Jerusalem artichokes are a relative of the sunflower, and like sunflowers, they grow tall - up to 3 metres in height. The flowers of Jerusalem artichokes are much smaller than a sunflower, with delicate yellow petals surrounding a yellow centre. A row of plants makes an attractive windbreak in the summer months, and some people choose to grow Jerusalem artichokes for this reason alone. In midsummer, the tall stems will either need to be cut back to 1.5 metres in height, or supported, to avoid being damaged by the wind. In autumn, the stems are cut back to ground level.
The tubers of Jerusalem artichokes are edible and have a nutty flavour. They can be turned into soups and sauces, or mashed and boiled just like potatoes. The tubers are very knobbly which make them quite difficult to peel. A good scrub before cooking may suffice, or in addition to scrubbing, cook the tubers whole and peel after they are cooked. Some people find eating Jerusalem artichokes gives them wind.
If growing for a border, Jerusalem artichokes are grown as perennials, and will rapidly grow back each spring. The plant is invasive, and will need to be controlled otherwise it will dominate a border. If growing for tubers, Jerusalem artichokes are planted in the spring and dug up completely after harvest (ie grown as an annual). The tubers will be ready to harvest in autumn by digging up the required amount for a meal. The remaining tubers will store well in the ground until late winter. Jerusalem artichokes will only require watering in very dry periods.