Pasadena Gardens & Curb Appeal – Where Do Artichokes Come From?
No, artichokes don’t come from the produce aisle at Whole Foods. Artichokes are plants that grow quite well in Pasadena and Los Angeles gardens. The plants are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and N. Africa, with which we share a similar climate. Artichokes are grown commercially along the California central coast in places like Santa Cruz & Castroville.
Artichokes are easy to grow here in Pasadena and Los Angeles from seed or seedlings and are semi-perennial. They may bear fruit the first year but more often than not, the largest “chokes” will grow in the second or third year. If you are growing artichokes to eat, you will probably want to replace your plants after the fourth year.
Artichokes sprout multiple chokes throughout the growing season. The largest choke, also known as the King is usually significantly larger than the rest of the chokes and grows up from the center of the plant. The chokes nearer the top of the plant are usually larger and they get progressively smaller as they get closer to the ground and reduced sunlight. Each plant may produce 10 or 20 additional chokes and are usually harvested in spring and fall.
If you’re not into eating artichokes, know that they also make a striking landscape plant. The plants which average 4′ in diameter and just as tall, produce large spikey silver gray leaves. If the chokes are not harvested, each choke produces a huge blue/purple thistle-like flower which is beautiful in the garden or makes a long lasting cut flower.
Photo of artichoke flower by Anna Majowska