Is it feasible to grow/plant any species of thistle in a pot inside?

I've always found thistles beautiful, both the bulb, the flower and the spiky leaves. I've tried googling, but all results are about outdoor growing and control. Maybe I lack the right keywords as an amateur.

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It is not easily done. The thistles I see usually grow in full sun which can be about 120,000 lux outside at noon. Inside illumination ranges from 100 to 500 lux, a vast difference in the light levels needed for growth and flowering. You would need to supplement the light levels with an artificial light system of some sort. High pressure sodium or metal halide are used by greenhouse growers.

The problem is by the time you finish installing a light system, running it for at least eight hours a day and paying for the electricity your home looks like a greenhouse.

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  • Ah, that's unfortunate. Artifical light would already be beyond my budget. Maybe I'll try to remember this dream for spring and plant it on my equator-facing balcony. – Anna Sep 14 at 19:42
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    Since many people do consider thistles weeds (and in some jurisdictions they are legally considered weeds), and the seeds are spread by wind, if you grow a thistle on your balcony please be sure to remove any faded blooms before they go to seed. Spreading thistle seeds all over the neighborhood will not make your neighbors/groundskeepers happy. – csk Sep 15 at 3:12
  • Thanks for saving me that embarrassment @csk :) – Anna Sep 15 at 14:10

I've sprouted Mary thistle indoors before, in my kitchen's south windowsill, but only to transplant it outside after it got to a few inches tall. That works fine. However, my observation and guess is you would probably want growlights to get a good, healthy plant with flowers. If you're just growing it for microgreens or something, then growing indoors is fine. Germination was pretty sporadic for me, though (they didn't all sprout at the same time). The leaves tasted like lettuce indoors or out, but they're more tender and less crinkly with low light such as is found in the shade or partial shade outdoors or in a bright windowsill.

Thistles do attract certain pests, including aphids, slugs, and weevils. I've never seen pests on them indoors, but I imagine they might be an issue. The weevils come when the buds/flowers come.

I wouldn't discourage you from attempting to grow a thistle indoors, though. You never know: my guess could be wrong. But yeah, give it as much light indoors as you can. If you're not using growlights, that means a south window, usually.

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    Thank you! In fact I just bought some mary thistle seeds, I'll try planting them soon and see how it goes! Any mary thistle advice is welcome! – Anna Sep 17 at 13:32
  • I've got a big south-facing window, but maybe even that won't be enough for Stockholm autumn/winter. – Anna Sep 17 at 13:33

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