Globe artichokes are low in calories and sodium and high in vitamin C, folic acid, and magnesium. A good source of dietary fiber, artichokes are free of saturated fat and cholesterol. In other words, artichokes are healthy food.
Globe artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes are entirely different plants. This article is about globe artichokes, the large, thistle-like plants that produce edible “leaves” and “hearts.” Artichokes grow well in the Mediterranean climate of the California coast, with its fog, deep rich soil, and cool summers.
In fact, Castroville, California has the honor of being called the artichoke capital of the world. But you can grow chokes in less ideal conditions by choosing the right varieties and adapting the growing techniques to your climate.
Globe Artichoke Varieties
Northern Star is hardy to temperatures below freezing. Imperial Star is one of the earliest to produce from seed, making it a good choice for annual production. Green Globe is one of the most popular artichokes to grow.
Globe Artichoke Planting and Care
Artichoke culture depends on the climate. Artichokes are perennials, but they can be grown as annuals in climates with cold winters.
In cold climates, start artichoke seeds indoors eight weeks before the last spring frost date. Sow them one-quarter inch apart in soilless mix; transplant seedlings into two-to-four-inch containers. Grow them on at 60-70 degrees F during the day and 50-60 degrees F at night. When they are six-to-eight weeks old, plant them in the garden two-to-three feet apart. To set buds artichoke plants need at least 250 hours of temperatures below 50 degrees F, a process called vernalization. Be sure to protect plants from frost.
In areas where the winter temperature stays above 14 degrees F, seeds are typically sown in the fall and harvested in the spring.
Artichokes need sandy, quick-draining soil with high organic content; cool nights and warm days; and a regular supply of water. Mulching with a coarse, loose mulch will keep weeds down and moisture even. Full sun is a must.
Artichoke Pests and Diseases
Slugs and snails eat young leaves. If there are too many to pick, try small dishes of beer sunk to ground level. Iron phosphate baits and beer traps (shallow containers filled with beer sunk so the rims are at ground level) may protect plants from the slugs and snails. Insecticidal soap can help with black flies and aphids.
When you eat an artichoke you are eating the immature flower. The edible globe or bud is actually the fleshy bracts of the flower, plus the receptacle, which is what we call the heart. Harvest chokes when the heads are still tightly closed and the lower bud bracts start to separate. Secondary chokes will develop after you cut the top one. Time of harvest depends on location.
If you don’t harvest the immature flowers they turn into thistle-like purple-blue flowers. With their large, fuzzy gray leaves, artichoke blooms are dramatic additions to flower arrangements. In fact, the blooms are so striking, many gardeners grow artichoke plants in their flower gardens.
Common Questions and Answers About How to Grow Artichokes
Are artichokes a laxative?
Artichokes are an excellent source of fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, which can clean up your digestive tract and bulk up your stool. Artichokes are also beneficial to your digestive system because they promote healthy stomach bacteria, which helps alleviate constipation and diarrhea. Though artichokes are not technically considered a natural laxative, they are one of the best foods that you can eat to avoid constipation and they are an excellent food for improving your digestive health.
Are artichokes frost hardy?
Considering artichokes are native to the Mediterranean, it would seem unlikely that they would tolerate frosts very well, but surprisingly, artichokes can actually be overwintered with proper care. Artichokes do not set flower buds until their second year of growth, so overwintering these plants is rather essential. There are several methods for winterizing artichoke plants that help them survive the winter.
Are artichokes heavy feeders?
Yes, artichokes are indeed heavy feeders. Before planting, prepare the garden soil for artichokes by mixing in four to six inches of manure or compost to a depth of six inches for every 100 square feet. Treat artichoke plants with regular doses of fertilizer every four weeks throughout the growing season starting as soon as the first artichokes emerge using a balanced granular fertilizer. Additionally, feed your artichokes doses of seaweed extract or fish emulsion every couple of weeks. Water before adding these extracts and dilute to prevent root damage. Also, apply a layer of natural organic mulch around the artichokes, which will act as a fertilizer as it decomposes. Use grass clippings to promote optimal growth and cover with hay during the winter to provide nutrients and keep plants warm.
Do rabbits eat artichoke plants?
Rabbits typically will not eat artichoke plants because they are spiny. However, hungry rabbits will eat them if there is nothing else available that is more inviting.
Do slugs eat artichokes?
Yes, artichokes are susceptible to a number of insect pests, namely artichoke plume moths, aphids, slugs, and snails.
How do you get rid of aphids on artichokes?
There are several different ways to keep aphids from attacking your artichokes. First, hand crush them and knock them off by spraying them with a burst of water. Also, apply a narrow-range oil spray. Look for oil sprays based on plant oils, like soy, canola or jojoba instead of petroleum-based oils. Carefully examine artichoke leaf undersides and young buds, and if you see the aphids there, treat there as well.
How long does it take to grow artichokes?
When artichokes are grown from seed, they take between 110 and 150 days to reach maturity so they can be harvested. When artichokes are grown from divisions or young plants, they take 100 days to reach maturity. Keep in mind that most of the time, an artichoke plant will not produce artichokes to be harvested in its first year of growth.
How many artichokes do you get from one plant?
Artichoke plants that are healthy and performing their best should produce an average of six to nine artichoke buds per growing season. Harvest happens in the months of April and May for gardeners in most regions.
How many hours of sun do artichokes need?
Artichokes can perform well in locations ranging from full sun (six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day) to partial shade (three to six hours of direct sunlight each day).
How tall do artichoke plants get?
Artichoke plants can grow quite large. Their height maxes out at six feet but averages around three or four feet, and artichoke plants have an average diameter of six feet when mature. Because of their eventual size, it’s important to give artichokes plenty of space to breathe when you’re sowing seeds or planting young seedlings in the garden. Artichoke plants in a row should be positioned at least four to six feet apart, and rows of artichoke plants should be set six to eight feet apart.
What can I not plant next to artichokes?
Most plants in the garden have at least one or two species they shouldn’t be planted next to, but artichokes are an exception. They aren’t harmful to any other crops, and nothing really bothers them when it’s planted nearby. The only thing you need to consider is the size of your artichoke plants, since they can get up to six feet tall. Plan carefully to ensure you’re not crowding out neighboring rows of vegetables and to make sure those growing next to your artichokes have access to enough sunlight.
What kind of soil do artichokes need?
In order to grow healthy and strong, artichokes need soil that is fertile and rich, light, and well draining—preferably a sandy or loamy soil. When planted directly in the ground (as opposed to in a container), the soil should be prepared ahead of time by working a three-inch layer of mature, well rotted compost into the top six inches of soil. When it comes to the soil’s pH level, artichokes prefer an alkaline soil with a pH between 6.5 and 8.0. (Not sure what the pH level of your garden soil is? You can learn how to determine your pH in our article How to Test pH in Your Soil.)
Where do artichokes grow best?
Artichokes perform best in their native Mediterranean as well as in central and northern California along the coast, where they are most commonly grown for commercial purposes. (Farmers in the state of California grows almost 100 percent of the artichokes that are cultivated commercially.) Artichokes flourish where winters are mild and temperate and summers are foggy and cool. They can be grown outdoors as perennials in regions where frosts are rare in winter (USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and 9) if the plants are pruned and mulched in preparation for winter. In colder zones, artichokes are grown as annuals planted in the spring, and in the balmy zones 10 and 11, they’re planted in the fall.
Where do artichokes grow naturally?
Experts believe that artichokes are indigenous to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. It is difficult to determine exactly where artichokes are native to because humans have been cultivating them for culinary purposes since Biblical times.
Are purple artichokes edible?
The smaller purple artichokes are almost entirely edible and are more tender than the larger green artichokes. Also, they don’t have the hairy choke inside that needs to be removed. Just peel away the tougher outer leaves and trim and peel the stem if necessary, and your purple artichokes are ready to be grilled, braised, baked, roasted, or sautéed. Baby artichokes are also great raw. Try them shaved and tossed into a salad.
Are there male and female artichokes?
Yes, there are male and female artichokes. You can tell the difference between them by how their leaves (or bracts) point. Male artichokes have bracts that point straight up, while female artichokes have more rounded leaves that point inward. There is supposedly no difference between the two types of artichoke other than appearance, however, some people claim that the female artichokes taste better than their male counterparts.
Can artichoke kill you?
Death by artichoke is actually a possibility, though the vegetable is not at all poisonous. If someone cooks and prepares an artichoke and doesn’t remove the hairy choke part and serves it to an unsuspecting diner, they could easily get the choke lodged in their throat, choke on it, and die. Stranger things have happened. However, now that you are aware of the hazard, hopefully you will not be caught unaware and fall victim to the choke.
Can artichokes make you sick?
Some people have an adverse reaction to artichokes. After consuming artichokes, some people get gas, upset stomach, and even diarrhea after eating artichokes. Artichokes might also cause an allergic reaction. Those that are most susceptible to artichoke allergies are those who are also allergic to marigolds, daisies, and other herbs which are similar to these popular flowers.
Can artichokes upset your stomach?
Yes, artichokes can upset your stomach if you are one of the people who have an allergic or adverse reaction to the vegetable. Some people get gas, upset stomach, and even diarrhea after consuming artichokes. Some people are also allergic to the vegetable. Of course, if the sharp, fibrous leaves or the choke are consumed, they can cause a significant amount of stomach pain as well.
Can you divide an artichoke plant?
Yes, you can divide an artichoke plant. In fact, you should divide your artichoke plants every few years to maintain a healthy artichoke garden. Artichokes are considered a five year plant. Each plant will produce offshoots that will eventually begin to crowd the parent plant. You don’t even have to dig up the entire plant to divide it. You can simply separate a rooted shoot very gently using a spade and carefully dig it up with the spade as well.
Can you eat artichoke raw?
Most parts of the artichoke are completely edible raw. All the same parts that you would eat when the artichoke is cooked can also be enjoyed raw. Vitamin C and some of the artichoke’s other nutrients begin to degrade once heat is applied, so eating artichokes raw enables you to extract the maximum possible nutrition from them.
Can you eat artichokes every day?
For most people, eating artichokes every day is perfectly safe. There are some people, however, who are allergic to compounds that are present in artichoke, who should severely limit their artichoke consumption or stop eating artichokes all together. For others, eating artichokes doesn’t cause an allergic reaction but doing so leads to gas, upset stomach, and diarrhea. For those who get stomach issues from artichokes, daily ingestion is probably also a bad idea. For the rest of us, however, eating artichokes everyday can actually be quite healthy, as artichokes are low in calories, high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The recommended daily amount for men is between 30 and 38 grams per day and for women is between 21 and 25 grams per day.
Can you eat brown artichokes?
If an artichoke’s bract tips are split, shriveled or cracked, or discolored with dark brown edges, it is a sign that the artichoke is past its prime and won’t be good to consume. If the leaf tips are still intact but look discolored, the artichoke may have suffered frost damage, but its quality is most likely still good overall. To keep artichokes from turning brown after harvesting, rinse them by running them under cold water or dunking them into water several times. Fill a large bowl with water and add 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Place artichokes into the lemon water mixture as soon as they are trimmed to prevent them from turning brown. Cut the stems and the top 1/3 of each artichoke off.
How do you get artichoke hearts from the whole artichoke?
If you don’t want to eat the leaves or if you want to eat the leaves and heart separately, you can chop the artichoke to make it simpler to access the heart. First slice the artichoke in half lengthwise, then crosswise above the choke. At the center of the artichoke—on top of the heart—you’ll find the part called the choke, a fuzzy-looking threadlike substance that you’ll need to remove. Those prickly tendrils are what would eventually become the petals of the artichoke flower, if the artichokes were not harvested before the flower could emerge. After removing the choke, the heart can easily be extracted from the artichoke.
Can you grow an artichoke plant from an artichoke?
No, you cannot plant an artichoke to grow a full artichoke plant. However, artichokes can be easily propagated by division, or by taking a cutting (offshoot) from an existing artichoke plant.
Can you move artichoke plants?
Yes, artichoke plants can be moved, or transplanted from one spot to another, usually without any trouble or stress on the plant. However, if you live in a region where artichokes are winter hardy and grown as perennials, artichoke plants should be rejuvenated every few years anyway by dividing the roots, removing offshoots, and transplanting those to new locations, or
Do artichokes come back every year?
In USDA zones seven through 11, artichokes are grown as tender perennials which come back year after year. Artichokes that are being cultivated outside of those zones are planted as annuals and are removed after the plants are harvested.
Do artichokes grow back each year?
In most areas, globe artichokes must be grown as annuals, where they do not grow back each year, but need to be replanted each spring. However, in regions where winters are mild, artichokes can be grown as perennials, where they only need to be replanted every four to six years.
Do artichokes have deep roots?
Yes, the roots of artichokes spread deep and wide into the soil, so each plant should be given at least six feet of space to grow into. Though artichokes will tolerate just about any type of soil medium, the soil it is provided needs to be well draining and rich in nutrients and organic matter in order to accommodate their roots and ensure quick growth.
Do artichokes need a lot of water?
Artichokes need a lot of water to produce their tender flower buds. Water your artichokes deeply and frequently throughout the growing season. Very hot soil will make the plants flower too quickly, so apply a thick mulch around the base of the plants to help keep the soil cool and keep the soil moist at all times. Artichokes love water and they need to be watered deeply so that it reaches their deep root systems. As a thistle, the perennial power of an artichoke plant lies in its deep roots. To encourage strong roots, water deeply 1 to 3 times a week, depending on the weather. During a hot, dry spell, three waterings per week may be necessary, especially if the hot, dry weather occurs when the plant’s buds are forming.
Do artichokes need full sun?
Artichokes like full sun, but not too much heat. They grow best in cool, foggy, coastal climates, but with some care can produce well in other mild-winter areas. Afternoon shade can help in areas where summers are hot. To produce the largest and most tender buds, the plants need rich, deep soil and ample watering, as well as at least six hours of direct sunlight exposure.
Do baby artichokes have choke?
No, baby artichokes have yet to develop the hairy choke that is at the center of mature artichokes, which makes them much less work to peel and eat.
Do fresh artichokes need to be refrigerated?
Yes, raw artichokes do not keep very well, so they need to either be wrapped in a plastic vegetable bag and refrigerated, or cooked (and then refrigerated).
Do I need to wash artichokes?
No, artichokes do not need to be washed before cooking. Washing your artichokes is optional and they are a bit of trouble to clean, so many people choose to skip cleaning them and turn directly to cooking them in water that is treated with citric acid, vitamin C or lemon juice. The citrus is needed to keep the artichokes from oxidizing and turning brown, which they tend to do rather quickly after being harvested or trimmed.
Do you soak artichokes?
Though it is not an essential practice, soaking trimmed artichokes in lemony water for an hour or two before cooking improves the artichoke’s taste and tenderness.
How big do artichoke plants get?
At maturity, artichoke plants can grow up to three to four feet tall with a four foot base.
Want to learn more about growing Artichokes?
Artichokes take up a lot of space and are not the easiest plants to grow. Because the culture varies so much by climate, you’ll need more location-specific information before you add choke to your garden. The following websites have the details you’ll need:
Here’s a great .pdf file related to How to Grow Globe Artichokes in Connecticut.
Globe Artichoke from Virginia Cooperative Extension