Thanks for taking the time to read our article on how to grow globe artichokes for beginners in the UK. This is a thistle like plant that many UK gardeners grow in the border of their gardens, rather than growing in their vegetable garden or allotment.
They are classed as a perennial vegetable that produce large flower heads.
The globe artichoke can get to 4 feet high and has silver leaves. The globe artichoke should never be allowed to bloom, as they are removed for cooking just before the fleshy scales are about to open.
These can be tricky to grow so if you are a beginner you may need a couple of attempts to get this right. The good news is that once you get them growing, then they last for many years. A typical plant will produce 4-6 artichokes.
They do need good soil, regular watering, regular feeding and they need to be protected in the winter months. They are planted using what are called "rooted suckers," which you should buy from your local garden centre.
You can grow these from seed and later in this article is a video that shows you how to do just that.
If you have never tasted these, they are quite delicious and considered to be a gourmet vegetable. The fleshy base of the petals and the meaty heart are the most edible parts.
Varieties that grow in the UK
There are a few main varieties:
- Purple Globe - Not the best flavour but hardier than the green variety described below
- Green Globe - the most popular variety with large green heads
- Romanesco - This artichoke has deep purple flower buds with each plant producing up to 10 artichokes a season
- Vert DeLaon - This one is the gardener's friend and the one that tastes the best
- Camus De Bretagne - Hard to find but if you can has large heads and great flavour. Needs a lot of sun so best grown in the South of the UK
Globe Artichoke Plant Facts
To grow global artichokes you will need to buy "rooted suckers" from your local garden centre. Once you have grown these you can then use your own rooted suckers. You can also grow these from seed, but they will take a little time and patience.
The sucker should be about 9 inches high and must still have the roots attached. As mentioned, you can also grow from seed but that is slightly harder and a bit more work.
The Premier seeds shown above and to the right contain 300 seeds. They can be sown outside into soil from May to June (when the air temperature is above 15°C and no concerns about frost) Seeds like this are always better started in pots and then transplanted.
Sew thinly at 1" deep in rows 1 foot apart. Thin to 9 inches. Plant out the following Spring
Yield per Plant
Time between planting & cutting
Ease of Growing
Easy- however they need space and regular care
- Sowing Time - Mid March to end of April
- Planting Time - April
- Cutting Time - July- mid October
Best Soil & Planting Tips
Ideally light or loam soil and plant in a sunny and sheltered location. Good drainage is vitally important and they will never grow in clay soil.
The soil should be prepared in the Autumn and a lot of manure or compost added at that time. Fertilizer should be raked in just before planting.
They should be planted firmly 2" deep, 36" apart. Remove the tips of the leaves and water in thoroughly.
These are also good to grow in containers.
Maintaining the Plant
These plants need to be well watered until you are certain they are established. You should mulch around the stems of the plants around May time.
In the summer months hoe regularly, water during dry periods and apply a liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks
In late Autumn cut down the stems and cover the crowns with leaves or straw. Let that stay until April before removing.
Globe Artichoke Pests and Problems
Slugs will attack young shoots when they are first planted, and during any type of wet weather. Avoid this pest by spreading slug pellets around the plants. The alternative to that is to pick the slugs out at around dusk time.
Blackfly and Greenfly will go after the flower heads when they start to appear. You can buy sprays that deal with these pests such as crop saver.
This should not be a major problem as it is fairly rare. That said if you get this problem it is serious. You can identify this as brown spots quickly appear and will ruin the artichoke head.
If found then remove and burn the affected tops (don't compost). You should also spray with Dithane.
Harvesting & Use
Artichokes are a popular vegetable in Europe but not so much in the UK. These do look like a really nice plant to grow in your garden.
When growing these artichokes for the first year you will see the heads starting to appear. You should immediately cut these heads off and get rid of them.
This artichoke type can only be a crop the following year so patience is required. In that season you can then start regular cropping.
The leaves should be heading towards the centre of the artichoke. Ideally the head will not have opened but it should be about to. It is a delicious vegetable and can be eaten either hot or cold.