How To Grow Vegetables

Artichoke Pests And Diseases

Firstly artichokes do not do well where summers are hot or winters are very cold so you need to bear this carefully in mind when growing artichokes.

But besides the hot and cold you may want to be aware of the following problems: -

Artichoke Rot: The crowns of artichokes can be prone to rotting and this may result in the artichokes becoming slimy to touch and foul smelling. This is known as Botrytis rot, or crown rot, which is a fungal plant disease that is common in countries with inclimate weather. To cure artichoke rot simply remove and destroy any plants infected by it. To stop it coming back then physically remove any weeds in the surrounding area as they may harbor fungal spores.

Young artichoke stems being chewed: This is most often caused by seemingly invisible pests, but commonly they turn out to be young earwigs. Often the damage they cause is acceptable, however if the problem is heavy then use traps of rolled wet paper soaked in soapy water to entice them in.

Are you plagued by sharp or jagged holes/tears in the artichokes leaves? This is most likely caused by the most common of pests, which are snails and slugs that attack at night, during the day the snails and slugs hide away in the soil or underneath wooden boards e.g. under sheds.

The best way to get rid of slugs if you have the time is to go out with a light at torch at night and kill them, table salt is very effective. Alternatively set beer traps for the slugs to drown in.

Holes appearing in artichoke stems and/or leaves: Well this is a more unusual one and is caused by the larva of the artichoke plume moth (which you probably have never heard of!), but is small green or yellow caterpillar with black marks on it. To avoid it occurring on your artichokes cut the artichokes down to soil level annually, remove and destroying all leaves and debris, and burn them to stop any further infection.

Sticky Artichoke Leaves: Occasionally you may find a sticky honeydew on the artichokes leaves and chokes, most often this is caused by aphids, which are tiny white or yellow oval insects that appear out of nowhere on the undersides of leaves. The aphids leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew, which can mutate into a black sooty looking mould.

The best way to get rid of aphids is to place flowers near the artichokes, as this will attract natural predators such as ladybirds, which love to feast on aphids! Alternatively spray the plants with soapy water.

Lastly if you have artichokes with curled leaves, or dwarf growing artichoke plants: Be aware that this is a serious form of artichoke virus and is usually spread in propagation from infected plants, not bad quality seeds. This is probably the most serious artichoke problem, so destroy all such plants straight away.

Of note is that aphids carry and spread many of all of the above pests and diseases.

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By Richard Allen -

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