Artichoke how to grow

Artichoke Seed Plants: When To Start An Artichoke Seed

It’s the vegetable of aristocrats, said to be a favorite of the Greek god, Zeus. Its exotic shape and size makes it intimidating to many gardeners, but the truth is, it’s just a thistle. If left to mature, it will form a beautiful blue-purple bloom with a diameter of four to five inches. It’s the artichoke. And seed plants from this elegant treat are easy to grow.

There are, of course, a few questions that need to be asked and answered before you start your seed plants; questions about when to start an artichoke seed, what’s the best process for germinating artichoke seeds and how long does it take artichoke seeds to sprout. Let’s begin at the end which, in the cycle of life, is also the beginning.

Harvesting Artichoke Seeds

Harvesting artichoke seeds is much the same as the one every gardener uses to collect flower seeds. Remember, your artichoke seed plants are, to all intents and purposes, garden flowers from which you harvest and eat the bud. For the average home gardener, all you’ll need is one bud for harvesting artichoke seeds.

Allow the bud to fully open and mature. When the flower begins to brown and die, cut it off, leaving two or three inches of stem. Place the flower head first into a small paper bag – those brown paper lunch sacks are great for this – and, using a piece of string, tie the open end of the bag around the stem and store in a cool, dry place. Do not use plastic bags. They hold in moisture and you want the flower head to dry thoroughly. Once the flower head is completely dry, shake vigorously and voila! You’re harvesting artichoke seeds. Don’t worry about having enough. Artichoke seeds run about 800 to the ounce.

This process is great if you know someone who is already growing artichoke seed plants or if you’re growing store bought plants, but if neither of these scenarios apply, seeds are readily available through catalogs and garden centers and if it’s too late for germinating artichoke seeds for this year’s garden, the same sources can provide you with already growing artichoke plants.

When to Start an Artichoke Seed

When to start an artichoke seed? As soon as those winter blahs have you wishing for spring! Yes, February is the ideal month for germinating artichoke seed, but they can be started as early as January or as late as the middle of March. For those in warmer climates, where winters are mild and without frost, the timing is a little different. Your artichokes can be grown as short lived perennials and seed should be sown directly into the garden in the fall.

When to start seeds is key to healthy flower head production. They will grow into large, bush-like plants that need a very long growing season. To set their buds, artichokes need a period of vernalization, at least two weeks of cold temperatures below 50°F. (10 C.), yet they are extremely frost sensitive. Therefore, your seedlings must be ready to set out right after the last frost date, but before spring temperatures rise too high.

Planting Artichokes – How Long Does it Take Artichoke Seeds to Sprout?

Artichoke seed plants are not fast starters, which is another reason for early indoor planting. Give your seeds a healthy start by planting two or three seeds in each 3-4 inch (9 cm) pot. Fill the pot two-thirds full of good quality, compost rich soil-based medium. If the potting mix feels heavy, you can add a little perlite for better drainage. Sprinkle your seeds in the pot and cover with a light dusting of potting mix.

Make this first watering a good one, soaking the soil well and allowing the pots to drain. From here on in, water only when necessary. The soil should never be allowed to become soggy, but don’t let it dry out either. Barely moist is good.

How long does it take artichoke seeds to sprout? It depends on the richness of your potting medium and the quality of light the plants receive. Ideally, germinating artichoke seeds do best under a controlled grow light, but they can do just as well in a warm, sunny window or a greenhouse for those fortunate enough to have one.

To begin germinating, artichoke seeds need a temperature around 70-75°F. (20°C.) and will take two to three weeks to sprout; another thing that should be taken into account when deciding when to start your artichoke plants.

Once seedlings have sprouted, water them with a weak fertilizer solution at least once a week. These plants are heavy feeders! About a month after sprouting, remove the smallest and weakest seedlings leaving only one per pot.

Your indoor grown seedlings should be 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) when they are ready to be hardened off and planted outdoors. Plant them 1½ to 2 feet (45-60 cm) apart, nourish them well and enjoy the fruits — or should I say flowers — of your labors.

CORVALLIS – With deeply lobed silver leaves and a 3-foot stature, the artichoke unfolds as much mystery in the garden as it does on the dinner table.

Used to set off any color in a perennial border, as a striking specimen plant or the flagship of a vegetable garden, the artichoke has much to recommend it to the gardener. But the reason most people grow them are the leathery leaves made to dip into butter – or is it mayo? – and the succulent heart at the center.

Although most artichokes thrive in the cool, moist climate of coastal California, western Oregon is usually mild enough to grow these edible thistles as perennials if cut back and mulched in the winter, according to Jim Myers, plant breeder and researcher at Oregon State University.

For the best success he recommends varieties Green Globe, Imperial Star and Emerald.

“For something unusual, try growing Violetto,” Myers said. “It is particularly variable for spines and purple heads, but in my opinion, has the best flavor of all of the artichokes.”

Artichoke plants need well-amended soil and full sun. Photo by Marv Bondarowicz/staffLC- THE OREGONIAN

Artichokes as annuals also can grow in many places east of the Cascade Range, with a little coaxing, he added.

To grow artichokes from seed, start them indoors in late February or March under grow lights for about eight weeks, and then plant them outside after the last frost. In May or June, it’s best to purchase starts from your local nursery or mail-order catalog.

“Plant artichoke starts in loose, well-amended soil in full sun,” Myers said. “Space them 3 to 5 feet apart, and when planning your garden, think about the shade they will cast. Water and mulch regularly.”

By mid-summer, the artichoke plant should send up flower buds. To eat the buds, harvest them before they open. If left to flower, the plant will produce a large purple thistle that can be dried and used in arrangements. If you harvest all the heads, in milder climates artichokes may send up a second crop in the fall.

An artichoke goes to seed between rows of asparagus on Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden outside of Jacksonville, OR. The seeds will become next years crop, destined for the local produce market. Photo by Torsten Kjellstrand/staffLC- THE OREGONIAN

An artichoke will produce well for about three or four years, Myers said. After that, it’s best to dig and divide it as it produces off-shoot plants that may crowd the original plant.

“In the fall, cut back your artichoke plant and mulch it with a covering of leaves or straw. After mild winters, new plants will sprout in the spring from the old parent plant. Uncover them in April. Cold winters, however, may kill artichokes, whether or not they are mulched.”

— Kym Pokorny, OSU Extension Service

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Growing Artichokes In Containers:

The following information is about Growing Artichokes In Containers, and Pots.

Growing Artichokes in Containers:

Introduction: The artichoke is a wild plant cultivated for its thistle, which is consumed as food. The artichoke is an edible part of the flower bud which is harvested before it blooms into a flower. These are perennial plants, thrive in mild winter regions and medium summer (the summer that doesn’t have too much dry weather).

The plant produces flowers bud clusters, a cluster has many budding small flowers with many bracts with an edible base. This vegetable plant grows up to 4 to 6 feet tall, and 3 to 4-inch width.

Artichoke Plants.

This vegetable grows to 1.4–2 m (4.6–6.6 ft) tall, with arched branches, and have deeply lobed, silvery, Glaucous-green leaves about20-30 inches long. The buds of the plants are consumable, these buds produce flowers of diameter 3 to 6 inches with many triangular scales and the florets in a deep purple color. The artichoke has a fleshy lower portion of each bract and base of the bud works as a heart. And the earth the center of the bud you find a mass of immature florets called choke. These chokes are edible when bud is young and are inedible the bud grows larger and produce flowers.

Once the buds start to bloom, the taste chokes go hard, bitter and becomes inedible. And there is another variety of artichokes called cardoon, it is also a perennial plant that grows well in mild winter and mild summer regions.

Artichokes are the richest source of Vitamin C and are rich in dietary fiber that keeps digestive system, healthy. The leaves of the artichoke plants have a rare element called Cynarin which plays key in healthy functioning of our liver.

And this wild-growing flowering plant, grows well in containers, with a good amount of space for their complete root system.

Varieties of Artichokes for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

There are primarily two types of Artichokes: ‘Globe’ artichokes these varieties will be long and round shape, and other variety is elongated, and tapered artichokes like ‘Violetta’. All varieties require similar climatic conditions, potting soil and cultural requirements. All most all varieties of artichokes grow well in mild summer and mild winters. Some artichokes are not grown well in USDA zones 7 overwinter in Zones 7 and above. To protect artichoke plants from freezing winters, they should have mulched deeply with straw or dead leaves. For growing artichokes in colder zones, choose artichoke varieties that grow in a single season.

Globe Artichokes for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

Globe artichokes are most common and familiar variety, these are fat round shaped artichokes. These are what you commonly available in the supermarkets. Globe artichokes are large and are about 10-13 cm in size.

  • Green Globe: these artichokes are open pollinated variety, harvesting period is 90-100 days. These artichokes are most popular and original globe variety artichokes, these are plants produces 3 to 5 artichokes of size about 8 to 13cm. These buds have creamy thick, delicious hearts. This artichokes plants grow well in zones 7 and above. These plants produce artichokes for 5 years
  • Imperial Star: These artichokes are open pollinated, harvesting period is 85 days. These plants are for annual production and it is propagated from seeds. Grows in USDA zones from 1 to 6. Each flower cluster produces 6 to 9 buds about 8 to 10cm in size. These plants are grown 1 to 2 meters tall and wide.
  • Tempo is a hybrid variety artichoke plant, harvesting period is 100 days. It grows well in USDA zone 1 to 6. Each cluster produces main 3 to 4 buds of size 10-13 cm in diameter and 10 to 15 secondary buds. And the bracts have a purple tinge.

Elongated Artichokes variety for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

Violetto is an open pollinated artichoke plant, harvesting period is 85 to 100 days. It is an Italian variety produce elongated artichoke of width 8 cm and 13 cm long, with violet on the bracts. These plants produce 6-8 main buds, along with many secondary chokes. The dozens of ‘baby’ chokes produced later in the season.

Suitable Containers for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

Growing Artichokes In Containers.

  • For growing artichokes in container, you need large container. A large container can accommodate enough space for the plants to grow.
  • The ideal size of the container for growing artichokes should 24-inch-deep and 38 inches wide, this size can give enough space for its root system to expand. An artichoke plant can grow about 30 to 50 artichokes in a growing season.
  • Grown one plant in a container, even you use a large container, grow only one plant in a container.
  • The container you select should be able to hold 2 to 3 gallons of soil. Make sure to have a container to hold at least 2 cubic feet of soil for better plant growth.
  • The container should have a good draining system, young plants have more chances of root rot in case of improper draining. The container should have 2 to 3 draining holes.

Potting Soil for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • Artichokes thrive well in a sandy, nitrogen-rich and well-drained soil. The soil should give root easy access to the nutrients. And should retain moisture and nutrients, and capable of drain excess water without any water logging.
  • If you are using gardening soil, use rich organic and fertile soil. The pH levels of the soil be range from 6 to 6.8. And mix the soil with mixed natural compost and aged manure for a few days before planting the seeds. Enriching the soil with compost will increase the nutrient levels in the soil. Enriching the soil with yucca extract will make to retain moisture for long periods.
  • You can also mix all-purpose mild granular fertilizer to the soil few days before filling into the desired container.
  • These plants grow well under constant moisture levels, check the water levels in the soil in the at regular intervals.
  • Instead of gardening soil, go for good quality commercial potting soil, rich in organic matter and vermiculated.

Propagating Methods for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • Artichokes can be grown from seeds and from offsets. The plant grows well from the both methods.
  • If planning to grow artichokes from seeds, you have to get some good quality seeds from a reputed vendor. And soak the seeds in warm water overnight, this helps to fasten the germination process. Sow the seeds two weeks before the last spring frost.
  • For growing artichokes in container, growing from root divisions will be a good option as it grows easily. Or it can also grow from the offset, offset soon grown to the mother plant.
  • The offset for growing artichokes should be not less than 10 inches, too small offsets may not survive. And too tall are difficult to manage.
  • To get offset, dig deep around the plant and get to the roots. Cut some part of roots called offsets. Now dig 2 to 3 inch hole at the center of the container and plant the offset. Water thoroughly.
  • Tiny artichoke plant: Buy an artichoke plant about 2 months old from nearby nurseries. The plant should have a few sets of leaves with tender roots and check the growing requirements and feed requirements with nursery while buying.

Ideal Season for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • Artichoke plants thrive well in the mild winters and cool, foggy summers.
  • In many regions, globe artichokes are grown as annuals. While propagating artichokes from seeds, sow them in the late winter, these plants will grow up buds by midsummer and in the fall. Immature buds are the edible part of the plant.
  • If growing artichokes in mild winters or mild summers, in these regions the plants grow as perennials, they produce edible buds for 5 to 6 years.
  • In cold regions, the plants can be protected by deep mulching and constant pruning.
  • In colder regions, the plants should be treated as an annual crop, and should be planted in spring.
  • The plants do best when planted in the fall in the humid, subtropical, frost-free areas of zones 10 and 11.

Ideal Temperature for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • The ideal temperature for growing temperature should be less than 10°C to 25°C.
  • The Ideal day temperature for artichokes is should not more than 25 degrees.
  • And the night temperature should not go down below 10°C.
  • Do not plant artichokes in the regions where there should be fewer than 100 frost free growing days. Plant artichokes in late winter or early spring.

Steps for Growing Artichokes in Container from Seeds:

  • Get the best quality seeds from a reputed shop, soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Soaking in warm water will soften the seed coat and fastens the germination process.
  • Fill the seed trays with a seed start potting soil and sown the seed 1/4 -1/2 inch deep. Ideal time to sow seeds is in mid-January.
  • Now place the seed tray indoor under growing lights with a heat source at the bottom 15 degrees. And germination period of an artichoke plant for 10-14 days.
  • Once the seeds sprout with a pair of leaves, transfer them to a heating mat in indoors. The temperature should be from 10 to 20 ° C.
  • And feed the seedlings with an all-purpose fertilizer once in a week for fast growth. To encourage strong growth.
  • Once the plant grown up to 3 to 4 inches, Transplant them into the suitable containers. Young plants of artichokes are very sensitive, so be careful while transplanting.
  • And don’t move the container directly to outdoors, Harden the seedling for 1 or 2 weeks before placing them in direct sunlight.

Steps for Growing Artichokes in Containers from Nursery plant or Offsets:

  • Take a suitable container and place a fine or a layer of gravel covering the draining holes, this avoids water logging and avoid dripping of soil.
  • Fill the container with potting soil enriched with natural or organic compost or organic fertilizers. Leave 2 inches space between the surface of the soil and the rim of the container.
  • Dig a 2 to 3 inch hole at the center of the container and place the baby plant in the container. The plant should sit at the same height as it is grown the small container or seed tray or nursery pot. Make sure that the roots get submerged in the soil and the leaves should get popped outside above the soil level.
  • Now water the artichoke plant deeply till the water drips out from the draining holes. Water the plants regularly, don’t make the soil dry. Check the moisture levels with your fingers whether the plant needs water or not. If the soil is dry, water the plant.
  • If you feel that the soil is becoming dry, then you should water the plant. The plants in the containers dry out more quickly in comparison to the plant grown in the ground. You need to be careful about this aspect, especially if the weather is hot.

Water for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • The artichoke plant needs more water to thrive. And the plants grown in container need more water than the plants grown in the direct soil. AS the potting soil in container dries out quickly.
  • An artichoke plant should be watered once in a week. In case of peak summer of dry weather water them day after day. Water intervals can be reduced in case winter.
  • Check the moisture level of soil before watering, as under watering or overwatering the plant will lose the taste of the bud.

Sunlight for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • Artichokes thrive well in full sun but are not resistant to excessive heat.
  • The plants should get 6 to 7 hours of sunlight per day.
  • In case of hot summer, place the container into shade during noon time. To produce the large and tender buds, the plants need a good amount of sunlight, good quality soil and regular watering.
  • The plants also thrive in the cool, foggy, coastal climates, but make sure plants should be 2 to 3 hours of morning sunlight.

Pruning and Mulching for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

Pruning of Artichoke Plants.

  • Mulching: To keep the soil moist throughout the growing season mulching is compulsory. Mulching keeps the plants away from the weeds. And, insulates the roots of plants from freezing temperatures. Provide the plants thick mulching with some organic materials like dry grass clippings, straw, aged manure, or combination of all of these will helpful.
  • Pruning: Artichokes plants should be to the soil level at the end of the summer season.

And prune the plant when the leaves turn yellow. Constant pruning will improve the new growth from the plant during the spring season.

Fertilizer for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • Start feeding the plant when it is one month old. Feed the plants with all-purpose vegetable fertilizers.
  • Artichokes are heavy feeder, feed the plants once or twice in a week for a healthy growth.
  • Plants should be fed throughout the growing season till the first artichoke buds produced.
  • Use a granulated fertilizer wilt amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in a ration of 10:10:10 or 14:14:14.

Overwintering in Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • In freezing winter, prune the plant and add thick mulch deeply.
  • And cover the plants with the garden cloches or plastic cover. Or move the container to indoor or garage.
  • One the temperature becomes normal, move the container outdoors in the sun and water it deeply and feed the plant with granular balanced mild fertilizer.

Pests and Diseases in Growing Artichokes in Containers:

Pests: the pests that attack artichokes are Aphids and plume moths. Use some organic pesticides for treating aphids and plume moths.

Diseases: the disease that may attack artichokes are Crown rot, this can be affected during peak winters. To keep plants away from rot, don’t mulch till the soil temperatures go down below 10 degrees. Mulching should be removed when the weather gets warm.

Select the disease resistant plant varieties for growing in containers.

Harvesting and Storage for Growing Artichokes in Containers:

  • Harvesting period depends upon the variety of artichokes and climatic conditions.
  • Artichokes should be harvested in the beginning the second year. Pick the tender buds when are in the size of an apple before they get opened completely. Cut the stems 2 inches below for harvesting.
  • Artichokes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Artichokes buds are preserved by cooking, canned, or pickled.

Read: Growing Mushrooms In Containers.

Read: Growing Sweet Potatoes In Containers.

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