USDA Zones: 6 - 9
Height: 60 inches
Bloom Season: Late summer to mid fall
Bloom Color: Violet blue
Environment: Full sun
Soil Type: Moist, well-drained sandy to clay soils
Average Germ Time: 14 - 21 days
Light Required: No
Depth: 1/4 - 1/2 inch
Sowing Rate: 3 seeds per plant
Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination
Plant Spacing: 18 - 24 inches
Cardoon (Cynara Cardunculus) - Cardoon is considered to be a tender perennial. In cold climates it is often grown as an annual. It is a member of the artichoke family with thick, deeply cut, thistle-like leaves and a violet colored thistle flower head in late summer. Commonly it is called Artichoke Thistle. The Cardoon Artichoke Thistle plant is grown both for eating and for its importance as a medicinal herb, and it easily grows from Cardoon seeds.
A compound found in the leaves of Artichoke Thistle is called cynarin. Cynarin improves the function of both the liver and the gall bladder. It stimulates digestive juices and helps to lower cholesterol. The stems of Cardoon are blanched and used like celery, and the young, tender leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
How To Grow Cardoon From Herb Seeds: Start Cardoon seeds indoors 4 - 6 weeks before the last frost. Cardoon herb seeds can be started in small peat pots with seed starting mix. Transplant outdoors into the herb garden after the danger of frost has passed. The Cardoon plant prefers full sun and soil rich in organic matter. Prepare a bed in advance with aged compost. It does not grow well in containers.