Artichokes (Cynara cardunculus var. Scolymus) are a long-lived perennials. Since artichokes live so long, you should make certain that you only plant things near them that are good companions. This guide discusses what you should plant around your artichoke to help it grow and what plants to avoid.
Note: This article deals with artichokes. Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) are a different plant that is not dealt with here.
Why Do Artichokes Need Companion Plants?
Here are some of the ways companion plants help artichokes.
Thyme and yarrow repel pests with their strong smell. This protects the plants around them, including artichokes, from most pests.
Bring Pest Predators
Marigolds and Queen Anne’s lace attract pest predators that will go to artichokes when there are pests there. The predators eat the pests and then go back to the flowers until they are needed again.
Peas and vetch both fix nitrogen from the air. The excess nitrogen is left in the soil where artichoke roots can use it. Since artichokes are heavy feeders, this is very beneficial to them. Turning the peas or vetch under when the plant dies gives the artichoke additional nitrogen and other nutrients.
Artichokes need full sun but appreciate some shade during the heat of the day. If you plant corn or sunflowers on the west side of artichokes these plants can provide that shade.
Marigolds, violets, yarrow, hollyhocks, nasturtium, and other flowering plants are very attractive to pollinators. If you plant them near your artichokes, the pollinators will visit the artichoke’s buds you let open and pollinate them.
Grow Well Together
Asparagus, the Brassica family, and tarragon grow well together with artichokes. They do not compete for the same micronutrients and need similar amounts of water. Hollyhocks and violets also grow well with artichokes and benefit from some shade in the hot sun when they are planted on the east side of the artichoke plant.
Benefit from Artichokes
Cucumbers can grow up the artichoke plants and use them as a trellis. This keeps the cucumbers off the ground, so they do not get belly rot. Peas can also use the artichoke as a trellis.
If you want to learn what is companion planting and its benefits, read this article.
Top 15 Best Companion Plants for Artichokes
Here are the top fifteen companion plants for artichokes and what they do to help grow good crops of artichokes.
Asparagus and artichokes perform well when planted together. They do not compete for the same micronutrients.
In addition, asparagus is most active in early spring, before artichokes start putting out buds, so they are not both active at the same time.
You can grow them next to each other and still have room to work with both of them.
Members of the Brassica family, like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, grow well together with artichokes.
They need similar soil conditions and amounts of water. Make sure they do not get too close to the artichoke plant, or they will get shaded out.
Some shade is desirable for Brassicas, especially in the heat of the afternoon, but too much will keep them from producing a good crop.
Corn and artichokes are both tall plants that grow well together. Planting corn in a block on the west side of the artichoke plant will give the artichoke plant some shade during the hot part of the day.
While artichoke plants need full sun, the heat of the day can be hard on them, so the shade is very welcome.
Cucumbers can use the artichoke as a trellis to get the vines off the ground. Both cucumbers and artichokes share the same soil and water requirements, so they grow well together.
Check periodically that the cucumber is not smothering the artichoke plant. If the cucumber is keeping the artichoke leaves and buds from the sun, cut the cucumber plant back.
A biennial usually grown as an annual, hollyhocks benefit from being planted on the east of artichokes, so they get some shade from the hot afternoon sun.
Hollyhocks and artichokes need similar soil and amounts of water, so co-exist well. Hollyhocks also draw pollinators to the artichoke.
Marigolds attract lots of predatory insects that will take care of the few pests of artichokes. After the marigolds are through growing, till them into the soil to reduce root-knot nematodes.
If you allow your artichoke buds to open, marigolds attract pollinator insects to pollinate them.
Nasturtiums have a peppery taste and scent. The peppery scent repels any insects that might bother the artichoke plant. Nasturtiums also attract pollinators.
Finally, the nasturtium flowers are edible and make a nice addition to salads.
Artichokes are heavy feeders, so planting peas near them gives the artichoke plant extra nitrogen. Artichoke plants can serve as a trellis for the peas, as long as the peas do not block the sun from the leaves and buds of the artichoke.
Tilling the pea plants into the ground around the artichokes gives them extra nitrogen. Be sure not to damage the artichoke roots when turning the earth around them.
Queen Anne’s Lace
Queen Anne’s lace is a showy biennial with white flowers. Queen Anne’s lace attracts predator insects that will spread to the artichoke plant and eat any pests on it. They then go back to the Queen Anne’s lace until needed.
In addition, Queen Anne’s lace attracts pollinator insects and butterflies.
Sunflowers and artichokes grow well together. If you plant sunflowers on the west of the artichoke plant, the sunflowers can offer some shade to the artichoke plant.
Sunflowers and artichokes do not compete for the same micronutrients. Sunflowers also attract polliantors to your artichoke plant.
Tarragon and artichokes grow well together. They do not compete for the same micronutrients so do not cause problems for each other. Tarragon also has a strong scent that repels insects from the artichoke plant.
Thyme is an aromatic herb that repels pests from the plants around it, including artichokes. Circling the artichoke plant with thyme will create a pest barrier to protect the artichoke.
Vetch fixes nitrogen from the air and secretes the excess into the soil. Since artichoke plants are heavy feeders, they welcome the extra nitrogen.
Vetch can be used as a living mulch around the artichoke plant. When the vetch dies, it can be turned under the soil to add additional nitrogen to the soil that the artichoke can use.
Violets, also called violas, are native to the southeastern part of the United States. They attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. In addition, they like similar soil conditions and similar water needs.
Violas also like some shade during the hot afternoon, so planting them on the east side of artichokes gives them that shade. Violet flowers make a nice addition to salads.
Yarrow is a pretty flower that has strongly scented leaves. The flowers attract pollinators while the strongly scented leaves repel pests. This plant needs full sun, so put it far enough away from the artichoke plant that the yarrow will not be shaded.
Top 3 Worst Companion Plants for Artichokes
There are not many plants that do not get along with artichokes. Here are the worst plants to plant near your artichokes.
Artichokes are large thistles. If you plant other thistles near your artichokes, pests attracted to the other thistles will spread to your artichokes. Plant the other thistles at least six feet away from artichokes and plant something aromatic like thyme between them to block the pests from spreading to your artichoke.
Fennel produces a toxic chemical that kills any plant near it. It is excreted into the soil. Fennel needs to be planted in a corner of the garden by itself.
Black walnut trees also produce a toxin that kills any plants near them. It is excreted into the soil. However, the toxin produced by black walnut trees can persist in the soil for a decade. Do not plant an artichoke plant within the drip line of a black walnut tree, even after the tree is removed.
You may have heard not to plant tomatoes and potatoes near artichokes, but that refers to Jerusalem artichokes, not true artichokes. True artichokes can have tomatoes and potatoes near them without a problem for any of the plants.
In conclusion, artichokes need companion plants to repel pests, attract predator insects, provide pollinators, provide afternoon shade, and add nutrients to the soil. Some plants just grow well near artichokes. Peas and cucumbers can use the artichoke as a trellis to climb, as long as the cucumber plant does not block the sun from the leaves and buds. The fifteen best companion plants for artichokes are asparagus, members of the Brassica family, corn, cucumbers, hollyhocks, marigolds, nasturtiums, peas, Queen Anne’s lace, sunflowers, tarragon, thyme, vetch, violets, and yarrow. Do not plant artichokes near thistles, fennel or black walnut trees.