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Growing Guide: How to Grow Cardoon (Artichoke Thistle)

Growing Guide: How to Grow Cardoon (Artichoke Thistle)

Planting Artichoke Thistle, also known as Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), brings a bold, architectural element to your garden with its striking, silvery-blue foliage and large thistle-like flowers. Here's a comprehensive guide to planting and caring for this unique and ornamental perennial:

Choosing the Right Time and Location

  • Best Time to Plant: Plant Artichoke Thistle in early spring after the risk of frost has passed. In warmer climates, autumn planting is also suitable.
  • Location: Select a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Artichoke Thistle thrives in full sun.

Soil Preparation

  • Soil Requirements: This plant prefers well-draining, fertile soil. It is adaptable to various soil types but performs best in soil rich in organic matter.
  • Improving Soil: Amend the planting area with compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil. If you have heavy clay soil, incorporate some sand or gravel to improve drainage.

Planting Artichoke Thistle

  • Spacing: Space plants or seeds about 90 cm apart to give them room to grow. Cardoon can reach heights of 90-180 cm
  • Planting Depth: Sow seeds shallowly, about 10 cm deep.

Watering and Feeding

  • Watering: Water thoroughly after planting. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially during dry periods.
  • Fertilising: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertiliser at the beginning of the growing season to promote healthy growth. A mid-season feeding can be beneficial, especially in poorer soils.

Ongoing Care

  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Support: Tall varieties may require staking to prevent them from flopping over, especially in windy locations or when the large flower heads develop.
  • Pruning: Remove spent flower heads to prevent the plant from self-seeding excessively, as it can become invasive in some areas.

Pests and Diseases

  • Common Issues: Artichoke Thistle is relatively pest and disease-free but watch for slugs and snails, especially on younger plants.

Winter Care

  • In Cold Climates: In colder climates, protect the crown of the plant with a thick layer of mulch to overwinter.

With its dramatic foliage and striking flowers, Artichoke Thistle makes a stunning addition to ornamental beds, borders, and large containers. Its unique appearance and low-maintenance nature make it a rewarding choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of drama to their outdoor spaces.

Meet Ben, our Flower Bulb Specialist
Meet Ben, our Flower Bulb Specialist

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