Skip to main content

How to plant, grow, and care for artichokes, our favorite fleshy green veggies

Add artichokes to your garden for a tasty harvest

Artichokes are a delicious vegetable that bring a unique texture and flavor to any meal you add them to. They’re the flower buds of a type of cardoon, but this thistle packs more taste and less prickle. Gardeners of any skill level can grow these low-maintenance veggies , and they're well worth the time and effort!

If you want to add these tasty flowers to your vegetable garden, then stick around! We’ll explain everything you need to know about how to grow artichokes.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

1 hour

What You Need

  • Rich, well-draining soil

  • Balanced fertilizer or compost

  • Sharp, clean pair of garden scissors, shears, or knife

Artichoke plants blooming
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Planting artichokes

Follow these steps to set your artichoke plant up for success:

Step 1: Pick an artichoke variety that works well with your needs.

Artichokes in general are hardy in zones 7 through 11, but can be grown as annuals in zones north of zone 7. Imperial Star artichokes were specifically bred to be annuals, making them a great option for northern climates. Green Globe artichokes, on the other hand, are best suited for zone 8 through zone 11 and are perennial.

Additionally, some artichokes produce buds in the first year, while others produce in the second. In some varieties, gardeners even report a taste difference between first year artichokes and those that grow later. For a good first year artichoke, you can go with an annual artichoke, like Imperial Star, which are designed to produce quickly. Green Globe artichokes will also produce buds during the first year.

Step 2: Choose a planting location with full sun and lots of room.

Artichokes grow quite large, so space your seeds roughly 4 feet apart to make sure they have room to spread their leaves.

Step 3: Plant your artichoke in rich, well-draining soil.

Artichokes won’t tolerate standing water, and they are heavy feeders. They need a lot of nutrients to grow to their full size and produce flower buds.

Step 4: Plant seeds roughly half an inch down.

Step 5: Start from a seedling or mature plant to speed up the process.

Artichokes mature slowly, so many gardeners prefer this over using seeds. Seedlings and mature plants can be found in nurseries.

Step 6: Start your artichokes in cool weather, and avoid growing them in the hottest parts of summer.

Warmer zones, typically zones 9 through 11, should plant their artichokes in late summer or early fall. In these regions, artichokes make a great addition to fall gardens. Climates north of zone 9, however, can plant during spring.

Three artichokes ripening on the stalk
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Caring for artichokes

Once your artichokes are planted, here's how to care for them:

Step 1: Keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Typically, an artichoke plant will needs thorough watering between one and three times a week, depending on your weekly rainfall. 1 to 2 inches of water each week will keep them healthy and thriving.

Step 2: Start checking for buds a few months after planting.

Artichoke plants take an average of 85 to 100 days to reach maturity. Artichokes planted during fall, for example, typically begin to put out buds in late spring or early summer. If you don’t see bud production, check to see if the variety you’re growing starts producing buds during its second year. Otherwise, your artichokes may be under or over watered.

Step 3: Add a balanced fertilizer or compost to the soil during the growing season, once a month to once every other month.

An artichoke blooming, opening into a purple flower
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Harvesting your artichokes

Since artichokes are the flower buds of the plant, it’s important to time your harvest correctly. If you leave them too long they could bloom, and although the flowers are beautiful and smell nice, they aren’t artichokes. Follow these steps to ensure your harvest goes well:

Step 1: Harvest the main, largest bud when it is 3 to 5 inches across.

This gives you a good sized artichoke while avoiding the tougher, chewier texture that comes with artichokes when they grow past 5 inches across.

Step 2: Harvest smaller, side buds when they are between 1 and 3 inches wide.

Step 3: Harvest buds that are firm and intact.

Buds that are soft and splitting may already be in the process of blooming. Once this happens, the texture of the artichoke becomes tough, sinewy, and altogether unpleasant to eat.

Step 4: Harvest your artichokes using a sharp, clean pair of scissors, garden shears, or a knife.

Step 5: Cut below the bud, so that roughly 2 inches of stem will remain attached to the artichoke.

Step 6: Prepare the artichoke for eating by removing the stem, top of the artichoke, and two outer layers of leaves.

Careful! Each outer leaf has a small sharp thorn which needs to be removed carefully before eating. This process is called trimming, and should be done just before cooking and eating.

Step 7: Leave blooming buds attached to the plant.

Not only are the flowers pretty, they attract pollinators!

Whether you enjoy them steamed, raw, or as a dip, these vegetables are delicious and nutritious. According to the USDA, they’re high in potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and even dietary fiber! If you aren’t a fan of their flavor, consider growing them for their flowers. Artichoke flowers are a lovely shade of purple, and their tall stalks make them an interesting focal point. Whether they’re in your garden or on your plate, enjoy your artichokes!

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
How to grow pomegranates from seeds
Tips and tricks for growing your own pomegranates
A fruit-bearing pomegranate tree

Pomegranates are delicious, but have you ever thought about using their seeds to grow a tree? Not only do they produce fruit, but the trees also have beautiful orange flowers that add a nice pop to your garden. If you're wondering how to grow pomegranates from seeds, the process is pretty easy. All you need are some seeds from the fruit, time, patience, and a willingness to experiment.

Getting the seeds for your pomegranate tree
Gathering seeds from the fruit of a pomegranate tree is fairly simple. Cut your pomegranate in half and remove the berries inside as if you were going to eat them, and wash the berries gently under cold water. Clean the pulp off of the seeds and set them out to dry. This is where a willingness to experiment comes in.

Read more
Does storing carrots in water help keep them fresh?
Your guide to keeping carrots fresh for as long as possible
Carrots of different colors

Garden fresh carrots are delicious raw or cooked. Although carrots that are grown for early season harvest do not store as well, late season carrots can continue to improve for the first few weeks in storage. To enjoy the best flavor and freshness, you’ll need to follow best practices in both harvesting and storing carrots. Whether you plan on storing carrots in water or freezing them, here's your guide to keeping these versatile veggies crunchy and fresh.

Read more
How long does dried fruit last? This is what we know
Need to know the shelf life of dehydrated fruit? We're here to help
Assorted dehydrated fruit pieces

Dried fruit is simple to make, easy to carry, and tastes great. It’s a perfect snack for a busy lifestyle. Dried fruits are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein, and they can help increase energy. They're also versatile kitchen staples that can be added to baked goods, yogurts, cereals, trail mixes, or even just eaten on their own. From raisins and craisins to dried apples and banana chips, most of us have a favorite dried fruit.

Read more