How To Grow Artichokes

Artichoke Plant

Last Updated on April 22, 2021

The artichoke is a herbaceous perennial plant, but it can also be grown as an annual in cooler regions. They’re mostly grown for the edible flower buds that are harvested before the flower opens.

But the flower buds aren’t the only part of the plant that can be used; artichoke leaf extract is used for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, pharmaceutical purposes, skin creams, sweeteners, and fabric dyes. So it’s a truly multipurpose plant. 

If you’re planning to plant this delicious vegetable at home, check out our guide below on how to grow artichokes at home, how to care for them, and what you’ll need to do to have a good harvest. 

How To Grow Artichokes infographic

Can You Grow Artichokes at Home?

Although they’re very popular in their native Mediterrane region, they’re not commonly grown in the U.S. California is the only state with a large commercial artichoke industry.

You can plant and grow artichokes at home, but keep in mind that in most U.S. hardiness zones, it’s best that your artichoke plants mature during the summer months. You can also choose from different varieties of artichokes that are most suitable for your climate.

You’ll need a lot of space too, as they’re large plants that can grow 3 to 6 feet tall and get 4 to 5 feet wide in their mature size.

Different Artichoke Varieties

Before we move onto our guide on how to grow artichokes at home, you should know that there are different varieties of artichokes you can choose suitable for the climate of your area:

  • Big Heart Artichoke: This is a thornless variety that can handle warm weather and can be grown as an annual from seed. 
  • Green Globe Artichoke: This variety is considered the original improved artichoke plant. It can grow as an annual in cool climates, even as cool as zone 3, but it can also be grown in warm climates and can handle warm summers as a perennial. 
  • Violetta Artichoke: Also called Violetto, this is an Italian heirloom variety and is mostly known for its beautiful purple buds. It’s a smaller variety of artichokes and requires less space to grow.
  • Imperial Star Artichoke: This plant is very adaptable, easy to grow from seed, and is mostly grown as an annual. Because it’s so adaptable even to cooler temperatures, it’s also suitable for U.S. hardiness zones 6 and lower. 

How To Grow Artichokes at Home: The Ultimate Guide

Here is our step-by-step guide on how to grow artichokes at home.

1. Find the Right Location

Finding the right location is very important for growing artichokes. Their native climate is the Mediterranean, so artichokes grow best in full sun. They can tolerate some shade, but it would be best if you can avoid that and find a place in your garden where there’s sunlight most of the day. 

Find a place close to your water source, as artichokes really love water, and you’ll need to water them consistently.

If you’re growing artichokes at home, take into consideration that they’re large plants and need lots of space. They can grow from 3 to 6 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide. Artichoke plants are heavy eaters, so it’s best to plant them next to vegetables that don’t need as much nitrogen, such as peas, cabbage, or tarragon. 

2. Prepare The Soil

Artichokes prefer well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with lots of organic matter. A pH level slightly on the alkaline side is best; somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 pH is ideal.

Soil with good drainage is essential if you’re planning on growing artichokes at home; this will prevent the roots from rotting, especially in cooler climates. If you grow artichokes as perennials, it’s important to amend the soil before planting; this will ensure that they will grow well in the future years. 

3. Plant Artichokes 

Planting artichokes from seeds can be a bit risky as they don’t always stay true to the seed package labels. It’s not impossible to opt for growing artichokes from seeds, but they need a long time to grow into mature plants. 

It’s best to buy already established root crowns, and they’re also sold as container plants in their second year of growth. You can get them in your local nurseries or bigger garden centers. 

They’re large plants, so plant them in rows at least 4 feet apart, but it’s best to opt for 6 feet apart to give them more space as they require full sun. If planted too close together, the larger plants will shade the smaller ones. 

If your garden soil is poor and not well-drained, consider planting and growing artichokes in raised beds instead. 

Check out this video on how to grow artichokes in your home garden:  

4. Caring for Artichoke Plants

When you’re done with planting, it’s time to take care of your artichoke plants. They’re fairly easy to care for, although they need a bit more maintenance than some other vegetables. 

Temperature and Light

It’s best if you can find a place in your garden for growing artichokes in full sunlight. They prefer overall warm and dry weather, such as that found in their native Mediterranean climate. But be careful, as excessive heat and hot soil will cause the plant to flower too quickly, so apply some thick mulch on the soil around the plant to keep it cool. 

Don’t expose artichokes to temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. If there’s a threat of frost, cover them with a bucket or frost blanket or any other form of frost protection. 

Some artichoke varieties, such as green globe artichoke, are frost-hardy and can tolerate winter temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit if well mulched. If you’re from one of the cooler zones, cut the artichoke plants back to 8–10 inches in late October and cover the stump with straw or dead leaves to protect them from frost.

If grown as perennials, artichokes prefer locations with cool, moist summers at 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and mild winters at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering

Artichokes love water. You should water them frequently and deeply, between one to three times a week, throughout the growing season, depending on the weather. Regular watering will encourage strong roots and keep flower buds tender and fleshy.

Watering can

Fertilizing

Artichokes are heavy feeders, so taking time to fertilize your artichoke plants is essential for having healthy plants and high yields. It’s best if you add a vegetable-based plant food every two weeks during the growing season. 

Pests and Diseases

Not many pests attack artichokes. With younger plants, slugs can be a problem, especially during damp weather.

Aphids are another pest that can cause problems with artichokes, but you can get rid of them by blasting them off the leaves with water before they start spreading. You can also apply some horticultural soap or neem oil for heavier infestations with pests. 

If you see your artichoke plant developing yellow leaves, reduce watering and transplant it to a sunnier site. 

Gray mold is also a common disease found in artichoke plants. You’ll see that the leaves start to turn brown and then grey. In this case, remove the affected leaves as soon as you notice the disease, and for severe infections, you can use fungicides such as neem.

Winter Care

Growing artichokes as perennials require you to adapt winter care methods to your climate and hardiness zone.

  • Zone 5 and lower: If you live in zones 5 and lower, you can try the same method described for zones 6 or 7. If temperatures get extremely low in your area, move the plant inside to a dark spot that stays cool but above freezing point, and water them occasionally throughout the winter months. In the spring, when the danger of frost has passed, you can move the plants back outside.
  • Zones 6 and 7: After the last harvest in fall, cut them down to 8–10 inches, cover the plant with organic mulch and add additional compost to the soil. After you finish cutting and mulching the artichoke plants, cover them with a waterproof tarp.
  • Zone 8 and higher: After the last harvest in fall, cut the plants to soil level and cover them with organic mulch such as straw or dead leaves to protect them from frost. 

5. Harvest Artichokes

The center artichoke buds are usually produced periodically throughout the year. However, in most U.S. zones, buds begin forming in early summer. The center bud will mature first and can be harvested when it reaches about 3 inches in diameter. 

It’s best to harvest artichokes while the bracts are still tightly folded and the bud is firm to the touch. You’ll only need a utility knife to harvest the artichoke buds. Cut the stem approximately 1–3 inches from the base of the bud. The stem becomes a useful handle while trimming the artichoke. 

After the center bud is cut, the artichoke plant will start to produce smaller buds. They should be harvested when they reach 1–3 inches in diameter. These little buds are known to be extremely tender and flavorful. 

After the harvest, don’t forget about pruning to prepare your artichoke plants for the winter months. Cut the artichoke stem down to a few inches above the soil.

When you’ve finished all of those steps, it’s time to enjoy your harvest and make some good homemade dishes out of your very own home-grown artichokes. 

Harvested artichoke buds

Trimming an Artichoke

Artichokes require a bit of trimming after harvest before they become edible. It’s not too hard; follow these steps:

  • Trim off the top third of the artichoke bud with a serrated knife.
  • Remove the two outer layers of leaves.
  • Cut off the stem or peel it with a paring knife.
  • Use kitchen shears to trim the sharp ends off of the remaining outer leaf.

Storage and Preservation

When you finish trimming the artichokes, dunk them in water with lemon juice to prevent browning. You can also place them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain them well, cool, and cut them in half. Place them on a cookie sheet and freeze. 

If you want to store the artichokes in your fridge, sprinkle them with a few drops of water and store them in an airtight plastic bag or container. They should last for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Grow Artichokes?

If they’re planted from seeds, it usually takes at least 110 to 150 days to grow artichokes to maturity or 100 days from division. They start flowering in the second year of growth.

Are Artichokes Easy To Grow?

Growing artichokes is pretty easy in mild climates when the growing season is long and the temperatures aren’t too low or too high. As perennials, artichokes grow best in zones 7–11. If you’re from cooler zones, it’s much better to grow them annually. 

Do Artichokes Come Back Every Year?

In mild climates, artichokes will come back every year. Cut the plant down to a few inches and cover it with mulch to protect it from cold temperatures. You should replace artichoke plants every four years, but they can survive up to 6 years in mild-winter areas. 

Where Do Artichokes Grow Best?

The native climate for artichokes is the Mediterranean, so they grow best in damp weather, with cool summer temperatures and mild winters. 

How to Grow Artichokes at Home: The Conclusion

Artichokes are large plants native to Mediterranean climates, but this doesn’t mean you can’t grow them in your own garden. Some of the artichoke varieties are frost-hardy and can tolerate winter temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You can plant them from seeds, but it’s best if you buy an already established plant, as they do need quite some time to reach maturity. Other than that, they’re pretty easy to take care of; you’ll only need to water them regularly and provide them with enough nutrition. 

Also, follow the above tips about caring for them in winter depending on which U.S. hardiness zone you live in. If you follow our step-by-step guide on how to grow artichokes at home, you’ll have no problems. If you start planting them in the winter, you’ll be enjoying your very own home-grown artichokes in the summer.

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