How to Grow
You can start seedlings indoors 8 to 12 weeks before planting time (which comes after the last frost in May), buy starts or tubers from a local nursery or mail-order source, or even try planting seeds in the fall.
How to Plant
Plant seeds 1/4-inch apart and 1/4-inch deep, in slightly acidic soil with pH of 6 to 7. Be aware that the plants are very tall, reaching a height of four feet, and are also very wide (up to 6 feet) so plan accordingly. Make sure not to overshadow spaces where you had planned to grow smaller sun-loving plants, and don’t sacrifice precious space if your gardening room is limited. Along a back fence where a large plant would fill a need in your landscape would work well.
Seeds will rot if the soil is not well drained, and they'll dry up if not consistently watered, so amend the soil well with sand and humus, and plan your irrigation carefully. They need water to produce tasty, tender fruit, but also should dry out between waterings, which should occur at least three times a week during the heat of summer. The ideal spot for an artichoke will provide warm morning sun and shade by 2 in the afternoon. Artichokes don’t really like temperatures much warmer than 80 degrees (or below 50 degrees).
If you decide on seedlings, be sure to give them transition time to “harden off,” whether you started them yourself or bought them from a commercial nursery. Step by step, move your young plants from their safe greenhouse or indoor habitat:
- From room-temp shade to outdoor shade
- From outdoor shade to partial sun
- Partial sun to full sun
- Full sun to staying out all night and day
Anyway, while it can’t handle direct hot sun, it just may be another perfect Rogue Valley plant to add variety to our vegetable repertoires. It can be cut back, mulched, and left in ground to overwinter. In that way, their habit is pretty similar to dahlias. They prosper best in rich, well-drained soil.
As stated above, add sand and humus; fertilize with fish emulsion fertilizer, blood meal, or 5-10-10 granules. These plants thrive in warm coastal climates, so experimenting with misting irrigation, especially in the hottest weather, may be successful. Grow them fast and harvest early while the buds are still green and tight, before flowering.
Once plants are mature, the tubers can be dug up and split; replant the tuber cuttings 6 inches deep.
If the buds or "globes" are not harvested, 6-inch bluish thistle-like flower heads develop. This is not a problem, but an additional bonus at the end of summer once you’ve had your fill the produce of this high-yield plant.
If you have any special tips for growing artichokes or great recipes that utilize them we'd love to hear about them below!
And if you can't stand to read our writing, you might prefer this video on growing artichokes.