Artichoke fruit or veg

Quick Guide to Growing Artichokes

  • If artichokes are perennial to your region, think long term about where to plant them because they’ll grow in that spot for up to 5 years.
  • Plant artichokes 4 feet apart in an area with full sun to partial shade and nutrient-rich, loamy soil.
  • Improve nutrition and texture of native soil by working in compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Water right after planting and provide consistent soil moisture throughout the growing season by watering when the top inch of soil is dry.
  • For fantastic results come harvest time, mix a continuous-release plant food into the soil during planting and reapply per label instructions.
  • Block weeds and retain soil moisture by adding a 4-inch layer of mulch made from organic material (such as straw, dry grass clippings, or aged manure) to prevent weeds.
  • Once buds start to form, remove the mulch and add a 4-inch layer of compost.
  • Harvest artichoke buds when they’re about 3 inches in diameter; they should be tightly packed and firm.

Soil, Planting, and Care

In zones where artichokes are perennial, select your site considering that plants will be in place for up to 5 years. Give plants room to spread, since mature plants can reach 3 to 4 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide. Artichokes thrive in full sun to partial shade. They also need light, fertile, well-drained soil—sandy or loam is ideal. For in-ground gardens, prepare the soil by working 3 inches of aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil into the top 6 inches of native soil. Two reasons artichoke plants fail are summer drought and winter soil that’s waterlogged. Adding compost improves soil’s ability to retain water in summer and drain in winter.

Artichokes can also grow well in large containers. Choose a pot or half whiskey barrel that is 24 inches in diameter (measure across the top). Fill it with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Container Mix, which provides potted plants’ roots with the ideal growing environment.

Plant artichoke seedlings atop the amended soil, spacing plants 4 feet apart. For best results, choose vigorous young Bonnie Plants®, grown by a company with over a century’s worth of experience providing plants to home gardeners. In zones 6 and colder, you can plant artichokes more closely, 2 to 3 feet apart, because frost will prevent the plant from reaching its mature, established size.

If you’re looking for an amazing harvest, you’ll want to add fertilizing with premium plant food to using great soil and strong plants. Feed growing artichokes regularly with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, following label directions. This will not only feed your plants, but also nourish the soil microbes that help your artichoke plants get more nutrition from the soil. Also be sure to keep soil moist throughout the growing season.

Keep weeds out of artichoke beds. Give plants a thick mulch, especially in northern growing areas. Mulch with an organic material, such as dry grass clippings, straw, aged manure, or a mixture of these. As buds begin to form, remove mulch, and apply a 4-inch-thick layer of compost around each plant, extending from the base of the plant outward 12 inches.

By: Joseph Masabni

The artichoke, a member of the thistle family, has been cultivated and enjoyed since the time of the Romans. Artichoke is both a nutritious vegetable and a beautiful landscape plant. Plants can reach 3 feet in height and width, and the flower, if allowed to bloom, can be 7 inches in diameter.

Soil preparation

Globe artichoke produces best in deep, fertile, well-drained soil, but will grow in a wide range of soils. The plant’s deep roots need relatively deep soils with adequate volume for root development. Sandy soils with excessive drainage should be avoided.

Although artichokes are moderately salt tolerant, soil with a high salt content will reduce their growth and yield.

Varieties

Several varieties work well for Texas gardeners, including:

  • Green Globe (standard variety)
  • Imperial Star (less vigorous than Green Globe)
  • Harmony
  • Madrigal
  • Emerald
  • Grand Beurre
  • Talpiot
  • Purple Sicilian (purple globe)

Emerald is about 2 weeks earlier than Imperial Star and appears to need little, if any, vernalization (chilling). Emerald, Grand Beurre, Talpiot and Purple Sicilian are all grown from seed. The Purple Sicilian variety is fairly tolerant of heat and cold.

Seed preparation

Plan before fall planting because it can take up to 60 days before plants are of suitable size for planting outside. In Central Texas, artichoke is transplanted in mid October, which means seeds must be started in mid-August. In North and West Texas, start seeds a few weeks earlier.

Seeds can easily be started in a greenhouse, in a shady spot outside in late summer, or indoors under a grow light. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep in potting mix when the temperature doesn’t exceed 85 degrees F. Water seeds regularly and shade them from the hot afternoon sun.

Fertilizing

Artichokes grow well when fertilized regularly. It is best to have your soil tested and amend the soil according to the test results and recommendations. If a soil test is not done, follow these general recommendations:

  • If manure is available, mix 100 to 140 pounds of composted manure per 100 square feet into the soil before planting.
  • Phosphorus and potash are best applied before planting and should also be worked in. Apply about 0.25 pound of P205 and 0.25 pound of K2O per 100 square feet.
  • Artichokes require about 0.1 pound of nitrogen (N) per 100 square feet. Work it into the soil before planting, and apply an additional 0.3 pound per 100 square feet 6 to 8 weeks later.
  • Foliar applications of a liquid fertilizer containing calcium and zinc are recommended every 2 weeks during active growth in early spring.

Planting

Transplant seedlings 2½ to 3 feet apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Transplants grow slowly in the fall and winter (October through January), but in early spring artichoke plants will rapidly increase in size. Artichoke should be planted in a well-drained soil and mulched well to help reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture.

Care during the season

Do not expose artichokes to temperatures below 25 degrees F in the winter. If there is a threat of frost, cover plants with a 6-inch layer of straw mulch, leaves, a bucket or frost blanket, or some other form of frost protection.

A hot, dry climate causes artichoke buds to open quickly and destroys the tenderness of the edible parts. In the summer, irrigation will help keep temperatures down in the crop canopy to prevent bud opening.

Watering

Artichokes are deep-rooted and require adequate moisture when growing and producing fruit. Moisture stress may result in black tip, which is only cosmetic damage because the edible portion of the bud is not affected. Black tip is most common when conditions are sunny, warm and windy.

Diseases

Powdery mildew, Verticillium wilt, and botrytis rot are common during rainy weather. Curly dwarf virus and bacterial crown rot are other artichoke diseases. Leave plenty of space between plants to reduce the chance of diseases becoming a problem. If you have trouble with diseases, ask your county Extension agent about disease control.

Artichokes are susceptible to root rot, so do not let the soil become too wet.

Insects

Weeds

Mulching artichokes will reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture. It is important to remove weeds when artichokes are small because the plants are most susceptible to weed competition at this stage. Large, fully developed artichoke plants compete well with weeds.

Harvesting

A healthy plant should produce six to nine buds per plant. The main harvest usually occurs in April and May. Select buds for their size, compactness and age. All buds of suitable size should be harvested by cutting the stem 2 to 3 inches below the base of the bud. Old stems should be removed as soon as all buds have been harvested to allow new stems to grow.

Serving

Artichoke is a great source of fiber and can be steamed, boiled or microwaved. The edible parts include the flesh of the base of the leaves and the heart of the flower. Rinse leaves and cut off the sharp tips, about ¼ inch, before cooking. Ask your county Extension agent for more information on preparing and serving artichoke.

Cleanup

Artichoke is a perennial plant so once the harvest is done in June, cut the plant back to soil level. This will put the plant crown into a dormant stage during the summer. The plant will send out shoots in the fall. The new shoots can be dug out to be replanted into a new location in the garden or left in place to produce another year. Make sure you leave only the most vigorous shoot on the old plant for production next spring.

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Growing Artichokes

Growing Artichokes—‘Green Globe’
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Growing artichokes (Cynara scolymus) may seem exotic, but they’re easy to grow even as annuals. Their ancestors were thistles, and in good soil they show some of that rampant growth that thistles show when growing in good soil.

Many artichoke varieties can overwinter in zone 7 and above, but some varieties are bred for heavy yields in a single season, given the right soil amendments and conditions.

Artichoke Varieties | Growing Artichokes in Containers
Harvesting Artichokes

How to Grow Artichokes

Artichoke Cold Tolerance/Season

Artichokes need a long growing season, so northern and alpine gardeners should start them indoors under lights 8 weeks before the last frost date. Sow seeds ¼” (0.6 cm) deep, ¼” (0.6 cm) apart, and cover with ¼” (0.6 cm) of fine vermiculite or sifted potting soil.

Artichoke seeds germinate in 10-20 days—earlier, when kept moist at 65-70° (18-24° C). Transplant seedlings to larger pots as soon as they’re strong enough to handle. Expect 70% germination, so sow heavily.

Some artichoke varieties are frost hardy in zone 7 and above, and can tolerate winter low temperatures as low as 14° F (-10° C) if well-mulched.

To overwinter plants in cooler zones, cut them back to 8-10” (20-25 cm) in late October, then cover the stump with 10” (25cm) of straw or dead leaves to protect from frost. In the spring, uncover the stump to let it sprout.

Where I live in Zone 9, we plant artichokes in the fall, and let them overwinter through our rainy season unprotected. You can broadcast seeds or plant seedlings, both work.

The plants grow through the winter, put on a big burst of growth in March and April, then flower in May. We eat the big, dense artichokes from the middle of the plant first, then harvest the abundant baby chokes that follow until mid-June.

In July, with the peak of summer heat coming, we cut them back. They re-sprout in August, leaf out in the fall, and grow through winter, then flower again the next spring.

Each plant produces for 4-5 years, with the chokes getting smaller and more numerous in the later years, because they’re producing from side-branches off the main stem.

When the artichokes start getting smaller than you’d like, divide the crowns into several divisions, and transplant them into their own space. They’ll produce for several more years before you have to start again from seed or fresh seedlings.

Planting Artichokes

Growing Artichokes

Garden Preparation

Planting Artichokes

Watering

Fertilizing

Plant Care

Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Container Artichokes

When growing artichokes, time your planting so seedlings will have 10-12 days with temperatures below 50° F (10° C), to encourage early bud set and longer fruiting.

While mature artichoke plants have some frost tolerance, seedlings are vulnerable, so protect seedlings from nighttime and early morning frost during this time.

Garden Preparation for Growing Artichokes

Although their ancestors were weeds, artichokes are bred for richer soils, so amend the soil with 2-3” (5-8 cm) of good garden compost or composted manure and give these large plants plenty of space if you want a good yield.

Work the manure or compost into the top 10” (25 cm) of soil before planting, along with some dolomite lime, dried, ground eggshells, or ground oyster shells for supplemental calcium. If you don’t have access to good compost or manure, use a good organic vegetable fertilizer like Dr. Earth Organic Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer.

Artichokes can handle alkaline soil conditions better than most garden vegetables. Optimal pH for growing artichokes is 6.5-7.0. See Changing Soil pH for ways to adjust soil pH.

Top of Page | Artichoke Varieties | Soil Preparation | Planting
Watering | Fertilizing | Plant Care | Pests and Diseases
Companion Plants | Container Artichokes | Harvesting

Artichoke Plant Spacing

Artichokes are LARGE Plants
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Artichokes are space hogs, whether you’re growing artichokes in a raised bed, or with single cultivation (soil prepared to 1 shovel depth).

Artichokes should planted about 3 feet (1 meter) apart, but some large varieties might need 4-foot (1.2m) spacing.

If you’re growing artichokes as perennials, cull out small, weak, albino, or low-yielding plants after harvest, and allow a final spacing of 4-5’ (1.3-1.7 m) between plants.

Top of Page | Artichoke Varieties | Soil Preparation | Planting
Watering | Fertilizing | Plant Care | Pests and Diseases
Companion Plants | Container Artichokes | Harvesting

Care and Feeding of Artichokes

Growing artichokes requires regular, steady water, 1-1 ½” (4-5cm) per week. Lots of water at bud set in spring or summer helps produce large, dense, chokes.

Artichokes are heavy feeders, even if you build organic soil amendments into the soil at the start of the season. Just before they start to bud out, side-dress with composted chicken manure (1-2 lbs (0.5-1 kilo) or a good organic fertilizer like Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer, and water thoroughly.

Artichoke Plant Care

Artichokes don’t need a lot of care, once established. Plant them in a rich soil, give them regular water and occasional fertilizer, and harvest them before the bud scales open, that’s about it, when you’re growing artichokes as annuals.

If you’re growing artichokes as perennials, you have to cut the plants back after they flower, and mulch them to keep them from freezing in colder zones.

You might get another couple years of productivity out of the plants if you divide them after the first 3 years, and plant the divisions as separate plants.

Top of Page | Artichoke Varieties | Soil Preparation | Planting
Watering | Fertilizing | Plant Care | Pests and Diseases
Companion Plants | Container Artichokes | Harvesting

Artichoke Pests and Diseases

Artichokes have few insect pests, and suffer from few diseases. Western pocket gophers will munch the roots, so in areas where pocket gophers are a problem, plant artichokes in wire baskets or wire cages to protect the roots.

Companion Plants for Artichokes

Flowering Artichokes are Great for Pollinators
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Since artichokes have few pests, they don’t really need companion plants to deter pests. Artichokes are heavy feeders, so cool-season nitrogen-fixing plants like peas or vetch are good planted nearby.

Artichokes are huge plants, so they don’t really make good companion plants for other crops, especially in small gardens. If you let some of the buds get by without harvesting, they make large, spectacular flowers that feed honey bees, bumble bees, and other pollinators.

Top of Page | Artichoke Varieties | Soil Preparation | Planting
Watering | Fertilizing | Plant Care | Pests and Diseases
Companion Plants | Container Artichokes | Harvesting

Growing Artichokes in Containers

‘Globe’ Artichoke Growing in a Large Box
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Growing artichokes in containers is easy—provided the container is large enough.

Artichokes have large root systems, and need a large soil volume—or a rich potting soil in a smaller volume, and much more frequent watering—to form heavy, solid buds.

This artichoke gets all it needs in a 24” x 24” x 24” (60 x 60 x 60 cm) box with plenty of good compost in the potting mix.

See Growing Vegetables in Containers for more information.

Top of Page | Artichoke Varieties | Soil Preparation | Planting
Watering | Fertilizing | Plant Care | Pests and Diseases
Companion Plants | Container Artichokes | Harvesting

Harvesting Artichokes

Harvest Artichokes While the Scales are Still
Tight to the Bud © Steve Masley
Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Waiting too long to harvest is the biggest mistake gardeners make when growing artichokes. Harvest artichokes as soon as the bottom bud scales start peeling away from the bud.

This assures the largest and most tender artichoke hearts—with less choke—and reduces the risk of aphids and their ant attendants moving into the buds.

Top of Page | Artichoke Varieties | Soil Preparation | Planting
Watering | Fertilizing | Plant Care | Pests and Diseases
Companion Plants | Container Artichokes | Harvesting

How To Grow…

Basil | Beans | Broccoli | Cabbage | Carrots | Cucumbers
Green Beans | Hot Peppers | Lettuce | Peppers | Spinach
Summer Squash | Tomatoes | Winter Squash | Zucchini

Vegetable

Vegetable, in the broadest sense, any kind of plant life or plant product, namely “vegetable matter”; in common, narrow usage, the term vegetable usually refers to the fresh edible portions of certain herbaceous plants—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, or seeds. These plant parts are either eaten fresh or prepared in a number of ways, usually as a savory, rather than sweet, dish.

  • vegetableAssorted fresh vegetables.© AnaBGD/iStock.com
  • Cucumber (Cucumis sativus).Walter Chandoha
  • broccoliBroccoli (Brassica oleracea, variety italica) florets.© Nitr/Fotolia

Read More on This Topic human nutrition: Vegetables and fruits Vegetables and fruits have similar nutritive properties. (See the table of nutrient composition of vegetables…

A brief treatment of vegetables and vegetable farming follows. For in-depth treatment of vegetable cultivation, see vegetable farming. For treatment of the nutrient composition and processing of vegetables, see vegetable processing.

Virtually all of the more important vegetables were cultivated among the ancient civilizations of either the Old or the New World and have long been noted for their nutritional importance. Most fresh vegetables are low in calories and have a water content in excess of 70 percent, with only about 3.5 percent protein and less than 1 percent fat. Vegetables are good sources of minerals, especially calcium and iron, and vitamins, principally A and C. Nearly all vegetables are rich in dietary fibre and antioxidants.

potatoesVariety of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum).Frances Fruit—iStock/Thinkstock

Vegetables are usually classified on the basis of the part of the plant that is used for food. The root vegetables include beets, carrots, radishes, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Stem vegetables include asparagus and kohlrabi. Among the edible tubers, or underground stems, are potatoes. The leaf and leafstalk vegetables include brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, lettuce, rhubarb, and spinach. Among the bulb vegetables are garlic, leeks, and onions. The head, or flower, vegetables include artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower. The fruits commonly considered vegetables by virtue of their use include cucumbers, eggplant, okra, sweet corn, squash, peppers, and tomatoes. Seed vegetables are usually legumes, such as peas and beans.

  • Unshelled peas.William Whitehurst/Corbis
  • artichokeEdible artichoke heads (Cynara cardunculus, variety scolymus) for sale.© Vladyslav Danilin/Fotolia

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Modern vegetable farming ranges from small-scale production for local sale to vast commercial operations utilizing the latest advances in automation and technology. In addition, vegetables can be grown conventionally or using organic farming methods. Most vegetables are planted by seeding in the fields where they are to be grown, but occasionally they are germinated in a nursery or greenhouse and transplanted as seedlings to the field. During the growing season synthetic or organic herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides are commonly used to inhibit damage by weeds, insects, and diseases, respectively. Depending on the crop, harvesting operations are usually mechanized in well-developed countries, but the practice of harvesting by hand is still employed in some areas or is used in conjunction with machine operations. Another concern of the vegetable farmer is postharvest storage, which may require refrigerated facilities.

frozen vegetablesAre frozen vegetables healthier than fresh vegetables?© American Chemical Society (A Britannica Publishing Partner)See all videos for this article

Vegetables may be washed, sorted, graded, cut, and packaged for sale as fresh products. Fresh vegetables are subject to quick aging and spoilage, but their storage life can be extended by such preservation processes as dehydration, canning, freezing, fermenting, or pickling.

Artichoke Companion Planting: Learn About Artichoke Plant Companions

Artichokes may not be the most common members of a vegetable garden, but they can be very rewarding to grow as long as you have the space. If you do choose to add artichokes to your garden, it’s important to know which plants work well near them and which don’t. Keep reading to learn more about what to plant next to artichokes.

Artichoke Plant Companions

Artichoke companion planting is not especially complicated. Artichokes don’t repel any pests, but at the same time they’re not really bothered by any. Because of this, they don’t really benefit their neighbors, but neither do they need good neighbors.

They are, however, very heavy feeders that require extra rich, slightly alkaline soil. The best companions for artichoke plants have similar soil requirements. Peas, in particular, are good artichoke plant companions because they exude nitrogen that artichokes will gladly leech up from the soil. Some other good artichoke plant companions include sunflowers, tarragon, and members of the cabbage family.

The artichoke “vegetable” that we eat is actually a flower bud. If you don’t harvest the bud and allow it to bloom, it becomes a huge clover-like flower that will attract all kinds of beneficial pollinators to your garden.

Bad Companions for Artichoke

The most important thing to know about artichoke plants is that they’re huge. They can grow as big as 4 feet high and wide. They spread out with huge leaves that can easily shade or muscle out smaller plants. Because of this, artichoke companion planting isn’t recommended in close quarters.

Don’t place anything within a few feet of your artichoke plants. It’s best to leave even more distance on the north side, since that’s where the shade cast from their leaves will be the worst. If you have limited space, it’s better not to plant anything near your artichoke plants.

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