Andy Cabe is the botanical garden director at Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden in Columbia, S.C.

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by Andy Cabe       #Edibles   #Plant Profile   #Unusual

The cardoon is a fabulous plant that can provide plenty of interest in your garden. Cardoons form a rosette of deeply lobed, nearly 3-foot long silvery leaves. Mature specimens can reach upwards of 5 feet tall, so it is easy to see how this plant can make an impact. While the cardoon is truly an evergreen perennial for us in the piedmont of South Carolina, it really shines during the winter. We typically use cardoon at Riverbanks as a winter-interest plant, often using it as an annual to give some size and texture to winter bedding schemes. Small plants set out in the fall will thrive and can spread to over 2 feet wide by the end of winter. As the weather gets hot, cardoons sometimes show wear and tear. It is perfectly acceptable to cut the plants back and let them “rest for the summer” if they are looking particularly rough. Even though we grow cardoon primarily for its foliage, it does have a lovely purple, thistle-like bloom in late spring to summer. Consider incorporating a few cardoons into the mix this fall and winter, it will certainly help jazz up the garden!

Common Name: Cardoon

Botanical Name: Cynara cardunculus

Color: Purple flower and silver-gray foliage

Blooming Period: Late spring to summer

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Exposure: Full sun

When to Plant: Fall or spring

When to Prune: Can cut back blemished foliage during the heat of summer.

In Your Landscape: The bold foliage provides much-needed structure and texture to the garden, especially during winter.


Posted: 11/04/10   RSS | Print


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