Artichoke Plant Starting Tips

Artichoke plants near harvest

Artichokes are perennial plants. Artichokes prefer cool, moist summers and mild winters. The perennial artichoke plant will not survive where the ground freezes.

Artichokes can be grown from seed or root divisions; they are most commonly grown from root divisions which are also called “crowns”. Sow seed indoors 8 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Set out root divisions or crowns in late winter or early spring, about 2 weeks before the last frost.

Artichokes grow best where the average year-round temperature is between 50° and 60°F (13°-18°C). The middle coast of California is a prime artichoke-growing region. Avoid planting artichokes in areas with fewer than 100 frost-free days.

The edible part of the artichoke plant is the immature flower bud and its receptacle or base—often called the “heart.”

From seed, artichokes will produce edible buds in about 160 to 180 days. From root divisions called “crowns”, edible buds will come in 50 to 100 days. Artichokes can be grown as annuals from seed, but the most productive artichokes are perennials grown from crowns. The perennial artichoke plant can live for 5 to 15 years.

Sowing and Planting Tips:

  • Grow artichokes from seed or crowns which are root divisions.
  • Sow seed indoors 8 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost.
  • Set out root divisions or crowns in late winter or early spring, about 2 weeks before the last frost.
  • Sow seed ¼ inch (6 mm) deep in lightly moistened seed starting mix.
  • Seed will germinate at 70-80°F (21-27°C) in 10 to 14 days.
  • Transplant seedlings to the garden when plants are 6 to 8 weeks old and outdoor temperatures are at least 50°F (10°C) at night.
  • Set out root divisions or “crowns” in late winter if the soil is easily worked or early spring about 2 weeks before the last frost.
  • Each crown should have a viable section of root attached; plant the crown between 2 and 4 inches (5-10 cm) deep.
  • Keep the growing medium or soil in which seeds or crowns are planted just moist until the plant is established.
  • Space plants 6 inches (15 cm) apart in every direction; thin successful plants to 4 feet (122 cm) part.
  • Fertilize with fish emulsion or a soluble complete fertilizer at half strength.
  • Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of transplanting.
  • Artichokes prefer a soil pH range of 6.0 to 6.8.
  • Grow artichokes in full sun for best yield.
  • Plant artichokes in a dedicated bed; plants will live up to 15 years. In cold-winter regions you may be able to grow artichokes as an annual.

Interplanting: Plant in a dedicated bed; artichokes live for up to 15 years.

Recommended Planting Calendar:

  • 8-6 weeks before the last frost in spring: sow seed indoors.
  • 2 weeks before the last frost in spring: set out crowns.
  • 2 weeks after the last frost in spring: transplant seedlings into the garden.

Recommended varieties: ‘Green Globe’ is ready for harvest usually the second summer after seeding; ‘Imperial Star’ produces the first season, about 180 days from seed to harvest. ‘Violetto’ has purplish, elongated buds.

Botanical Name: Cynara scolymus

Artichoke is a member of the Asteraceae family, other members of this family are sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokes, and dandelions.