Growing artichokes in your home garden can feel like you’re producing a masterpiece. These culinary delights are showstoppers in the garden, often providing fifteen to twenty artichokes per plant each year.
Members of the thistle family, artichokes are a perennial plant in warmer climates and will keep producing for up to 6 years but are treated as annual plantings in cooler growing zones. They produce gourmet-style vegetables, which are actually the bud of the serrated-leafed plant. If left unharvested, the plant produces stunning blooms.
Artichoke plants are so ornate and extravagant tasting that you might be surprised by how easy they are to grow. Check out our guide for a robust list of useful information on how to grow artichokes so you can enjoy this succulent delicacy.
Ideal Soil Composition & pH for Growing Artichokes
Artichokes are heavy feeders, so be sure to amend your soil accordingly. Enrich your soil with well-decomposed compost, worm castings, and other recycled forest materials. Soil for artichokes should be well-draining, as they do not thrive well in soggy conditions.
When thinking about how to grow artichokes, aim for an optimal soil pH of between 6.5 and 7.0. If you are unsure of your soil’s content or pH level, visit your local extension center and have your soil tested. Or visit your local nursery for an easy-to-use soil test kit.
Light & Temperature Requirements for Growing Artichokes
Select a spot in the garden that receives full sunlight. When growing artichokes in hot climates, you can choose a location that receives partial shade during the afternoon hours.
Growing Artichoke From Seed
When growing artichoke from seed, you must really think ahead. Seeds should be started indoors 8 -12 weeks before the last frost date in your area.
- Plant individual seeds in pots.
- Plant seeds at a depth of ¼ inch and cover them lightly in soil.
- Place seeded pots in a warm and sunny location.
- Once seedlings grow a minimum of four true leaves, they can be hardened-off in a protected area outside after all frost danger has passed.
- Plant seedlings in-ground or in raised beds.
- Keep plant soil moist.
Artichoke Plant Spacing
When planting your transplants outdoors, allow three to four feet of space between plants in rows that are four to five feet apart.
Water & Nutrients Needed for Growing Artichokes
Artichokes need to be well-watered and well-nourished throughout the growing season for them to produce. Inadequate water supply to artichoke plants will result in lackluster fruits with little juiciness in their hearts. Side dress plants with compost as the plants grow and use an organic fertilizer to keep plants growing strong and steady.
It is essential to keep weeds at bay when growing artichokes. Weeds will compete with plants for water and nutrients. Consider adding organic mulch in your garden beds to prevent weed germination.
Common Pests & Diseases When Growing Artichokes
Artichoke plants are relatively resistant to pests and disease. Their serrated and bristly leaves seem to the first line of defense for this crop. You may encounter a few garden pests that you may have to contend with.
- Aphids– These tiny insects flock to many crops during the growing season. Combat aphids in the garden by spraying them with a quick spray of hose water to knock them off of the plant. Planting trap crops like nasturtiums nearby can also lure aphids away from tender crops.
- Slugs– Minimize the impact of slugs by planting artichokes off the ground in raised beds or containers. You can also trap slugs by burying a pie plate in the soil so that the plate’s rim is flush with the soil surface. Then fill the plate with some beer. Slugs will seek out the beer and will be unable to get out of the dish.
When to Harvest Artichokes
Learning how to grow artichokes and how to harvest them has great rewards. Artichokes are harvested for their sweet and tender hearts, which are used in many culinary dishes. Selecting the prime time to gather your artichokes can be the most challenging part of the growing process. Artichokes are highly unpalatable when not harvested at the precise time.
- When planted in the springtime, artichokes should be ready for harvest from the middle of summer through the fall.
- Artichokes that are planted during the fall in warmer climates can be harvested in the spring.
- Artichokes should be harvested before they begin to bloom.
- Look for tightly formed buds that are 3-4 inches in diameter.
- Grab your pruning shears and make an angular cut three and four inches below the artichoke flower base.
- The stem of the plant closest to the flower contains a tender artichoke heart at its core, so it is beneficial to harvest as suggested in order to reap all of the goodness.
- Remember that the succulent-petalled flower is actually what you are aiming to gather.
Recommended Artichoke Varieties to Grow
Artichokes come in two main types: globe and tapered. Try some of these favorites in your garden this year!
- ‘Green Globe’
- ‘Imperial Star’