Growing Artichokes in Spite of Mother Nature

February 23, 2008

An interesting question was raised by a gardener looking for tips regarding growing globe artichokes in the home garden:

“I want to grow artichokes this year up here in the Boston area. I have ordered the seeds and am wondering when to start them, when to transplant, and if I will get any edible buds this season. Isn’t there a way to “fool” Mother Nature into thinking this is the second season?” – David P

Globe Artichokes in the Home Garden

Globe Artichoke PlantYou won’t run across too many home gardeners cultivating globe artichokes in their gardens, but I love the challenge as well as the ornamental features that growing artichokes provides to the backyard veggie garden.

I’ve even been known to grow this exotic looking plant just to let them flower; which spoils the opportunity to harvest edible chokes, but produces an ornamental display of extremely large and colorful flowers to admire instead!

And it’s not just the flowers that are eye-catching, the leaves of the artichoke plant are attractive as well with their large rosettes of long serrated foliage that grow on plants reaching over four feet tall and just as wide in diameter.

Start Those Seeds: Indoors and Early

Globe Artichoke SeedlingTo answer the first part of David’s question; you want to get the seeds started very early, and February isn’t too soon for Northern growers to get the seeds potted up, germinated, and growing indoors under a set of fluorescent lights. Actually a late January start would probably be even better.

Artichoke plants aren’t difficult to germinate or to grow from seed but the tricky part is nurturing the plants to the stage that they will produce buds during a single season in cold weather growing regions.

Globe Artichokes are more of a semi-perennial type of plant that typically grows leafy foliage during its first season and fruits in the seasons subsequent to that initial year… the problem for the backyard grower is that the artichoke plant won’t survive outdoors in gardens that experience cold winters, making it unlikely that they will perennialize or ever bear fruit.

Sometimes it’s OK to Fool Mother Nature

That’s where the “fooling Mother Nature” part comes into play. It is possible to grow globe artichokes as an annual, but most varieties will require a chilling period (known as vernalization) during the spring where the plants are exposed to cool temperatures below fifty degrees for a minimum number of hours.

French Artichoke PlantsYou can provide this chilling experience by exposing your artichoke seedlings to outdoor temperatures during the months of March and early April, but don’t leave them outside when weather conditions are expected to drop close to, or below freezing, and don’t transplant them out into the garden too soon.

Some artichoke seeds are described as “annual” varieties that will produce buds during the first season but I would still try to expose these annual artichoke varieties to a vernalizing period of cooler spring temperatures. If you’ve experienced poor results with Globe or French Artichokes in your garden try this trick and see if the results are any better.

Cultivating and Enjoying Annual Artichokes

Three or four weeks of vernalization during March or April should be sufficient to fool the artichoke plant into believing that that it has lived through a winter season and encourage the plant to bud and produce at least a small harvest of those delicious chokes that same year.

Artichoke Plant in AutumnArtichokes also struggle in growing regions that experience hot summers so you may want to experiment with shade cloth or wait and hope for the plants to revive as temperatures cool down towards summers end. Other than that just keep the artichoke plants fertilized, weeded, and watered…

And hopefully you’ll be faced with the same question and dilemma that I was… Do you harvest and eat the tender young artichokes? Or do you allow the chokes to fully mature and blossom into an unusual flower so that you can enjoy the beautiful sight?

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  • Moni

    I can let you know that it is possible to overwinter artichoke plants in the Northeast. I managed to overwinter 2 artichoke plants in the ground in the Philadelphia suburbs this winter and found a new seedling growing yesterday (possibly from seed that remained in the ground) for a total of 3. I covered them with about a foot of oak and comfrey leaves in the fall (not pretty, I know, but sometimes we gardeners have to make sacrifices), then I just hoped for the poor plants’ survival. Shortly before St. Patrick’s Day I removed all the oak leaves from the plants and saw the tiny plants barely poking out of the ground and just hoped for some sign of growth. I didn’t expect anything so I had seedlings that I started in January just in case. Now, the overwintered plants are really healthy and the largest one of the bunch has 2-3 foot leaves already. Since this is technically their second year hopefully I’ll get some artichokes this season (I just can’t bring myself to pay $3 for an artichoke).

  • Kenny Point

    Moni, thanks for the tips on over wintering globe artichokes. I’ve had mixed results in the past even with thick mulches or portable cold frames. This winter I did have one plant survive with no protection whatsoever for the entire winter… go figure! I feel you on the price of artichokes being right up there with a gallon of gasoline, but my biggest dilemma is always bringing myself to cut the artichoke buds rather than allowing them to open up into a flower!

  • kristine

    I have started an artichoke in a five gallon bucket and it is doing well. I do not want to put it in the garden. What do I do over the winter? I tried covering them and they did not make it last year in the garden. Can I bring in the bucket over winter? Does it need to be in a window? Please help, I don’t want to lose this plant. Thanks Kristine

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Kristine, I would leave the artichoke plants outside until they go dormant in late fall or early winter and then trim the leaves off and move the containers into an unheated garage or storage shed until you can move them back out next spring. Add just a little water once a month to keep the soil from drying out but the dormant artichokes will not need any sunlight while they are in storage. I’ve had limited success this way with globe artichoke roots that were lifted from the garden and stored in a bucket of barely moist soil during the winter months. Good luck and let me know how well your artichoke plant survives the winter.

  • kristine

    Thank you for your advice. I will let you know how it works this spring. When I cut the leaves off do I cut them completely back? Thanks again. Kristine

  • kristine

    If you have any other suggestions for me, please let me know. Thanks, Kristine

  • Kenny Point

    Yes, after it turns cold and the artichoke plants go dormant or are lifted you can cut the leaves pretty much completely back leaving a few inches above the crown of the plant.

  • I planted seeds two weeks ago, hopefully these will make it, i have tried 3 times maybe 4 times the charm. I cannot afford to pay 9.99 for the plants and 9.49 for them to mail the clumps to me.

  • Dee

    All of your comments are wonderful help, since this is my first year to grow them in Chicago area. I will try several locations and several ways to store them at season end. Thanks for all of the great info 🙂

  • Kenny Point

    Dee and Oneal, good luck with your artichokes, they are a good challenge, attractive, and fun to grow, even if they don’t measure up for the space and effort required when compared to the size of the harvest that they will produce.

  • oneal

    How long does it takes to germinate they have been in the ground for about three weeks or a little more. When can I expect to see some growth?

  • Dee

    I should have my seeds next week. What is the best medium for planting indoors ? Filtered light ?

  • Kenny Point

    I do remember artichoke seeds being a little slow to germinate but three weeks should have been long enough. How fresh are your seeds? Did you start them indoors in containers? Have you kept the soil slightly moist or covered them with a humidity dome or enclose the containers in a plastic bag until they germinate? Dee, I would use a soil-less seed starting mix to plant the artichoke seeds in. After they germinate the seedlings will need to be provided with a good source of direct light if you are raising them indoors.

  • Charlie Grimm

    Hi Mr Kenny Point,
    I live in Wisconsin and am going to try growing Green Globe Artichokes. I planted seed in Dec. of 08 and now my plants are about 6″ tall.
    I will vernalize them in late April and early May I have them growing in 16oz cups. Would I cut the foliage to the ground before I vernalize them or just let them be? Any help with this experiment would be appreciated.
    Thank you,

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Charlie, there’s no need to cut the foliage, just let the artichoke plants continue growing as usual while you vernalize them. It sounds like your seedlings may need to be repotted to larger containers before you are ready to permanently set them out into the garden. Good luck, artichokes are pretty cool plants for a home gardener to experiment with.

  • Ann

    Hi. My question has to do with summers that are too hot. We have a couple of months of almost unbearable heat here in Texas. Is there a way to grow globe artichokes here?

  • Kenny Point

    Ann, all I can say is that the globe artichokes struggle in my garden during the most intense stages of the summer, but they rebound and recover nicely once summer winds down. You can experiment with things like timing your plantings so that the artichokes grow during the cooler periods of your region, or maybe even grow them with the aid of a little shade cloth. Good luck, they are fun to grow but definitely a bit of a challenge without the ideal climate for them!

  • oneal

    I planted some artichoke seeds in the green house and the chokes are coming up. now they are two inches tall and now have three leaves on them however, i am still reluctant to move them to a larger pot. How many inches should they be before i transplant them to a larger size pot.

  • Charlie Grimm

    Hi Kenny,

    My artichokes were transplanted to a larger pot and now are about 1 foot tall. Now I have a problem. Some of my plants have light brown spots all over their leaves. The leaves then dry and shrivel up. Can you tell me whats happening?

  • Mandolin

    On impulse, I picked up some artichoke seeds and promptly set them up so they may germinate. Which they did with fervor (five out of about six or seven seeds)! They were then put into pots, and once it became warm set outside. Their response to direct light was whithering up. They seem unresponsive to moisture or changes in location. I am completely inexperienced and unprepared! Help!

  • I used a cold frame this winter to hold over my arti’s. I live in the high desert climate of Carson City NV. My question is, How long can I expect my plants to survive and produce in this growing region? do they produce year after year? or, like strawberries ,should I start new plants every few years?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Rich, if you can nurse globe artichokes through the winter months they are perennials that will continue to produce and bear ‘chokes’ for the kitchen. It is recommended to take shoots or divisions after a few years of production to start new plants as the established artichokes slow and loose vitality.

  • Beth

    Great site. Thanks for your time on these matters. I have heard that one of the issues with artichokes and hot weather is that of tough globes. Is this true? Any idea if I start the seeds now (early May ’09) if I can expect to harvest artichokes before hot weather due here around the same time next year? I live about 200miles from the Gulf Of Mexico. Not worried about them overwintering here, just making artichokes early enough next year that they won’t be tough. I can overwinter them in an unheated garage (temps in the 40’s, min) with a grow light if necessary. TIA for any ideas/input.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Beth, there are some artichoke varieties that are bred and intended to be grown as annuals and if you planted one of these varieties you should be able to mature a harvest of chokes in the time frame that you described. The issue with some of the regular globe artichoke varieties is that they usually must go through a period of exposure to cold weather in order to bear fruit since they behave as perennials.

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  • Brian

    Anyone have any tips about watering? I am in California, and I am getting yellow foliage, I am new to this but am I over watering? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

  • Vicki

    You have over watered as I ALWAYS do. If these are potted plants, I suggest buying a bag of Perlite to mix in which will help aerate the soil; give it better drainage. Adding peebles in the bottom of the pot could also help. Miracle Grow, also, has this mew Moisture Control soil that I just decided to try..

    If you can, dump out the wet soil onto newspaper to dry out, replant the plant in new perlite mixed soil.

  • I have a question about globe ‘chokes’. I live in central berks county PA. I have my ‘choke’ plants intermixed with elephant ears. There is plenty of seperation room. They are planted in full sun, and loose soil intermixed with small river stones. I also have some in large terracotta pots. The ones in the ground look AMAZING. The ones in the pots not so hot. The leaves are browning and falling off. I put 1/2 cup of organic bone meal and 1/4 cup of organic dried blood mixed with other organic fertalizer. On all the plants when I planted them. Did I over fertalize? Or is there another reason. There are small green leaves shooting from the base but all the big leaves are falling off. What do I do?

  • Kenny Point

    Justin, have you been watering the artichoke plants that are growing in the containers, they will probably tend to dry out quicker than the plants that are in the ground?

  • Sarabi

    Thanks for this info. I’m trying this for the 1st time this year. Thanks!

  • Foodie

    I did it! I live in Iowa and I successfully raised one in a planter. My plant has a tiny 1 1/2 inch globe artichoke! Now, when do I harvest it? And, should I bring the whole plant inside next to a sunny window for the winter, or should I just put it in the garage and let it go to sleep?

  • Kenny Point

    Congrats Foodie, that’s pretty impressive that you managed to raise an artichoke in Iowa, and in a container at that! You can harvest the artichoke at whatever size you prefer. Pick it while the bud is still tight and before it starts to open. If you leave it the bud will open into an attractive purple flower.

  • Liliana Rossmann

    We live in San José, CA, close to artichoke ground zero, and have four plants on the side of the driveway. Three gave us delicious chokes this year, the fourth one I believe is not getting either enough sun or water or both, for it’s the same size as when it was planted a year ago (Aug. 2008). We let two out of the three producing plants bloom; we cut off all the chokes from the third one, which is now growing shoots out of its base.

    My questions are: 1) what should I do with the blooming plants? Cut back and hope they yield another year? 2) is the non-blooming plant growing a shoot precisely because it did not bloom? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Liliana, I would cut the blooming artichokes back when they are done and don’t know any reason why they wouldn’t continue to produce for you. Here in the north artichokes are often treated as annuals because of the cold winters but that is not an issue for you in San Jose. I’m not sure that I follow what you are describing as shoots on the third artichoke plant. I would watch to see if these new “shoots” on the plant will produce new chokes.

  • I plant the artichokes just for fun. I’m at 1300 feet in the foothills of the cascades. Neighbors at 1600 feet grow them as perennials. I have left mine in the garden to overwinter this season. I just checked on them (I didn’t cut them back or anything) and they look like dead, slimy yuck, but tall). I have a couple of heads on the ground without cover that I’m hoping will sprout. I could have had several heads to eat from my 4 plants. I started them from seed in April or May 09. My last possible date for frost is May 31. I never plant the garden before June 1, and I am lucky to have been able to till with the wet spring we have.

  • I am in Phoenix where the artichokes grow well. (mine big one is currently about 3 1/2 feet tall and 4 foot across and it still has about 2 or 3 months to artichokes) I have been growing them for about 10 years.

    I just found they love the run off from my huge mulch pile. The big plant is next to it this year and this is the first year it has done so well. The do like lot of sun. Don’t die back at all til over 110 degrees for an extended period. They weather a light frost pretty well when they get older.

    I do cut all the dead off if the do dry up. I suggest you get the slimy part off. They like water here but less than any of my other garden plants, however they have done great in one of the rainiest Januarys and Februarys in Phoenix. The sprouts grow well in place, but don’t like moving very much so be careful when you transplant.

    You can get a globe or 2 the first year but native gardeners here suggest letting it go to flower and cutting off flower when dry the first year, then harvesting subsequent years.

    If I can answer any questions about their natural habitat, please let me know.

  • Kenny Point

    Thanks for the tips Pat. I’m always looking for ideas to grow better artichokes here in the north where conditions aren’t ideal for growing artichokes.

  • Carmen

    I live in Minnesota and I am determined to grow artichokes. I’m getting closer (3rd year). Last year I grew three in containers outside , I then managed to overwinter them in my walk-out basement. They were fine for about two month after planted on the ground but then died. I’m trying again. This time I am preparing a raised bed to hopefully take better care of those babies. I am using annual instead of a regular type seeds this year. I started the seeds a week ago. Wish me luck.

  • Kenny Point

    Good Luck Carmen! Hope you have better success this time around. Artichokes aren’t the easiest crop to grow but do provide a great sense of accomplishment to nurture them into production and especially to get them to over winter. I need to start some artichoke seeds of my own this weekend!

  • Hi Kenny and other artichoke gardeners. I try to grow artichokes from seeds in my backyard here in Denton, Texas. Some years I’m quite successful — other years not. I keep trying. I started seeds of green globe, imperial, and cardoon ( an artichoke relative) in early February and they sprouted alright, however, they started dying one by one. So yesterday I planted the remaining 7 outside, a drizzly near 50F, cover them with pine straw. Today they look great! Mother Nature seems to approve! I, too have let globes open to see the beautiful flower.

  • RigPie2005

    I am in Central Florida, artichokes are one of my favorites to eat but don’t grow well here. Could I grow the plant indoors only with grow lights in a controled environment. Or Grow fairly large indoors then transplant in our fall season, after the heat of the summer. I am very interested in trying to do this I already have lots of flourescents, and a few HIDs for transplants, but i have some extra and like a challenge. I have been racking my brain, trying to figure out how to fake a cooler summer, I think even with a shade cloth the ambient temps are probly too high.I already grow lettuce indoor through the heat of the summer where they usually bolt quickly.

  • Carmen

    RigPie, I live in Minnesota so I have the opposite problem. I did manage to keep 3 artichoke plants alive and growing indoor during the almost 7 months of below freezing weather. I started them under flourescents lights, transplanted them into 12″ pots and then took them outside once it was in the high forties. During the months they were inside after they were adult plants, I kept them next to my walkout basement glass door. They got big. My problem was trying to transplant them into the ground the next year. They have tap roots so they don’t do well transplanted after they are big. They do need around 2 weeks of under 50 degree temperatures but considering the weather so far, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem even for you. I started some seeds 2/26 and they just started to come up.

  • cate

    I live in western NY and was really hoping to try growing artichokes this year. It is April 5th and i’m starting to worry that i should’ve started with the germinating/vernalization process a couple months ago. If i am planning on growing artichokes as an annual plant is it neccessary to undergo the vernalization process? thanks

  • Carmen

    Cate, I am trying new seeds this year that are specifically for an annual artichoke. (Johnny’s Seeds Imperial Star) The seed package does indicate that it needs at least 250 hours of below 50 degrees F (10C) to induce budding. I started mine 40 days ago and the little plants are now showing the second set of real leaves. I take them out all day and bring them in at night. I will be planting a few outside today with hot caps for nightime. We are having a very strange weather in Minnesota (a lot warmer for the time of year) so I am very hopeful. I guess you are cutting it pretty short but I think you still have time. Good luck.

  • I have had success over wintering my two largest plants in central Pennsylvania! Despite frigid temps and 75 inches of snow they are doing amazingly well! I covered them with about 12 inches of compost and leaves last November with burlap to hold it in place. About a month ago I noticed the burlap was starting to poke up. I took it off and to my surprise ther were poking out of the top of the leaves and compost. I now have two plants that are over a foot tall and doing really well. The advice from this group helped me save my plants and hope that this year I’ll get some chokes!

  • cate

    thanks guys! i will be getting seeds asap…we’ll see how it goes i guess! im going to try transplanting some and putting them in my basement for the winter. This is all new to me so it could be a complete fail but thats ok, im looking forward to SOMEDAY having artichokes! 🙂

  • Alan

    Any tips on when the artichoke is ready for picking?My last
    plant had many that I tried eating and did not taste like
    the ones I get from the store.

  • Howard Green

    I transplanted a one year old Globe after moving from one Los Angeles home to another which we bought last July. This plant is in full sun and enormous already in mid April with many to be picked already. The odd thing the chokes are not really closed like you normally see. They are growing “open” but have tasted tender and wonderful so I don’t think we have let them grow too long. What could explain how they are not growing “closed-up” and tight?

  • Clyde Dillman

    I planted 24 artichoke plants in mid Ne. last spring. I bought the plants online, most were 1 to 2 inches tall when they got here. I kept them inside till frost season was past then planted the small plants cups and all into larger pots. They grew very fast they were a little odd about water, every time I watered them they would drop completely down as if they were dead and in a few hours would stand back very lively and proud.

    Through the summer the plants did very well I gave about half away to friends, to try and I transplanted them around the yard to try different sun light on them. The plants for the most part all survived Ne. and my care. I did not get any chokes or blossoms last Year. In late Oct after a couple of light frost that stunted the plants but did not kill them, I cut them back and tried to mulch then I all so put styrofoam covers over them but I think that was not as important as the heavy 10 to12 inches of mulch that I used in one bed.

    In mid march I stared to uncover them to see if I had anything left alive. To my surprise every artichoke plant that was covered in deep mulch has sprouts coming off the base of the trunk. Now what do I do with them? I read something about transplanting new shoots, or do i just let them grow back as they are?

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  • Melissa

    I live in Portland, OR. We have snow/ice for a few weeks in the winter and then cold 50 for most of the year except 3 mos of summer. I am trying to grow a globe artichoke from a small plant at a nursery. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks for the tips and the website.

  • Peter

    I’ve been spoiled here in Berkeley, CA. I planted 3 artichoke plants 3 years ago in the front yard, and they have just gone crazy. They are now over 6 feet tall, and each gives dozens of chokes between May and October. And this has been without doing anything at all – no watering, no fertilizer, nothing! I guess they get enough water from the morning fog.

    Anyway, now I’m moving to Boston, and I’m so used to these delicious, fresh artichokes, I want to give it a try. Sounds like I’m in for a lot more work. Thanks for all the info.

  • Pat

    I planted artichoke plants the year before last. Last year I didn’t get any chokes, this year one of the plants has one choke which is only about 2 1/2 inches and is beginning to open, and one new tiny choke. What can I do to encourage the chokes to grow large before beginning to open. Should I let the current chokes bloom, or should I cut them off now before they bloom? Thanks, Pat

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Pat, I would cut them before the bloom opens, add compost or fertilize, and keep the plants watered through the summer months to encourage them to grow larger and produce more chokes.

  • Paula P

    I dug up two little leaves I found struggling up from the dirt, recognizing them as artichokes, planted them in a big pot. It must be 4 feet tall now and has been prolific producing chokes. I’m obviously in the perfect climate, at least for this choke, which is purple tipped. I don’t know which variety it is.
    My question is, if I let one of the chokes go to flower, will it give me seeds? Will I be able to use them for more. It’s a beautiful plant, has been an absolute surprise and wonder, and I want more.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Paula, yes the chokes will produce seeds but I’m not sure how true to type the baby artichoke plants will grow in comparison to the parent when grown from seed. If you try it be sure to let us know the results that you see.

  • Butch murko

    Could somone explain to me why my globes are not growing “closedup” and tight on my artichke plant.

  • Andy

    we are in southern Oregon, we have ants all over our choke plant. will they hurt it? if so what should we use. thank you. Andy

  • Kenny Point

    Andy, I wouldn’t worry about them too much unless you actually see some visible damage or notice that they are herding aphids onto the artichoke plants. Some gardeners use a powder called diatomaceous earth sprinkled on and around plants and walkways to discourage ants.

  • Sandie

    We have been growing artichokes for 5 yrs now in Hemet, CA. Our one plant has turned into 3 plants now. Here is my dumb question! I would like to grow some more from seeds for our neighbor. Where are the seeds? Are they from the artichokes that flower? Thanks, Sandie

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Sandie, the seeds should form right inside the chokes after they open into flowers, mature, and dry.

  • Robert M Keller

    I live in the Boston area. I purchased a seed packet of artichokes from Burpee’s. Got about 25 seeds. Germinated them in good planting mixture in sunny greenhouse starting in March. About 14 came up. Put them out about about May 1st, well spaced and fertilized and covered them if temps went down at night. About 10 plants grew to 3-4 ft. and I harvested about 20 artichokes. BUT there are 2 plants that grew to very large size, 3-4 ft high and wide, and produced ZERO fruits. Very healthy plants but no fruit. Why does that happen? Should I “vernalize” them after I put them out, or before, or as seeds? I plan on storing the roots in a cool basement over the winter. I may also harvest the seeds that have already formed with several flowers.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Robert, you should vernalize the young artichoke plants by exposing them to cold temps for a couple weeks after they have germinated and started growing during early spring. They typically need this cold treatment in order to produce chokes during their first growing season. I’ve had mixed results in getting them to survive the winters here in PA and plan to try using a low tunnel or cold frame to protect them this year.

  • mary

    Hi, I just started growing artichokes this year. I live where it will kill the plant if it doesn’t come inside, and I have mine in a planter. Can any one give me any helpful hint how to keep it growing or what to do with it?

  • Kenny Point

    Mary, since your artichoke is growing in a container you could try moving it into an unheated garage or shed for the winter. Wait for the plant to die back and go dormant before you move it. It won’t require any light in storage but water it lightly once a month or so to keep the soil from completely drying out, but be careful that you don’t overdo it with the watering.

  • Jane

    Hi. I am researching this too. I live in Ireland and have my artichoke in the greenhouse. I am reading that they do go dormant in the winter, the leaves and stalk get kind of brown and ugly looking. Sites are advising to cut the artichoke plant down to about 12-18 inches (on the center stalk), and that new growth will come in the spring. I am hoping this works, as my artichoke is about 6 feet tall.

  • Jane

    Actually, I should have asked the above as a question. My artichoke was 2 years old this past summer, and I got a couple of chokes off of it. Originally I had 2 plants, but one did not overwinter last years. I would like to make sure that my remaining plants survives. Right now it is 6 feet high and the leaves are starting to wilt and turn brown. Some of the outer leaf stalks look damp at the bottom. How far back should I cut the plant and center stalk. Is 12-18 inches the way to go? And should I mulch the plant this winter? We have an unusually cold winter last year, but our winters are usually mild (about 40 degrees) and mild. Thanks for a great website.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Jane, I cut my artichoke plants back a little closer, more like six to eight inches. I would also mulch the plants with straw, even though artichokes should survive your mild winters easily without any protection. Be careful that you don’t encourage rot in the center of the plant. This year I plan to use a cold frame or low tunnel to try to over winter my artichokes, it’s more of a challenge with our colder winters.

  • linda

    i have a (minnesota) potted artichoke that produced 2 flowers/buds- whick i cut off hoping to get seed from. i now want to winter it. i understand to keep it outside until it goes dormant. but it has 4 new growth plants starting(suckers??) do i also cut those off. is it correct to put the plant in my basement closet & water 1xmo

  • June

    Hi I am successfully growing artichokes for the first time in outback Queensland Australia.
    My plants are at a point were they are starting to show small artichokes. Question; should I remove lower fronds from the plant now that this is happening? and when is the right time to harvest artichoke?
    Thank you,
    from June

  • Kenny Point

    Hi June, you don’t need to remove the lower fronds and you can harvest artichokes whenever they reach the size that you desire, but before the buds begin to start opening.

  • Sharon Wells

    Can artichokes be grown in Galway, Ireland?

  • Jane

    I have successfully grown them here in Donegal. But because I am right by the sea, I did them in a greenhouse. I have a neighbor further inland that has successfully grown them outside in a sheltered area.

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  • Mairoa

    I’ve lived in the Pacific NW my whole life, in zone 8. I never knew artichokes were supposed to be difficult to overwinter in the 20 and 30 degree range, and even lower. My family just left them be by the compost pile. We had lovely chokes all summer and they seemed to like the runoff nutrients from it. They were against a hot fence, which I think helped. I’m growing Violetta precoce (not sure on spelling) this year from seed, exposing half the babies to cold and raising the others normally to see the difference.

  • Sharon

    Thank you for all your input.

  • Cara

    Hi: One day in spring I saw what I thought was artichoke leaves growing in my front yard. I paid no attention and now 3 yrs later this past summer, here is this solitary artichoke fruit big as life with a mutant baby growing about 2 inches below it. I let it go through all its stages. I cut the stem off that had the choke. Now I am wondering if I take the seeds and just dig a hole 1/4 to 1/2 inch, will I get more growing in the same place. Its the middle of Feb and I live in the Santa Cruz mountains at about 800ft. I would like to grow a couple more but I can’t not find a good web site to tell me what to do in my situation.
    PS. It has rained here quite a bit. I notice that some of the seeds are black. The real healthy seed looks like a brown rice, right? So where do I go from here. I have no idea where this choke plant came from.

    Can you give me some guidance or tell where a good web site that is thorough with the info? thx alot, Cara

    If the seeds have been wet, are they useless?

  • Kenny Point

    Ho Mairoa, I’m in zone 6 and artichokes are a challenge to over winter here. This year I’m trying a low tunnel with greenhouse film to protect the plants. I also set up a covering of row cover fabric underneath the plastic to add even more insulation. Good luck with your artichokes and let us know how they perform!

  • Kenny Point

    Cara, you can start artichoke plants from seed, or you can also create new plants with the offshoots or by dividing the root crowns. The seeds should be okay, a little water will not do any harm to them. Good luck!

  • Elaine E

    I planted one artichoke plant last spring in a large pot. It quickly grew large and we transplanted it into the ground where it gets full sun. It has since put out quite a few offshoots. Do these have to be divided? It did not produce any buds last summer. I had read somewhere that they will produce in the second year. Is this correct? When is the flowering/budding season? We live in zone 9 in Vero Beach, Florida.

  • Kenny Point

    Hello Elaine, it is a good idea to divide the artichoke plants every few years to keep them vigorous. The offshoots can be taken at any time and be used to create more plants.

    Artichokes have a chilling requirement that has to be met before they will produce buds, that is the reason they often don’t produce during the first season. I’m not sure how that will impact you since you are gardening in Florida, but there are also specific artichoke varieties that can be raised as annuals and will produce buds during the very first season. My plants struggle through the hottest months and usually produce chokes during early summer (if over wintered) or sometimes during the fall. Good luck, and I’d be interested to hear how your artichoke plants perform for you in Vero Beach.

  • Alex

    Hi, I live in Riverside in southern cali, it started to get warm here in the past couple of weeks. My plant is growing leaves nicely but once they get big and go towards the ground and touch the ground they shrivel and die (4 have done this over the past month or so). I was wondering if it could be the weather getting warmer or if it has a virus. It takes about 3 days before the leaf is completely destroyed. I fertilize it so i know its getting nutrition. Any ideas?

  • Kenny Point

    Hello Alex, I have never experienced those symptoms with my artichokes and guess it could be some type of virus affecting the plant. It’s normal for some of the larger outer leaves to die over time so if you have a lot of nice inner leaves at any one time I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. You could take a leaf in to your local Ag Extension Office and see if they can identify the problem.

  • Tony’s From Staten Island, NY

    Hi You All:
    This is my first time on this web site. I’ve been on ther web sites gattering info on artichoke seedlings to transplanting them outdoors. Here’s my question: I started my seedlings in 2inch small containers. After 30 days, I transplanted them to 5 inch organic planters(containers). I give them a good sooking twice a week. The botom leaves are dying off. Next, I added some 10-10-10 fertilizer to each plant. This didn’t help the withering bottom leaves. I thonk the problem is the organic pots I am using. The outer walls are really wet and don’t dry out even though the soil on top is dry. Can you suggest any solutions to the bottom leaves dying out?

    Thank You For Your Reply,
    Tony From SINY

  • Alex

    They might need more water I was the last one to post and had the same problem…. I water every day and they have stopped dying but my plant sounds alot bigger than yours…. If the weather changed rapidly that might have shocked them also…. Hope this helps

  • Tony From Staten Island, NY

    Hi Alex:
    Good News, I think!
    Today, Wednesday, April 13th, I transplanted all 30 of my chokes in 45 degree temperature. Five (5) hours later, there still standing up. The test is overnight, through tomorrow morning viewing of them. I’ll take pictures showing my success or failure. Hoping all late frost days are gone – snow also.
    Tony From SI,NY……

  • Kenny Point

    Tony and Alex, I’m glad to hear that you’re artichoke plants are doing better. I checked on the plants that I over wintered in the garden yesterday and saw signs that at least one of them survived as has started growing. There’s also a cardoon plant that looks like it came through the winter just fine.

  • Matt From The Great State Of North Carolina

    Hi, I live in Biscoe NC and the soil here is either all clay or all sand, there’s no in between. Which would be better for my artichoke plants? Also since NC does have such hot summers, would it be best to set out my artichoke plants along the treeline for shade?

    Thanks in advance, Matt

  • Alex

    Thanks! Yes the inner leaves are growing much fast than the ones are dying so I guess your right about it just being natural!! Thanks for the tips and the site it is helping me alot!

  • June

    I live in SoCal on the edge of the high desert (2000 ft) east of Temecula. Last year I planted an artichoke from a 3 gallon container and it has taken off producing many new shoots. Last year it produced a few medium sized chokes that I let bloom just to see how they progressed. The plant over wintered vigorously even though we had several weeks of overnight frost. The chokes sprouting this year appear to be smaller although here are more of them per stalk. I suspect I may not be feeding enough and perhaps over watering. I water by drip, currently every day for 5 minutes in the early morning. The lower leaves turn yellow after a while and I’ve been cutting them off then. Had a big earwhig infestation a few weeks ago but a beer trap seems to have gotten them all.

    Any tips to improve the size of my chokes? Should I cut the plant back at all or just keep removing dying leaves? I’m not an organic gardener and usually use a 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 general fertilizer. Do they need more nitrogen than that? My flowers get Miracle Grow. Do you think the chokes would like that too?

    Thanks, June

  • Minnie

    I have planted seeds in March. I live on Long Island, NY and want to plant them in the ground. They are not big yet. Is it to early to plant but then to late to actually get a growth from them? Thank you.

  • Tony From Staten Island, NY

    It’s me again. Tony the frustrated gardener. As you all know, I planted 30 chokes on April 13th. To my surprise, there are only 7 remaining. Here’s the problem – each morning I notice that there were small holes on the large leafs. The holes got larger each day. At first, I though that an animal was attacking my chokes. Sooooo I placed screens around the chokes and mice traps.

    This had no effect on the problem at hand.

    Next, I purchased two items:
    1) Slug & Snail capsules to be placed around the plants,
    2) Organic insecticidal soap to kill insects.

    As of the posting, the two insect repllents seem to be working. I will keep you posted.

    Regards, Tony

  • Carmen

    Hi from Minnesota. I keep trying. I managed to keep one plant alive all through the winter and then when it started getting warmer outside (as in above freezing) it just seemed to die. In February I started 18 seeds and got 17 babies. I had them going outside (and back in) for about one month, about three weeks ago I was able to just leave them out. I’ve been planting them in different area of my yard, yesterday I planted the last few. So far so good except that I wish they were bigger. I don’t know if they have the 250 hours below 50 degrees since the weather here fluctuates so much from kind of cold to yikes it’s really cold.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Minnie, it is not too early to plant your artichokes and they actually benefit from being planted out early while the night time temperatures are still on the chilly side.

  • Tony From SI,NY

    Hi Carmen:
    Sounds like you are off to a good start! Just, beware of those tiny insects that attack at night. You could lose your babies soooooooo easy.



  • Skipper

    I live in the SW part of the Baja California peninsula. Today I finished the harvest of what I consider a thrillingly succesful crop from four Green Globe and four spiny purple variety chokes that I started from seed last October. After years of failure with seeds and baby plants i am not sure why this year it all worked. Anyways, we do not freeze here and we have already had some 90f+ temps this spring so i am concerned with how to keep the plants alive through the summer. We get less than two inches of rain per year. I have read that in warm climates I should cut them down to the ground in the fall. Since the harvest is over now, in May, should I wait until fall or go ahead and lop them off and just keep watering the stumps? Should I feed them during the hot months? Any hotweather advice is much appreciated!!

  • Alex

    Best thing ever!!! my plant has made a few chokes!!! The main one is about 2 inches across now and there are several others one about an inch right below it and others around 3-4 MM haha it’s exciting!!!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Skipper, congrats on your successful artichoke harvest. Here in PA they struggle and die back a bit during the hottest periods of summer but rebound nicely as the weather begins to cool. I wouldn’t feed them during the hot months but would water deeply at least once a week. As far as cutting them back in the fall I would just let them go and see how they respond to that treatment in your climate. Good luck with your artichokes!

  • I have an artichoke plant I got from Lowes. It’s a decent sized plant, but the main artichoke is small… about 1/3rd-1/2 the size of a store-bought one. But it looks like the bracts are spreading out, so is it getting close to bloom?

    Does cutting buds before they bloom encourage larger artichokes the following year or letting them bloom? Or is it purely nutrient-related?

  • Dana Coughlin

    Just found this site, my son always tries to grow something different every year and bought a small artichoke plant, the tag doesn’t say what kind, only that it matures in 120 days. We live in SW Idaho-Zone 6ish high desert. I had no idea the plants could get so big-what would be the best way to plant this and take care of it? I was hoping to put it in a container-but I’m pretty sure I don’t have one big enough
    Thank you.

  • Kenny Point

    Dana, I would plant it in the ground and just keep it fed and watered as needed. I’m not familiar with your climate but if you are Zone 6 I would assume that you will need to figure out a way to protect the artichoke plant over the winter so that it survives to continue growing next spring. Good luck!

  • Carmen

    Yes, yes, yes. I have four artichoke plants with babies here in Minnesota. I am so excited. One of them is starting a second baby even though the very strong winds we had toppled it. Now I know I can grow them here, after four years of failed attempts.

  • Tammy in Silicon Valley

    With a successful pumpkin harvest after 2 years of trying (pumpkin IS a “gateway” plant and now I’m onto harder stuff!), I would like to attempt artichokes. I live 40 minutes away from Castroville, CA, (artichoke capitol of the US) but not on the coastal route. We are truly in a valley and rarely get coastal fog, our soil is not sandy, either. But our climate is nearly as mild, just prone to being 8-10 degrees higher or lower than Monterey County, seasonally. Can a neophyte hope to achieve the giant beauties that I can buy at the store during the extended season (I’m talking about ones the size of a newborn’s head)? Or should I try avocado’s, are they easier? I think I may be getting ahead of myself…

  • Nina

    Hi, I’m in zone 5 here in New England. I have successfully grown artichokes before but not from seed, I usually buy small plants. This year the plants did nothing in the garden, some died the others just didn’t grow. Needless to say I got no artichokes. I decided to dig them up recently to try to figure out what was going on. I found that the roots of each were loaded with white root aphids, obviously the cause of their failure to thrive. Apparently they are susceptible to a certain aphid and these must have come pre-infected, worth knowing for those with similar problems. I washed off every particle of soil and every aphid and now have them growing in pots, they look much better than they did before. I’m going to try to overwinter them in the garage.

  • Tony

    After getting a greenhouse in spring of 2010, last spring I decided to give artichokes a try. Living in Western Montana, I expected a challenge. After starting from seed in early May, I transplanted the small plants into some larger pots and kept them in the greenhouse for the summer. I now have 11 plants that have grown quite well and 3 of the plants have produced fruit this first year. 5 ‘chokes so far and now I am searching for the best way to over-winter the plants so I can continue them next spring.

  • Anna

    I live in Toronto Canada and I planted 4 plants this year. Its my first attempt at planting artichokes. One of the plants actually grew and produced 3 artichokes but the others remained relatively small. You mentioned it would be good to put them in a shed or garage from the winter. Would that apply for Toronto winters as well? Winter temperatures typically drop to 10 degrees below freezing.

  • Kenny Point

    Anna, you will definitely need to devise some way to protect the plants over the winter if you want them to survive. Lifting and moving them to a sheltered area is probably your best option but there is no guarantee on how they will over winter. Or you can treat them as annuals and raise new plants each season. Good luck!

  • Nina

    My plants are still doing well outside in pots. After they completely die back I’m going to put them into a large plastic container in the garage (attached, so it doesn’t freeze) with straw packed around and over them. I’m hoping that at least one will survive and give me a head start in the spring. I’ll bring them in when they’re damp, not soaking wet.

  • Carmen

    I just wanted to do an update on my artichoke plants (zone 4). I did manage to grow two small artichokes. They tasted great, too bad they weren’t bigger. I’ll keep trying. Two of the roots seem to still be alive after a few below freezing days. I’ve been trying to research how to keep them alive through the winter but not really growing since my previous experience resulted in them dying after I planted them in the ground after surviving 7 months indoors. I know some places sell the roots (not here) so there has to be a way to store them until ready to plant. If anyone knows how, please let me know. I’m hoping for BIG artichokes next year.

  • J

    I’m in zone 5 and I’ve had success so far (fingers crossed) with keeping my artichoke as a houseplant over winter. I let it grow in the shadiest spot of my garden all summer (in an area with frequent 100+ degree temps) where it seemed to thrive, and I waited until after the first snow to remove it from the ground and transplant to pot. The leaves survived the snow, and I didn’t wait for the plant to go dormant. It’s doing well right now in a sunny window and it is probably 3 feet across.

  • Barbara

    I live in Calgary, Alberta, zone 3. I have an artichoke rescued and brought inside. It is still healthy, has a small fruit drying (I will try seeds). Several shoots started growing 2 weeks ago. After reading all your comments I am now considering cutting the whole thing back and finding a safe cold area – maybe our marginally heated garage. Can the roots survive below freezing and how much below? I may also just leave it in the east window for our very long winter and see if it survives. I noticed aphids on it today but I think I got them all.

  • Tony

    I have 11 plants that have survived my first year of trying. As the temperatures cooled here in western Montana I backed off on watering them waiting for them to go dormant so I could try to winter them stored in my attached garage. About a week after I cut back the water I have a small ‘choke starting on 1 of the plants. I have since moved a couple of the plants into the house to try to keep them growing through the winter. Hoping to have a couple of the plants make it covered with straw and blankets so I can get an earlier start in the spring — Otherwise it will be back to planting some more from seed. Thanks for all of your ideas that are posted on this site.

  • Nina

    Just to let everyone know, I bought in the three artichoke plants I over-wintered in the garage (they were damp, wrapped with bubble wrap and in open plastic bags). Two of them had grown new leaves, a foot tall! The third (actually three very small plants potted together) did so-so, 1 thriving, I dead, one moribund. The fourth plant I kept going in a sunny spot inside, it died back a few weeks ago and I thought I had lost it, however, it has now grown a new crown of very healthy leaves. Obviously over-wintering can be done even here in zone 5. Everyone who has stored plants for the winter should be checking them now. Good luck everyone!

  • sandy

    When can the globechokes be planted outside I live in New England 31/2 North of Boston in the White Mountains

  • Nina

    Well all five of my artichokes made it, the one I thought was dead is actually fine and I now have very healthy, quite large plants outside in the garden. They’re still under plastic cloches and I close the top vent if the temperature is dropping at night to 40 degrees or below but they look great. It’s earlier than I expected to get them planted out but here in zone 5 we’ve had a mild winter and an early spring. For you Sandy it might be too early to get them out unless you have a cold frame, even with that you might need to bubble wrap it on particularly cold nights. Probably safer to keep them indoors for a couple more weeks at least. I’ll keep you posted with the harvest.

  • Carmen

    I live in the border zone 3-4. Last year I managed to harvest a few small artichokes (Imperial). This year’s seedling have been outside for weeks, since we had a short, mild winter. It’s been below freezing a few times. I just covered them with a light fabric (the type for insect protection) and all 16 are doing fine. Of course, I got them ready little by little before planting them 3 weeks ago. One from last year is coming up. I don’t know how since I didn’t cover it believing there was no chance of it making it. But considering that the peach tree near it is blooming, not all that surprising. People keep telling me peaches don’t grow this far north.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Sandy, they are pretty hardy and some varieties need the exposure to cold temps in order to flower and fruit the first season so I would plant them out early and protect on any nights that a hard freeze is forecast. My existing plants over wintered this year with absolutely no protection and are already a couple feet tall and bushy.

    Both Nina and Carmen also offered some good suggestions to help with your globe artichokes.

  • josh pope

    Hello!! I have read some comments and you seem to have some good knowledge on growing artichokes, I have a question for you. I live in the Central Valley(California)(Near Sacramento/Stockton, I live in Modesto, CA) I bought a home late May and the backyard was a disaster…. the area where I could make a garden had soil that was hard as a rock and dry as a desert. I had to revive the ground and add nutrients and moisture to bring back a sustainable soil, well it took me a good chunk of the summer and was barely able to plant my globe artichokes in late September(VERY LATE I KNOW!!!) The seeds germinated and sprouted out of the ground and seem to be growing very well! My question is, when winter hits can I make a makeshift green house and cover the artichoke plants? will this protect them when our winter becomes freezing temps? Will the artichokes still continue to grow even through winter? if they die off will they come back when the warmer temps come back around? THANK YOU!!


  • Sue T

    Can I stick the seedlings in the frig for a few weeks for the chilling part? We seem to be having an early and warm Spring to come despite that groundhogs prediction!!

  • Sherry Kennedy

    Thank you for the growing tips. I started my seeds today for Globe Artichoke and Porto Cardoon.

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