Fertilizing Artichoke Plants – My Best Tips

If you are looking for a delicious and nutritious vegetable to add to your garden, look no further than the artichoke. Artichokes are relatively easy to grow as far as garden vegetables go, but they do require some special care when it comes time to fertilize them.

More and more I am learning the value of fertilizing your plants! Here’s a perfect example of what I mean:

artichokes in raised bed with fertilizer
artichokes in raised bed with fertilizer

If you remember, I started these artichoke plants indoors from seed last Spring (2011), and transplanted them outdoors to a spot in my yard that gets good morning sun, but is shaded in the late afternoon.

Notice the huge difference in size between the two plants on the left, and the two on the right?

Well… I experimented.

The two on the left I fertilized with several clumps of old chicken manure from our coop, and mulched with hay from our goat’s barn.

The two on the right I did not fertilize.

Amazing difference, huh?!

The two on the left are looking SO good!! Even through the winter, so far, they are alive and well. I’ve been curious to see how they do through the cold months. Globe Artichokes generally don’t grow well in this area.

I’m REALLY hoping they survive, and actually produce some healthy heads of artichoke. We’ll see!

One of the biggest things I learned about growing artichokes is that fertilizing is essential. It’s not optional! These plants need lots of nutrients. And no, you don’t have to rely on store bought fertilizers, either.

Here are a few more tips.

What is an Artichoke?

The artichoke is a member of the thistle family, which also includes cardoons and sunflowers. The plant grows to a height of between three and five feet, and its leaves are large and spiny.

The edible portion of the plant is actually the immature flower head, which is surrounded by smaller, inedible bracts.

When the artichoke head is cooked, the bracts can be pulled away to reveal the edible fleshy base, known as the “heart.”

Artichokes are a popular food in many parts of the world, and they can be served steamed, boiled, or grilled. They are often used as a garnish or as an ingredient in salads and other dishes.

Types of Artichoke Plants

The two main types of artichoke plants are the globe artichoke and the Jerusalem artichoke. The globe artichoke is the more common type and is grown in temperate climates. It has a round, green head with purple flowers.

The Jerusalem artichoke, on the other hand, is native to North America and has a yellow flower. It is also known as the sunflower artichoke.

The Ultimate Guide to Fertilizing Artichokes

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about fertilizing artichokes. From the best time of year to plant them to the type of fertilizer that works best, we have you covered.

When to Fertilize

Artichokes are a hardy and tasty addition to any garden, but they do require some special care when it comes to fertilizing.

Nitrogen is essential for healthy growth, so it should be applied during the vegetative stage. You can apply fertilizer to these perennials when they are still transplants, before they have produced green globe flower buds.

Phosphorus and potassium, on the other hand, should be applied before planting. Once the plants are established, they will need to be fertilized every four weeks.

A well-balanced liquid fertilizer will provide the nutrients they need to produce bountiful harvests of tasty artichokes.

Test the Soil Before Fertilizing

Artichokes are a relatively low-maintenance crop, but they do need some basic care in order to produce a bountiful harvest.

One of the most important things you can do for your artichokes is to test the soil before fertilizing. This will help you determine which nutrients are lacking and how much fertilizer to apply. Testing is also important because artichokes are sensitive to over-fertilization.

Too much fertilizer can lead to leaf burn, stunted growth, and even death. A simple soil test kit can be purchased at most garden stores, or you can send a sample of your soil to a testing laboratory.

Follow the instructions carefully and be sure to take accurate readings in order to get the most accurate results.

Once you know which nutrients your soil is lacking, you can select the appropriate fertilizer and apply it according to the manufacturer’s directions.

What Kind of Fertilizer to Use for Artichokes

Although artichokes are not heavy feeders, they do have high nitrogen needs. A general-purpose fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 can be used, but for best results, choose a fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen.


Compost is always a good option, as it provides a slow and steady release of nutrients.

Wood Ash

Wood ash can also be used, but it should be applied sparingly, as it can be quite powerful.


Eggshells are another possibility – they provide a good source of calcium, which is essential for artichokes (and other leafy greens).

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are a great option – they’re high in nitrogen and other nutrients that help to promote growth.

Compost Tea

Compost tea is also a good choice – it’s rich in organic matter and microorganisms that help to improve soil health.

Seaweed Extract

Seaweed extract is a great all-purpose fertilizer that will provide artichokes with the nutrients they need to thrive. Fish emulsion is a similar fertilizer that works well, as do grass clippings.

Aged Manure

Aged manure is another good option, as it will help to improve the drainage and aeration of the soil.

Blood and Bone Meal

Blood and bone meal is also a good choice for artichokes, as it provides a source of nitrogen that will promote growth.

Commercial Fertilizer

Look for a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 20-10-10 or 20-20-20. applying the fertilizer at the rate recommended on the package.

It’s usually one teaspoon or so, but this may need to be diluted even more for new shoots or artichoke seedlings in their first year of growth. If you are using a granular fertilizer, water it in well after applying it.

For best results, fertilize artichokes monthly during the growing season. When choosing a fertilizer, be sure to read the label carefully and follow the instructions for application.

Overfertilizing can damage plants and encourage excessive growth that is more vulnerable to pests and diseases like aphids, artichoke plume moth, snails, and slugs.

How to Fertilize

To ensure a bountiful crop, it is important to fertilize artichokes regularly.

Artichokes are heavy feeders and will benefit from a regular application of fertilizer. The best time to apply fertilizer is in the early spring, before the plants begin to grow.

For best results, use a well-balanced fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Artichokes require about .1 pound of nitrogen per square feet, regardless of whether you are growing in the late winter, early summer, or any other time of year.

Apply the fertilizer around the base of the plant, taking care not to get any on the leaves or the side of the plant. This should be done several months after you sow seeds.

Water the fertilizer in well, using a hose or sprinkler. Apply fertilizer to artichokes every four to six weeks throughout the growing season.

Mulching around the plants helps to retain moisture and provides a natural fertilizer as it breaks down. When fertilizing, be sure to remove the layer of mulch first, then apply a four inch layer of manure or other fertilizer.

After applying the fertilizer, replace the mulch to help retain moisture and prevent weeds from taking over.

Fertilizing Artichokes in Containers

Artichokes are incredibly easy to grow in containers, making them a great option for those with limited space. They prefer a deep, well-draining pot and enjoy full sun.

To fertilize artichokes in containers, use a slow-release fertilizer that is high in phosphorus. Apply the fertilizer at the rate recommended on the package (or diluted with water, if you’re using an organic fertilizer like compost), and then water deeply to help distribute the nutrients.

Slow-release fertilizer should be applied once a month during the growing season. For best results, also add compost to the pot when you first plant your artichoke. This will help to improve drainage and provide additional nutrients for your plant.

Why Won’t My Artichokes Grow?

One of the most common questions that gardeners have is “why won’t my artichokes grow?” There can be a number of reasons why this happens, but the two most common are fertilizer issues and too much or too little moisture.

These annuals can be grown in just about any hardiness zones, particularly if you mind your last frost date and are interested in growing in containers, but you do need to be careful about nutrients regardless of the growing zone.

With regards to fertilizer, artichokes are heavy feeders and need a lot of nutrients to thrive.

If you are not fertilizing your plants on a regular basis, this could be the reason why they are not growing. On the other hand, if you are fertilizing too often, this can also lead to problems.

Artichokes need a balance of nutrients, and if you are over-fertilizing, this can lead to burn (the leaves will turn yellow and the plant will stop growing).

Moisture is another important factor when it comes to growing artichokes. These plants need a lot of water, especially during the hot summer months. However, too much water can also be an issue. If the plants are constantly wet, this can lead to root rot.

The best way to water artichokes is to give them a deep watering once a week. This will help to keep the roots moist without causing problems.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a new vegetable to plant in your garden this year, consider artichokes. With a little bit of care and some tips from this post, you can be on your way to enjoying these delicious thistles in no time.

Have you planted artichokes before? What are your top tips for success? Let us know in the comments below.

updated 07/15/2022 by Rebekah Pierce

6 thoughts on “Fertilizing Artichoke Plants – My Best Tips”

  1. That’s amazing, Kendra! We’ve been putting chicken poop in our compost bin but not directly in the soil because we had read somewhere it is too strong and would burn the plants…guess what we read was wrong! Please tell me what you did…just mixed it in the soil before you planted? Thanks!

    • Amy,

      If you put fresh chicken manure around your plants, it could burn them. You need to make sure it’s old, dry manure. I just scraped clumps of old, dried manure from off the floor of the chicken coop, and placed them around each plant. Then I covered them with a little bit of soil, and mulched. Don’t put the manure touching your plant, but a few inches from its base. There isn’t an exact measurement… just put some clumps here and there 😉

  2. Sweet! I was just looking at artichoke seeds in a catalog. Hope to start them in the greenhouse. And since i have chicken and goats I can fertilize them just like you did! Thanks for the tips!
    Stevie @ ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com


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