How to Grow and Care for Artichokes

How to Grow and Care for Artichokes

How to Grow and Care for Artichokes

Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

Artichoke plants are perennials in warmer climes but are planted as annuals in cooler climates. The edible flower buds on artichokes, which are picked before the flowers bloom, are the main reason they are planted. The tall, arched leaves of artichokes possess a silvery green colour. The leaves may appear velvety, but they can actually be rather thorny. The stems of the plant are succulent and thick.

The plants typically grow to a height of approximately four feet, while some types can reach heights of up to six feet. They are often narrower than they are tall. Flower stalks develop from the plant’s centre, each with a green or purple bud at the end – this flower bud is the edible component, which we typically refer to as a “head.” From the main stalk, side branches will also appear and develop miniature heads, often known as “baby artichokes.” The heads get harsh and tasteless if they are left to bloom rather than being picked. They are, however, rather beautiful, with vibrant purple ornamental flowers.

When Should You Plant Artichokes?

Artichokes can be grown from seeds, dormant roots, or rooted shoots taken from plants that are already growing. If beginning from seeds, do it 8–10 weeks before planting them outdoors, in the late winter or early spring. Before planting the seeds in trays or pots, soak them in warm water. Put the trays or the pots in a cosy, well-lit area. Maintain soil moisture. After the final spring frost, plant the seedlings & shoots in the garden. In areas without frost, dormant roots are able to be sown in the autumn or winter. After the last frost in colder regions, plant the roots in the spring.

Growing Artichokes From Seed

Eight weeks or more before to your typical last frost date, start seedlings indoor. In trays or pots with a seed starting mix that has been moistened, sow seeds 1/4 inch deep. Placing the seeded tray or pot on a heating mat or in a warm area, such as the top of a refrigerator or a table above a heat vent, will help the seeds germinate because the soil temperature needs to be warm. Within 7 to 21 days, seeds should begin to sprout. Before transplanting the seedlings outside, harden them off. However, don’t wait until the threat of frost has completely passed; artichokes need to experience a light cold but not freezing in order to develop buds.

A Guide to Artichoke Transplantation

Purchasing pre-started artichoke plants and relocating them into your garden is the simplest way to begin harvesting artichokes in the first year after planting. Planting pre-started artichoke plants should be postponed until after the final frost date. Choose a location where the artichoke plants will get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Find a location where each plant has about two feet of room on either side because they also grow tall and wide. In order to provide artichokes with lots of nutrients, combine fish emulsion, compost, or other natural fertiliser with the soil. Artichokes are heavy root feeders and thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Choose a pot that is at least two feet wide if you wish to plant your artichokes in containers. If your winters become too harsh and you need to bring the plants indoors, planting in pots is extremely helpful.

Each artichoke plant needs its own hole, which should be dug at least four feet apart. You don’t need to dig particularly deeply or widely because artichoke root balls are often the size of a large sweet potato. Make sure the hole can accommodate the complete root ball of each plant before placing it there. To secure the artichoke plant, add more soil to the hole. Water the artichoke plants evenly after planting to help the soil settle and to hydrate the plants.

Artichokes Care

Full sun is ideal for artichoke growth. Although the flower buds will weaken, they can withstand some shade. Sandy, fertile, yet well-drained soil is preferred by artichokes. The ideal soil pH is slightly on the alkaline side. Ideal soil is slightly sandy. The roots must have good drainage to avoid rotting, especially in places where they will spend the winter. But during the hot summer months, the soil must also be able to hold onto water for a long enough period of time for the roots to absorb it.

To ensure that artichokes grow properly in subsequent years, it is especially crucial to adjust the soil before planting them when growing them as perennials. Raised beds might be an option if your garden’s soil is insufficient for producing artichokes. For the optimal growth, artichokes require a lot of moisture. Water artichoke plants thoroughly upon planting them and at least once or twice after that. For buds to grow, the soil must be moist. Water helps flower buds remain supple and fleshy and strengthens the roots that will support the plant’s erect posture.

The planting hole should be filled with aged manure or compost because artichokes are heavy feeders. As an alternative, you might use an organic balanced fertiliser during planting time. Follow the recommendations on the product package for fertiliser usage. During the growing season, give the plants periodic feedings.

Types of Artichokes

Here are several nice artichoke varieties:

Big Heart‘ is a thornless cultivar that can withstand some heat.

The most common commercially farmed type in California is ‘Green Globe,’ however it does not adapt well to less-than-ideal growing circumstances. It produces high-quality buds. ‘Vert Globe’ is another name for it.

Imperial Star‘ is highly versatile, simple to cultivate from seed, and has been bred to be planted as an annual. Buds are four inches broad and spineless. This variety is suggested for gardeners in zones 6 and below.

Chefs love ‘Purple of Romagna,’ a sensitive Italian heirloom.

Violetto‘ is a renowned Italian heirloom known for producing dozens of little side shoots.

Emerald‘ features thornless buds and is a prolific grower. On 4 to 5 foot tall plants, it produces beautiful, deep green buds. In zones 7 and above, grow it as a perennial.

Pruning Artichokes

When artichokes are about three inches in diameter, simply clip them from the plant at a 45-degree angle. Remove wasted stalks to the ground to make place for new stalks to grow. When the plant has finished bearing fruit, cut it down to just above the ground and cover it with a thick layer of mulch.

Propagating Artichokes

Even if it is simpler to cultivate artichokes from seed, it is possible to create new artichoke plants from the offshoots that the majority of artichokes start to produce in the second or third year. This is only possible in warm climates where artichokes survive the winter.

During the autumn or winter. Remove some soil to reveal the plant’s roots. With a sharp knife, cut off the shoots and their roots. The shoots must be at least 8 inches long. Backfill the area around the original plant with soil. Plant the offshoots immediately, at least six feet away from the parent plant, in well-draining soil. Water the young plant thoroughly and keep it moist. Apply at least an inch of water every week if it does not rain. Within a few weeks, new growth should occur.

Plant diseases and common pests

Artichokes are rarely attacked by pests. Slugs can be a nuisance in wet weather, especially with young, sensitive leaves. Aphids can also be a bother, but they can be washed away before they take over. Giving the plants ample space for air to circulate will assist to reduce aphid problems.

Botrytis, often known as grey mould, can harm leaves and flower bracts. It’s most common on damaged leaves, which become brown and eventually greyish. As soon as the disease is visible, remove the infected leaves. Use a fungicide labelled for edible plants, such as neem, for severe infections.

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