Liza Greis

Do-it-yourself projects and Home Decor

Growing Artichokes (And I need your advice!)

I ADORE artichokes. I cook a lot of Italian dishes that call for artichokes and I steam them and eat them dipped in butter. I don’t think I could ever get sick of eating them. Last year I ate 10 in one sitting and could have kept going. They are very expensive if you buy them in the store so as soon as we moved into our house I planted some in our garden.

When I planted them I thought they would be annuals since the weather here in Utah gets so cold in the winter. That is how most people do it. So I planted them close together since the first year they do not get really big. But later that summer I learned that you can winterize them and they will come back every year. I tried it and all but one came back! What I did was cut the leaves off in the fall right before the first frost. The I put about 6 inches of dirt over the stumps. Then I put the leaves I cut off over that. I added leaves from the yard and any dead plants and vines from the garden to the top of that. And last of all I covered it all with tarps.

These next few pictures are from last year……

The plants were between 4 and 5 feet tall!!!

In total I picked well over 200 artichokes last year.

I have winterized them every year and this is the fifth spring I have had them. BUT…….tragedy struck.  While we were in Seattle this February the weather in Utah got unusually warm. The artichokes thought it was time to come up. They came up a little and since the tarps were trapping the heat in, the little starts FRIED. I came home and found shriveled leaves when I checked under the tarp.

So far only 2 have come up. And I think it is because they might not have had shoots come up during the warm weather. They must have been late bloomers so to speak, which may have saved their lives.

I had 3 rows of 5 in my garden.

I am just sick about it. SICK! I have prayed my little guts out for these plants to be okay. If you are a gardener, you know what I mean. You put so much hard work into a garden. I babied these plants for the last 4 years. I don’t want to start over.

There is one artichoke that has 3 places where little shoots are coming up. But none of the others show any signs of regrowth.

SO WHAT DO I DO??? Do I cling to the hope that the others will start to send up shoots??? Or do I dig them up and plant new ones this year??? I do not know enough about artichokes to know if it is worth waiting. I am hoping that some of you will be experts in growing artichokes and can give me some good advice.

And if you have never eaten an artichoke you must! Google some recipes and give it a try!

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  1. Christine says

    Oh, what a bummer! I have never planted them before, although I should. I love artichokes too but don’t like paying for them. And I only live 70 miles from Castroville, artichoke capitol of the world ;-)

  2. Marty says

    Liza, I told Preston that we needed to plant artichokes this year because I remember you posting about eating them & they sounded so yummers! Does it take a couple years until they produce? I’ll have to pick your brain on how to grow them! <3 ya, Marty

  3. [email protected] says

    I love artichokes and they are pricey! Especially here in the south! I wonder if I can grow them here or if it is too humid for them…hmmm? What a bummer about the plants that aren’t coming back. Most of my bulbs were starting to bloom early because of the warm winter and then we got a freeze and then no blooms on some of them even though they had come up. Darn Mother Nature…thankfully my hydrangea’s I’ve been babying all late winter are starting to bloom but, of course they too got a little frost bite and have brown tips on their leaves! Good Luck and I wish I knew more about artichokes…I guess be thankfull you still have a few plants!

  4. Jenn @ I Am Not Superwoman says

    I love, love, love artichokes…Anything with artichokes. Yum but I know nothing about growing them. Sorry. I hope someone has some ideas because I would also be sick to have put in all the time over the last years for a couple of warm days to ruin the bounty. Good luck to you.

  5. Laura @ Laura's Crafty Life says

    I wish I could tell you what to do! I love artichokes. We tried growing them without any luck! Maybe you could leave the two rows with some growing there, and hope they come up and replant new ones in the one row that looks completely dead. That way you will still have some, but give those others a chance to come back. If they don’t end up coming back, plant some new ones in those spots later this summer?

  6. Emily says

    Oh my gosh how I love artichokes! I’m not sure I have the space to plant any but if I did, I totally would. Shall I come down and do some cool rebirth, regrowth Native American dance with you? I totally would.

  7. Amy says

    It sounds like you might want to start over and just call it a day. I know what you mean about losing plants you’ve put so much time and energy into (and love), but it sounds like you called it right when you thought they were fried. And if they do come back for some reason (doubtful), you might have starts to give to someone else? And anyway, it would be cool to show us all how you get the plot and your plants going.

  8. Jess says

    Boy! Those are a lot of artichokes. I honestly haven’t tried one in about 15 years, and didn’t like it then. I should really try them again.

  9. Sarah says

    Wow, I haven’t thought to grow artichokes! they’re so delicious! we grew up eating them dipped in mayo…healthy, right? ;) I’d say dig them up and plant new. It’s still early enough that you could probably get some from the new plants, right? Especially since the other two are growing so well already, it’s a sign that those others probably won’t grow, and if they do, they won’t do well. I started following your blog because Jenny Buck told me about your amazing garden (I think I met you at her baby shower for Henry with the minute to win it games…fun shower!), it’d be great to hear more about what other plants you are growing. Either way – love your blog. Sincerely, Silent-before-now-Blog-Stalker-Sarah

  10. Stevie (@Garden_Therapy) says

    Well, I don’t garden in the same climate as you, so I’m not sure my advice will help… but artichokes are a tender perennial here (Vancouver BC) as well.

    My thought is that you are so lucky to have had such a great crop for so many years – your photos make me soooo envious! – but that it’s time to start a new with new plants. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find a great plant sale with big 1 or 5 gallon pots of them for sale then you can re-start your amazing artichokes without too much fuss. Again, I’m sooooo green with envy.

    I love artichokes but I’m lucky if I get one a year. here is mine :) http://gardentherapy.ca/artichoke-january-2009-july-2010/

    happy gardening!
    Stevie

  11. Jusa says

    No experience at all growing artichokes. My mom tried to get me to try them as a kid. I didn’t like ’em. Never really bothered with them again, except those convenient ones in the bottles, or the ones in the olive buffet at the supermarket. Gosh, I’m an adult now. Maybe I better give them another chance. You’re a good sales person.
    I like to refer to our local (Mid Atlantic) radio garden show host for advice. Try this webpage: http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=1143
    Another very good source is always your state extension agent, or university, website. That way the info is specific to your state. BTW, Mike says if you are able to harvest 50 percent of your garden crops you’re doing really well. Sad, but failed crops happen.

  12. Brittany @ My Decoupaged Life says

    I wish I could help you! Here in Houston we don’t have to really worry about winterizing them. My mom has a huge plant in her front yard that started producing this year. My mom eats them with mayo, but my husband and I prefer ranch. I think you may have to start again. I’m so sorry! We have seeds and plan on planting them this fall (here in the hot humid climate the fall is best from what I’ve read). Good luck!

  13. Pam the Goatherd says

    I don’t have an answer to your question but I’m grateful for the information about overwintering artichokes. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE artichokes but can’t afford to buy them in the grocery store, especially since the grocery store in our little town doesn’t have the freshest selection for the high price. I didn’t think it was possible to grow them with our cold Midwest winters. But you have given me hope that I can have fresh artichokes with a little bit of care. I’m a happy gardener now! Thank you!
    I hope your artichoke plants surprise you with some new growth soon.

  14. Jeannette says

    How about root stimuator to get them going again? I don’t know if that will work – – but it couldn’t hurt!

  15. Charlie Tea says

    Liza, I have six artichoke plants that I grew from seeds started indoors in Northern Virginia. The are beautiful, unfortunately my wife planted zucchini near them and robbed them of their deserved sunlight and they did not produce. I am going to overw-winter them using a method similar to the one you described. Your solution however is to use the roots to start new plants and reproduce your artichoke patch. You should get artichokes the first year.

  16. Emily says

    I am so jealous of those 5 wonderful years you’ve had with your artichokes and I hope you have been able to start over and find some success this spring. Your pictures with the empty spaces breaks my heart! I love artichokes so much and have been trying to convince my husband that they are worth the space they demand. If you don’t mind me asking some questions, I’m wondering when you planted your seeds or if you started them indoors. I live in Utah Valley and I am secretly plotting a small artichoke field for next spring- I might even resort to the front yard. I am thinking about ordering green globe artichokes because the Utah Extension recommends them to overwinter here. What did you plant? Thanks, in advance!

    • Liza says

      The replacement plants I planted last year came back this year! Some are a little small and may not produce this year, but they came back so I am happy.

      Originally I planted them by seed and started them indoors in January. I ordered Green Globe. The thing to know with buying seeds is that no matter what kind you get, you have up to a 40% chance than some will be a different variety. I am not sure why is is the case but from the reading I have done, it happens no matter where you buy the seeds from.
      So while most of mine are green globe, a few are not. But they all seem to come back and do well.

      Last year by the time I realized they didn’t make it, it was too late to start them indoors from seed so I bought plants from a local nursery. They are not super common but I have found them at Home Depot a time or two and even Walmart.

      I think they are pretty plants even if they do require a bit more space than other plants :)