Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:45 pm
Jerusalem artichoke, whose Latin name is Helianthus tuberosus, is a root vegetable found in many gardens, which actually belongs to the genus of sunflowers. When growing it, the location must be right first and foremost. If the plant feels at home there, it needs little care and will happily sprawl in the ground. We show you how to plant Jerusalem artichoke correctly.
- when planting it depends first and foremost on the right location
- as a sunflower, it naturally prefers the sunniest possible location with plenty of warmth
- if the optimal site conditions are largely fulfilled, the plant needs little attention, but can be left to its own devices
- the optimal time to plant the root vegetable is early spring from about the beginning of April or October.
Sunflower with underground extra
Those who see Helianthus tuberosus for the first time may confuse it with an ordinary sunflower. The resemblance is not accidental. Helianthus tuberosus clearly belongs to the sunflowers. The plant is a typical composite and, together with about 50 other species, forms the sunflower genus.
What distinguishes it from most of its congeners, however, is the underground extra it has to offer. Its roots end in so-called sprout tubers, which are perfect for consumption when cooked. For a long time, these tubers were even considered a delicacy, highly prized especially in the plant’s country of origin, namely Central and South America. These tubers are then also the reason for the alternative names that are known in this country for Jerusalem artichoke. These include names such as:
- Earth apple
- Earth pear
- Indian potato
- Sweet potato
Jerusalem artichoke you plant as a tuber. This is placed in the soil at a distance of about 50 centimeters. The planting depth should be five to 15 centimeters. The best time to plant the tubers is in early spring, from about the beginning of April. However, it is also possible to plant them in the fall. October is ideal for optimal cultivation of the tubers.
Hardly any care required
Helianthus tuberosus is a very uncomplicated, low-maintenance vegetable that consequently requires hardly any work in the garden. As a perennial plant, it is even very easy to cultivate. If you want to grow Jerusalem artichoke not so much for visual reasons, but with the aim of being able to harvest the largest possible tubers, you should use a substrate that consists of a fertile, humus-rich soil and ensures good water drainage. Basically, the soil must not dry out. On the other hand, waterlogging should also be avoided.
Tip: If the flowering glory of the Jerusalem artichoke is to be in the foreground and not the yield of the tubers, you must plant them in a rather sandy soil.
Watering & fertilizing
To ensure that Helianthus tuberosus gets all the nutrients it needs to grow well, it should be fertilized about once a month. Either horn shavings or a commercial vegetable fertilizer are suitable for fertilizing. The horn shavings are simply spread around the trunk in the root area. The vegetable fertilizer is best administered in liquid form and dumped into the irrigation water. Speaking of watering: Jerusalem artichoke requires a relatively large amount of water, but on the other hand does not tolerate waterlogging. Therefore, it is essential to ensure good water drainage.
Plant Jerusalem artichoke: Root barrier
Helianthus tuberosus loves to sprawl to the fullest in the subsoil and spread underground relatively unrestrained. The root network does not even stop at a neighboring property, which can quickly lead to significant problems. When planting the Jerusalem artichoke, a root barrier should therefore be included in the plan. This will then largely contain its runners and growths.
Tip: The root barrier is best placed directly at the roots to contain their spread from the outset.
Frequently asked questions
How is the plant propagated?
It is best to leave some smaller tubers in the soil after harvesting. New plants can then be formed from these. Under no circumstances should the tubers intended for propagation be stored anywhere, as there is always a risk that they will dry out and then no longer be usable.
Does lack of water harm the plant?
Jerusalem artichoke does not like waterlogging, but it does not cope with a lack of water either. The lack of water supply usually leads to the fact that the tubers grow less well, remain very small and thus lead to a lower yield. Therefore, especially in the summer, the plant should definitely be watered regularly to protect it from stress.
Can Jerusalem artichoke tolerate direct midday sun?
Helianthus tuberosus comes from a very warm, not to say hot, part of the world. Therefore, it copes well with our Central European midday sun. Direct sunlight is no problem for the plant. The prerequisite, however, is that it always has enough water available.