Artichokes are quite a special plant, grown for their pretty and architectural flowers and edible buds.
Artichokes make a striking feature and can be easily grown in your garden, whether you’re experienced or a home-grown newcomer.
There are two varieties of artichokes - globe and Jerusalem. Globe is the traditional and much more widespread plant and grown from seed and young plants.
When to plant artichoke plants
For beginners, it’s recommended to grow artichoke from young plants, called plugs.
Artichokes can be planted in late April to May time and, where possible, planted within the first few days after arriving to you.
How to prepare the soil for artichoke plants
Artichokes are quite hardy and not too fussy over soil type, although they prefer it to be well drained and fertile.
Dig organic manure into the soil a few weeks before planting, helping to give the plants nutrients and strength.
How to plant artichoke plants
Make a planting hole that’s big enough to take the root ball of the plant, so that all the roots are buried in the soil when the hole’s filled in.
Keep plants about 3ft (90cm) apart from each other in a row. Plants can grow over 4ft (1.2m) tall and spread to over 3ft (90cm) wide with their foliage.
Water well and don’t allow them to dry out, especially in hot summer spells.
How to care for artichoke plants
As the flowers grow, they can become top heavy and start to fall over. Stop this by securing them to canes or a stake to keep the buds away from the ground.
In cold autumn and winter spells, the plants may need a horticultural fleece layer over them to shield from the weather.
Purple globe varieties are not as hardy and green globe.
How to harvest artichoke plants
Plants become fuller and heavier each year, lasting for several years before needing to be removed and fresh plants used; plants planted in May will harvest in September or October.
Remove large buds for eating, before they open and flower, with secateurs in July and secondary heads will appear in late summer and autumn.
The young offshoots, which often grow to the edge of the main plant clump, can be dug up and planted as new plants in the autumn.
When to sow artichoke seeds
Artichoke seeds can be planted indoors in February and March, ready to be planted outside around June for an August-September harvest.
How to sow artichoke seeds indoors
Sow seeds in small modules or trays with compost, and water carefully.
- After germination, replant them with one seedling per 4inch (10cm) pot.
- Keep inside until April and then gradually harden them off outside. This means leaving them outside but bringing back in at night or in cold spells.
- Plant outdoors in May or early June, following the planting procedure for plug plants as above.
How to sow artichoke seeds outdoors
Seeds can also be planted directly outside, from April onwards, and will be ready to harvest between June to September of the following year.
- Artichokes can be sown outside in warm soil from April onwards, for a harvest the following year.
- Sow a few seeds together at a time, about 15inches (40cm) apart from each other.
- When the seedlings grow, remove the weaker-looking plants to give the bigger ones the best chance of flourishing with flowers.