Answer: It sounds as if your artichokes have a bacterial or fungal wilt, says Tom Koske, horticultural specialist at the Louisiana State Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge. It's hard to tell the two wilts apart. They both attack the plant's vascular system,causing it to clog the water and nutrient flow from roots to leaves. One way to identify bacterial wilt is to cut off a one inch piece of stem near the crown, and suspend it two inches underwater with a paper clip in a clear glass of water, says Koske.If after a few minutes a white ooze comes out of the stem, it's bacterial wilt. Unfortunately, once established in the soil, bacterial and fungal wilts will be with you a long time. Remove the diseased plants and destroy them. Rotate other nonsusceptible crops such as greens or grasses into the garden area, and don't plant artichokes on that soil for five years. If you suspect the problem is widespread, consider growing your artichokes in large pots using a sterilized growing medium. To save artichoke plants that are still healthy, take some of the young offshoots, remove all the soil from their roots and dip them in a 5% bleach solution to kill any fungal disease organisms. Then replant in wilt free soil, says Koske.
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