised. This is available year round as fresh produce or canned in brine or water with vinegar added as a preservative. It can also be found frozen in some stores during certain seasons only due to weather conditions that may affect its availability.
Imperial Star Artichokes
The Imperial Star is larger than the Globe artichoke. It also has a smaller choke than other varieties, so it can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s perfect for stuffing and baking, as well as roasting. The leaves are petite, which means you don’t have to worry about chomping down on too many at once. The flavor is milder than some other varieties but still rich and buttery.
This variety produces large purple-tinged buds that are about 6 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. The leaves are smaller than those of other varieties, but they are still quite large at up to 4 inches across. Crown Imperial can be grown as an annual or perennial plant, but it’s best used as a permanent vegetable garden plant because it takes up so much space in the garden bed. Crown Imperial is often used as an ornamental plant rather than for food purposes (like Globe artichokes) because of its very large size and purple coloration.
These large purple artichokes have an earthy flavor that is milder than other varieties but still has a bit of bitterness to it when raw. When cooked they tend to taste sweeter than other types because they don’t have as much fiber in their leaves. These artichokes aren’t widely available but can be found at farmers’ markets and specialty grocery stores during their peak season (late winter through spring).
How to Grow Artichoke Seeds: A Complete Guide
Artichokes are a vegetable garden that requires a lot of space and attention. It is a very popular vegetable, and it has been cultivated for thousands of years. Here are some things you should know before growing artichokes.
Artichokes grow in full sun to partial shade. The soil should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day or at least four hours of bright indirect light. If your area receives less light than warm climates, consider using grow lights to supplement the plant’s light requirements.
The best garden soil for growing artichokes is a sandy loam, well-draining soil, which has plenty of room for air and water to move through the root zone. If you don’t have sandy loam, mix in some sand while preparing your garden bed. The pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0, with an ideal range of 6.2 to 6.5, and soil temperature of at least 40°F (4°C).
Preparing The Soil Artichokes Need
The best way to prepare your soil for planting artichokes is to dig it up and remove rocks and other debris with a shovel or hoe before adding any amendments. Next, add compost or manure to increase fertility and improve drainage. Finally, spread out 3 inches of compost over the planting area and dig it into the top 6 inches of soil with a shovel or garden fork before planting your artichoke seeds or seedlings.
Artichokes thrive in lots of water during the growing season, especially during bloom when they produce tender buds and baby artichokes (called buttons). Soaker hoses work best because they keep the soil moist and the plants well watered without creating muddy areas around them. If you don’t have a soaker hose, set out buckets of water at least once a week as needed to keep your mature plants happy and healthy throughout their bloom period.
Most artichoke plants prefer cool temperatures for the best growth. The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a climate with high summer temperatures, grow artichokes in a location that gets partial shade during the early summer.
Pruning is a form of plant care that helps control the size of your plants and promote better growth. It’s also an important step in harvesting artichokes, as it allows you to remove the flower buds and promote more leaves for harvesting.
Artichoke pruning is best done just as the new leaf buds begin to appear. If you prune too early, you’ll reduce the number of flowers you can harvest from your plant; if you wait too long, the parent plant may be too mature to produce any flowers at all.
To prune artichoke plants, simply snip off any new shoots that have started growing from the base or root system with sharp scissors or shears. Don’t worry if a few tiny leaves are damaged during this process — they will eventually fall off on their own anyway due to natural shedding processes.
Artichoke plants are heavy feeders. Add a balanced fertilizer to the soil when you plant. You can also apply compost or aged manure at that time. To ensure good growth and flowering, apply 1/2 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer around each plant when it is about 6 inches tall. If your artichoke plants grow tall and spindly, add a second application of fertilizer.
You can fertilize your artichokes with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks after they flower, right up until the first frost. Use a diluted solution of 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water, or follow the manufacturer’s label instructions for amounts and frequency of use.
Fresh artichokes should be refrigerated as soon as possible after harvest, preferably within 2 hours of harvesting. Before refrigeration, trim away damaged outer leaves, leaving about an inch of stem and all of the tender base leaves intact. Blanch the hearts in boiling water and a splash of lemon juice for 1-2 minutes. Place artichokes upright in a container with 1 inch of water at room temperature. Cover the container with a damp towel or plastic bag to keep out dust and other contaminants. Refrigerate immediately after harvesting or purchasing artichokes from a store or market.
Artichokes will keep for up to 10 days in your refrigerator’s vegetable bin or crisper drawer, depending on the temperature inside your refrigerator and how fresh they were when purchased (or harvested).
How to Plant Your Own Artichoke Plants
Artichokes are perennial plants that can be grown in the home or garden, but they require a lot of space and time. They are also not suitable for growing in containers.
- Prepare the soil by tilling it in the fall or winter before planting. Remove rocks and debris from the soil.
- Dig holes that are at least one foot deep and 18 inches wide at the root end of each plant. Place two to three inches of compost or well-rotted manure into each hole and mix it with the soil from your digging site.
- Fill each hole with water until it drains out of the bottom of the hole; this will help to loosen the soil around roots when you plant them later on in springtime when temperatures are warmer and the ground is soft enough for digging holes without damaging roots too much during planting.
- Following fall harvest, plant artichokes about six inches apart from one another so that their crowns will be exposed above ground level when they reach maturity (about three years).
- Cover the crowns with organic mulch after planting so that only ¼ inch remains exposed above ground level; if you don’t cover them up completely, they’ll be susceptible to frostbite during winter months when temperatures drop.
- Water regularly until the artichoke crop has established itself, which will take several weeks after planting.
Tips for Growing Artichoke Seedlings
If you’re new to growing artichokes, here are some secret tips to help you get started:
- Start your new artichoke plants indoors in early spring or late winter (depending on your climate). You’ll need to plan ahead – these seeds should be started ten to twelve weeks before your last frost.
- Choose the right soil. Grow artichokes in soil that drains well and doesn’t become too waterlogged during the growing season.
- Choose the right variety of seedlings for your climate zone. Wait until after the last frost date to sow seeds of pre-started artichoke plants.
- When your seed tray is full of white root tips, it’s time to plant the artichoke seedlings in individual pots or cells.
- Place the pots near a south-facing window where they will receive plenty of sunlight for at least six hours each day. You can also place them under artificial lights if you prefer to grow them indoors year-round.
- When the artichoke seedlings have reached about 3 inches tall and their first true leaves have emerged, transplant artichokes into larger containers with fresh potting soil that has been amended with thick mulch compost or manure (to conserve moisture).
- Plant your artichoke transplants in a row at an interval of 4 to 6 feet. Placing rows 6 to 8 feet apart will allow room to easily water, fertilize and harvest buds.
- Remove the mulch in the spring after the last frost date for your growing zone.
- Globe artichokes grow faster when you apply a balanced vegetable plant food every two weeks throughout the growing season for healthy large plants and high yields.
- Let dead flowers dry out on the plant. Remove the seed head and store it in an envelope to use for next year’s seeds.
How to Harvest Artichoke Plants
Harvesting artichokes is a simple process, but it requires a little preparation. The main thing to remember is that you should not cut the leaves until the plants are mature and ready to harvest artichoke buds.
Here’s what you need to know:
What to Look For: Look for established plants with large artichoke buds. These will be located on the top third of the plant, near where the leaves join the stem. As long as they are green and firm, they are ready to harvest. If they are brown or soft, they aren’t ready yet.
When to Harvest: Artichokes should be harvested before they bloom. You’ll know when this happens because the buds will have turned yellow or purple and there will be a hole in the center of them where emerging artichoke flowers would be located.
Harvest Artichokes: Once you’ve identified your mature artichoke plants and know that they’re ready for harvest, simply cut off the top two-thirds of the plant with a sharp knife and leave one leaf on each stem segment so it will continue growing new artichoke buds. The remaining stem segments can be used as feed for livestock or composted as organic fertilizer.
Pests, Diseases, and Treatment
Growing artichokes are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. Some of the most common problems are:
Verticillium is a soil-borne fungus that can cause a disease called Verticillium wilt. The fungus causes plants to wilt and turn yellow or brown, which eventually leads to the death of the plant.
Treatment: There is no cure for verticillium wilt; however, some resistant varieties exist that can survive infection with mild to moderate levels of disease. If you have infected growing artichokes, remove it immediately so it doesn’t spread spores to other plants in your garden or yard area. You can also place a barrier around your garden or yard area to prevent spores from spreading further.
This disease causes leaves to curl, turn yellow and drop prematurely. The fungus overwinters in plant debris and survives as spores on the surface of infected leaves. It spreads by wind-blown spores, so it’s important to remove all dead leaves from your garden in the fall.
Treatment: Downy mildew can be controlled by spraying with copper fungicides such as copper hydroxide. Repeat applications may be needed every 10 days during hot weather.
Botrytis blight is caused by Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that attacks artichokes at the bud stage. It causes the artichoke bud to become brown and distort, and it can spread throughout the plant. Some varieties are more susceptible than others, but all varieties can be affected if the weather conditions are favorable for disease development.
Treatment: The best way to control botrytis is to keep your garden well-ventilated and avoid wetting plants during humid periods. If there are multiple growing artichokes affected by botrytis, remove them from the garden as soon as possible so they do not spread the disease to other plants. There are many different fungicides available for treating botrytis blight; ask your local nursery or vegetable garden center for specific recommendations.
Stinkbugs feed on the leaves, stems and flower bud of artichokes, causing them to become distorted. This pest can also cause damage to other members of the Asteraceae family such as sunflowers, dandelions, and Echinacea.
Treatment: The best way to control this pest is by handpicking them from your plant artichoke. If there are many stinkbugs on your plants, you should spray neem oil or pyrethrum on them to get rid of them quickly without harming the growing artichokes’ health.
Artichoke Plume Moth
The larvae are white, hairy caterpillars with brown heads that can reach up to 5 cm (2 inches) in length. They feed on the leaves and flowers of artichokes during summer months, causing considerable damage to crops. The adults are grayish-brown moths which fly at night, depositing eggs on foliage or fruit in early spring.
Treatment: Insecticides are used to control this pest; however, these may have negative effects on beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies that pollinate the plants.
Best Uses of Artichoke Plants
Artichokes are one of the most versatile vegetables you can grow. The artichoke plant has a long history as a food source, but it also has many other uses.
Artichokes can be eaten raw or cooked. When cooked, they taste similar to artichoke hearts and are often served as an appetizer with dipping sauces like mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce. Raw artichokes can be eaten whole in salads or cut into smaller pieces before eating. Popular ways to prepare them include steaming, boiling, frying, braising, and roasting.
Artichoke leaves contain cynarin, which has been found to be an effective treatment for stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues. The leaves also contain silymarin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Because of these properties, its edible buds are often used as a digestive aid and to relieve symptoms of intestinal gas. It has also been used for liver problems, gallbladder problems, constipation, and other disorders. The leaves are used for treating diarrhea and dysentery, and it is used externally for skin inflammation and itching.
Globe Artichokes are grown primarily for their ornamental value rather than their food value. Their flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, making them a popular garden plant for those who enjoy watching wildlife feed from their garden beds.
The leaves of the artichoke plant are rich in fiber and can be used as an alternative to cotton. They are also used in making paper, wood pulp, and other materials. In addition, the plant can be used for the production of chemicals such as chlorophyll and folate.
Artichokes are also used in the manufacture of food products such as dairy products, meat products, and condiments. They provide a great source of protein for people who do not eat meat or fish. The leaves are high in fiber and contain a lot of minerals that are necessary for the body to function properly.
What month do you plant artichokes?
You can grow artichokes any time between April and September. The best time to plant them is between May 1st and July 15th (frost date). This gives them plenty of time to bloom before growing season sets in.
Will artichokes come back every year?
Artichokes are perennial plants with the potential for surviving 6 years during mild winters. Northern gardeners may grow this as annuals if they start indoors early and harvest in fall.
Where can I buy artichokes?
There are several varieties of artichoke plants available for purchase at local nurseries, garden centers or online retailers such as Amazon.
How do I know if my artichoke plants have survived?
If your artichoke plants have survived the winter they will begin to produce leaves and flower heads within a few weeks of planting. The leaves of young plants can be harvested and eaten like spinach, but don’t harvest them until at least one flower head has formed as this indicates that your plant has produced enough energy to support both itself and its new leaves/flower heads.
Can you eat the leaves of an artichoke?
Yes, but only the top two or three leaves from the center of the plant. The bottom leaves are tough and bitter and should be discarded before cooking or eating.
Can you eat artichoke hearts raw?
No, there’s a reason why they’re called “hearty greens”! Raw artichokes contain an enzyme that prevents the body from digesting them properly. If you plan on eating them, make sure to cook them first by steaming or boiling them for about 20 minutes until you have a tender artichoke heart. You can also use canned or frozen hearts!
Can allergic people eat artichokes?
Artichokes are not a common allergen, but they do contain allergens. They should be avoided by people who are allergic to nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers).
Artichoke plants are beautiful and will make for a dramatic contrast in your flower garden. While there are many steps involved in growing them, it is relatively easy to cultivate, provided that you know what you’re doing. Most gardeners enjoy planting artichokes year after year as they provide lovely, exotic blossoms and tasty, nutritious leaves. It can be tricky to get started growing artichokes, but once you know how to grow artichokes in your garden, they can be a great addition to your veggie patch.