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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."

12 comments

  • Amy, the top growth may die back over winter, but the artichoke will regrow from the root crown. You can remove the dead growth, and mulch (thick layer 6-8" if you have snow) around the base of the plant so the root crown does not freeze.

    Suzanne
  • My artichoke was doing great until we got a sudden freeze. It was in the 80s for Christmas and New Years. Then it suddenly dropped into the teens and twenties last week. Now my artichoke plant is all drooped over. Can it be saved?

    Amy Manuel
  • Carlo, when you dig them up put them in soil and keep moist, not wet, during the winter. You just don’t want the root crowns to freeze or rot in really wet soil.

    Suzanne
  • I have 4 artichokes plant I intend to dig them up put them in a box and keep them in the garage but I don’t know if the crown got to be kept damp,
    I will appreciate your help thank you c. Calconi

    Carlo calconi
  • 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
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