How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Artichokes

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Ever wondered why growing artichokes isn’t as common as popping some tomatoes or lettuce in your garden? Maybe it’s the look of them, with their armored exterior, that makes folks think they’re more trouble than they’re worth. But let me tell you, beneath that tough exterior lies a heart of gold, both in flavor and nutrition.

These leafy giants have been around since the time folks wore togas as daywear, making a name for themselves from ancient gardens to modern-day gourmet kitchens.

Now, don’t let their fancy reputation fool you; artichokes are packed with goodies. We’re talking fiber, vitamins C and K, and a bunch of minerals that your body will thank you for. And guess what?

Growing artichokes might just be easier than you think. Stick around, and I’ll walk you through turning a piece of your backyard into an artichoke goldmine.

Quick Guide to Growing Artichokes

growing Artichokes
  • Variety Selection:
    • Choose Globe artichokes for edible buds.
    • Recommended varieties: ‘Green Globe’, ‘Imperial Star’, ‘Violetto’.
  • Soil and Location:
    • Well-drained soil, rich in organic matter.
    • Sunny spot required.
    • Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Planting:
    • Start from seeds, starter plants, or root divisions.
    • Plant in early spring or fall (in warmer climates).
    • Space plants 4 to 6 feet apart.
  • Watering and Feeding:
    • Keep soil consistently moist.
    • Deep water to reach the deep roots.
    • Feed with balanced fertilizer monthly during growing season.
  • Mulching and Weeding:
    • Apply mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
    • Keep area around plants weed-free.
  • Pest and Disease Management:
    • Look out for aphids and slugs.
    • Use organic pest control methods.
    • Ensure good air circulation to prevent diseases.
  • Harvesting:
    • Harvest when buds are large, firm, and leaves tightly closed.
    • Cut stem a few inches below the bud.
  • Winter Care:
    • Protect with mulch in cold climates.
    • In milder climates, minimal care is needed over winter.

Choosing the Right Variety

When you’re eyeing to add some green giants to your garden, picking the right type of artichoke is your first step. Let’s get down to brass tacks and sort out the Globe from Jerusalem, shall we?

Globe vs. Jerusalem Artichokes: Understanding the Differences

First off, Globe artichokes are the big, leafy buds you’re probably thinking of when someone mentions artichokes. They’re the stars of the dish when steamed or grilled. Jerusalem artichokes, on the other hand, aren’t even close relatives.

They’re more like the underground, shy cousin, being tubers that taste a bit nutty. Here, we’re all about the Globe artichokes, those leafy, green beauties.

Popular Varieties of Globe Artichokes

Each artichoke variety brings something special to the table—literally. Here’s a quick look at some crowd favorites:

Green GlobeMid-seasonThe classic, with large, flavorful buds.
Imperial StarEarlyDesigned for warmer climates, quick to harvest.
ViolettoMid to LateItalian variety, purple-tinged, tender buds.

These varieties each have their vibe, from the traditional Green Globe to the quicker, warmer-climate-loving Imperial Star, and not forgetting the Italian flair brought by Violetto.

Considerations for Selecting Varieties (Climate, Space, etc.)

Choosing the right artichoke is more than just eeny, meeny, miny, moe. You’ve got to consider a few things:

  • Climate: Artichokes are a bit like Goldilocks; they like it not too hot, not too cold. Most varieties prefer mild winters and cool summers. But, if you’re living in a place where the sun loves to blaze, something like ‘Imperial Star’ might be up your alley.
  • Space: These plants are no shrinking violets. They need room to spread out. We’re talking about a good 4 to 6 feet between plants. If your garden is on the cozy side, planning is key.
  • Harvest Time: Impatient? Some varieties, like ‘Imperial Star,’ get you from plant to plate quicker. If you’re all about that slow food movement, traditional varieties like ‘Green Globe’ will make you wait but reward your patience.

Choosing the right variety means considering the local climate, how much space you can dedicate to these leafy giants, and how quickly you’re looking to harvest. With a little thought, you’ll have a patch of artichokes that’ll be the envy of the neighborhood—or at least give you bragging rights at the next garden club meet-up.

Soil Preparation and Planting

Getting your soil ready for artichokes is like prepping a bed for a guest; it’s all about making them feel at home so they can grow big and strong. Here’s how to roll out the welcome mat for these leafy guests.

Ideal Soil Conditions for Artichokes

Artichokes are a bit picky when it comes to their soil. They crave well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. They’re like the Goldilocks of the plant world, wanting everything just right. But get this mix sorted, and you’re on your way to a bountiful harvest.

How to Prepare the Soil for Planting

Preparing your soil for artichokes isn’t rocket science, but it does take a bit of elbow grease:

  1. Loosen the Soil: Use a fork or tiller to break up the ground. You’re aiming for loose, crumbly soil that’ll make it easy for roots to spread.
  2. Enrich with Compost: Mix in plenty of organic compost. Artichokes are hungry plants, and compost provides them with the nutrients they need to grow strong.
  3. Ensure Good Drainage: If your soil is more on the clay side, consider raising your beds or mixing in some sand to improve drainage.

The Best Time to Plant Artichokes

Timing is everything with artichokes. In cooler climates, plant in early spring. For warmer areas, fall planting is your ticket, giving the plants a cool period to settle in before the heat kicks in.

Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Artichoke Seeds or Seedlings

Planting artichokes can be done either from seeds or, more commonly, from seedlings. Here’s a step-by-step for both:

From Seeds:

  1. Start Indoors: About 8 weeks before the last frost, sow seeds in pots under grow lights.
  2. Keep Warm: Artichoke seeds like a bit of warmth to germinate, so keep them in a spot that’s consistently around 70°F.
  3. Transplant: Once the seedlings are hearty enough and the outdoor temperature is right, transplant them into your prepared soil.

From Seedlings:

  1. Choose Healthy Seedlings: Look for robust, green plants. Avoid anything looking yellow or wilted.
  2. Spacing: Plant seedlings about 4 to 6 feet apart. They need room to spread out.
  3. Water Well: After planting, give them a good soak to settle the soil around the roots.
Loosen the SoilUse a fork or tiller to break up the groundBefore planting
Enrich with CompostMix in organic compostAt soil preparation
Ensure Good DrainageAdd sand if necessaryIf soil is clay-heavy
Start Seeds IndoorsFor seeds, start 8 weeks before the last frostIndoors under grow lights
Transplant SeedlingsMove to garden after last frostEarly spring or fall, depending on climate
Water WellSettle soil around rootsImmediately after planting

Caring for Your Artichokes

Once you’ve got your artichokes in the ground, the real work begins. But don’t sweat it; with a bit of know-how, you’ll be on your way to a bumper crop. Here’s the skinny on keeping your artichokes happy and healthy.

Watering: How Much and How Often

Artichokes are like the camels of the vegetable garden; they can handle a bit of drought but prefer a steady supply of water. Aim for about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, whether from rain or your hose.

If the weather’s hot and dry, you might need to up the ante. The goal is moist soil, not a swamp, so let the soil dry out a bit between waterings.

Fertilizing: What Nutrients Artichokes Need to Thrive

Think of fertilizer as the secret sauce for your artichokes. They’re heavy feeders, so a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer applied every month during the growing season will do the trick. Or, if you’re more of the organic type, well-rotted manure or compost works wonders, too. Just make sure they’re getting their fill of N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).

Mulching to Conserve Moisture and Control Weeds

Mulch is your best friend in the artichoke game. A nice, thick layer (about 2-3 inches) of organic mulch around your plants will keep the soil moist, keep those pesky weeds at bay, and add a bit of pizzazz to your garden bed. Organic mulches like straw or bark chips are top-notch choices.

Thinning Seedlings to Prevent Overcrowding

If you started your artichoke journey from seeds, you’d need to thin out the herd once the seedlings are a few inches tall. It might feel a bit cutthroat, but it’s all for the greater good.

Keep the strongest seedlings and give them room to grow—about 4 to 6 feet apart. This space is vital for air circulation and ensuring each plant has its share of sunlight and nutrients.

TaskWhy It MattersHow To Do It
WateringKeeps soil moist, supports growth1-1.5 inches per week, adjust as needed
FertilizingProvides essential nutrientsUse balanced 10-10-10 or organic alternatives monthly
MulchingConserves moisture, controls weedsApply 2-3 inches of organic mulch
Thinning SeedlingsPrevents overcrowding, promotes healthThin to strongest seedlings, space 4-6 feet apart

Pest and Disease Management

Tending to artichokes isn’t just about watering and waiting; it’s a bit like being a garden detective, always on the lookout for pests and diseases that want a piece of your hard work. Let’s dive into how to keep those uninvited guests at bay.

Common Pests and Diseases Affecting Artichokes

Artichokes can attract a few pests and run into some diseases that can turn your green garden dream into a bit of a nightmare. Here’s who’s who in the world of artichoke troubles:

Pest/DiseaseSigns to Watch ForWhy They’re Trouble
AphidsSmall, green or black bugs under leavesThey suck sap, weakening plants
Slugs and SnailsIrregular holes in leaves, slimy trailsChew through leaves, especially young plants
Artichoke Plume MothLarvae tunneling in stems and budsCan destroy buds and make them inedible
Powdery MildewWhite, powdery spots on leavesReduces plant vigor and yield

Keeping an eye out for these signs can help you catch issues early, when they’re easier to manage.

Organic Methods for Controlling Pests and Diseases

Going the organic route for pest and disease control not only keeps things green but also helps maintain a healthy garden ecosystem. Here are some solid strategies:

  • Neem Oil: A fantastic all-rounder that deters pests and helps control fungal diseases.
  • Diatomaceous Earth: Great for slugs and snails. Sprinkle around plants for a pest barrier.
  • Encouraging Beneficial Insects: Ladybugs and lacewings are aphid enemies. Plant flowers that attract these helpful critters.
  • Proper Hygiene: Remove and destroy infected plant parts to prevent the spread of disease.

Remember, the best offense is a good defense. Healthy, well-cared-for plants are less likely to succumb to pests and diseases.

Importance of Crop Rotation

Crop rotation isn’t just for the big farm operations; it’s a powerful tool in the home garden, too. By rotating where you plant your artichokes each year, you can help break the cycle of pests and diseases that might have gotten too comfy in your soil.

Plus, it helps keep the soil nutrients in check, ensuring your artichokes always have the good stuff they need to grow.

Crop RotationReduces pest and disease buildupPlant artichokes in different spots annually
Neem Oil ApplicationControls pests, deters diseasesApply as per product instructions
Diatomaceous Earth UsePhysical barrier for slugs/snailsSprinkle around the base of plants
Encourage BeneficialsNatural pest controlPlant companion flowers, avoid pesticides

Encouraging Artichoke Growth and Health

Making sure your artichokes are not just surviving but thriving is key to a garden that’s the envy of the neighborhood. Here’s how to boost those green giants into giving you the best they’ve got.

Techniques for Encouraging Vigorous Growth

To get those artichokes pumping, you’ve got to give them what they crave:

  • Sunshine: Artichokes love the sun. Make sure they’re planted where they can bask in at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist. Deep watering encourages deep root growth, making for stronger plants.
  • Nutrition: Hit them with a balanced fertilizer or well-rotted manure regularly. They’re hungry plants, and feeding them well pays off in spades (or artichokes).

The Role of Pruning in Artichoke Cultivation

Pruning isn’t just for looks; it’s about directing energy to where it’s most needed. For artichokes, this means:

  • Cutting Back: After the main harvest, cut plants back to the ground. This encourages strong new growth and more bountiful yields in the following season.
  • Deadheading: Removing spent flowers keeps the plant focused on vegetative growth rather than seed production.

Winter Care for Artichokes in Colder Climates

Artichokes are tough but they do need a little TLC to make it through colder months:

  • Mulch: A thick layer of mulch helps protect the roots from freezing temperatures.
  • Cover: In regions where frost is a serious issue, covering your plants with burlap or a frost cloth can give them the extra protection they need.
Care AspectTechniqueBenefit
SunshinePlant in full sunEncourages vigorous growth and bud development
WateringKeep soil moist; deep wateringPromotes deep root growth
NutritionRegular feeding with balanced fertilizer/manureFuels growth and production
PruningCutting back and deadheading after harvestStimulates new growth, improves yield
Winter ProtectionMulching and covering in cold climatesProtects plants from freezing, ensures survival

Harvesting and Storing Artichokes

Harvesting artichokes at just the right moment captures their peak flavor, and proper storage keeps them fresh until you’re ready to enjoy. Here’s how to get the timing right and keep those artichokes in tip-top shape after picking.

Signs that Artichokes are Ready for Harvest

Knowing when to harvest is like catching the perfect wave; timing is everything. Look for these signs:

  • Size Matters: A mature artichoke bud will be big, plump, and firm. We’re talking about the size of your fist or even bigger.
  • Leaf Tightness: The leaves (or bracts) should be tightly closed, not splaying open. Once they start to open, the artichoke is past its prime.
  • Heft: A ready-to-harvest artichoke feels heavy for its size, a sign that it’s packed with moisture and flavor.

How to Harvest Artichokes Properly

Harvesting artichokes is straightforward but requires a gentle hand:

  1. Choose Your Tool: A sharp knife or a pair of pruning shears will do the trick.
  2. Make the Cut: Slice through the stem about an inch below the bud. If you’re leaving some stem attached, make sure it’s cleanly cut to avoid rotting.
  3. Harvest Early: The best time to pick artichokes is in the morning when moisture content is highest, ensuring they’re as fresh as can be.

Tips for Storing Artichokes to Extend Their Freshness

Once you’ve harvested your artichokes, proper storage is key to keeping them fresh:

  • Cool and Humid: Artichokes like it cool and slightly humid. Store them in the refrigerator in a produce bag with a few holes for air circulation.
  • Trim First: If you’ve left a long stem, trim it down to about an inch to fit better in the fridge.
  • Use Quickly: While they can last up to a week, artichokes are best enjoyed within a few days of harvesting for optimal flavor and texture.
AspectWhat to Look For/DoReason/Benefit
Ready to Harvest SignsLarge, firm buds with tight leavesEnsures peak flavor and tenderness
Proper HarvestingClean cut through the stemReduces damage and potential rotting
StorageIn the fridge, in a produce bag with holesKeeps them fresh and maintains quality

Common Problems and Solutions

Growing artichokes is mostly a breeze, but sometimes, you might hit a bump. Don’t worry; most issues have straightforward fixes. Let’s tackle the common ones together.

Addressing Issues with Flowering

Sometimes, artichokes decide they’re just not in the mood to flower. Here’s what you can do:

  • Too Much Heat or Cold: Artichokes are picky about temperature. If it’s too hot or too cold, they might not flower. Aim for a Goldilocks zone, where it’s not too hot, not too cold.
  • Insufficient Light: These plants love the sun. Make sure they’re getting at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
  • Nutrient Imbalance: Too much nitrogen can lead to lush leaves at the expense of flowers. Check your fertilizer and adjust accordingly.

Solving Problems with Artichoke Plant Health

If your artichokes are looking a bit under the weather, consider these tips:

  • Watering Woes: Both over and under-watering can cause issues. Aim for that moist, but not soggy, soil feel.
  • Pest Problems: Keep an eye out for pests and manage them with organic methods before they become a significant issue.
  • Disease Management: Good air circulation and proper spacing can prevent many fungal diseases. Remove and dispose of any diseased plant parts promptly.

FAQs and Troubleshooting Tips

Got more questions? Here are quick fixes to common queries:

Why are my artichoke leaves turning yellow?Check watering and nutrient levels.Yellow leaves can indicate over/under-watering or nutrient deficiencies.
How do I protect artichokes from frost?Use frost cloths or straw mulch.Protects plants from cold damage, ensuring survival through winter.
Can I grow artichokes in pots?Yes, use large pots and ensure good drainage.Allows for artichoke cultivation in limited spaces with proper care.


how to grow care artichokes

Wrapping up our green journey, we’ve traveled through the ins and outs of growing artichokes, from selecting the right variety and prepping the soil to the care, harvesting, and storing of these noble plants. It’s been a path filled with anticipation, care, and a touch of gardening elbow grease.

Growing artichokes isn’t just about adding a dash of gourmet to your garden; it’s about embracing a plant that stands tall, both in stature and nutritional value. These leafy giants are more than just a pretty face in the garden; they pack a punch of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can boost any diet.

So, why not give it a shot? Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or someone looking to dip their toes into the soil for the first time, artichokes offer a rewarding challenge with tasty results. Imagine the satisfaction of serving up a dish made with artichokes straight from your backyard—there’s nothing quite like it.

Remember, every plant has its quirks, and artichokes are no exception. But with a bit of patience and care, you’ll find yourself well on the way to a bountiful harvest. Here’s to the joy of gardening, the thrill of the harvest, and the deliciousness of home-grown artichokes. Happy gardening!

Additional Resources

Books for Further Reading:

  • The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” by Edward C. Smith – A comprehensive guide that covers a wide range of vegetables, including artichokes, with practical advice on how to grow them successfully.
  • “All New Square Foot Gardening II” by Mel Bartholomew – Offers innovative techniques that maximize yield in small spaces, perfect for urban gardeners looking to grow artichokes.
  • “The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil” by Wayne Lewis and Charles Dowding – Focuses on the importance of soil health for successful gardening, including tips relevant to growing artichokes.

Websites for Further Reading:

  • – Provides a plethora of gardening articles, including detailed guides on growing various vegetables like artichokes.
  • – The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers timeless wisdom on gardening, including when to plant artichokes based on your local climate.
  • – Features planning tools and advice from gardening experts, ideal for someone interested in starting an artichoke garden.

Local Gardening Clubs and Online Forums for Support:

  • Local Cooperative Extension Office: Your local cooperative extension office is a valuable resource for finding gardening clubs, workshops, and seminars focused on local gardening conditions.
  • GardenWeb Forums ( This online community is a great place to ask questions, share successes, and learn from the challenges of fellow gardeners, including tips on growing artichokes.
  • A vibrant online community where gardeners from around the world share their experiences, including growing artichokes. It’s a great place to ask for advice and find inspiration.