Seed To Bloom:
Sow indoors in pots 8-10 weeks before last frost date; keep at 65-75°F.
Direct sow in zones 8-10, 1 week before last frost date, protecting from frost if necessary.
WHEN TO SET OUTSIDE
1-2 weeks before last frost date to vernalize for flowering, protect from frost if necessary.
PLACEMENT & CULTIVATION
While occasionally grown as a vegetable, Cardoon has a commanding presence in ornamental gardens as well, the silver jagged leaves often 2.5' in length. Grow in pots as it resents transplanting due to its deep taproot. Flowerheads that are unopened are similar to artichokes and are edible, as are the peeled stems from budded branches.
Moderate water, about 1" a week or less.
Mix 3" inches of compost into the soil prior to planting, or apply an organic pelletized or liquid fertilizer according to package instructions.
Diseases & Pests:
No major problems. Avoid fungal issues by spacing properly in a location with good air circulation and soil drainage.
When to Cut for Bouquets:
Harvest just before the bracts begin to spread open. Cut the bud off of the stem about 1.5-2" below the base of the bud. Immediately transfer to cool storage (<40°F). Keeps best if stored in cool humidity for two weeks post-harvest.