Artichoke plants are herbaceous perennials that are members of the Asteraceae family. The Asteraceae family is a group that includes thistles, dandelions, and sunflowers. They are short-lived perennials in warmer climates but are normally grown as annuals in cooler regions. Artichokes usually are grown for edible flower buds, which are harvested before the flowers open. Make sure you have space, these are very large plants. The leaves of artichokes are silver-green in color with a long, arching shape. The leaves can be quite prickly. The stems of the plant are thick and fleshy. The flower buds are the parts that are sold in produce aisles. At the base of the bud is the tender, flavorful artichoke “heart.” If allowed to blossom on the plant, artichoke flowers open into large, dome- or muff-shaped purple thistles that are surprisingly fragrant.
The first year of growing the heads are quite small. Simply lift the roots and store them as you would Dahlia roots (in sand or peat). Bring out in March and plant in rich soil and plant in late May-June once all danger of frost has passed. Artichokes need a cool period of about 250 hours between 1C and 10C to flower. They do not survive a hard frost. They take a bit to grow in Colder climates but once you get the hang of it a second or third-year plant often provides 5-10 large bulbs and 10-20 medium-sized heads. We often receive 30-40 artichokes per plant between spring and fall harvests.
Sow seeds 5mm deep and keep moist until germination which is 10-20 days. Space plants 1m-1.5 m apart. The further apart the larger heads will be produced.
Ideal pH: 5.6-6.6. Select a sunny, sheltered location with well-draining soil.