Planting guide and Seed Saving Notes for Cardoon
Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)
Also called Artichoke Thistle or Cardoni, this thistle-like plant is native to the Mediterranean found in many southern French and Italian dishes. A beautiful ornamental, with stalks that are delicious steamed or braised, with an artichoke-like flavor.
Nutrients: vitamins C, B6, folate (high), pantothenic acid, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese.
How to Grow Cardoon from Seed
Cardoon is moderately frost hardy and perennial in Zone 7 and warmer. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil.
Start seeds indoors 6 weeks before danger of last frost. Plant seeds 1/4" deep in 6" containers. Transplant after danger of frost with 18-24" between plants. To obtain white, tender leaf stalks, blanch stalks for 4 weeks before harvest by wrapping with newspaper and securing with string.
To encourage overwintering, cut plants in fall to about 8-10 inches above ground and cover with straw or leaves.
Leaf stalks will be ready to harvest in 120-150 days.
How to save Cardoon Seeds
if the flowers are allowed to mature, seed is produced readily, as one flower can pollinate another on the same plant (though not itself). It sometimes self-sows itself vigorously and can become a pest. Collect seed from the spent flower heads. Will cross with artichokes.