How to Grow Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes pulled from ground and resting on soil with roots exposed

The Spruce / K. Dave

Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), often called sunchokes, are root vegetables that are eaten and prepared much like potatoes but with lower starch. Contrary to their name, Jerusalem artichokes are actually native to North America and are very easy to grow—to the point of almost being considered invasive. This is the perfect vegetable for novice gardeners!

While producing yellow flowers on tall stems, you'll enjoy a better harvest if you remove the flowers and allow the plant to channel all of its energy into developing large, tasty tubers for an abundant harvest. Best planted in the spring a few weeks before your last frost date, Jerusalem artichokes will grow at a moderate pace and reach maturity in about 20 weeks.

Botanical Name Helianthus tuberosus
Common Name  Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke, sunroot
Plant Type  Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size  6–10 ft. tall, 3–5 ft. wide
Sun Exposure  Full sun, partial shade
Soil Type  Moist but well-drained
Soil pH 5.8-6.2
Bloom Time  Summer, early fall
Flower Color  Yellow
Hardiness Zones  3–9 (USDA)
Native Area  North America

How to Plant Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes can be planted in areas of your garden where more fussy vegetables won't grow. The plants grow tall with tubers spreading quickly, and the plants can easily take over an entire bed. Consider dedicating a bed just to sunchokes. Make sure they won't shade other crops and consider using a root barrier to stop their spread into unwanted areas.

If you do plant them with other veggies, good companion plants include corn and rhubarb, but don't plant them beside tomatoes. Their height and robustness mean they can act as a good windbreak for more sensitive plants.

Jerusalem Artichoke Care

Jerusalem artichoke plant with tall yellow flowers on single stalk with leaves

The Spruce / K. Dave

Jerusalem artichoke plant with bright green leaves in sunlight

The Spruce / K. Dave

Jerusalem artichoke plant growing on tall stems with bright green arrow-shaped leaves in sunlight

The Spruce / K. Dave

Light

Jerusalem artichokes can be grown in full sun or partial shade. If they get at least six hours of sun a day, this will help ensure the best yield.

Soil

These root vegetables can grow in just about any soil— they have even been known to produce harvests in heavy clay soils, although the yield is not as impressive. They just won't tolerate soggy conditions. However, they grow best in loose, well-drained, fertile, slightly acidic soils.

Water

Once established, sunchokes can handle periods of drought. But, for the best yield, a regular and even once-weekly watering schedule during the growing season is recommended, especially while they are establishing. An inch of water per week help ensure a good crop.

Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperatures for growing a bountiful Jerusalem artichoke crop is between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When planting the tubers, temperatures should be a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are expecting a hard freeze, a protective layer of mulch will help them to survive.

Fertilizer

Fertilizers are not generally needed for growing Jerusalem artichokes. If your soil is not fertile, add some organic matter to ensure a high yield.

Jerusalem artichoke tubers in a hand after being harvested from the ground
Westend61 / Getty Images

Jerusalem Artichoke Varieties

There are a few varieties of Jerusalem artichokes. Why not try a few different kinds to see which ones you prefer to eat? Common types include:

  • 'French Mammoth White': Widely available and produces nicely-sized, white, knobby tubers
  • 'Golden Nugget': Has a tapering tuber, a smooth flavor, and slices easily
  • 'Fuseau': Produces large, smooth tubers early in the season that have a somewhat smoky flavor

Jerusalem Artichokes vs. Globe Artichoke

Jerusalem artichokes are entirely unrelated to the globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus), which is a true artichoke and has an edible globular flower and very different growing requirements.

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichokes

You can harvest sunchokes anytime from October to December, but Jerusalem artichokes are much sweeter and more flavorful after a light frost or two. They usually take around 110 to 150 days to reach maturity. Add a thick (12 inch) layer of mulch after your first frost to extend your harvest. This will keep your ground from freezing, buying you a few more weeks to harvest your sunchokes. If you harvest later in the season, your sunchokes might taste sweeter, but they won't contain as much of their beneficial inulin dietary fibers.

The roots can be located and harvested with the assistance of a fork or hand rake—just be careful not to damage tubers. Mechanical potato harvesters can be used, but they may need to be modified because of the smaller size of Jerusalem artichokes.

Sunchokes can be stored in your refrigerator for around 10 days or in a root cellar with temperatures around 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a few months.

Freshly harvested, Jerusalem artichokes can be used in salads, or they can be cooked like potatoes. They taste similar to water chestnuts.

Pruning

Jerusalem artichokes plants can easily grow to reach 10 feet in height. If you want all the energy to go into tuber production, cutting them down to around 4 feet during the middle of the summer is advised, as is removing flower stalk before blooming.

Propagating Jerusalem Artichoke

The best way to grow Jerusalem artichokes is by planting the tubers in early spring. They should be spaced around 12 to 18 inches apart and planted no more than 5 inches deep. Make sure you don't plant too deeply as this can result in a poor harvest. The "eyes" should be facing upward, and the tuber pieces should weigh at least 1.75 ounces—smaller pieces can also result in a lesser yield. The soil should be moist but not saturated.

Common Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases are not often an issue for Jerusalem artichokes. Slugs or aphids can occasionally be a problem, but they are easy to control with some simple measures and good weed management.