Artichoke tends to prefer living in coastal climates but, with a little planning, it can be grown just about anywhere. Its beauty and hearty taste makes the effort entirely worth it.
type of perennial: vegetable
Globe artichokes come in different shapes and sizes. Common, round varieties include Green Globe and Imperial Star. Elongated artichoke varieties, which are less spherical, include the popular variety Violetto. Purple varieties, such as Fiesole, add a splash of color to your plate and garden.
WHERE GLOBE ARTICHOKE THRIVES
Artichokes are among the most regionally-specific vegetables you can grow. While they can be successfully planted in most parts of the country, artichokes grow best in coastal regions, like the central coast of California, which has cool, moist summers (70-80 degrees) and mild winters (50-60 degrees). In regions with brutally cold winters, artichokes can be grown as annuals.
Optimal shade & sun
A member of the sunflower family, artichokes grow best in full sun with at least six hours of sunlight per day. In hot climates, artichokes prefer partial shade in the afternoon when the sun is most intense.
Adaptability to climate extremes
Artichokes prefer moderate temperatures and have a hard time adapting to climate extremes. They do not, for example, fare well in the hot summers of many parts of the South. Excessive cold snaps can also harm artichoke roots. In harsh Northern winters artichokes often grow as annuals. While artichokes are not very adaptable, they are salt-tolerant, which makes them a coastal favorite in mild climates. The plant will tolerate water stress but at the expense of its tenderness because thirsty plants bud prematurely. The only artichokes that can be grown using very little water are ornamental ones.
While artichokes enjoy moist climates that receive plenty of water, they are also drought-resistant, especially if grown ornamentally. Thirsty plants develop tough and fibrous artichokes that are better left as a bloom.
PREP YOUR SOIL
optimal type of soil
Artichokes need rich, fertile, sandy loam soil packed with nutrients. It won't do well in soil that gets waterlogged. If you have clay soil, you can work in some sand and organic matter to improve drainage.
When planting indoors:
Starting seeds indoors is recommended for a quicker harvest. Plant artichoke seeds indoors in spring, roughly eight to 12 weeks before the beginning of summer. Plant two to three seeds per pot, 1/4 of an inch deep, to improve the odds you'll get at least one artichoke per pot. Using a heat mat will expedite growth because artichoke seeds like soil that's between 70 and 80 degrees. As soon as seedlings have three leaves, thin out all but the biggest seedlings by using scissors to snip them off at the base.
When planting in the garden:
Once night time temperatures climb higher than 50 degrees you can transplant seedlings into the garden. Artichokes benefit from vernalization, or a cold treatment, that encourages the plant to bud early. What this involves is timing the planting so spring seedlings get at least 10 days of 45 to 50 degree weather. This can be tricky, however, since seedlings may not survive an early spring frost. Artichokes can grow to be very large so set your seedlings at least three feet apart once you move them outdoors. If you plant seeds directly in your garden wait until the soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees. Artichokes that you seed outdoors may not produce buds during the first growing season.
Artichokes have beautiful silver foliage and can grow to be as high as four feet tall and five feet wide. Typically, artichokes will be at their peak in early summer and produce a second harvest of side shoot buds in midsummer. Artichokes may need to be staked once the bud forms because they can become top heavy in shallow soils. To secure an artichoke, use a bamboo stake and place it firmly in the ground at the base of the plant. Use landscaping yarn or old strips of tee shirts to tie the plant to the pole. Be careful not to tie the plant too tight or it will girdle itself. Pruning is unnecessary for healthy plants but it's a good idea to remove the bottom leaves as they begin to wilt to prevent mildew outbreaks. Make sure that artichoke beds are weed-free from the start because weeds are tough to get rid of and control when grown perennially.
Water thoroughly, especially in the formative period when flowers are budding. Given their coastal preference, artichokes like to stay moist with so give them one to two inches per week spaced out every two days. Let your soil dry out completely in between watering to avoid soggy soil.
Mulch with compost in the spring to control weeds, and mulch with wood chips or straw in the fall to protect the plant from cold winter temperatures.
Artichoke's vast foliage easily hides irksome pests like aphids and spittlebug larvae that feed on the supple buds and leaves. These should be picked or hosed off but they only affect the quality of the artichokes if a heavy outbreak occurs. Slugs and snails often feed on artichokes but cause little damage. Crushed eggshells spread around the base of the plant in a circle will prevent these slimy invaders from climbing up the stems and into the foliage.
Curly dwarf virus is spread by aphids that move from infected plants to non-infected plants. It can stunt growth or produce misshapen artichokes. To prevent the spread of curly dwarf virus, get rid of any milk thistle that might be growing nearby and try to control aphids as soon as they present themselves. Unfortunately, there is no cure, so fully infected artichokes will need to be uprooted. Powdery mildew, Verticillium wilt, and botrytis rot are also common during rainy weather. Reduce the risk of fungal disease by giving your artichokes plenty of space and letting the soil dry out between watering.