In a Vase on Monday: Helianthus tuberosus

Helianthus tuberosus is making a statement in our garden at the moment. πŸ˜ƒ

In winter, my Man of Many Talents decided to try this plant as an alternative to potatoes (which did not do well last year due to the wet and the mice). The two long strips of ground used for potatoes last year were tilled once more and he planted the tubers in early spring.


The tubers are edible, and are known as Topinambur or Jerusalem Artichoke. I must be honest, the flavour does not appeal to me much – earthy, nutty, and rather strong, they overpower other flavours if added to a dish. But sliced thinly and fried or baked they are a nice accompaniment to a meal. If you have eaten them and have any good ideas of how to enjoy them, please do let me know.

So the tubers are not a big hit, but the flowers ARE! They were slow to get started but by August the plants were enormous, and about two weeks ago they started flowering….

The tallest must be about three metres, at least.

So my vase today is jam-packed with these gorgeous perennial sunflowers. They create the wonderful effect of a burst of sunshine indoors on a cloudy day. πŸ˜ƒ

The tubers can stay in the ground over winter and be harvested as we want them, or simply left to produce flowers again next summer. They were watered once in the middle of the drought, but I think you could definitely label them as very drought-tolerant. But be warned. Given ideal conditions they can take over, so should only be planted where they can spread happily. πŸ˜ƒ


I do actually have two more vases to share today as well. This one is leftovers from last week – annual sunflowers, Chrysopsis and some Golden Rod.

And my last vase is rather an incredible one. Back in August (the 8th to be precise) I posted this photo of a vase full of globe-shaped flowers and seedheads.

Well, after about ten days I removed the water and a couple of wilted pieces, and let the contents simply dry in the vase. And this is how it looks now…

I haven’t dared move it, and just dust around it, as the grasses and Echinops are very fragile. I am impressed with how well everything has lasted.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme. Do go and visit her to see what gardeners are picking from their gardens today! πŸ˜ƒ

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43 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday: Helianthus tuberosus

  1. I really didn’t know where Jerusalem artichokes came from. I learned something new today. I grow a Swamp Sunflower that also gets extremely tall and can take over the garden. I don’t if they are editable.

  2. Gosh, how green your garden is! The yellow grass recovered quickly then?! Everything looks still very dead here, but then we only had a couple of litres of rain. Absolutely love your vase(s), so sunny and cheerful. I grow Jerusalem artichoke in a tractor tyre under the oak tree next to the compost bins. I like the flowers a lot but like you I’m not over-passionate about eating them. They like fresh, moist soil so after constantly wilting this summer we eventually stopped watering them. Hopefully next year will be easier. I saw over at Cathy’s that your Miscanthus have been struggling. Most of mine have been doing well. It’s all down to soil and exposure. Those which are in full sun and good soil have coped very well with the drought. Under the trees it’s a different story. All varieties apart from ‘Morning Light’ –which is always a bit late– are in flower. Your seedhead vase is divine. Love to you both and Anouk x

    • Hi Annette. Yes, we had over a week of rain or at least showery days, and it was amazing how quickly everything turned green again! The Miscanthus have sapped all the moisture out of the beds at the expense of other plants, but it still wasn’t enough for them to grow as tall as usual, and only one has actually flowered fairly normally. (That was ‘Federweisser’). I can’t believe how little rain you have had this year. Next year you will probably have more than you want! It always seems to work like that. πŸ˜‰ Love to you all too! πŸ€—

  3. I was puzzling over the tuberous part of your title until I saw the blooms – and knew they must be Jerusalem artichoke! Is Topinambur a German name for them? I have grown them before but enjoyed the flowers more than the tubers, as it seems most people do! What a glorious vase they make – but so is your sunny second vase and the dried one is wonderful…I love it! Are the purple globes an allium?

  4. I’ve long admired that sunflower, although I’ve never grown it. I remember that Christina who blogged from Italy about her Hesperides garden often featured them in her IAVOM posts – they seem to be flowers that keep on giving, which is always helpful. Kudos to you on the resilient arrangement from early august too.

    • I remember Christina’s garden and blog well, as it was a great inspiration to me. Although her Italian winters are mild, the summer climate is very similar to ours. These perennial sunflowers are in fact also extremely hardy plants. πŸ˜ƒ

  5. Very pretty vases. I like the flowers, my grandparents would eat the Jerusalem Artichokes but I don’t recall how they were prepared. Nobody else liked them, so I think they agreed with you.

  6. I’ve never dared to grow JA because of how they spread, but if given a patch of sun off by themselves, they sure do create an impressive annual showing. Your sunflower vase makes the perfect container for them!

  7. Love the sunchokes! They grow wild, somehow, along some roads around here but, like Eliza, I haven’t been keen on planting them myself… reading these comments and seeing your photos, though…..πŸ˜†

  8. I used to grow them on my allotment many moons ago when I have one, they are nice boiled and served cold with a vinaigrette, or added to mushroom dishes where the strong flavours go together, also mixed with hot roasted beetroot, but with a sharp dressing with orange or lemon juice. I do love a bright yellow flower, so you can guess which vase gets my vote.

    • Thank you for the ideas Noelle. With roasted beetroot sounds good, so I might try that with the last of my beetroot. πŸ˜ƒ My comment didn’t appear on your blog Noelle, but I said how pretty your posy was and what a lovely idea to leave posies on people’s doorsteps! πŸ˜ƒ

  9. I think we must be too far north as I’ve never had flowers on my Jerusalem artichokes. The tubers are not universally liked, but I love them either roasted or in a creamy soup. Alas the Head Gardener did not appreciate their culinary appeal, so they went on the compost!
    As always a lovely selection of flowers in your Monday vases.

  10. A bargain this week. Three vases for the the price of one ! And all of them very pretty indeed. All that sunshiny colour is just what we need at the moment as temperatures have dropped dramatically and it’s pouring with rain at last ! We had some Jerusalem Artichokes in the garden a long time ago but too much in the shade and they disappeared in the end. I seem to remember they were really hard to digest but my memories of them are a bit vague.

    • πŸ˜ƒ Jerusalem artichokes do have the reputation for being difficult to digest and I have heard they have earned the nickname ‘fartichokes’! πŸ˜‰ We haven’t noticed though, and I read that you should only eat a small quantity if you are not used to them, and they are excellent for making good bacteria in the gut. I still can’t get used to the intense flavour though, and will just enjoy the flowers instead I think! πŸ˜ƒ

  11. I’m fascinated, Cathy! I am familiar (by reputation) with Jerusalem Artichokes, but I have never eaten them. And I would never have known that they’d flower with such a beautiful bloom. Now I’m really intrigued.

  12. This is what started our now overwhelming accumulation of Canna. I wanted to find Canna edulis like I remember from the 1980s. I eventually got a few rhizomes of it, but after removing and recycling a bit too many ornamental Canna. Well, they are all rad anyway.

  13. I’ve heard of Jerusalem artichokes Cathy but have never come across them. Am I right in thinking that they don’t require any staking? I love the faded elegance of the vase you left as it was πŸ˜€

    • Hi Anna. They are leaning a bit in places, but considering the strong wind we get here, they are clearly very sturdy and wouldn’t need staking in a sunny position. They are still flowering well and especially welcome as my annual sunflowers didn’t perform at all well this summer. πŸ˜ƒ

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