Question: How do you prune an artichoke? Does it make for a healthier plant? -Oscar T.
Answer: Pruning back artichoke plants, which produce giant thistles, is a bit different from trimming back your standard plant or bush. Artichoke plant’s pinecone-shaped buds grow on the plant’s extended stems and lateral branches. They are ready for harvesting when the top bud reaches about two to four inches in diameter. To harvest, use a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears to cut the bud off of the stem, leaving about 1.5 inches of stem. If you wait to harvest the buds until they open, you have waited too long. After you harvest all of the buds, cut the individual stems down to the ground. Remember to make cuts at a 45-degree angle.
When new bud-bearing stalks begin to appear, you should cut old bearing stalks. Cut them just below ground level using a stalk knife. Be on the watch for new shoots. Three or four weeks after cutting out the old stalks, new shoots should start to develop. Next, look for yellow leaves. When leaves start yellowing leaves, it is time to harvest your artichokes and cut back the whole plant. Cut back the artichoke plant completely right after harvesting its buds at the end of summer. You can do this as late as beginning of fall. Cut each spent stalk all the way down to the ground using pruning shears. Be sure to mulch the plant with organic mulch, preferably with leaves, straw, or compost. Uncover it in the early part of spring to stimulate the development of new shoots.