Are Artichokes The Most Difficult Vegetable To Grow? Quick Facts!

Artichoke is a herbaceous perennial that belongs to the family Asteraceae. It bears a flavorful, tender “heart.” Artichokes are short-lived perennials in warmer climates. Colder-region farmers grow them as annuals. Is artichoke hard to grow?

Artichokes are not the most difficult vegetable to grow. Climate needs and some pest issues can make growing them challenging. It may be hard to grow them as perennials in some regions. But proper planting, pruning, and watering give you a bountiful harvest.

The globe artichoke is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as food. The flower buds that haven’t bloomed yet make up the edible part of the plant. Cardoon is a perennial plant that is a different variant of the same species.

Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke, is a species of sunflower. It is famous for its tuber, and people use it as a root vegetable. 

Artichokes grow well in full sun. They prefer sandy, well-drained, fertile soil. Slight sandiness and alkalinity in soils are ideal for them to thrive. Big Heart, Imperial Star, and Purple of Romagna are several varieties of artichokes.

How To Propagate Artichokes?

Seeds, rooted shoots of growing plants, or dormant roots can give birth to artichokes. Transplanting is the ideal method of planting artichokes. Artichoke seeds are only about 80% true to their parent plant. Transplants from indoor starts or dividing ensure your desired results.

Growing Artichokes From Seed

When starting from seeds, plant them indoors in late winter or early spring. Do it at least eight weeks before your average last frost date. Fill trays or pots with moistened starter mix and plant seeds 1/4 inch deep.

Place the seeded tray or pot on a heating mat or a warm space. A refrigerator’s top or a table above a heat vent is ideal. Warm soil promotes germination.

Seeds will germinate within 7-21 days. Plant the seedlings outside after hardening them off. Do it before all danger of frost has passed. Before they set buds, allow them to go through a slight chilling (not freezing). 

Put your plants out in mid-spring. Expose them to temperatures of about 50 0F or a little lower for 7-10 days.

Artichoke plant
Artichoke plant

How To Overwinter Artichokes?

Zones 8 and higher: – Cut the plants to soil level and cover them with 2-4 inches of organic mulch. Do it after the last harvest in the fall. Straw is ideal mulch for this.

Zones 6-7: – Cut the plants down to about 12-18 inches after the last harvest in the fall. Cover them with organic mulch like straw, leaves, or compost. Then cover it with a large basket. Cover the basket with another layer of straw or leaves. Use a waterproof tarp to cover everything.

Zone 5 and cooler: – Follow the same procedure described for zones 6-7. Only mild winters have a high likelihood of succeeding in these cooler zones.

Remove all covers in the spring as soon as the soil has thawed. Do this whatever your zone and when you do not expect any more hard frosts.

How To Propagate Artichokes From Offshoots?

Most artichokes produce offshoots starting in their second or third year. You can only grow new plants using them in warm climates where artichokes overwinter. Remove some soil to expose the roots during the fall or winter. 

Using a sharp knife, remove the shoots and their basals. They need to be at least eight inches long. Refill the dirt around the original plant. Plant the offshoots in well-draining soil right at the moment. Place them at least six feet away from their parent plant. 

Keep the new plant moist and give it plenty of water. Within a few weeks, new growth will start to show.

Space out the plants 4-6 feet apart as they grow large. If you grow them as annuals, you can space them a little closer. Overwintering plants need good drainage to prevent root rot.

At planting time, artichokes need deep watering. Supply them with a thorough watering at least once or twice per week. Water helps develop buds and a robust root system.

Amend the soil before planting when growing artichokes as perennials. It will ensure future growth. Grow them in raised beds if your garden soil is poor.

Artichokes are heavy feeders and prefer cool, humid summers and mild winters. When planting, add a shovel’s worth of compost or aged manure to the soil for each plant. 

Although artichokes need consistent moisture, they do not like waterlogged soil. Sitting in damp soil for a long will damage its crown and root system.

Artichokes do well with peas, cabbage, tarragon, and sunflowers as companion plants. They will not compete for soil nitrogen and other nutrients.

Harvesting Artichokes

Cut them from the plant at a 45-degree angle when buds are about 3 inches in diameter. Cut spent stalks down to the ground. It will allow room for other stalks to grow. Cut the plant just above the ground once it has finished fruiting. Then apply a heavy layer of mulch.

Pests And Diseases

The most common pests and diseases of artichokes are slugs, aphids, and botrytis. To reduce the aphid problem, give the plants enough space for air. When you see leaves with botrytis on them, remove them.


How Long Does It Take To Grow An Artichoke?

Artichokes can take up to 180 days before your initial harvest when grown from seed. They can produce within about 90 days from transplant. But seed germination will take 60-90 days. That makes the total growing time up to 180 days.

How Many Artichokes Do You Get From One Plant?

A single mature plant can yield 4-10 artichokes per harvest season. It depends on the variety, growing conditions, and plant size. Some variants can give you more. The average lifespan of an artichoke plant is six years or less

How Many Times Can You Harvest Artichokes?

You can harvest perennial artichokes 30 or more times during the season. It is possible in areas with milder winters. Annual artichokes have a shorter, more concentrated production period. Harvest them when the buds have achieved their best size.

Do Artichokes Come Back Every Year?

Artichokes are perennials that can survive up to 6 years in regions with mild winters. In USDA zones 7-11, artichokes grow as tender perennials. They come back year after year. Northern farmers can grow them as annuals. They can start indoors early and then harvest in the fall.

Do Artichokes Need Full Sun?

Artichokes need full sun but can thrive in partial shade as well. They can also flourish in cool, foggy, and coastal climates. Artichokes need full sun for two reasons. Direct sunlight is vital to reap a good crop. Also, it helps dry up excess moisture.

Where Do Artichokes Grow Best?

The climate found in the Mediterranean region and California is ideal for artichokes. They thrive in humid and frost-free zones 10 and 11. Very hot soil will result in the quick flowering of plants. Apply a thick mulch around the plant base to keep the soil cool.

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