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Artichoke Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Artichoke budsArtichokes grow best in areas of long mild winters and cool summers. Artichokes do not grow well where the summers are very hot, and where winters are cold and the ground freezes, artichokes must be replanted each year. Perennial artichokes should be cut back to about 12 inches in winter and the roots and crown heavily mulched with leaves or compost. For artichoke growing tips see Artichoke Growing Success Tips at the bottom of this post.

Common artichoke growing problems with cures and controls:

Crowns of plant rots becoming slimy and foul smelling. Botrytis rot or crown rot is a fungal disease common in rainy weather. Remove and destroy infected plants. Keep weeds out of garden where fungal spores may harbor.

Young stems chewed. Young earwigs feed on plant shoots and eat holes in foliage. Most often the damage is tolerable and the infestation is light. For heavy infestation, use traps of rolled wet paper or old flowerpots stuffed with paper to catch earwigs at night. Dump them in soapy water. Keep garden free of plant debris. Spray with hot pepper and garlic repellent.

Jagged holes in leaves, stems. Snails and slugs scrape holes in foliage at night; during the day they hide beneath boards and garden debris. Handpick and destroy slugs and snails in the evening. Place saucers of beer at soil level to attract and drown snails and slugs. Dust with diatomaceous earth around plants.

Holes in stems and leaves; discolored spot on bracts. The larva of the artichoke plume moth is ½-inch long green or yellowish caterpillar with black shield marks; the adult is a brownish moth with featherlike wings. Cut plants to soil level once a year; remove and destroy plant debris. Cover trimmed plants with 6 inches of soil. Use Bacillus thuringiensis and predaceous nematodes are effective.

Sticky honeydew on leaves and chokes; black sooty mold on plant. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects that colonize on the undersides of leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. Spray away aphids with a blast of water from the hose. Use insecticidal soap. Control ants that farm aphids.

Curled leaves, dwarfed plants; chokes are small and misshaped; yield is reduced by nearly half. Curly dwarf virus is usually spread in propagation from infected plants, not seed. Remove and destroy infected plants immediately. Use virus-free stock for new plants. Control aphids which spread many viruses.

The edible leaf bracts are tough and leathery. Summer heat can cause buds to open and leave the tissue tough. Harvest buds when they are closed tight and before they have started to open.

Artichoke Growing Success Tips:

Planting. Grow artichokes in full sun. Artichokes require well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting. Artichokes grow best where daytime temperatures do not exceed 70°F and nighttime temperatures do not fall below 55°F. In warmer regions, plant thornless artichoke varieties which are more heat resistant.

Planting time. Artichokes are most easily grown from bare-root divisions purchased from a nursery. Set divisions in the garden on about the average date of the last frost in spring. Artichokes also can be grown from seed; sow seed 8 weeks before the last expected frost in spring. Start seed indoors if you are growing artichokes as an annual crop.

Care. Perennial artichokes require a dormant period each year to trigger a new round of flowering the following year; this usually comes in the cool of winter. In warm winter regions, cut back plants to soil level when the foliage dies back after harvest. Do no water or feed plants during the dormant time. About 4 months later, dress the plants with compost and begin watering again; foliage will re-sprout and plants will produce new flower buds.

Annual artichokes do not require a long dormant period to promote flowering. Artichokes grown as annual should be exposed to a chilling period of 8 to 10 days before going into the garden. About two weeks before the average last frost date in spring, place annual artichokes in a coldframe where temperatures will stay above freezing but below 50°F. After the 10-day chilling period and after the last frost, transplant artichokes into the garden. ‘Imperial Star’ is a good annual artichoke choice for chilling.

Harvest. Perennial artichokes bud in spring. Annual artichokes produce flower buds in early summer. Cut buds before they open. Leave about 1 to 1½ inches of stem attached to each bud.

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81 Comments

    • Artichoke plants want evenly moist soil–not too wet, not too dry. Keep the soil evenly moist by watering whenever the soil dries out at about 4 inches deep. You can gently dig down near the plant to see if the soil is moist at 4 inches. Add plenty of aged compost around your artichoke plants–aged compost holds just enough moisture to keep plants happy.

  1. I grew my artichokes from seed. They are housed in the sun in boxes about 18-20″ deep and 12 ” square. Currently (it was 80 here today) the outer leaves are shrivelling but the inner ones are doing well. They are about 14″ tall at this point, well-watered and fertilized. Help!!

    • Hot weather may cause the soil to dry out more quickly than it has in the past. Be sure the soil stays evenly moist at all times. If the sun is intense you can place a few wooden stakes in the box and rest shadecloth over the stakes to protect the plant from sunburn.

    • Artichoke bracts will open before maturity if the plant is stressed. Check your watering. Artichokes have a very shallow root system and they do not like hot, dry weather. Make sure the soil stays moist. If the weather turns very hot, put a frame with shade cloth over the plant.

  2. My artichokes grow huge! They come back with a vengeance each year, but for some reason they taste bad. Their way too leathery and tough, even picked before they start to open. I have no idea how old these plants are. Could it be they’re wild or gone feral?

    • Artichoke varieties we grow in the garden are the offspring of hybridized thistles. It could be that your artichokes are more wild than cultivated. Favorite cultivars are Green Globe, Imperial Star, and Violetto. Artichokes are usually productive for about 5 years after that plants will be past their prime–even though they can live another 10 years. Cut buds when they are about the size of an apple; younger buds are the most tender. A recommended cultural practice is to cut the entire plant down to the soil after harvest in spring or early summer then reduce irrigation for several weeks. This will induce summer dormancy. Then resume irrigation to encourage rapid regrowth of leaves and new stems and buds for fall harvest; fall harvest artichokes are commonly smaller and tender.

    • The bigger more mature outer edges are turning over. I have not been able to figure out why. Can some one help me to under stand what might cause this?

      • Are you referring to the outer leaves of the plant or the outer bracts of the artichoke flower bud? The outer most bracts or petals of the artichoke flower bud will turn out as the flower bud matures and grows close to bloom time. You should harvest the buds while they are tight and before they open when they are 3 inches in diameter or slightly larger. The lower, older leaves of the plant will turn down as the plant matures as well. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.

  3. I’ve raised two green globe in Melbourne, Fl, starting from seed 2/2018. There growth accelerated when I transplanted them with organic fertilizer into big pots around October and the weather cooled down. This February I had to move the pots to bright shade because the mix I used drained too well and I don’t think the plants themselves could keep up with the FL sun and heat. They were drooping their leaves during the day and this stopped when I moved them. After being gone for a week, I came Home to fine one had developed yellow splotches on some of the leaves with juvenile aphids scattered on the undersides and ants tending to them. I had watered well before leaving town and the soil was not dry. The other plant has one adult aphid crawling but no yellow blotches. Is there a likely cause for the yellow splotches such as a virus?

    • Feeding aphids and other insects will draw the green chlorophyll out of the plant tissue; this would cause a blotchy or speckled yellowing. Mosaic virus is spread by sucking insects such as aphids and leafhoppers. Mosaic virus disease will appear as a mosaic of yellow and green across the leaves. (A virus can not be cured.) Knock aphids off of leaves with a strong stream of water; use bait to kill the ants–make sure they have not nested in your pot. You can use a drip hose on a timer to water the plants when you are away and this will help the plants to not be stressed for lack of moisture. As well, make sure to feed your potted artichokes a dilute fish emulsion every three weeks or so. Treat the plant; if you determine it is a virus, get rid of the plant and start with a new seedling in new soil.

    • Yes; you can make your own insecticidal soap. Combine one cup of vegetable oil (this will give the mix stickiness) and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid; next, mix two teaspoons of this “soap” mix to each cup of warm water and put into a spray bottle. Be sure to spray both the top and bottom of leaves.

  4. Our artichoke has quite a few artichokes on them, maybe a dozen or so. The plant itself is huge, nearly 5 feet tall. But only two artichokes are big enough to eat (softball sized), and for some reason the rest just never get any bigger (tennis ball sized). Any idea why ?

    • Artichokes require additional nitrogen as they mature — this according to agronomists at the University of California Davis. Sprinkle a high nitrogen fertilizer — an all-purpose fertilizer around the plant (10-10-10 or 10-5-5). Also, keep the soil evenly moist do not let it dry out as buds develop.

  5. Why are my artichokes so small. I have about four inches of mulch on them. I live in Weston wa so it is cool. My soil stays constantly moist and I dug a lot of cow manure into the soil before planting them last year. They are about four to five feet apart. Some are from seed, some from division, but all the chokes are small

    • Artichokes require additional nitrogen as buds mature. Side-dress the plants with a natural organic fertilizer such as bat guano, feather meal, fish meal, or blood meal. Be sure to follow the directions on the label; it’s better to add too little than too much.

  6. Thank you for this very informative article. Your answers to the questions posted helped me understand why my artichoke bracts are opening before maturity.

    • Artichokes can be very finicky. Assuming your climate and site fit the growing requirements for artichokes, the likely cause of masses of large leaves and few flower buds is too much nitrogen in the soil. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10.

  7. Our artichoke plants are all leaves no artichoke. We live in Chicago, Illinois. My husband planted them in early spring in pots, but the leaves are huge but no artichokes. Where did we go wrong?

    • Lots of foliage and no blossoms or buds is likely a sign that the soil is too rich in nitrogen. Choose a potting soil that is not rich in nitrogen (some manufacturers add nitrogen; check the label); feed plants low nitrogen, high phosphorus fertilizer such as 5-10-10. Make sure plants are in a spot that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight each year and keep the soil evenly moist, but not wet.

  8. My artichokes are barely growing, it’s been months and they look like they are the same size but grew amazingly fast in the beginning. They keep at the same height of 2-3 inches, develop some leaves, but always seem to stay around 2-3 leaves. New ones replace the old ones.

    • After several months your artichoke plants are just 3 inches tall with 2 or 3 leaves. Are the plants in the ground or in containers? From seed, an artichoke should reach mature size in 150 days, from divisions in 100 days. Artichokes want warm temperatures–the 70sF are optimal and lots of direct sunlight; the soil should be loamy rich in aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to a depth of 24 inches; the soil should stay consistently moist. Artichokes are difficult to grow in containers; their roots are long and fleshy and need plenty of room. Transplant your plants into a larger container or richer soil and keep them consistently warm in the 70sF.

  9. I have three buds growing from one stem. I harvested the big one in the middle, hoping the other two would flourish, bust they both died off. Any ide why that happens?

    • Secondary artichoke buds will always be smaller than the main bud. They may gain some growth after the main bud is harvested but not much. They should be harvested within two or three weeks after the main bud harvest and eaten as a delicacy. Bud development and growth is supported by phosphorus. Feed artichokes with a 5-10-10 early in the season and continue to sidedress the plants every 3 to 4 weeks with compost tea or sprinkle rock phosphate into the soil around the artichokes. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist which will encourage the plant to draw up nutrients from the soil.

  10. I am a beginner Gardner and I love artichokes. I’m in need of some advise . I had to move my my mature 1 1/2 yr old artichokes to a different spot in my yard we tried our best to dig them up without hurting roots. We planted them with manure and better soil it’s been about 4 days now and it still seems unhappy the leaves are still dropping on the ground. I did notice this morning that there are a couple globes trying to grow. What can I do to make sure it survives.

    • Transplant shock can set a plant back by weeks, not days. It is too early to know if the transplant was successful. Water the plants with a dilute solution of B1. The leaves will likely perk up in 7 to 10 days.

  11. I just bought my first ever artichoke starter & it has gone from perky & tough to a complete limp rag in just 3 days, like celery that’s sat in a fridge for 2 months. I’m not having any luck with google on identifying problems with limp floppy artichokes. I mean the whole thing, not just the leaves.

    • Artichoke seedlings from perky to limp, here are some things to look for: (1) too little or too much soil moisture; the soil should be just moist; (2) a change in light–commonly from bright direct sunlight to too little light; (3) a change in temperature–from mild to either cold or hot; try to keep the seedling at about 70F; (4) the addition of fertilizer–usually too much; (5) transplant shock–moving the feelings out of its container into another or into the garden–the roots may have been disturbed. A bit of detective work using the above clues should help you identify the problem.

  12. This is a great article. Thank you so much for all of the advice. We have a very large artichoke plant in our garden and she is called the queen. She is 3ft by 3ft and this is her third year producing artichokes. Your replies were in much need to figure out when to harvest the artichokes themselves. Thank you so much again. I also have numerous flowers in vases and on my back porch. They last for years it seems. Again my thanks and praise for all the answers I needed you continue to grow my queen

  13. I have two plants which have just started to bud but the tops have begun to fall over! The soil is moist and the leaves are not discolored. I am at a loss as to what the issue may be. Any ideas??

    • The optimal growing temperature is not less than 50°F at night and not more than 75°F during the day. Flowers and buds can be damaged or killed by cold temperatures. If the temperatures are optimal but the buds still die back, it could be a lack of pollination. Add herbs to the garden that attracts bees such as borage and lavender.

  14. Hey,

    I have a beautiful big plant with lots of buds and LOTS of heavy leaves. There was a storm last night and the plant fell over. I don’t think the roots are damaged. The plant is just soooo heavy because of the big leaves. I will try to plant it a bit deaper so it less likely to fall over. But can I trimm the big heavy leaves a bit? Or is it important they stay on the plant. I wish i could send you a picture 🙂

    Thank you
    Kim

    • It would be best to not trim the leaves unless they are broken. Drive stakes into the soil around the plant and then twine or horticultural tape in place to hold the plant upright white it regains its footing–as new feeder roots establish. If the roots were broken, the plant will experience some dieback.

  15. I trimmed my artichoke plants down to the base in preparation for 2020 winter in the PNW and following that I mulched the plants, but they kept growing. They grew all winter and became large acting as if it was springtime. Now my artichoke plants are producing very undersized globes.. I wonder what to do once these current plants are done producing. Should I cut them down now? Would they possibly produce again this year? And if they grow all winter in 2021, should I cut them back a second time?

    • If the plant has set several buds (globes) you can remove several allowing the plant to push its growth efforts to the remaining buds. If your growing season is long, you can cut the plants down now, make sure you have at least 100 days of growing season left. If winters are mild, the artichoke will continue to grow through the winter; only cold weather will allow the plant to go dormant in preparation for the next season.

  16. My artichoke plant has been producing small articHokes and the artichoke flower petals (the ones you eat) all have Very, very sharp thorns on their tips. I’ve had this plant a few years and don’t remember this happening until the last few years. Do the plants get old and prickly or do I remember incorrectly. I have another, newer plant without the spikes artichoke fruit petals.

  17. My artichoke continues to grow very large leaves but it won’t produce any artichokes, what should I do? I got the plant about 1 year ago and it was a larger seedling when I got it. That same year a small artichoke grew but before it was even very big a flower began to grow out of the middle, The weather was still warm and stuff so I don’t see why the flower came so soon. Now though it won’t produce any artichokes. Does anyone know why this is happening? Thanks Canyon.

    • Avoid adding nitrogen to the soil. When you fertilize use a 5-10-10 or 0-5-5 fertilizer; the phosphorus and potassium will encourage flower bud growth. The optimal growing temperature for the artichoke is not less than 50°F at night and not more than 75°F during the day. If your day temperatures rise above 75F, the plant will soon flower–the weather is too warm.

  18. My artichoke flowers can droop, what is the cause for this. They perk up after I water but I’m watering twice a day. I live in Sacramento, CA. The temperatures will be in the hundreds soon. Should I make shade for the plant?

    • The drooping flowers that perk after watering indicate the soil is not deeply moist. Do a deep watering 2 or 3 times a week. Place a hose next to the plant and let the water gently deeply seep to the roots. If temperatures will remain greater than 100F, place a frame at the corners of the plant and drape shade cloth across the top. This will protect the plant from hot midday sun.

  19. I planted my artichoke last year in spring. No fruit produced. but it continued to grow all year. We cut back the leave from time to time. This year we got our first artichoke about 3 or 4 weeks ago. and then subsequently we have about 35 on this plant. However, they are all small? I have not encountered this before. Do you know what might have caused this? And is there anything that can be done to increase their size?
    thanks so much
    Margaret

    • The plant has set many blossoms because it is happy. You can either harvest many small chokes, or you can sacrifice some small and let the plant put its energy into increasing the size of those that remain. If you don’t want to sacrifice any of the chokes, feed the plant with a light phosphorus fertilizer; that may increase the size of the chokes slightly.

  20. Hello,
    I have a globe plant that’s 2 yrs old that keeps producing a 1 to 2 in. purple fruit, my other plants are very productive with 4 to 6 in, fruits.
    Why does this one plant do this and is it safe to eat?

    We live in Lincoln City Oregon

    • If you still have the plant label, check the variety of your purple artichoke; there are some purple budded varieties, and there are some varieties that produce small buds. Perhaps you have that variety. If the variety is the same as the others, give the plant a 5-10-10 fertilizer; purple leaves are sometimes a sign of insufficient phosphorus and potassium in the soil.

  21. I’m new to growing artichokes this year. Everything was going great, until the tops of the two artichokes on the plant started to turn brown. What is happening? Now it is a black gooey yuk. HELP!! I read all your info and people’s questions & answers, but did not see any mention of this problem. (Plant is about 2 1/2′ tall).
    My artichoke is in a large pot, with a saucer under it for water source between rain showers. I’m in the Portland, Oregon area, so receive ample rain watering. Should I remove the saucer from under pot?

    • Mold or rot perhaps caused by excess moisture or rain has likely attacked the buds. Allow the soil to just dry between waterings; be sure the soil is well-drained and do not let water sit in the saucer; allow water to run through the soil and drain. If rainfall is regular, place a frame over the plant and drape clear plastic over the top so that rain does not fall directly on the buds or plant. Artichokes are native to dry regions with a touch of morning fog, not a lot of rainfall.

  22. In teo days my potted artichokes leaves statted to get goles, curl and get soots, under the leaves there were tons of ants but i cannot see aphids to what i looked up. I sprayed the plant with dishsoap frok dawn yesterday and today i bought diatomaceous earth i put on base of the dirt and on the leaves. Its the thorn type artichokes grown outside and reading that temp above 70 is bad in windsor ontario canada we hit over 90s already the plants grew hige until the ants attacked. If there is ants does it mean there is always aphods?
    Thank you! My first time growing them

    • The ants are likely attracted to the excrement of an insect; continue to wash the leaves and spray with insecticidal soap; it may take some continued effort to be rid of the ants.

  23. I’m also in PNW with a plant that grew all winter and now has about 20 tiny, prickly buds that have been on the plant for over a month. Do I understand correctly that 1) this means the plant is happy, even if I’m not (I want fewer, bigger flower buds), and 2) I can/should pick them all (I’ve been waiting or them to get bigger, and they definitely aren’t) and cut the stems back to encourage a second flush of bloom by fall (I do have 100+ growing days left)? If so, will side dressing with phosphorus help increase the size? Thank you for a helpful site and Q & A section.

    • The plant may have more buds than it can support and grow to full size. Thin the buds to the healthiest with about 6 inches or more between each remaining bud. Once the buds are thinned you can fertilize with a 5-10-10 fertilizer.

  24. Help have Globe chokes they are only 2.25″ and leaves on the chokes are not straight, they are like two spoons hard to eat little meat on them.

    • The plants are stressed. Artichokes are particular about temperature; they want average temps between 60-70F–even in summer. If temps are warmer shield the buds from the midday sun by placing shade cloth directly overhead. Keep the soil evenly moist, do not let the soil dry out.

  25. My artichokes are turning brown and rotted in the center. I don’t see any insects or mildew anywhere. I live in Philadelphia and it has been very hot.

    • Artichokes prefer cool, moist mornings and warm–not hot–afternoons that are dry. If your weather is humid, the chokes may not sufficiently dry by nightfall and so will begin to rot. Plant where there is plenty of air circulation.

  26. seems my cardoon is going into a summer dormancy. being in Atlanta ga the heat is way up there and this season is quite the moist one so I don’t expect dryness to be doing the browning of the plant, but for whatever reason it is dieing back completely, w/ the flower stalk still upright due to steaking earlier in the season (during the flowering stage). would it be advisable to take it all the way down to the crown? will the remainder of the plant(roots) be able to regenerate when the extreme heat subsides?? cuz its become an awful eyesore here in the dog days of summer and i’d like to enjoy its cool weather beauty again down the like…

    • If your season is long enough ahead of the first frost, cutting it back will likely spark new growth once the heat subsides–that is temperatures move into the 80sF.

  27. Hi
    I’m a newby , my artichoke was doing well:
    i repotted it
    new pot had not drainage ,
    leaves wilted and then stem went brown.

    is it completely dead?
    base of stem looks mouldy???

    • If there was no drainage, the roots rotted and the rot has spread upward to the stem. You can move the plant to new dry soil in a pot with drainage; if there is any root or stem left still alive, it may regrow. But you may want to start a new plant at the same time.

  28. I’m in S.E. Nebraska (z5b) & I’m growing Imperial Star, since our weather will not support perennial artichokes. It does get hot here but we do get ample rain and I’ve feed them with a phosphorus rich fertilizer (the same one I use for hot peppers). I grew these from seed and transplanted them in May, the plants look great but it’s now August and there’s absolutely no sign of buds. If they didn’t get enough cold weather in the beginning does that mean it will not bud? Thanks!

    • The plant is likely stressed from the heat. Artichokes do best where summer mornings are cool and afternoon are warm, but not hot. This season it is likely too late for the plant to produce buds–even if temperatures fell into the low 80sF. Next year, start the plants indoors so that they are at least 12 inches tall at transplant time; set transplants in the garden about two weeks after the last frost. An early start may allow the plants to produce buds before the summer heat arrives. Feed the plants with a dilute solution of fish emulsion to start; when buds appear feed with a 5-10-10 fertilizer.

  29. I purchased 4 inch artichokes in July and they grew quite large in width in a raised bed box. I decided to transplant the artichokes to in ground with good soil and they are well watered. It has been a hot summer in Cotati, CA. Every afternoon the plants are flat as pancakes and perk up somewhat in early morning. The temp has been above 70 degrees (97 this week). Wondering if this is transplant shock, or just the heat. Would shade cover help? When should I cut them down to soil level for winter?

    • Commonly a plant that is wilted in the morning lacks water. Transplant shock is likely an issue as well. Get Vitamin B1 at the garden store; this can be watered in around the base of the plant and will aid the plant’s efforts to grow new feeder roots. If the weather is hot, place a frame around the plant and cover it with shade cloth to keep midday sun from further stressing the plant. Cut the leaves back when they wither and die back–in a month or so.

  30. Hi thanks for the great article. I have a lot of artichokes I planted drop seed last year, in spring they grew huge and produced an abundant crop. The plants then browned and died back. This fall they have grown back but there are at least two plants per crown.

    Should I cut back / separate one of the plants to allow the roots to focus? Can I transplant the separated plants when it’s cold 0-10c nighttime temps?

    Thanks!

    • Mature artichokes can be divided autumn or winter during the dormant period. Divide mature plants that have one or more new shoots growing alongside the “mother plant.” Divide the plants by inserting a serrated knife between the base of the mature plant and new shoots that are at least 8 to 10 inches (20-25cm) tall. Use the knife to separate the roots of the shoot from the rest of the root ball being careful not to damage the roots of the established artichoke. You will likely need to use a spade to make the final separation; ease it next to the knife to continue the cut into the roots. When the roots are separated, the young shoot can be lifted from the soil and replanted.

  31. I just harvested my artichokes and washed them and they’re full of hidden little bugs. You can’t see any bugs from the outside. I’ve rinsed and soaked them and the bugs just keep coming out. Sadly I don’t think we’ll be able to eat any of these which is a huge bummer because last year (the year I planted them) they didn’t produce any fruit :(. What can I do differently so we can actually eat what we’ve grown? Thank you!

    • Soaking the artichokes in a sink or pot full of cold water with a heavy dose of vinegar should expel the bugs from between the bracts. Identifying the insects will help you prevent another serious infestation next season. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of plants to exclude soil-dwelling insects. You can cover the plants with a light horticulture cloth/row cover to exclude flying insects.

  32. My Artichoke plant is in its 1st year of full growth and amazingly has lots of buds. The only problem is the leaves ar3 splotchy brown and the buds are opening but not flowering. They are turning brown and drying out. I keep the soil moist and I think Im over watering a bit after reading sone here. Any ideas?

    • The soil should not be overly moist; let the soil dry between waterings. Artichokes buds are harvested before they open. Feed the plants with a 5-10-10 liquid organic fertilizer.

  33. We have two mature artichoke plants in different areas of our large yard. Both are in sun to partial shade. The older one looks great but has produced nothing this year. The younger one is producing fairly heavily (probably 14 or so artichokes — but most of the plant leaves (not the artichokes themselves) seem diseased. They almost look like they are covered heavily with dust, but it’s definitely something internal. This hasn’t affected this year’s production, but we definitely need to deal with it at the end of the season. What steps should we take? We live in the Central Valley of California, in zone 8. BTW, I think we probably need to replace the older artichoke, as it seems to have oulived its productive years Thanks for all the great advice you’ve given to everyone!

    • Artichokes are perennials with an average life of 3 to 5 years; you can feed the plants with a dilute solution of fish emulsion or water time often with compost tea; this should help them live a long life and be productive. The “dust” may be a fungal disease such as rust (brownish) or gray mold (gray-white). You can spray the leaves with a fungicide to slow the spread.

  34. I repotted my 1 year old Artichoke plant to a larger pot and moved to a more after noon sunny area of the yard facing the west side of my house. New potting soil was added. Looked like it was growing well nice and green foliage. Then I notice ants all over it, so I sprayed home remedy of avfid killer. Water Castile soap and neem oil. No more ants. Then I notice the plant was droopy, which I figured it needed water, so i watered it immediately and noticed I had my first globe in the center. So excited like finding out your going to have a baby. Ha! Next morning the plant was back to it’s healthy self, but i notice couple lower leaves were yellow so i pulled them off. Confused as I thought that was a sign of too much water. There is 4 drain holes in my in the pot, but wondering if it’s not enough. If not when can I remove the plant from the pot to put more holes for drainage? The weather is starting to get hotter now near 90 degrees. Since it’s in a pot I could move to a more shaded area from a tree if that would help. I’m in Clearlake Oaks, CA and summer get in the high 90’s-100’s.

    • Transplanting now with a developing artichoke flower could result in transplant shock and loss of the bloom. Yellowing leaves could be too much water. Is it possible to drill another hole or two in the bottom of the container without disturbing the plant? As for the sun, you could place a frame around the plant and place shade cloth on top so the plant does not get midday sun, but still gets morning and late afternoon sun.

  35. My artichoke plants are on their third year. I let them go to full bloom, because the bees love them. Previously, they’ve been leaf full, and under 5′ tall. This year, the stems have only a few leaves, and are over 6′ with the globes on top. What do they need? Thanks for any info.

    • Artichokes are perennial plants in mild-winter climates. They can live for about six years. To remain healthy and productive, you will want to feed the soil. At the end of the bloom time or in early spring, feed the plant with an all-purpose organic fertilizer such as 10-10-10. You can also enrich the soil by mulching around the plant with aged compost or a commercial organic planting mix. When you renew the nutrients in the soil, the plant will produce both leaves and blooms.

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