Container Grown Artichoke Plants: How To Grow Artichokes In Pots
The container grown artichoke plant is one of the most popular garden plants in the world. They are easy to grow and produce large amounts of fruit.
You can easily propagate them from cuttings or seeds. There are many varieties of these plants available, but they all have similar characteristics such as being small, fast growers, and producing edible fruits when properly cared for.
What Are Artichokes?
Artichokes are members of the mint family. They come in several different sizes, colors, and shapes. Some varieties include the common red and white variety known as “sweet” and the purple variety called “black.” Other types include the yellow “white” type, which produces smaller fruits than its larger cousin; the green “blue” type with a milder flavor; and even some dwarf varieties that resemble miniature watermelons!
How Do I Grow Artichokes In A Pot?
Growing artichokes in a pot is relatively simple. All you need is a potting soil, some kind of drainage system (a hole dug into the ground works well), and a few other basic gardening supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:
A good quality potting soil will do just fine for your first attempt at growing artichokes in pots. You should also get some kind of support system to keep the plants standing up straight.
You can use a simple wire support from the craft store, or even wooden skewers (make sure they have no paint or varnish on them). Also get a bag of soil amendments if your soil is lacking in nutrients or perlite to improve drainage.
Choose a sunny spot in your yard for your containers. Use the tine part of your fork to make a hole large enough to stick a wooden skewer into the ground.
This is where you will place your container. Fill your container with the potting soil and make sure there are no air pockets in the soil. Cut the wooden skewers to desired height of the plant (usually around 12-16 inches) and place them in the container. Add some more soil if needed to fill in any spaces around the skewers.
Choose your artichoke varieties and plant them in the container(s). Make sure the plants do not touch each other.
Keep the container well watered until new growth begins. After that, water only when the soil is dry on top. In about three months, new buds will start to appear and growth will accelerate. Pinch off all the flower buds when they begin to form. This forces the plant to produce more leaves and a larger heart.
How do I eat my artichokes?
As the season goes on, the leaves will begin to grow larger and larger. Eventually you will need to harvest your crop because the plant simply won’t have enough nutrients left in the soil to support such a large leaf. After the flower buds have bloomed and produced many smaller yellow flowers, cut off all of the buds so that the plant will put more energy into producing larger leaves.
Harvesting is a simple process. Using a knife or pair of scissors, cut or snap off the leaves at the base.
Don’t remove more than one-third of the leaf at any one time. (The plant will naturally produce more in its effort to replace the leaves you’ve removed.)
You can cook and eat the artichoke leaves as you harvest them, but they taste better after being cured for a few weeks. To cure, gently wash the leaves and dry with a towel.
Place in a shallow container (a cardboard box will do) and cover with peat moss or dried grass. Keep in a cool, dark place for two to three weeks, stirring the leaves every few days to make sure they’re turning yellow (a sign that they’re curing).
After they’ve cured, you can store them in the fridge for several months. To eat them, remove all of the fuzzy parts (the inedible choke) and steam or boil until tender.
If you want to eat them raw, slice very thinly and soak in a mixture of milk and lemon juice for half an hour before serving.
Here’s a great recipe for you to try: Stuffed Artichokes.
You may find that one of your plants will produce a single giant leaf. This is called a maroon and can be cooked just like normal artichoke leaves.
Although artichokes are in the thistle family, they don’t have the sharp hairs that many other members of this family have.
There are many things to do with an old artichoke plant. First, pick off all the buds and flowers so that it will put its energy into the one big leaf.
After it begins to flower, you can start harvesting the large bottom leaves because they will get too tough as the plant gets older.
As the maroon (the large flower bud) begins to form, tie it loosely with a string to hold it in place. This will prevent it from snapping off and damaging the plant when it gets heavy with pollen.
You can eat this like any other artichoke heart.
When the maroon gets to be as large as your fist, you can remove the string and let it dry out so you can use it in arrangements.
You can also use the dried maroon as bird food, but don’t throw it out with the regular trash–it may take several days for the birds to crack the thick shell. Instead, put it in a plastic bag and bury it under a couple of inches of soil (or put in a tin can and cover with soil).
The birds will find it and the insect larvae that live in the maroon will keep them healthy.
Now, the plant doesn’t stop growing artichokes once it starts forming maroons. You can harvest all of the small leaves that grow between the maroons and the base of the plant.
These will be more tender and you don’t need to cure them.
Finally, there’s one last thing you can do with an old artichoke plant. You’ve probably been trimming off the very bottom of the plant as it grows to keep it from taking all the nutrients from the soil.
(That’s why you don’t let the plant go to flower–it needs to stay healthy so it can continue to produce leaves for you.)
When the remaining stem gets too tough to eat, let the plant go to flower. It will quickly start producing a huge number of small seeds.
Let it go to seed and then don’t throw away the dried flower–it’s a beautiful addition to any dried flower arrangement.
You’ve just grown your own organic artichoke hearts, eaten all the parts of the plant, and had something left over to give to the birds.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll have some artichoke dip for lunch.
Sources & references used in this article:
Influence of transplant age and type on growth and yield of seed propagated globe artichoke by L Bucan, S Goreta, S Perica – IV International Congress on Artichoke …, 2000 – actahort.org
Preparation of artichoke seedlings using biodegradable containers. by PW Zimmerman, AE Hitchcock – Contrib. Boyce Thompson Inst, 1936
The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers by V Miccolis, R Agneta, V Candido – Colture Protette, 2009 – cabdirect.org
Cultivation of the artichoke as a medicinal plant under temperate climate conditions in Germany by EC Smith – 2011 – books.google.com
Growth and Flowering of Garden Chrysanthemums Produced in Plastic or Copper-impregnated Fiber Containers by C Matthes, B Honermeier – VI International Symposium on Artichoke …, 2006 – actahort.org
253 Influence of the Timing of Propagation and Cold Storage on the Growth and Development of Alstroemeria Pot Plants by DE Hill – 2001 – Connecticut Agricultural Experiment …
Gibberellic acid on artichokes (Cynara scolymus L.) cultivated in Germany to promote earliness and to increase productivity by JM Ruter – HortScience, 1996 – journals.ashs.org
Susceptibility of musk thistle and related composites to Puccinia carduorum by E Olate, D Ly, G Elliott, M Bridgen – HortScience, 2000 – journals.ashs.org