Zone 5 Artichoke Gardeners, Please Hope Me
October 27, 2014 7:37 AM   Subscribe

I've been growing artichokes here in Michigan off and on for close to two decades. I've never successfully wintered over any of the plants and am wondering if there are any Zone 5 Mefites with a thumb greener than mine that can help with my overwintering strategies.

I've tried plain straw, straw & plastic, and 18" of dirt/sand on top of the crowns after they've been cut back. Last year I even put some in the ground of my 3-season, dirt floor greenhouse. The polar votrtices got them all. Typically, if the cold doesn't get them, the mice do.

This year I have an abundance of very healthy & hearty plants. I've already dug the weaker looking plants and have them in the greenhouse. I'm considering digging up some others to winter in the basement, but the plants are so big that I'm sure the roots will be giant and am concerned about breaking off parts of the root/tuber. I'm considering straw and plastic again, with maybe some moth balls to deter the mice. I'm thinking maybe a styrofoam cooler or one of those little igloo dog-houses on top of each plant. I've also considered digging some up and mailing them to siblings in North Carolina.

I used to do dahlia bulbs in garbage bags and shredded paper in the basement with about an 80% survival rate. Would artichoke roots tolerate this?

Have you overwintered artichokes in Zone 5? How did you do it?

posted by bricksNmortar to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My husband just read about a technique to pull them up and hang by the roots somewhere dark/cool (basement?), then re-plant in the spring - apparently the plants will get bigger each year, and the roots will take off.
posted by dbmcd at 10:00 AM on October 27, 2014

This year, for hydrangeas, I'm doing burlap enclosures stuffed with leaves and sealed. I've also read about people digging up hydrangeas and burying them in a trench, covered in big bags of leaves. Like hydrangea corpses. Maybe looking for the tricks people in the north use to overwinter tropicals/tender perennials in general might help, if you don't get artichoke-specific tips. (I'm impressed you manage to grow them at all.)

The forums at Gardenweb and Reddit's r/gardening both have knowledgeable community members but it's possible you are actually the pioneer.

I've also considered digging some up and mailing them to siblings in North Carolina.

Wow, that's commitment. Okay, well, for the cost of that, maybe you could hire someone with, like, a tractor-type-shovel thing to dig up the plants more fully so that you wouldn't have to worry so much about damaging the roots? I don't know the word for what I'm thinking of but I'm thinking of bypassing the scene with you manually trying to do it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2014

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