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I wasn't paying close enough attention to my artichoke this past week, and it flowered on me before I could get a chance to harvest the bud. Disappointing that I didn't get to eat it, but at least I get the consolation prize of a really neat looking flower.

So I'm wondering now do I cut it off (and if so how far down from the flower) or do I just let it go? Not sure if the flowering is eating up resources that could be put towards vegetative growth, or if its good to let it go to help further develop the main stalk?

Flowering Artichoke

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There is a small possibility that if you cut it off now, it may form more buds before the end of the growing season. If you're harvesting them to eat, you generally cut a couple of inches down the stem from the bottom of the bud; I don't see any reason to do it differently in your situation.

On the other hand, the plant has already put energy into growing this flower so you could just enjoy it while it's in bloom. It will take some energy to maintain the flower, but artichokes are vigorous growers in the right conditions, so I doubt it will hurt the plant to leave it. My neighbors leave theirs to flower and they keep coming back year after year. If you do leave the flower, you should remove it once it starts to wither, so that the plant won't try to put more energy into making seeds.

However, I think the single best thing you could do for that plant is to put it in the ground. Artichokes develop long tap roots, typically growing as deep as the plant is tall, so if it's being confined to that pot, it's never going to reach its full potential.

  • Thanks for the info. Will another bud form on that same center main stalk or only offshoots? I'd love to put it in the ground, but we are renting, and the back yard is entirely paved (used to be a pool, now its a gravel pit). In the front, everything gets destroyed by slugs and the landlord's gardeners :( – WebChemist Aug 3 '13 at 1:44
  • Any I've seen have grown from the axils (where a leaf joins the stem) of the upper leaves on the main stem. If you can't put it in the ground, would you be able to find a taller pot for it, like a recycled wine barrel? – Niall C. Aug 3 '13 at 2:57
  • How much horizontal root space do they need? I've got a several more smaller artichoke plants, and neither the space or money for each one to get its own barrel, but if I could fit 3 to barrel that might work. Thanks again – WebChemist Aug 3 '13 at 21:36
  • They can get to be pretty big plants -- 5 feet across or more -- so I think they'd be cramped if you had 3 to a barrel. I have no experience growing artichokes in pots, so this is just a guess, but you might be better off leaving them in individual pots so they're not competing with each other. – Niall C. Aug 4 '13 at 2:40
  • I agree with Niall! Get that guy in the ground for winter! I ate my first year artichokes and they were delicious. Growing them in a pot is a great idea because you can move them around to make space for other things in a small garden. Watch out for black aphids...they usually make an appearance in fall coating the stem black. Plant your artichokes (what zone do you live in) in the garden, doesn't have to be in the vegetable garden either! You can plant them behind small shrubs, in empty sunny spots as an interesting grey specimen plant. Potted, their roots will freeze. – stormy Nov 15 '16 at 23:13

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