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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Artichokes

Artichokes on plant 1
Grow artichokes
Artichokes grow best where there are mild, frost-free winters and long, moist summers.

The artichoke is an edible thistle flower bud that is eaten before it opens. Artichokes are tender perennials that grow from 3 to 4 feet (.9-1.2m) tall and to 6 feet 1.8m) across.

Set out artichoke crowns or root divisions in spring about 2 weeks before the last frost.

Yield. Grow 1 or 2 plants per household member.

Where to Grow Artichokes

  • Artichokes grow best where there are mild, frost-free winters and long, moist summers. (Artichokes are commonly grown along the central California coast and along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.)
  • The optimal growing temperature is not less than 50°F (10°C) at night and not more than 75°F (24°C) during the day.
  • Do not plant artichokes where there are fewer than 100 frost-free growing days.

Artichoke Planting Time

  • Plant artichokes on the average date of the last frost in late winter or early spring.
  • Set your root divisions up to 2 weeks before the last frost.
  • The optimal planting soil temperature is between 50° and 85°F (10-29.4°C).

Good Products For Growing Artichokes

How to Plant Artichokes

  • Grow artichokes from offshoots, suckers, or seeds.
  • Plant artichokes in full sun.
  • Artichokes require rich, well-drained, moisture-retentive soil with a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Add compost and well-aged manure to planting beds in advance of planting.
  • Set offshoots or suckers 3 to 4 feet (.9-1.2m) apart in rows about 6 feet (1.8m) apart.
  • Sow seed ½ inch (1.25cm) deep; thin to 6 feet (1.8m) apart.

More at Artichoke Planting Tips.

Watering and Feeding Artichokes

  • Keep the soil evenly moist. Allow the soil to dry between watering.
  • Add a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 to planting beds in spring and fall.

Artichoke Companion Plants

  • Plant artichokes with other perennial vegetables such as asparagus.

Artichoke Care

  • Where the winter is cold, cut plants back to about 10 inches (25cm) and cover with a box or basket, and then mulch with about 2 feet (.6m) of straw or leaves to help maintain an even soil temperature.
  • Artichokes bear best the second year and should be started from new plants every 3 to 4 years.

Container Growing Artichokes

  • Grow artichokes in large containers at least 36 to 40 inches (91-101cm) wide.

Artichoke Pests and Diseases

  • Aphids and plume moths attack the artichoke.
  • The plume moth is a problem in heavy artichoke-growing districts. Hose off aphids.
  • Crown rot may infect plants covered in winter. Do not place mulch until the soil temperature drops to 40°F (4.4C). Remove mulch as soon as the weather begins to warm.
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties when they are available.
  • Avoid handling plants when they are wet.
  • Remove infected plants and destroy them.
Artichoke harvest
Artichokes ready for harvest

Artichoke Harvest

  • Artichokes are harvested beginning the second year.
  • Cut buds about the size of an apple before they open. Cut stems 1½ inches (3.8cm) below the bud.

More at How to Harvest and Store Artichokes.

Storing and Preserving Artichokes

  • Artichokes will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Artichoke hearts can be frozen after cooking, canned, or pickled.

Artichoke Varieties to Grow

  • Favorite artichoke varieties include Green Globe, Imperial Star, Violetto.

About Artichokes

  • Common name. Artichoke, globe artichoke
  • Botanical name. Cynara scolymus
  • Origin. Southern Europe, North America

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Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

Comments

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    • Artichokes grow well in Southern California. They are usually planted bare root in the fall and then grow to become perennial, permanent plants that will produce a crop the following summer. (A tried-and-true good variety is Green Globe.) But there are newer varieties that can be grown from seed as annuals. Buy these plants as starts at a local garden center. Plant these in March in Southern California or plant them in late summer for a late winter or spring harvest.

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