Transplanting Artichokes (Common Questions & Answers)

Artichoke plants are a great addition to any garden, not only producing flavorful, nutritious artichokes, but also ornamental foliage and stunning thistle-like flowers if you let the buds mature.

Artichoke plants can grow as perennials in climates with mild winters. Whether you’re starting from seed, planting bare root artichokes, or transplanting offshoots (pups) from divided plants, at some point you will need to transplant them at some point. Knowing when and how to transplant them will ensure healthy plants producing bountiful harvests. Keep reading below for answers to the most common questions about transplanting artichokes.

Can You Move an Artichoke Plant?

Artichoke plants can be moved and retransplanted somewhere else. To reduce stress on your artichokes plants, move them in early spring or late fall. Dig around your artichoke plant to keep a large, healthy root ball, and after transplanting, water in well. Mature artichoke plants may wilt after being transplanted, but should recover in a few days; if not, remove some of the older, outer leaves, which reduces water loss while the roots recover and begin new growth. 

When Should You Transplant Artichokes?

Transplanting artichokes is best done in early spring. If starting from seed, transplant seedlings out around 2 or 3 weeks after your average last frost date. Transplanting mature plants or removed pups (offshoots) off mother plants is also best done in spring, but can be done any time of the year outside of winter. 

Transplanting artichokes in early spring, whether they are pups (offshoots) or seedlings, gives them a chance to get established and mature before winter. The other benefit of transplanting artichokes in early spring is that they can get sufficient cold exposure to give you a harvest in their first year. At least 10 to 11 days of temperatures at or below 50°F (10°C) in early spring can be enough to induce artichokes into flowering in the summer.

Mature plants, including offshoots (pups) that have been removed from a mother plant, can be transplanted at any time, but it’s also recommended to transplant in early spring.

 

How Do You Transplant Artichoke Seedlings?

Transplant seedlings about 2 to 3 weeks after your average last frost date or in early spring if you live somewhere with no frost. Transplant in a location with full sun and rich, well-draining soil, and space them about 3 feet (1 m) apart. Water well after transplanting.

Before transplanting artichoke seedlings outside from indoors, you can also harden them off over 7 to 14 days to help reduce transplant shock. Hardening off involves gradual exposure to outdoor growing conditions, such as wind, fluctuating temperatures, and sunlight. On the first day, take your seedlings outside and expose them to partial sun for an hour or so and bring them back inside. The second day, take them out a little longer, 1 to 2 hours. If you see the leaves getting bleached, sun exposure is too strong and you should keep them in a shadier area or only take them out in the early morning or late afternoon. On cloudy days, you can keep your seedlings outside longer. Continue increasing the time outdoors for at least a week before keeping them outside permanently. 

When transplanting, choose a place that receives full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day) and has rich, well-draining soil. You can amend your soil with compost or a balanced or high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Pro-Tip: If you live somewhere with very hot, dry summers and struggle to grow artichokes, try transplanting them somewhere in partial shade.

After transplanting artichokes, water well to help settle the soil around the roots and give your transplants adequate water as they get used to their new environment.

Pro-Tip: Keep the soil level high enough to bury the root ball without covering the base of the plant (the crown) with soil.

 

How and When Do You Split Mature Artichoke Plants?

Artichokes are generally divided and replanted after 3 to 5 years, in late fall or early spring. Artichokes should be divided by using a shovel and sharp garden knife to cut between the offshoots (pups), ensuring each plant has its own healthy root ball.

It’s recommended to split your artichoke plants every few years to prevent overcrowding and encourage new vigorous growth. Dividing artichokes should be done in either late fall or early spring. Dividing in summer can stress your artichoke plants too much and also reduce your harvest that year. 

Identify the individual offshoots (pups) and using a shovel, dig straight down and across to sever the roots between them. Then, start carefully digging out the artichoke plants, using a garden knife to cut other roots that might still be connecting each pup. Make sure each plant has a large and healthy root ball.

See the video below for a quick demonstration on how to divide your artichoke plants.


How Do You Transplant an Artichoke Pup (Offshoot)?

Treat artichoke pups the same as you would artichoke seedlings, spacing them 3 feet (1 m) apart, amending the soil with fertilizer, compost, or manure, and watering in well after transplanting.

Make sure when splitting your artichoke pups from the mother plant, that each plant has its own large, healthy root ball. After dividing your artichoke plants, transplant them the way you would artichoke seedlings.

Choose an area with full sun and rich, well-draining soil. You can also amend the soil with compost, manure, or fertilizer before transplanting. Dig a hole deep enough just to bury the roots. When backfilling with soil, avoid burying the base of the plant (the crown) to prevent rotting. Water well afterwards.

Some wilting is natural for newly transplanted artichoke pups. Wilting is more common in artichoke transplants with a smaller root ball compared to the green growth above the soil. As water transpires (evaporates) out of the leaves, a smaller root system can’t take up water fast enough to keep the leaves full of water. Watering after transplanting helps reduce wilting, but if your transplants are large and still wilting after several days, you can prune away some of the older, outer leaves. As your transplants start growing new roots, they should regrow a large root system to support plant growth.

 

Sources

  1. Masabni, J. (2019). Artichokes. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Retrieved from https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/gardening/artichokes/

 

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