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Australian Grow Guide: Artichokes

Artichokes thrive best in areas that have hot summers with minimal rainfall and cold winters that have ample rain.

Artichokes are perennial vegetables that will continue to provide you with delicious edible buds year after year. I grew these in my last garden and they were just a delight as I didn’t have to replant them each season.

You can grow artichokes pretty much anywhere around the country except the tropics. In areas with high humidity, it’s best to grow them in well-drained raised beds as they can be subject to crown rot. 

That’s one of the reasons that they won’t grow in the tropics. But, in southern regions, they’ll supply you with edible produce every year for around 4 years or so.

They thrive best in areas that have hot summers with minimal rainfall and cold winters that have ample rain.

artichokes | Fruit & Vegetables

Here’s everything you need to know about growing artichokes in Australia.

When to plant artichokes in Australia

Artichokes are best planted in winter. Choose a sunny spot that has well-drained soil.

If your area is prone to frost, you can protect your young plants by covering them with a layer of mulch. Choose pea straw or sugar cane mulch for this. 

Remember to uncover the crowns by pulling back the mulch once the danger of frost is over.

How to plant artichokes

Before planting your artichokes, prepare the soil by adding plenty of animal manure and compost. These plants do prefer slightly alkaline soil, so if your soil is acidic, add some dolomite to raise the pH level.

You also want to add a dose of potash to the soil before planting as this will encourage ample flowering once the plants have become established.

As mentioned, you want to choose a sunny location and you want to give these plants plenty of space to grow. A mature artichoke plant can reach a height of 2 metres and a spread of around 1.5 metres.

Young artichoke plants | Fruit & Vegetables

Remember that these plants will live in that same position for a number of years, so choose a spot where you don’t intend to grow any other types of vegetables.

As these plants are quite attractive, they can even be planted in garden beds where you normally grow ornamental shrubs and flowers.

It’s best to purchase established plants from a nursery or garden centre as these will produce flowers and edible globes in the first year.

Young artichoke plants 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Once you’ve prepared the soil, take the plants out of their pots and plant them in the ground. If you’re growing more than one plant, make sure you space them at least 1 to 1.5 metres apart.

Water the young plants to help settle the soil around the roots and then cover them with mulch.

How to care for artichokes

Once planted, artichokes really don’t need that much care. Just keep them watered through the winter when the plants are still young. Ensure your soil drains well.

Watering artichoke plants | Fruit & Vegetables

After their first season, add some more fertiliser in autumn. Make sure that the one you choose is relatively high in potassium as this will ensure plenty of flowers and buds.

Once autumn comes around and flowering has finished, you can cut back your plants and remove any spent flowers that you haven’t harvested as buds.

Then add a layer of straw mulch to protect the crowns from frost. Remember to pull this back in early spring once the danger of frost is over.

How long do artichokes take to grow?

If you plant your artichokes in winter, you should get your first crop the following spring. 

When to harvest artichokes

You can start to harvest your artichokes in spring when the globes are young and tender.

artichoke harvesting 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Harvesting can continue through summer and you might even find that you get another flush of buds in autumn.

How to harvest artichokes

It’s best to harvest the buds or globes when they’re still quite young and definitely before they start to open. If you do this, you’ll have lovely tender globes that don’t need the choke removed.

To harvest, just cut off the young buds with a sharp pair of secateurs, ensuring that they have a short section of stem attached.

artichoke harvesting | Fruit & Vegetables

If you’ve missed harvesting one of the buds and the thistle flower starts to open, don’t worry because this will attract pollinators and nectar-eating birds to your garden. And, it’s a highly attractive flower to add colour to your garden.

Artichoke pests and diseases

Not only do artichokes grow year after year without too much attention but they also suffer from very few, if any, pests and diseases. While growing these myself, I never encountered any problems.

However, as I’ve already mentioned, if you’re in a region that has a relatively high level of humidity during summer, you need to grow these in a raised bed and avoid getting the crown or foliage wet.

This means you should water your plants early in the day and just water at the soil level. If the foliage is damp overnight, this can attract fungal diseases.

Artichoke companion plants

Remember that artichokes require plenty of space and prefer slightly alkaline soil. Therefore, the best companion plants are those that prefer a similar soil type.

Artichoke companion plants | Fruit & Vegetables

This makes them ideal companions for plants in the Brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages. Corn is also a good companion plant as are peas and cucumbers.

Flowers and herbs such as marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflowers, thyme, and tarragon will also grow happily next to your artichokes.

Asparagus, which is another perennial vegetable, can also be grown next to your artichoke plants. So, if you have the space, you could dedicate one garden bed to just growing perennial vegetables and herbs.

FAQ

How many artichokes do you get from one plant?

You can expect to get around 6 to 10 globes per plant each season. This makes them one of the most productive perennial vegetables that you can grow.

Do artichokes like sun or shade?

Like all flowering plants, artichokes do prefer to grow in full sun. However, they can tolerate a little afternoon shade.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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