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Artichokes (Cynara scolymus) make the hearts of all gourmets beat faster - and in mild situations, the cultivation succeeds with us. Originally artichokes come from the Mediterranean, where they have been cultivated since the first century. In addition to the value of use, artichokes belonging to the daisy family (Asteraceae) are also used as medicinal plants. It is attributed to them a digestive and cholesterol-lowering effect. In addition, artichokes have a high ornamental value - for this reason, the stately, herbaceous plants with the thistle-like appearance are now often cultivated alone because of their decorative appearance in the garden.

Appearance and growth

In addition to the pretty, two- to threefold-leaved, thorny leaves, which are hairy gray-haired below, adult specimens form throughout the summer, large, cup-shaped inflorescences. They consist of numerous bracts and a fleshy flower bottom. If the flower buds are not harvested in time, purple tubular flowers open. The large flower heads are equally popular with humans and animals and are often used in floristry. In the garden and in the vase they attract with their sweet scent bees, bumblebees and other insects.

artichoke flower

Flowered artichokes are attractive, but not edible


So far, the cultivation of artichokes was only worthwhile in the wine-growing climate, where varieties such as 'Green Globe', 'Large of Laon' or 'Orlando' survive the winter without major damage. Winter protection is also required here. On the other hand, varieties such as 'Imperial Star', 'Vert de Provence' and 'Vert Globe' can be harvested once a year in rougher regions, forming many flower buds as early as the first summer.

Location and ground

Artichokes can be successfully grown in the garden in most not too rough locations. You need a protected, absolutely full sunshine location. Artichokes also need a well-fertilized, humus-enhanced soil. However, waterlogging should be avoided, especially in winter. If artichokes have survived a winter in the garden, they can grow there over several years. Over time, they also open up nutrients in deeper soil layers and form more and more flower buds.


If the plants grow vigorously in the same year and start many flower buds, you should start sowing early. Artichokes can be pre-cultivated in the house or bought as young plants. From mid-January, the plants can be sown in a bright, warm place in a seed box with humus, loose soil. If you put the seeds in warm water for one day, they germinate faster. A heated greenhouse is ideal for germination, but a window sill is sufficient. At 18 to 20 degrees, artichokes germinate within two to three weeks. After that a lot of light is needed, so that the plants do not shoot up, but stay short and stocky. As soon as the seedlings in their seed coat are too dense, they are pikiert and planted individually in pots.
After the pre-culture, when the young plants have three to five leaves, mid-to-late April is planted in a sunny bed with loose soil. Prepare three to five liters of compost per square meter in the bed. The planting distance should be 150 x 60 cm.

Artichoke plant in the garden

Older specimens can reach an enormous size, but then develop only a few flowers

By far the distance between them can be used well for fast-growing vegetables such as lettuce. Keep moist until growing, later pour less. Artichokes are best used as specimen plants in the vegetable garden or flower bed. In a few years, the artichoke reaches an impressive size of up to two meters.
Tip: In less favorable locations you can cover the ground with black water-permeable weed fleece and cut cross-shaped at the planting sites.


During the culture you should fertilize once or twice and always water sufficiently. In the first year, artichokes develop only a few of the coveted buds with the fleshy cover scales. From the second year, the harvest is larger, but you have to bring the shrubs well through the cold season. On a place sheltered from the east wind, they survive frost to minus ten degrees. When hibernating in the open air, you should bind the leaf heads firmly together or cut off all leaves, put a wicker basket over the plants and pile dry straw or leaves around hand-high. It is safer to dig out the rhizomes, embed them in boxes or large pots in moist sand and place them in a frost-free but as cool as possible room. From the beginning of April you have to remove the cover outside again.In the house wintered artichokes are then replanted. After four years, the yield decreases. The plants can then be split, or one sows new. In winter, the roots must be protected against heavy frost with a thick mulch.
For annual cultivars you can do without winter protection measures and simply bring in new plants in the spring. Nevertheless, if these varieties are well through the winter, they are simply cultivated further and you can reap more buds in the next year.

Harvest and recovery

Main harvest time is in August and September, then you can harvest per plant up to twelve flower buds with the delicate, fleshy flower bottoms. For consumption, cut off the flower heads as long as the bracts are still firmly closed and before the scales turn violet. First, you always harvest the main flower at the top shoot tip. If the cover leaves open, the fleshy leaves become tough and the delicate flower-bottom tastes dry! It is then too late for consumption, but the blue-violet flower stalks in the bed and in the vase are a great eye-catcher. They are also a magnet for bumblebees. The dried, budding inflorescences are long lasting and can also be used for drying arrangements.

Harvest artichoke bud

Artichokes for the kitchen are harvested with a stalk about ten centimeters long. Stalks for the vase, however, are cut as deeply as possible

The preparation of the artichokes is quite simple: the heads are washed in hot salted water, where they cook for about 30 minutes. Thereafter, the individual scales can be easily removed and consume the delicate plant tissue on the scale approach. The tough remains are left over. The best thing about the artichoke, however, is the flower bottom. Serve with garlic mayonnaise (aioli) or lemon-herb vinaigrette. The artichoke also produces medicines. They promote the health of the liver and stimulate the lipid metabolism. Artichokes also contain bitter substances that improve the digestion of fats and at the same time reduce the feeling of hunger.

Diseases and pests

Occasionally, artichokes are attacked by snails, earwigs or aphids. Dark discoloration indicates an attack by the black bean louse. In addition, the fine roots are sometimes nibbled by voles.

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