Artichokes are herbaceous perennials that fall into the Asteraceae family, and this family group also includes dandelions, thistles, and sunflowers. Artichokes are short-lived perennials in warmer climates, but you can grow them as annuals in cooler climates or extend the growing season by growing artichokes in pots.
Most people choose to grow them for the edible flower buds, and you harvest these buds before they open. Artichokes have foliage that is a greenish-silver color with an arching, long shape to it. Although they look very soft, they can be prickly. The stems on this plant are fleshy and thick. The buds are what you find sold in the produce aisle, and at the base of the bud, you find the flavorful, tender artichoke heart. If you allow the buds to blossom on the plant, artichoke flowers will be muff or domed-shape and be very large with purple thistles and a strong fragrance.
You will plant your artichokes at different times during the year, depending on your climate. When you grow them as an annual, you’ll have to plant them in the spring. When you are in warmer climate zones and they’re perennials, you’ll plant seeds during the later summer months or in mid-autumn if you’re dealing with transplants. They need between 85 and 100 days to harvest, and we’ll outline how to make them thrive in pots below.
Artichokes are vegetables that go with a host of dishes, and it’s easy to get a larger harvest by growing them in pots.
Growing Artichokes in Pots – General Overview
|Bloom Time:||Summer and fall|
|Botanical Name:||Cynara scolymus|
|Common Name:||Globe artichoke, green artichoke, French artichoke, or artichoke|
|Hardiness Zones:||7 to 11|
|Mature Size:||Three to six feet tall and four to five feet wide|
|Plant Type:||Biennial, perennial, and herbaceous|
Preparation of Growing Artichokes In Pots
Before you start growing artichokes in pots, there are a few key components you need to gather to make the process as smooth as possible. You’ll need to get:
22-inch or 24-inch Containers
When you have larger pots, this gets rid of the need to plant your artichokes right in the ground. The ideal size for growing artichokes in pots is 24-inches because this gives your plant enough space to grow. You can easily get artichokes that are four feet high and five feet wide in a container this size. Each plant will produce between 30 and 50 artichokes each growing season.
Organic Potting Soil
You want to go for organic potting soil when you shop because artichokes demand fertile and rich organic soil. You also need to pick soil that has mild natural ingredients in the makeup, and the soil should drain very well between watering sessions. So, ideally, you’ll need to get a soil that offers a very rich texture and when you water it, the water runs through it out the bottom of the pot with ease.
However, the soil shouldn’t cling to the roots of your plants because this can suffocate the roots. When you’re getting ahold of your soil, make sure that there is an ingredient that can retain moisture mixed in. If you can find soil that contains yucca extract, get this as this ingredient works to draw in moisture.
You can find organic potting soil at almost any nursery or greenhouse, or you can buy a high-quality mix online.
Tiny Artichoke Transplants
You can purchase transplants that are roughly two months old for growing artichokes in pots. You can get a plant that is cultivated using division or grown from seed, and you should see tender roots covering the plant’s root area.
It’s a good idea to have some tomato fertilizer on hand as well because it has the perfect blend of nitrogen your plants need to thrive. Also, this vegetable food should have the correct amount of potassium to encourage optimal growth.
Growing Artichokes in Pots – Step by Step
Once you gather all of your ingredients, it’s time to start growing artichokes in pots. YOu can start one or two plants or do a bunch, but just remember that each plant will produce between 30 and 50 artichokes.
Step 1 – Fill the Container with Soil
Get your 22 or 24-inch pot and fill it with a loose amount of potting soil. Take care that you don’t compact it as it’ll compact slightly when you water it.
Step 2 – Plant the Artichokes
Put the artichoke in the pot once you fill it with soil. You’ll need to dig down so the baby plant sits at the same height in the bigger pot as it was in the original container. The roots should be 100% submerged in the soil, and you should leave the leaves of the plant above the soil.
Step 3 – Water Your Artichoke
Once you get the soil backfill around your seedling, you’ll want to give it a good drink. Every day, you want to stick your finger into the soil to check and see if it needs more water or not. If you feel that the soil is drying out, then you want to water it. Remember that growing artichokes in pots means that they dry out more quickly than in the ground. You’ll need to be very careful to ensure they don’t get too dry during hotter weather.
Ideally, you’ll water your artichokes once or twice a week as a general guideline. However, you don’t want to water your artichokes so much that they’re standing in water as this can lead to rot. If you allow them to dry out, this can impact the taste of the buds.
Step 4 – Using High-Quality Plant Food
When your artichoke is a month old, you should start fertilizing it. This is because, like tomatoes, artichokes are heavy feeders. Once you get them planted and fertilized in the spring, you’ll start your harvest roughly six months later in the early fall months. If you live in a colder planting zone, you can plant them in the spring and give them the whole summer season to grow and mature so you get an early fall harvest.
Step 5 – Additional Tips for Cold Climate Planting
At this point of growing artichokes in pots, they should be big. You want to add a layer of mulch to your pots to help retain moisture and protect the roots from frost. Also, you’ll have to cover your plants if you’re growing them in a snowy area. If you’re planting during the cold season, move your pots to a sheltered garage. As long as the plant stays semi-warm, it’ll grow during this period. Once the spring comes back around, bring the pot outside and set your artichoke under the sun to dry out. Water and fertilize to encourage new growth.
Step 6 – Harvesting Your Artichokes
One of the biggest questions people have about growing artichokes in pots is when do you know they’re ready to harvest? You want to make a point to check on your plant on a daily basis. When you see the flower buds start to show up, this is the best time to harvest them. The goal is to pick the buds before the petals start to open. If you don’t and wait too long, the buds can quickly get fibrous and stringy. It would be very unpleasant if not impossible to eat your artichokes at this point.
Step 7 – General Guidelines to Consider
Apart from the steps we outlined for growing artichokes in pots, there are a few rules of thumb to consider. If you decide to start your plants from seeds, you’ll want to put your seeds on top of amended soil. The plants should be four feet apart, and you’ll add a liquid fertilizer after a month to encourage growth.
Weeds won’t be a huge problem when you’re growing artichokes in pots. But, if you do see a few stray ones popping up, you will want to get rid of them. You’ll want to add a layer of mulch when the seedlings are very young, but you’ll remove it at the month point. Instead, you’ll add a thicker layer of compost to inject nutrients into the soil.
When it comes to harvesting your artichokes, you should only do so when the buds feel tight and dry to the touch. When you finish harvesting the buds and leave a bare stem, you want to cut the stems back to the ground.
Growing artichokes in pots is a great way to extend the growing season by moving them to a sheltered area once the temperature drops.
Growing Artichokes from Cuttings
If you have a root cutting for your artichoke that is fertile and not sterile, you have everything you need for growing artichokes in pots. You’ll want to get a pair of garden gloves and add it to your pile of things before you start the planting process.
Step One – Get Starter Artichoke Offshoots
Generally speaking, you can get any artichoke offshoot from an established plant and use it. If you already have artichokes growing, you can harvest it from any current healthy established plant. This is a good option for people who live in zones that are beneficial for these plants because you can easily harvest offshoots and get more plants to increase your yields. Established plants will produce these offshoots, and they grow from the base. They’re also called pups.
No matter what you want to call it, this is a sure way to get consistent results when you’re growing artichokes in pots. The right time to harvest these offshoots to propagate them is when your established plant starts producing them. They usually produce a yield in the second year.
It’s very rare that your artichoke plant will produce anything noteworthy during the first year. If you have a mature artichoke plant that you’ve been growing for a few years, you should see offshoots. Before you do any cutting, make sure that you have adequate space for your new pots to give them a second home.
Step Two – Remove the Offshoot
When the offshoots are a minimum of eight inches long, you should prep them to harvest. First, get a spade and use it to gently dig up the soil around the area. Get a sterilized pair of pruners and cut it cleanly off. Don’t cut it during bright periods of sunlight, and wait for it to be overcast to ensure that the sunlight doesn’t burn your newly cut offshoots.
The best time to cut offshoots is during the winter period when the plant is more dormant and not actively growing. THis will help avoid disturbing your plants during the spring or summer when they’re actively producing artichokes. Make sure you don’t cut the roots of the offshoot. If you do, your plant won’t grow.
Step Three – Replant Your Offshoots
Now that you’ve managed to separate the adult plant and the offshoot, you can replant it back into your pot. Be careful that you don’t damage the roots. Pack the soil around the adult plant carefully, with the goal of putting it back how it used to be with the same soil conditions.
It’s relatively easy to replant offshoots from healthy plants, and this can speed up your harvest time.
Step Four – Clean the Offshoot
The next step is to clean off your offshoot. You have no idea what viruses or pests it has on it. Take your artichoke offshoot and dunk it in a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of water and leave it for a few minutes. This will work to quickly kill off most of the pests that are hiding on it. Since there are so many small crevices, they could be anywhere. Remove any labels, dirt, debris, or things you see. Be careful to leave the roots intact and undamaged. If you cut off a few offshoots, repeat this process for all of them and allow them to dry before going to the next step.
Step Five – Plant the Offshoot
So, by now, you have a freshly cut offshoot. You’ll get your chosen container, fill it with an organic potting soil, and you want to plan it one offshoot to a pot. You should place your newly planted offshoot in a sunny space and water it thoroughly until water runs out the bottom of the pot. The roots will start to establish themselves right away, and you can give it a gentle tug a month in. The roots should have anchored it by then.
- HappyDIYHome Tip: Artichokes need plenty of space to grow and spread out. So, you want to give them a 22 or 24-inch pot for a single plant. This will help you get the best possible yield.
This simple tutorial walked you through growing artichokes in pots. If you pay close attention and follow the tips and methods we laid out for you, you should get an ample harvest in early fall. Plus, you’ll also save money over having to buy artichokes in the store.
One important tip to keep in mind is that you don’t want to skimp on your fertilizer’s quality when you’re growing artichokes in pots. Go for the best options available, and do a little research as to what is available to you. Planting artichokes in pots is a critical process that requires dedication on your part, and you can’t be successful if you ignore them for days on end. However, the effort will pay off.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.