Worth the wait

For those of us who live in climates where cardoon (Cynara cardunculus, one of the most fun botanical names ever) is not reliably cold-hardy, it can be a long wait to see the huge, thistle-like blooms.

About 16 months from seed sowing time to be exact. That's only if the plant makes it through the winter though. If not, it's start some more seeds and reset that clock.


I had four cardoon plants last year. Interestingly, two died during our mild winter, probably from staying too wet and then rotting. One came back but appears to be a juvenile still and gives no indication that it's ready to bloom. The final one though is blooming, even after the aphid attack earlier in the spring.

I really love these blooms.

Even when I needed to get onto a stepladder in order to take these photos of the flowers on top of the 7' (2m) stalks. Did I ever mention that there are only two flat spots in my entire yard, both made by me, and both inappropriate for cardoon (one is a patio, and one is a pond).

Stepladder on uneven ground makes photography extra exciting.

Bees make photo taking exciting too, as they love cardoon flowers but apparently can't tell the difference between them and a human ear. At least the one bee couldn't.

But I love taking photos of the bees loving these blooms.

Did I mention I really love these flowers?

Even when they're starting to fade.

Definitely worth the wait!


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Matthew  – (July 11, 2012 at 7:28 AM)  

What a beautiful plant! Those pictures remind me that I really do need to get a nice camera :)

scottweberpdx  – (July 11, 2012 at 8:49 AM)  

Completely worth it...I remember the frist time I saw one in a garden...I think my jaw almost hit the floor!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 11, 2012 at 4:03 PM)  

Beautiful! The flowers on mine are more blue than purple and they're smaller. You probably water yours more than I do :-).

Alan  – (July 11, 2012 at 5:34 PM)  

One of the most flower-heavy posts I've done lately, and only males have commented. I guess cardoon is more of a manly plant. :-)

Renee  – (July 11, 2012 at 11:28 PM)  

Pretty! The faded flower almost matches the bee in color... Has the crazy hot weather been affecting the cardoon much?

Lajos  – (July 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM)  

Nice pictures; did you know you can actually eat the leaves, they best in the autumn (fall as you say it) or early winter when they get a bit frost bitten I think, never had the luck myself to try as growing it the first year myself...

Unknown  – (December 30, 2012 at 5:50 AM)  

Hi everyone, Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year. I've been reading all your comments about this plant ( cardoon ). Is there anyone willing to share some seeds?
I live in Florida and would love trying to grow these plants. I will pay the postage. Please reply to josephg4@bellsouth.net

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