Artichoke plants have been gardener’s favorite, especially for those living in warmer regions. Aside from their edible crowns, artichokes can add visual interest to the garden. The perennial plants grow well in warmer climates but gardeners in cooler regions can also have these herbaceous plants in their backyard. Knowing how to grow artichokes is the key secret to successful harvests in any regions.
Artichokes are typically easy to plant from seed produced by the buds. Timing should be your major concern, especially if you live in cooler regions as artichokes aren’t hardy in winter.
How long do artichokes take to grow? Most plants take about 150 days to reach maturity and they need two years to set initial flowers and they usually produce buds in spring.
According to the history, the Greeks and Romans are the first that used artichokes as a food.
Another literature mentions that the perennial plants were grown in Cordoba, North Africa, Egypt, and Jerusalem. But significant improvement in artichoke cultivation took place in Muslim Spain and Northwest Africa.
The plants are also known as globe artichokes, French artichokes, or green artichokes. It belongs to Asteraceae family, the same family with dandelions, thistles, and sunflowers.
Artichokes are often grown as annual plants, despite they are short-lived perennials. It has edible buds which can be harvested before the flowers bloom.
Early artichoke buds come with green bracts that enclose the actual flowers. It also has tender and edible heart at the base of the bud.
This is the part that can be cooked and processed into delicious dishes. But when the buds bloom, the flower structure becomes coarse, and it is no longer edible. You can also smell surprising fragrance from crowns.
Artichokes or Cynara scolymus can reach 3 to 6 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide when mature. The plants can grow well in full sun so that warmer regions become the best place to cultivate artichokes.
It also requires light and fertile soil with well drainage as soil with soggy characteristics can make its roots rotten. Artichokes bloom in early fall or late summer, so you need to harvest before they bloom.
There are several varieties of artichokes, allowing you to choose the best one to grow in the backyard.
How to grow artichokes from different varieties is quite similar though each of them comes with different characteristics.
Big Heart—this artichoke is known as a thorn-less variety. The plants are hardy in warmer temperature.
Imperial Star—if you are beginner, this variety should give you a successful planting. Imperial Star is easy to grow from seed and is usually grown as annual plants. The plants are also suitable for cooler regions.
Green Globe—this is the most popular variety in California. But if you live outside California, the plants may not adapt well.
Violetto—the Italian heirloom is often used to produce small side shoots.
Purple of Romagna—this is also an Italian heirloom which is often used by chefs.