Botanical Name: Cynara scolymus
Days to Maturity: 150–240 days
Native: Mediterranean region
Hardiness: Frost-tolerant perennial in USDA zones 7-10
Plant Dimensions: 'GREEN GLOBE IMPROVED': 5' tall, 4'–8' wide. 'PURPLE OF ROMAGNA': 6' tall, 4'–8' wide.
Variety Information: 'GREEN GLOBE IMPROVED': Dark green with slightly purple base. Heavy bearing. Very few spines. 'PURPLE OF ROMAGNA': Italian heirloom. More tender and spiny. Smaller buds with oblong shape. Varies from green tinged with purple to mostly purple with green tips.
When to Sow Outside: Cold Climates: Not recommended. Mild Climates: Sow in fall for harvest the following spring.
When to Start Inside: RECOMMENDED. Cold Climates: Sow in 4" pots 12 weeks before your average last spring frost date. Transplant outside 4 weeks before your average last frost date. Ideal soil temperature for germination is 70°–80°F. Protect from frost. Mild Climates: Sow in 4" pots in early fall. Transplant outdoors 6 weeks before your average first frost date. Sow in biodegradable pots to avoid tap root disturbance.
Days to Emerge: 14 days
Seed Depth: ⅛"–¼"
Seed Spacing: A group of 3 seeds every 4'
Row Spacing: 6'
Thinning: Thin to 1 every 4'
Harvesting: For eating, harvest buds when they are still tightly closed, just before they begin to open (opened heads are tough). Cut the central bud first by cutting the stem with a sharp knife 2" below the bud. After harvesting, side shoots will produce smaller harvestable buds (a unique delicacy!).