Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Grow Artichokes in Las Vegas

...Sweetheart Artichoke Co. Store

Q: I'm in the process of replanting artichokes in my garden here in Las Vegas. I was under the impression that my plants would keep going strong year after year. Last summer they failed and your site explained why!

Is there one variety of plant that will do better for me here in the desert?

If I were to order three or four plants from you, what would you recommend?

A: Shade Cloth
I am glad that my website was helpful! I do sell a lot of artichoke varieties to Nevada. The key to growing any variety in Las Vegas is to have filtered sunshine. If your plants are in full sun, then you will need 30% nursery shade cloth. I purchase mine at
. They custom make all orders to your specifications and it is very affordable too. Make sure to order the shade cloth early enough in the season so you can receive it in a timely manner. You will need 30% woven shade cloth, hemmed, with grommets. It should last about 5 or more years. With a shade cloth overhead, then all varieties (except the Canada Star) will grow well in your climate.

Las Vegas is located in hardy growing zone 9 as well as where I am located in California, also zone 9. The only difference is that our nighttime summer temps cool down at night and we do not have as long as a summer as Las Vegas, Nevada. I grow all of my 1st season potted plants under a shade cloth at 40% shade. However, 40% is too tight of a weave for someone who wants to grow globes. The plants I have in-ground for personal use receive morning and early afternoon sun (no shade cloth), and then partial sun to full shade during hottest part of the day.

Italian Varieties
My personal artichokes are: Italian Romanesco, Italian Violetto, Green Globe, and Imperial Star. All would be just right for you too. (If they do not show available in my online store, email me and I will put together a custom order for you.) I do have garden friends in Arizona (also very hot there) who keep their artichoke plants in full sun and no shade cloth.

Soil and Mulch
Soil and mulch makes a huge difference when growing artichoke plants in hot climate zones. The best soil is a mix of 1 part Miracle Grow potting soil, 1 part decomposed granite, and 1 part bagged steer manure (cured, comes bagged at Lowe’s and Home Depot). The best mulch is either water hyacinth or water lettuce from a pond. The roots soak up the fish excrement and provide valuable nitrogen to the soil. It has the same properties as the dried fish emulsion sold at hydroponics stores. Dried leaves and grass clippings are also helpful, but never apply coffee grounds into a mulch pile.

Artichoke Growing Mistakes
1. The mistake many growers make is trimming off dead or wilted leaves when the artichoke plant is mature. It is vitally important to allow the bottom leaves to naturally lay down, because it shades the soil and protects the roots.

2. Too much water produces small globes and can actually drown the plant! Treat your artichoke like a tomato plant by stressing it just a little between watering. Water well once per week in the summer months and then light watering as needed.

3. Chemical fertilizers can burn and kill your young artichoke plant. Artichokes are big feeders, so use a different organic fertilizer each week; such as egg shells, fireplace ash (with no chemicals or plastics in the ash), cured steer manure, and diluted powdered milk.

4. Over crowding plants will also produce smaller globes. Healthy artichoke plants need five feet of space between plants to grow nice and big.

With all this in mind, you should be very successful growing an artichoke garden!

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Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Grow Mare's Tail

...The Pond Plant Girl's Home Page
Q: Hi! I am in South Florida, zone 9/10. Our pond levels increase and decrease with the rainy season. Would this plant be attached in soil or does it float? Would it live through a 2' pond level increase? And is this an ok time to start them here?

A: Mare's Tail can float, but similar to parrot feather it is not defined as a floating plant. It grows best potted, but will survive if it is submerged as you described. If allowed to float, Mare's Tail will lay flat floating on top of the water surface and then the tip will eventually rise up out of the water about 3". This is how I grew several plants last summer.

Although Mare's Tail is cold hardy zone 7 it will also grow in hotter zones, such as 9 and 10. In hot climate zones, it is good to start this plant in late fall and in the wintertime. Also, keep in mind that caterpillars love to munch on its leaves, so you will need to watch out for that!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Make Artichoke Leaf Tea

Sweetheart Artichoke Home Page

Artichoke Leaf Tea is easy to prepare when the leaves are freshly cut. Place fresh leaves in boiling water for 5-15 minutes. Let it cool down and drink the water. The taste is very bitter, but can be sweetened with honey. Some of my garden friends use artichoke leaf tea to help with urination, kidney, and liver health. However, it is best to consult a physician before starting medicinal herbal treatment.

According to, the benefits of drinking artichoke tea are:

Lowering Cholesterol
Relief of Digestive Discomfort
Lowering Blood Sugar

If you are interested in purchasing artichoke leaves for tea, please contact me at

Garden Blessings! GAiL

How to Grow Artichokes in Hot Climates

Sweetheart Artichoke Co

In hot climates zone 9 and up and the summer heat rises to 115-120 degrees, it is good to plant where the artichokes receive morning sun in the summertime. If you do not have an area such as this, then hanging a shade cloth over your artichokes is a wise choice when the weather is hot. I am located in California zone 9 with summmer heat reaching 105-110 degrees. Artichokes grow well here in full sun. However, it is best to plant in the fall or in the early spring so the plants become well established before the summer heat sets in.

Shade Cloth

I suggest a shade cloth with 30% shade and recommend The Shade Cloth Store. This is where I purchase my shade cloth. This type is not available at hardware stores or garden centers. I personally use 40% shade for my young potted plants, but 30% is better for actually growing in-ground and producing the globes. This company will custom make your shade cloth, and it is very affordable. Be sure to ask for a shade cloth that is hemmed with grommets. Also, be sure to mulch under your artichoke plants so that the ground retains its moisture. As your plants grow larger, do not remove any leaves that lay down on the ground. This is the plant’s way of self-mulching.

Frost Protection
In the wintertime, it is important to protect your artichokes from frost and freeze. If you are in hot climate zone 9 and up, you may keep your established artichoke in-ground with little or no protection. More winter care can be found at:

My Artichoke Blog

Sweetheart Artichoke Care

You may also search my blog for more info by entering the word "artichoke" in the search bar.

If you have any questions, please email me at

Garden Blessings! GAiL

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Grow Water Lettuce in Winter

The Pond Plant Girl Home Page

Water lettuce requires plenty of sunshine...
But in the wintertime, water lettuce has special needs. I presently keep my water lettuce and my water hyacinth in shallow plastic containers inside a greenhouse protected from frost and freeze.

Growing Water Lettuce Indoors
In cold winter conditions water lettuce can be wintered over indoors in a sunny window. However, it needs warmth and humidity. This can be accomplished with a Water Garden Light Box
; such as the one pictured here. This light box was simply made with an aquarium located in a sunny window covered with clear plastic wrap (to keep in the humidity) and with mirrors inserted inside the aquarium to reflect the light. (The mirrors were scrap mirrors I obtained for free from a glass and mirror company.) The mirrors were inserted on the bottom and on the left and right sides of the fish tank. I tried growing water lettuce the following year without mirrors, and the plants did not survive.

Florescent Lighting
A florescent light must be placed on top of the aquarium to create heat and humidity. A grow light can be used to replace the florescent bulb and can be purchased online or at any hydroponics store. .

Growing Water Lettuce Outdoors
In the wintertime, if water lettuce is grown outdoors in a pond, it needs to be protected from freezing temperatures and covered with plastic or a Hoop House. However, it will also need a fan to circulate the air to prevent mold and mildew.

Here are some helpful links about growing water lettuce:
How to Grow Water Lettuce

Build a Water Garden Light Box

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to Stake Up and Care for New Artichoke Plants

Sweetheart Artichoke Co.

Artichoke Plants in Shock

When you first receive your artichoke plants in the mail, they will be in shock. The same is true for plants that are separated from a mother plant. The leaves may respond by wilting for 7 to 10 days.

Whether you plant in-ground or in a pot, your artichoke plant will probably need to be staked up for about 1 week.

Binding Your Artichoke Plant
Binding or Staking up your artichoke will take the stress off of the plant while it recovers from being shipped, and it is easy to do. Insert a thin stick into the ground next to your plant. Then, gently wrap wide material around the stalks and leaves.

Binding Materials
1. I find that a plastic grocery bag works well. Make sure the binding is not too tight so the leaves can breath. 2. Another method is using old pantyhose. The material allows air to flow through and also attracts ions that help the plant grow.

Good Potting Soil
My artichokes are love this mix.

1/3 part Miracle Grow Potting Soil
1/3 part Decomposed Granite
1/3 part Bagged Steer Manure Blend

Where to purchase the mix: The decomposed granite (or DG) and top soil can be purchased at a sand and gravel yard. Most locations will deliver right to your home or business. Miracle Grow and steer manure blend can be purchased at any garden center such as Lowe's or Home Depot. This blend will retain moisture better than just plain potting soil and your artichokes will love you for it too!

Watering Your Artichoke Plant
In cool weather, water once daily while your plant is getting established. In hot weather, water 2 times per day. However, artichoke plants needs good drainage. Too much water or standing water will actually drown your artichoke plant and cause root rot. The amount of water depends on the weather. If it is not raining, then apply about 1 inch of surface water. This amounts to about to about 4 cups to 1 quart of water.

What to Do When All the Leaves Die?
There are times when artichokes will temporarily go dormant after shipping. This is what they do for survival. It is shocking at first, but do not fear! As long as the artichoke roots do not rot, your plant will live. Trim back all the drooping leaves as in the picture. This plant actually grew much larger than it was before and was sold to a garden friend... which is thriving today.

Where to Find More Information
Search for more artichoke growing information on my blog or go to my website for Artichoke Care. If you have any questions or comments please post them here or email me at