Green globe artichoke seeds An heirloom grown for its tender, edible flower buds.
With their large, silvery-green leaves and thick stems topped with pinecone-like flower buds, artichoke plants add a strong architectural element to vegetable garden plantings.
Thomas Jefferson reportedly raised artichokes at Monticello, his Virginia home, as early as 1767. Today the majority of commercial artichoke production is along coastal sections of Central California, where the weather suits them perfectly.
Artichoke plants thrive best where mild winters and cool, foggy summers prevail. In such growing conditions, they are perennials, yielding harvests for up to 5 years. Where winters dish up only a few frosty nights, plants will sometimes overwinter when pruned and mulched (zones 8 and 9). In colder regions, you have to treat artichokes as annuals planted in spring. They are best planted in fall in the humid, subtropical, frost-free areas of zones 10 and 11.
In zones where artichokes are perennial, select your site considering that plants will be in place for up to 5 years. Give plants room to spread, since mature plants can reach 3 to 4 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide. Artichokes thrive in full sun to partial shade. They also need light, fertile, well-drained soil—sandy or loam is ideal. Prepare the soil by working 5 inches of compost into a trench 8 inches deep and equally wide. Two reasons artichoke plants fail are summer drought and winter soil that’s waterlogged. Adding compost improves soil’s ability to retain water in summer and drain in winter.
Plant seeds by barely covering with fine grit, starting seeds indoors is common, with temps between 70-75 degrees. Soak soil very well the first time. Make certain to place the germinating seeds in a south facing window. Germination time, 2-3 weeks.Plant artichoke seedlings atop the amended soil, spacing plants 4 feet apart. In zones 6 and colder, you can plant artichokes more closely, 2 to 3 feet apart, because frost will prevent the plant from reaching its mature, established size.