A Long Awaited Plant Is Found

“A Long Awaited Plant Is Found”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Saturday, I finally found a plant I have been searching for.  For several years now, ever since I saw fantastic photos in a garden book, I have been wanting to plant cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) commonly called artichoke thistle.  It is a very curious looking plant.  What attracted me was the architectural look of the plant with its large, deeply cut, gray-green foliage.  It is supposed to keep its vase shape until late in the season.


From what I have read, this plant can get really big.  It can get six to eight feet tall and four to six feet wide.  While I don’t think mine will reach the optimum size (at least I hope not), I am looking forward to its being big.  The photos I saw showed a very large plant that was very sculptural and made a wonderful textural contrast with nearby plants.  This plant is also edible, but I am not interested in eating it, just having a focal point that is an attractive, dramatic, architectural ornamental.  I am thinking about growing this in a very large container with Margarite sweet potato vine at the base.


The flowers, according to internet sources, are supposed to be a butterfly and hummingbird magnet.  When it goes to seed, the chickadees are also reported to be enamored with this plant.  While the flowers are thistle-like, purple and held atop tall stems, it is the foliage which I find the most attractive.  If it will grow to about three feet wide, I will be happy.  Today, after work I will be planting this much sought after plant.  Wish me luck.



  1. Sylvia (England) said,

    April 21, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Jan it does grow big but it is beautiful. When it gets tall it loses its leaves at the bottom so is more narrow. I wrote about it as a guest post at http://www.tulipsinthewoods.com/foliage/cardoon-a-letter-from-sylvia/ Cardoons are one of my favourite plants, I just love the silver leaves and for me they last all winter.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2009 at 4:41 am

      Sylvia, I took a look at your posting and hope mine will look like yours does in the photos. I think the book where I first saw this was written by a British gardener, and after seeing your specimen, I can see it must do very well in England.

  2. Randy said,

    April 21, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Good for you, Jan! It’s just like finding a buried treasure somewhere isn’t it? 🙂

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2009 at 4:42 am

      Yes, Randy, it is like finding a treasure. I was so surprised to see it in a small nursery. I sure hope it gets to be big.

  3. Robin said,

    April 21, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I hope your new plant will bring you many hummingbirds, butterflies and chickadees!

  4. donna said,

    April 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I don’t think you need luck when it comes to gardening…you’re already very good at it. Any plant that attracts the darling little chickadees is one I’d want in my yard. Hope you keep us up-to-date on the progress of your artichoke thistle. Looks interesting.

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2009 at 4:42 am

      Thanks, Donna, for the vote of confidence. I’ll keep you posted on its progress.

  5. andré said,

    April 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    It sounds and looks interesting, but I have never seen one of those (I think). I’m looking forward to pictures later on…

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2009 at 4:43 am

      Andre, hopefully, I’ll be able to show some pictures soon of a growing plant.

  6. fairegarden said,

    April 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Hi Jan, that is a terrific find. Congrats and we look forward to seeing it in full bloom, and large but not too. 🙂

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2009 at 4:44 am

      Frances, I have read that it can get up to six feet. I don’t know if I want one that big, but we’ll have to see how it does here in my garden.

  7. April 21, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Interesting foliage, Jan. Humming bird magnet? What else could one ask for?

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2009 at 4:45 am

      Chanramouli, you are right, what else could we ask for?

  8. Brenda Kula said,

    April 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I want to see it once you’ve planted it, certainly. I do like the shape of the leaves and the texture it seems to have. Very unusual plant, which is always nice to find. And I like the thought of potato vine. Good contrast plant.

    • Jan said,

      April 24, 2009 at 4:46 am

      Brenda, I was thinking the potato vine would be a nice color and texture contrast. We’ll have to see how it looks in a few weeks.

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