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Caring for Artichokes in the Winter

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, Tricia shows 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."

8 comments

  • Mary, you can either cut them or leave them. The most important part is the root crown. Make sure that is covered with a thick mulch, so it does not freeze.

    Suzanne
  • My artichoke plants regrew their leaves after late Fall cutting back. Now we have frost. Shall I cut them back or cover the whole plants with agricultural fleece?

    Mary
  • Erika, yes you can cover your crowns with a wheelbarrow and use either leaves or straw.

    Suzanne
  • Using the box technique, could I put my wheelbarrow upside down over the crown, filled with leaves?

    Erika
  • Steve, artichokes typically die back in the winter and with proper care over the winter such as heavy mulching to protect from freezing. If they are going in a greenhouse you may need to water them a few times, just so they do not dry out.

    Suzanne
  • Hi! I have some young artichoke plants in the garden, each in its own greenhouse. Would this be sufficient to protect them from any frost? I have covered the ground with mulch and straw. (I am in London, UK.) Also, what is the correct watering regimen during the winter months?

    Thank you.

    steve c
  • Susie, artichokes can get very big, so not sure if you want to deal with a large pot. Artichokes are perennials, so the top growth dies back over winter and the new plant grows from the remaining root crown. If you live in a very cold zone you can cover with a very thick layer of mulch (up to 8 inches) to protect the root crown. The other option is to dig up the root crowns and bring them into a basement or garage so they will not freeze.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • Can I grow the artichoke in a container? and bring in the house in the fall?

    Susie Perrone

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