Cynara scolymus (120 days) Open-pollinated. A harvest of beautiful artichokes is well worth the fuss of persuading this Mediterranean biennial into behaving like an annual. The plant-breeding efforts of Wayne Schrader and Keith Mayberry of California Cooperative Extension made this delicious flowerbud accessible to northern gardeners in 1991. In New England, plants tend to bear 2–4 chokes during cool fall weather; however, with climate change, our plants in central Maine are tending toward 6–8 chokes per plant, closer to West Coast standards. Left to bloom, the buds open into massive otherworldly blue flowers that dry well. Overwintering with care is possible in mid-Atlantic states. Caution: May not produce in Zone 4 and colder. ③
3608 Imperial Star - Organic
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Days to maturity are from date of transplanting.
About 20 seeds/g. 0.5g packet contains about 10 seeds.
Culture: Artichoke is a biennial, and in the north the young plant must be tricked into thinking it has already gone through a season of growth and a winter, a process called vernalization.
Start indoors in mid-February and grow on at around 70° during the day and 50° at night, avoiding direct hot sun or overwatering (misting is preferred). When night temps no longer drop more than a few degrees below freezing (mid-April to mid-May in New England), move seedlings to an unheated greenhouse or cold frame to harden off. Keep them well ventilated and as cool as possible without freezing. Plants (both seedlings and mature) can tolerate light frosts but not hard ones. (If this hardening-off regimen is not feasible, try to time transplanting so plants receive 7–10 days of 45–50°.) After danger of frost has passed, set plants out 3' apart in rows 4' apart. Incorporate generous amounts of compost or aged manure. A balanced fertilizer is beneficial. Plants need at least 1" of water per week. Mulch with hay or IRT mulch. Row covers help hasten maturity.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.