The Q&A Archives: Growing Artichokes

Question: I planted an artichoke tuber in Jan. of 1997, the time recommended by my local nursery. It struggled through the summer, and is now about a foot tall. I have not fertilized or pruned or anything, because I don't know what to use and when. How longwill it be until I see blooms or fruit?<br>Any tips would be appreciated.

Answer: Artichoke plants are reliable perennials if they're planted in full sunshine, and watered regularly during the summer. In the fall you should cut the leaves down to within a foot of the ground. New growth will appear in the spring. Once established, your artichoke plant should send out stalks with thistle-like flower buds. Harvest these buds before they open, and you can cook and eat them. If you don't cut them, they'll open and look spectacular! Artichoke plants are not heavy feeders, but you can side-dress your plants with a handful of 5-10-10 fertilizer, or just put several inches of composted organic matter over the roots and nutrients will trickle down as the compost decomposes. If your plants aren't performing well in the summer, they may need some shade from the hot afternoon sun. You can construct a frame and drape it with shade cloth for use during the hottest days of the year. If you don't provide water in the summer, the plants will go dormant and won't develop flower buds.

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