Artichoke 'Imperial Star'
A compact and upright cultivar that flowers in just 30 weeks from sowing. The flower heads produce a heart or choke with a delicious smooth buttery texture. Bred in California by crossing an Italian artichoke with a French artichoke, the result is this open-pollinated, reliable artichoke with minimal, if any thorns. While breeding started in 1981, 'Imperial Star' did not make it into the market until 1991, and has grown in popularity ever since. Cut back after flowering for increased yields in the following years. Offsets can be divided to propagate new plants.
Artichokes prefer a sunny position in a well-drained soil. Plants should flower in their first year. If grown from seed, expect flowers in the second year. Sow seed in punnets or trays and germinate between 20-23°C. Seed is slow to germinate taking 2-3 weeks. Pot up as required and transplant into the garden after all likelihood of frost has passed. Avoid waterlogging in winter and humidity in summer. Cut back in autumn to around 30cm, leaving 4-6 of the strongest shoots to grow next spring. Can be grown as an annual. For the best hearts, harvest the buds in spring when the stem below the bud is still pliable. The stem is also delicious peeled and cooked.