Caring for Artichokes in the Winter

artichokes in the garden

Artichokes are the stars of the edible landscape!

Of course we all love to dip them in butter, but artichoke plants also have great garden design elements with their dramatic height, spiky foliage, and purple flowers. Protect your artichokes from frost and welcome them back in the spring. Artichokes can grow for 6 to 7 years, and the Green Globe artichokes are a variety that does well in cold weather. If you're in USDA zones 6 and 7 you can pamper them through the winter. In colder zones, artichokes are treated as annuals. In our video on fall care for perennial vegetables, we show how to shield them from the elements in cold climates.

  • Cut the stalks of the artichokes down to about 6 inches.
  • Gather the stalks together and tie them to hold them upright and protect the crown.
  • Add 4 to 6 inches of compost around the base of each plant.
  • Then, layer 8 inches of straw or leaves on top of the compost.

Expecting a sharp drop in temperature? Cover each artichoke plant with a cardboard box or a styrofoam cooler, and add straw or leaves inside the box. Remove the box when the temperature returns to normal for your area. If you're in zone 6 you can leave the filled box on during much of the winter. In April, remove the mulch and apply a balanced fertilizer.

Keep an eye on the weather in case there is a cold snap that could hurt the artichokes in the last frosts that come with the advent of Spring. Another alternative to covering the plants during the winter is to dig up the root crowns before freezing temperatures. The root crowns can be stored in a cool basement or garage, but should not be allowed to freeze.

For more information on these delicious and decorative vegetables, see our Growing Guide and one of our favorite books, The Edible Front Yard, where author Ivette Soler calls artichokes "the hands-down superstar of front yard food."

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Lynne, you can follow the instructions except if they are not that big, I would not cut them back. But def. cover with a thick layer of mulch and cover the top of the plant.


Hello… I live in zone 8B. I was told that I should plant my baby artichokes in September here. They transplanted well and they’ve grown quite a bit. They are still very small. Is your advice the same for new artichokes overwintering?


Meaghan, the mulch should be put on 6-8 inches deep around the root crown. That will help keep the crown insulated over winter. The mulch can be applied out about a foot (more is ok) around the root crown.


When you say 6-8" of mulch, does that mean 6-8" out from the center of the plant, or 6-8" deep/high from the ground?


Wm, if you live in an area where the ground does not freeze, I would wait to dig up your artichokes until they are starting to go dormant. That will have less stress on the plants than if you dig them up when they are still actively growing. Maybe wait until you get your first frost and then dig them up.


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