5020 Texas Drive | Kalamazoo, MI 49009 | View Directions and Hours | 269-345-1195 |
Wedel's Nursery, Florist and Garden Center

The Art of Artichoke

The Art of Artichokes   Artichokes are actually flower buds harvested before they open. If buds are not harvested to eat, they will open into beautiful, thistle-like, purple flowers that are a delight to bees, very ornamental in the garden, and can even be used as cut flowers! In USDA zone 6 and colder, sow artichoke seeds in 4″ biodegradable paper pots 12 weeks before your average last spring frost date, and transplant outside 4 weeks before average last frost as the ideal soil temperature for germination is 70°-80°F. In USDA zones 7 and warmer, sow artichoke seeds in 4″ biodegradable paper pots in early fall, and transplant outdoors 6 weeks before average first frost. Artichokes are perennial in USDA zones 7-10 (zone 6 with heavy mulch), which means you’ll enjoy years of artichokes from just one planting. In colder climates, we usually grow them as annuals, although if they have been grown in a very large pot, they can be stored in a protected area like in the garage over winter.   GENERAL SOWING   When to sow outdoors: Cold Climates: Not recommended. Mild Climates: Sow in fall for harvest the following spring.   When to start inside: RECOMMENDED. Cold Climates: Sow in 4″ biodegradable pots 12 weeks before your average last spring frost date. Ideal soil temperature for germination is 70°-80°F. After germination, place in full sun (or under a grow light indoors) where temperature is 40°-50°F. Mild Climates: Sow in 4″ pots in early fall. Transplant outdoors 6 weeks before average first frost. Very Warm Climates (USDA zones 11 and warmer): Plants may do best grown as annuals during the fall and winter. Start indoors in September or October, then transplant into the garden in November or December to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Protect from intense sun; provide some afternoon shade. Indoor sowing: Use a lightweight, seed-starting mix/media (sterile, and lighter than potting mix), and sow artichoke seeds 1/4″-1/2″ deep in biodegradable pots to avoid taproot disturbance. Sow 2-3 seeds per 4″ pot, thinning to the strongest plant once leaves appear (clip extra plants at the soil level using scissors). The strongest plant may not be the tallest; look for thick, strong stems and deep color. Even with careful selection of seed, a small percentage of artichokes may sprout stunted or albino due to their genetic diversity. Clip out these ‘off types’ in the seedling stage too. By thinning early, you minimize the negative impact of crowding, like stretching for light.
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