Cynara cardunculus


  • © Gary Lewis -

  • © Gary Lewis -

  • © Gary Lewis -

Outstanding Qualities

What Cynara cardunculus brings to the garden is drama, drama, drama. It stands 6 to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide with bright, silver-gray foliage and large purple flowers in summer. This tropical looking architectural perennial is a real standout. Other attributes of the cardoon include, it attracts bees and butterflies, is edible and is good as a cut flower. It is also resistant to slugs and deer. Cynara cardunculus should be cut back in the fall so that it forms a large basal clump for winter interest. Other plants that make good combinations with the cardoon are larger grasses such as Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' and Stipa gigantea or the tall perennial, Campanula lactiflora, the milky bellflower.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: perennial

Foliage Type: semi-evergreen

Plant Height: 8 ft. 0 in. (2.44 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 4 ft. 0 in. (1.22 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 9

Flower Color: purple

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun

Water Requirements: occasional watering

Wildlife Associations: bees, butterflies

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, orange, red

Great Color Partners: silver, purple, cream

Culture Notes
Cynara cardunculus grows best in well-drained or sandy soil. Provide a location in full sun with occasional summer watering. Flower stems often flop just before flowering if it does not have enough sun or if the soil is too fertile and rich. After flowering cut the entire plant to the ground, new growth will soon resprout with fresh silvery leaves.
Geek Notes
Cardoon has thistle-like flowers and is related to many genera of the aster family that have the word "thistle" in their common name. Found in the wilds of south-central and southwestern Europe. Globe artichokes are the cultivated version of this plant.