Have you heard of Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes? They are easy to grow and even have pretty flowers that smell like chocolate.

How to Grow Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)

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Have you heard of Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes? They are easy to grow and even have pretty flowers that smell like chocolate. For more month by month garden planning ideas, check this out.

Jerusalem artichokes growing in the garden

Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes are a tasty, starchy tuber similar in flavor and texture to potatoes. They taste sweeter than potatoes though. The great thing about them is you can harvest them in winter when there is not much else to harvest.

Learning how to grow Jerusalem artichokes could not be easier. The plants are pretty, they smell nice, and they produce like no one’s business. In fact, they can be very invasive. Have you ever heard of them? I hadn’t until I was researching what kind of perennial plants we could plant in our preschool garden.

jerusalam artichokes freshly dug up from the garden

Growing Jerusalem artichoke in containers

Growing Jerusalem artichokes in containers is your best bet to keep them from overtaking your yard and garden. They grow underground and spread like mad. That’s good for a productive crop, but you don’t want it to be TOO productive. Growing in a large container is a great way to keep them in check. 

Order some tubers and get a large container filled with soil. You don’t want to plant these babies in the ground or they will take over the whole area you plant them in. They are planted in spring. Plant them like you would plant potatoes, about 5 inches deep and about 12-18 inches apart. Click the small image above for buying choices if you want to get some tubers to start your own plants.

Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) in a container

Sunchokes gas

The tubers will grow all summer. They grow a tall flower similar to a cluster of small sunflowers. They smell nice and fragrant and look lovely in the garden. Harvest them after the first frost. A friend tells me if you harvest before a frost, the sunchokes will make you gassy. Nobody wants sunchokes gas!


Another fun fact about Jerusalem artichokes is the flowers smell slightly like chocolate. Who doesn’t love a sunflower that smells like chocolate? You can take a few petals from the flower and rub it in your hands and smell a chocolatey smell. Sensory experiences are so important for kids, especially under age three. This is a wonderful sensory stimulus.

Jerusalem artichoke growing

Your Jerusalem artichokes will grow back year after year. Once you do the initial planting, you will have food for years to come. We have tried them raw. We are going to harvest most of ours after we get a frost and try them cooked. You are supposed to prepare them like you would potatoes. You can bake them, mash them, or however you enjoy your potatoes. 


The kids really love the treasure hunt of digging for food under the ground. Carrots, radishes, potatoes, and Jerusalem Artichokes are super fun for kids. What kid doesn’t love digging in the dirt? I know I still do. The tubers are small and clustered together. They are easy to dig up all at once.

Growing sunchokes

One tip I have learned is to wait until after a freeze to dig them. They taste sweeter and more flavorful. 

How to grow:

How to Grow Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)

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  1. The flowers are edible too. Depending on the variety, the flowers can be tender enough to toss raw in salads, or so tough only a goat could chew them. World wide, there are supposed to be over 400 varieties! Even though they smell like chocolate, they taste like the tubers. Steamed for a few minutes, 10 or so, they turn out soft and a lot like squash.
    I have three varieties. Stampede, a white knobby root with a 5′ top that I got mail order. A red knobby root with a 6′ top that I found in a nearby flower bed. Very similar to the Stampede, just red. A white smooth carrot-like root with a 12′ top that I found feral in the woods near where I live that may be the Fuseau variety or similar.
    The flowers on the Stampede and the red are tender. The flowers on the feral Fuseau are so tough they’re only edible after cooking.
    Last fall, I cooked up a 3 quart batch of the flowers and made 1 gallon of wine. Very different, not fruity of course. There’s nothing to compare it to. Not bad, but its a taste I’d have to get used to. After it ages until later this summer, I’m going to try it as a cooking wine. I’m sure it would be good.
    The stalks are also edible, but only as fodder for animals. I chip them and turn the chips into the soil as I harvest for mulch.

  2. I used to grow these in the USA, wish I could find them here! They are a fun and low-maintenance crop to grow, and I love the sweet-smelling yellow flowers.