Want to learn how to grow artichoke plants? It’s actually easier than you think!
Despite having the reputation for being hard to grow, artichokes are actually hardy vegetables that are pretty simple to cultivate in the average garden.
Not only can growing artichokes provide you with organic, healthy food for your family, but it can also add a unique ornamental value to your garden, too.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to grow artichoke plants.
What Are Artichoke Plants?
Artichoke plants are herbaceous vegetables. In some places, they are actually perennial. Members of the Asteraceae family, artichokes are distantly related to dandelions, thistles, and sunflowers.
Typically, artichokes are grown for their edible flower buds, harvested long before the flowers open. These vegetables aren’t commonly grown in the U.S., but you can easily plant some at home for a bountiful crop.
They grow to be quite large, producing silver-green leaves that are prickly and arched. If the flowers are allowed to blossom, they become large purple thistles, known for their fragrance.
Growing up to six feet tall and five feet wide, artichokes certainly won’t be the smallest features in your garden! However, they’re well worth the space they’ll take up.
Are Artichokes Easy To Grow?
Growing artichokes isn’t challenging - as long as you know what to do.
As long as you give these plants the watering, fertilizing, and pruning they need, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest.
And, you’re going to have an unfair advantage over other growers, having read our complete guide on how to grow artichoke plants.
How Long Does It Take To Grow An Artichoke Plant?
Artichokes have a long growing season, taking up to 150 days (sometimes as few as 110) to fully mature.
Planting from seed takes much longer than planting from a division - if you plant from a division, you may have a mature crop ready to go in as little as 100 days.
In many cases, you can even get a second harvest (that’s if you live in a warm climate with an extra-long growing season).
To do this, you’ll need to cut the plants back to a couple of inches off the ground after the initial harvest. Ideally, new sprouts will be formed at the base of the plant.
Do Artichokes Come Back Every Year?
In warm climates, artichokes are short-lived perennials. However, in cooler regions, like much of the United States, they are annuals.
Artichokes come back every year but only when grown in zones 7-11. In colder areas, gardeners can grow artichokes as annuals.
Can You Grow An Artichoke Plant From An Artichoke?
You can grow an artichoke plant from an artichoke with ease. The best way to do this is by purchasing artichoke roots or by cloning an existing artichoke plant.
Use a plant that is mature and has new shoots growing. In most cases, you can’t grow an artichoke plant from an artichoke that you’ve purchased at the grocery store.
While Jerusalem artichokes can be grown from store-bought tubers, these plants have nothing in common with regular artichokes (despite the name).
What Are The Best Artichoke Varieties To Grow For Beginners?
If you’re looking for some of the best artichoke varieties to grow, consider first that there are two main types of artichokes - globe artichokes and elongated artichokes. These names speak to the shape of each variety.
Globe artichokes are the fat artichokes that you most commonly see in stores. Two of the most common cultivars are ‘Green Globe’ and ‘Imperial Star.’
‘Green Globe’ is an open-pollinated artichoke that produces large 3-5 inch fruits. They have creamy hearts and are hardy in zones 7 and above.
Most produce for five or more years. Another kind of artichoke you can grow is ‘Imperial Star.’ ‘Imperial Star’ is another open-pollinated variety that is fast-maturing.
It produces in the first year and is one of the best for gardeners in colder growing zones, too, with fruits ready to go in as little as 85 days.
When it comes to elongated artichokes, the best variety, hands down, is ‘Violetto.’
‘Violetto’ is an open-pollinated Italian heirloom that produces long artichokes roughly three inches by five inches wide.
These are usually signed with violet. They produce later than most globe varieties but are hardy in zones 6 and above.
What Do You Need To Grow Artichoke Plants?
To grow artichokes successfully, you need little more than well-draining soil and some good gardening pots.
These are pretty simple plants to grow, and you can get by with a minimalistic approach.
What Soil Is Best For Growing Artichoke Plants?
The soil should be nice and fertile, amended with a bit of sand to mimic the artichoke’s native Mediterranean environment.
You can learn about amending your soil in this guide, and you’ll be able to choose the right inputs to provide proper soil structure and nutrition.
When looking for a base soil, our review of the best garden soils of the year is a great place to start.
Use Fabric Containers With Proper Drainage
When selecting your gardening pots, good drainage is essential. This can help prevent the roots from rotting, particularly in places where you intend to overwinter them.
For this reason, we recommend using fabric containers, such as Gorilla Pots. These are more porous than traditional plastic pots, so you’ll get plenty of oxygen to your roots and quick drainage.
Of course, you could also consider growing in a raised garden bed. The one we just linked is actually constructed of a fabric material as well.
You can choose which one is right for you by checking out our guides on growing in a raised bed and container gardening.
Do Artichoke Plants Need Full Sun?
Artichoke plants need to be grown in full sun. Although they can tolerate partial shade, the flower buds will suffer, leading to a less productive harvest.
For the best results growing artichokes, plan your garden strategically. If you’re growing in a greenhouse, you may consider adding some supplemental grow lighting to meet the demands of these plants.
How To Grow Artichoke Plants From Seed To Harvest
Ready to grow your own artichoke plants? You can easily take these plants from seed to harvest by following these simple tips. We’ll start by teaching you how to plant artichokes, as this is the first step.
Then, we’ll cover some specific tips for seeing these through harvest so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with delicious artichoke leaves.
Where Do Artichokes Grow The Best?
As we already mentioned, artichokes prefer sandy, well-draining soil. Although a neutral pH is acceptable, a slightly alkaline pH is best.
A well draining soil decreases the chances of root rot. Amend the soil before planting to help your artichokes grow well in future years.
These plants prefer warm, dry weather, similar to that which is found in the native Mediterranean region.
Too much heat can cause premature blooming. Applying a thick mulch around your artichoke plants can help keep the soil cool during hot spells.
How Deep Do You Plant Artichoke Seeds?
For gardeners everywhere - but particularly those working in colder growing zones - it’s essential that you start your seeds indoors.
This will give you a head start on the growing season. Ideally, you should start your seed about eight weeks before the last frost date.
Sow seeds about ¼ inch deep in 4-inch containers. They will develop deep taproots, which is why such a deep container is needed.
You don’t have to wait until the danger of all frost has passed. In fact, artichokes need to experience a bit of chilling (just not freezing) before they set buds. Temperatures of 50 degrees for about a week or so can help you accomplish this.
Artichoke Garden Care
Artichokes should be watered frequently and deeply, about one to three times a week, depending on the abundance of natural rainfall.
Of course, the drainage of your soil and the heat and wind in your climate play a huge factor in this too, so learn how to check the soil to determine whether it’s time to water again or not.
This will help keep the flower buds tender and also help the plant develop a strong, resilient root system.
Besides mulching and watering, all you need to do to care for your artichoke plants is to fertilize them regularly. You can use a balanced vegetable plant food once every two weeks during the growing season.
Why Are My Artichokes Dying?
You can seemingly do everything right, and still, you find yourself asking “why are my artichokes dying?”
In most cases, artichokes are hardy, resilient plants that don’t suffer from many ailments. Usually, yellowing or declining health can be corrected with the proper treatment in a timely fashion.
Artichokes need full sun and fertile soil. If there’s too much shade or poorly-fertilized soil, your artichokes can drop leaves and reduce their bud production.
You will need to transplant your artichoke to a sunnier site, if you suspect the lack of lighting is at fault. Or, consider adding nutrients.
Of course, it’s important to note that, as with all living things, your artichokes will eventually die. Most live for at least five years, although this can vary depending on the type of artichoke you are growing as well as your specific conditions.
If you notice that older plants have begun to develop yellow leaves and have slowed in their bud production, remove the entire plant and divide the rooted side shoots.
You can replant these side shoots elsewhere in your garden to continue the harvest later on.
Artichoke Pest & Disease Prevention
Artichokes are hardy plants, prone to very few pests and diseases. One of the most common diseases to affect artichoke plants is verticillium wilt.
Caused by a pathogen known as Verticillium dahliae, this disease causes yellowing along the leaves and diminished bud production (or the production of smaller buds).
Eventually, the plant will wilt and die. You can prevent it by growing your artichokes in a sunny environment with lightweight soil.
Avoid overwatering and keep your beds weeded. If the disease has set in for the long haul, you may need to remove any affected plants to stop the disease from spreading to the rest of your garden.
When it comes to pests, aphids are by far the most common. They rarely damage artichoke plants past repair, as long as the plants aren’t stressed by other conditions.
You’ll know it’s an aphid infestation because you’ll see a sticky honeydew on the buds, leaves, and stems of the plant.
Eventually, the foliage may also curl back. Sometimes, you’ll notice the ants that the honeydew attracts first.
For aphid infestations, you will need to apply an insecticidal soap every week or so. You might also have to discard (rather than eat) the affected buds.
How To Harvest Artichoke Plants
Now comes the fun part - harvesting your artichoke plants! If you live in the ideal climate, like in California, artichoke plants will produce buds at various intervals throughout the year.
However, in other parts of the world, buds will start forming only in the early summer. Normally, the center bud will appear first.
This can be harvested as soon as it is about three inches in diameter. You should harvest it while the bracts are folded and the bud feels firm.
Remove a one- to three- inch portion of the stem and bud. Then, side shoots should begin to produce smaller buds.
These can be harvested when they, too, are about one to three inches in diameter. In fact, the smaller the buds, the better - these buds tend to be much more tender and flavorful!
Final Thoughts On How To Grow Artichoke Plants
If you’re ready to grow your own artichoke plants, you’ve made a great choice. These plants are not only easy to grow, but also highly rewarding.
Plus, they aren’t nearly as challenging as you might think! Consider these helpful tips - and pick up all of your growing supplies at Hydrobuilder today!