Saturday, November 12, 2011

Artichoke Planting Information

....Sweetheart Artichoke Co

Q: I ordered 6" plants. When I go to plant my artichokes in the ground, how large of a hole should I make? Also, when you say "sunny location", would all day sun [like 12 hrs full sun, no shade] be ok in zone 9b FL? Or should I put them somewhere with a little bit more protection? Thank you for you time! Fawn

A: Hi Fawn – Good question. I think I actually sent 10” plants because everything grew so fast over the last month. The plants I sent are Imperial Star; which adapt well to both hot and cold climates. Here are a few thoughts for you…

Fall Planting
Planting in the fall time is perfect, because the young plants really do not need any shelter from the sun. We have a local farmer by me (zone 9 as well) who keeps his green globe artichoke field in full sun all day long. In my personal garden, my artichokes have about 8 hours sun in the summertime. So to answer your question, 8-12 hours of sun of full sun is perfect.

Young 1st Season Plants
Because the plants are young I would cover them with a plastic tarp or a sheet during the night when there is a threat of frost. More important than sun, is mulching. When artichokes grow large (4-6 feet tall) their lower leaves naturally lay down. This is the plant’s way of protecting the roots below from the heat of the summer sun.

Hole Size
Digging a hole about 12” deep is just fine. Remember to fill it in with some good potting soil or to follow my soil recipe. If the ground is hard or clay base, then you will need to till the soil about 2 feet deep to promote healthy root growth.

Simple mulching is important in the summer for hot climates, because it keeps the ground hydrated. It is important for cold to protect the ground from freezing in the wintertime. Simple mulching can be done by piling up grass clippings and leaves at the base of the artichoke plants. The best mulching plants are water hyacinth and water lettuce. These are pond plants that absorb fish nutrients from the water and add nitrogen to the soil.

When Artichoke Plants Die Back
It is normal for artichokes plants to die back in the wintertime. I have one garden friend who actually mows his plants down when the growing season is over. Then his plants come back up again in the springtime bigger and fatter. This year, my 3rd season plants (both potted and planted in-ground) died back mid season and then came back up again. This is normal. The plants in the farmer’s field also died back mid season. They grew back and are now about 3 feet tall in mid November.

Garden Blessings, GAiL

Note: More artichoke growing tips can be found by entering artichoke in the search bar in the upper right hand corner of my blog. Thanks for looking!

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