Artichokes are an easy to grow perennial. Get the most out of them by letting them flower. Learn why you should let your artichoke bloom.
There are not many instances that neglecting a garden will produce a reward. Artichokes are an exception. Like most people we grow artichokes for their edible buds. If you would like to have a good harvest don’t wait too long to pick the crop. If the buds aren’t cut fast enough they may begin to open slightly. As soon as the majority of the leaves turn outwards, it’s too late. It isn’t worth harvesting the buds for consumption because they will be tough after cooking. At this point, you’re better off just leaving the bud on the plant and letting it bloom.
Benefits of Artichoke Bloom
Seeing the stunning purple flowers is an incentive to leave just a few every year. The thistle-like blooms are large flowers and have bright, lavender blue centers. Artichoke plants usually produce 4 to 5 flower heads in their first year of growth and about 10 in the second year! Here are some of the main reasons to leave some buds to open:
- They are great for attracting bees and other beneficial insects to your garden! The blooms smell like sweet nectar!
- The flowers grow on tall flower stalks that can reach 6 feet tall so they really stand out in the garden. They are gorgeous in a variety of landscapes.
- Artichoke flowers can be cut and used fresh or dried to make beautiful bouquets and flower arrangements, or just left on the plant for a gorgeous display in the garden. To dry artichoke flowers, cut them off using pruning shears and hang them upside down with a piece of string in a cool, dry place until they’re fully dried. Once the flowers are dried you can use them to make a long lasting dried flower arrangement.
- Flowers will produce seeds and new artichokes seedlings that can be potted up.
Meaning of artichoke bloom?
Most flowers have symbolism around their history and uses. The artichoke flower is no exception. Artichoke blooms have tender heart which is protected by strong outer layers. This lends them to deep symbolism. The artichoke bloom represents represent hope and prosperity. Including them in bouquets, and arrangements can be quite special for this reason.
Artichoke Bloom Frequently Asked Questions
Can you eat a bloomed artichoke?
No! Artichoke flowers are not edible once they’ve started to bloom. The buds need to be harvested while they’re still tightly packed if you want to eat them.
If the bud starts to open, it becomes too tough and fibrous to eat so it’s best to leave it to bloom so you can enjoy the beautiful flowers.
What does it mean when an artichoke flowers?
When artichoke plants bloom it means that it is entering the reproductive phase of it’s cycle. The flowers are meant to produce seeds. For the gardener it means that it’s too late to eat the bud, but you get to enjoy the stunning tall flowers. The purple center is so bright it almost has a glow like appearance at dusk. Bumble bees and honey bees especially love drinking the nectar. Artichoke blooms are great for attracting bees and other beneficial insects to your garden. Leave them until the plant dies back before cutting down.
How often do artichokes bloom?
The artichoke season depends on your climate and variety. Here in zone 9, artichokes begin to bud out in late April or early May and if left unharvested are blooming by early June. The blooms will follow the buds if they are left on the plant in all zones. Once you see the buds either harvest for consumption or leave for the bloom.
How does an artichoke bloom?
Artichokes buds appear in early spring and the flowers are usually in full bloom during the summer months. After the plants have finished blooming you can cut the whole plant back to ground level. Just be sure to leave any new growth at the base of the plant in place. If you leave the flowers and they start to wither plant will put its energy into making seeds.
How do you prune an artichoke?
Cut back the artichoke plant completely right after harvesting its buds at the end of summer. You can do this as late as beginning of fall. Cut each spent stalk all the way down to the ground using pruning shears. If the plants are large you may need to use large lopper shears. Be sure to mulch the plant with organic mulch, preferably with leaves, straw, or compost. If you want to know more about how we take care of artichokes throughout the year be sure to check out our guide to growing artichokes in zone 9.
If you don’t to harvest your artichokes in time you still get the benefit of enjoying the beautiful flowers in your garden or landscape. Pollinators will love the sweet nectar from the blooms. If you are after propagation allowing the artichokes to bloom, and produce seeds is an easy way to get more artichokes for the next season. (You can also divide the crowns.)
I try to avoid waste at all costs especially after spending the energy of growing it. If I haven’t gotten to the artichokes in time allowing them to bloom is a care-free way to still enjoy what otherwise could be considered a waste. This takes the pressure off a bit during food preservation time.
The fact that artichokes are a perennial also justifies allowing some of the buds to turn to blooms. They will come back next year!
I hope you found this article useful and learned how to grow beautiful artichoke flowers.