Artichokes in Zone 6
Answered by: Inge Poot and Conrad Richter
Question from: Lynn O’Donnell
Posted on: April 26, 2002

I need info about growing artichokes in Virginia, USA, located in zone 6.

You don’t specify which artichoke you want to grow. There several varieties; the two we carry are the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) and globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus). They are very different: the former produces an underground tuber that is eaten like a potato, while the latter produces a large aboveground green flower bud that is considered a European delicacy.

The Jerusalem artichoke is very hardy, down to zone 3, so you should have no difficulty growing it. It likes full sun and rich soil. It is propagated by tubers only – not by seeds – so you must order tubers for planting. But once planted, it persists for many years, unlike potatoes which must be planted each year.

Globe artichokes are started from seeds. In most northern temperate zones they are treated as two season crop because they take two seasons to reach a size to produce useable flowerbuds. Since they are hardy to zone 9 only, the plants have to be overwintered indoors in zone 6. You dig them after the first frost, place them in barely moist peat moss and keep at 5 to 10 degrees Celsius (40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) over the winter. Do not allow to get dry and replant after all danger of frost is past. Keeping the plants in deep pots and moving the pots to a frost free, cool place for the winter will work even better.

Recently the director of the Devonian Botanic Garden in Edmonton, Alberta, in zone 3, told us that he has been growing globe artichokes reliably for over a decade as a single season crop, not as a two season crop suggested in the previous paragraph. The key is to start seeds early indoors (he starts them in January or February) and to provide ample direct sunlight so that the seedlings can develop to a good size by the time it is safe to plant outdoors in May. Outdoors, the plants get rich soil, full sun, and ample water.

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