Growing Cynara (Cardoon)

Latin Name Pronunciation: sih-nar'-ah

The species in this genus of thistle-like perennials include Cynara scolymus (the edible Globe Artichoke) as well as C. cardunculus 'Porto Spineless'. The silver-gray, serrated foliage of the spineless variety makes a dramatic statement in borders or containers and attracts beneficial insects. Its violet-blue flower heads with spiny bracts develop branched, wooly stems the second year in the garden (where hardy) and can be picked for fresh or dry arrangements.

Light/Watering: Full sun. Water thoroughly after planting, and then, give a new plant a good soaking once a week during summer, unless rainfall is plentiful (more than 1in per week). Established plants are drought resistant.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Average garden soil. We recommend against fertilizing at planting time and during the first growing season in your garden. Plants need time to settle in before being pushed to grow. Most established plants grow best if fertilized with a light hand. We fertilize perennials just once--in early spring--with a light but even coverage of a balanced, granular fertilizer (such 10-10-10 or an organic fertilizer). If a concentrated, water-soluble fertilizer is used, please follow the manufacturers' recommendations carefully.

Continuing Care: Foliage is improved if flower stems are cut off as they appear. Protect from strong winds. In the colder extent of its Zone 7 range, apply a dry winter mulch of pine needles. Slugs and aphids can be a problem.