Everything to know about Artichokes

Artichoke

Common Name: Globe artichoke, Green artichoke, French artichoke

Latin Name: Cynara scolymus

Family: Asteraceae

Plant Time: -

Mature Size: 3-6 ft. tall, 4-5 ft. wide

Sun Preference: Full sun

Soil Preference: Well-drained, neutral

Bloom Time: Summer and fall

Flower Color: Purple

Native Area: Mediterranean

Toxicity: non-toxic to pets and humans

Growth Rate: -

Wildlife Value: -

Table of Contents

Artichoke plants (Cynara scolymus) are short-lived perennials that are grown as annuals in cooler regions. They belong to the Asteraceae family and are usually grown for their edible flower buds that are harvested before the flowers open.

This plant has silvery-green leaves with a long, arching shape and prickly texture and its flower buds are sold in produce aisles, with the tender artichoke “heart” being the most prized part. Artichokes are planted at different times of the year, depending on the climate, and typically take 85 to 100 days to reach harvest. When allowed to blossom on the plant, the artichoke flowers open into large, dome- or muff-shaped purple thistles that are surprisingly fragrant.

Most common Artichoke varieties:

  • Emerald
  • Imperial Star
  • Green Globe Improved
  • Purple Italian Globe
  • Tavor
  • Purple Romagna

Care

Artichoke care is a pretty straightforward thing if you are willing to pay attention to a few key details: provide them with full sun and sandy, well-draining soil, while watering them once or twice a week.

  • Soil: Artichokes thrive in slightly sandy, well-drained, and fertile soil with a pH slightly on the alkaline side. The soil should retain moisture for the roots to take in during hot summers and have good drainage to avoid root rot.
  • Water: To promote the best growth, artichokes need plenty of moisture. It is essential to water deeply at least once or twice a week and keep the soil moist for the buds to develop.
  • Light: While artichokes can tolerate some shade, they grow best in full sun and the flower buds may not develop properly if they receive insufficient light.
  • Temperature: Artichokes prefer warm weather, mild winters (50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit), and cool, moist summers. They require a thick mulch around the base of the plants to keep the soil cool, as excessive heat can cause the plant to bloom prematurely.

Propagation

Many gardeners grow artichokes from seeds, but a much faster way of propagating a new plant is using offshoots (similar to the bamboo plant).

  1. Expose the roots of the plant in fall or winter and cut the shoots and their roots.
  2. Backfill the soil around the original plant and plant the shoots in well-draining soil at least 6 feet away.
  3. Water the new plant deeply and keep it moist with at least one inch of water per week if there is no rain.
  4. Expect new growth within a few weeks.

Common Pests

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to grow an artichoke?

It takes about 85 to 100 days to grow an artichoke plant that you can start harvesting.

Where do artichokes grow best?

Artichokes grow best in full sun. They prefer warm weather, such as that found in the Mediterranean region and in California.

How many artichokes do you get from one plant?

The number of artichokes produced by a single plant varies depending on the variety and growing conditions. Generally, an established artichoke plant can produce up to 10 or more artichokes per growing season. However, the first year of growth usually produces fewer artichokes than subsequent years.

Can you eat the whole artichoke plant?

Most parts of the artichoke are edible and easy to cook, except the center “choke.”

Do artichokes need a lot of water?

Yes, artichokes require lots of moisture for best growth and the soil must be kept moist for buds to develop. Deep watering at least once or twice a week is recommended.