Growing Guides

Garlic Growing & Planting Guide

Garlic Growing & Planting Guide

Table of Contents

Garlic is widely popular for adding flavor to sauces and stews, cooking meats, sautéing greens, and roasting on its own.

Garlic contains chemical compounds that reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and helps lower blood pressure! Shop garlic bulbs from our online shop and keep reading to learn how to grow garlic successfully. Check out our blog today to get more tips for growing garlic and other crops.

Types of Garlic

There are two main types of garlic: softneck (silverskin and artichoke) and hardneck (rocambole, purple stripe, and porcelain).

Hardneck Garlics


Hardneck (stiffneck) garlic has fewer but much larger cloves per bulb than softneck types. As it grows it produces a stalk called a “scape.” Scapes can be harvested and used for cooking before the garlic itself is actually harvested.

Hardneck is very richly flavored and generally stronger tasting than softneck. Hardneck garlic is more winter-hardy than softneck garlic for fall plantings.
They have less of an outer bulb wrapper, which reduces their shelf life. Often termed topsetting or bolting varieties, hardneck garlic is most closely related to wild garlic.

Rocambole Garlics

Rocamboles tend to grow better in cold winter climates. They produce large, tan or brown-colored cloves, easily peeled skins, and a deep full-bodied flavor, considered by some to be the finest-tasting garlic of all. Rocambole types include Blanak and German Red.

Purple Striped Garlic

Purple Stripes are named for their vivid purple striping on the bulb wrappers and clove skins. Their taste is strong, complex and richly garlicky, without being overly sulfurous. Many regard purple stripes as the best for roasting. Purple stripes are further broken down into two groups: Glazed and Marbled. Purple Stripe types include Chesnok Red, Deerfield Purple, and Duganski.

Porcelain Garlic

Porcelains produce a beautiful plant and impressive bulb. They have a satiny white wrapper with four to six cloves around a sturdy scape. They are easy to peel and great for cooking. Porcelain types include German White, Mt. Hood, and Music.

Softneck Garlic

Softneck garlic is most common simply because it is easy to grow and keeps longer. It offers a nice mild flavor and is the type you find in most grocery stores.

Softneck garlic generally has a longer shelf life than hardnecks, with more cloves per bulb than hardnecks. It is adaptable to most climates and can be braided easily.

Silver Skin Garlic

Silver skin is the most common garlic type and is easy to grow.

Artichoke Garlic

Artichoke has larger and fewer cloves per bulb and a milder flavor. The bulb wrappers on the artichoke varieties are coarser than the silverskin and may have some purple blotches. Softneck Italian Red is an Artichoke type.

Elephant Garlic

Elephant garlic is not a true garlic but a variant of the garden leek species. It has a tall, solid flowering stalk, and broad flat leaves (much like those of the leek) but forms a bulb consisting of very large cloves. Each bulb is approximately 5 to 6 inches across and can weigh over a pound.

Garlic Culture

When to Plant Garlic?

Garlic is often planted in the fall, from September until about 4 weeks before the ground freezes.

Can Garlic Be Planted in The Spring?

It can be spring planted as soon as the ground can be worked, but the best bulb size is generally from fall-planted garlic. It may be planted through January in the south.

Time to Germination

Cloves should sprout within four to eight weeks. If you grow garlic from seed, your bulbils should sprout within eight to nine months. The time it takes for garlic to sprout depends on the variety and weather conditions.

Garlic Planting Conditions

Does Garlic Like a Lot of Sun?

When planting garlic, select an area in full sun.

What’s the Best Soil for Garlic?

Loose, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter and a pH between 6 and 7 is ideal for garlic.

Should You Use Fertilizer for Garlic?

You may use fertilizer or compost higher in phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) to ensure good root development throughout the cold months.

What Conditions Should I Avoid?

Since garlic commences growth very early in the season, it is important to avoid fields that are slow to drain in the spring. The conditions most likely to "winter-kill" garlic are very wet saturated soils with poor drainage.

Common Pests and Diseases

Garlic is vulnerable to many pests that can damage the bulb, such as bulb mites, nematodes, botrytis rot and white rot. Weeds like dandelion and clover also compete with garlic plants for nutrients and water, hindering your crop's success. When growing garlic, keep the soil loose, use appropriate fertilizer as needed and remove weeds as they arise.

Planting Garlic

Separate the garlic bulb into individual cloves before planting.

Do You Plant Garlic With Cloves up or down?

Plant the cloves pointed side up to ensure that, when the stem grows, it will be straight.

How Close Should Garlic Be Planted?

Plant individual cloves approximately 2 to 4 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
The root system starts to develop in fall, and in winter, the garlic is dormant. In spring, stems will emerge from the ground, and bulbs will start to grow.

When Should Fertilizer Be Applied to Garlic?

Once the stems start to emerge from the ground, it is a good time to feed with a fertilizer high in nitrogen (N) to promote top growth. Keep the area weed-free.

When Should Seed Scapes Be Cut?

In hardneck varieties, a seed scape, or flower stalk, will form on top of the stem in June (earlier in warmer regions).

When the scape has formed a complete spiral and is about the thickness of a pencil it should be cut or broken off at the base where it emerges from the stalk. This will allow the plant to focus its energy and grow a larger bulb. The scapes are edible too!

When and How Should You Water Garlic?

As a general guideline, water your garlic once per week during the growing season. Garlic thrives in soil with good drainage soil when given half an inch of water per week. Stop watering a week before harvesting softneck garlic and after you cut the scape of hardneck garlic.

Avoid over-watering, under-watering and watering when temperatures are below freezing, as this can cause stress and bulb rot. The exact amount of water your garlic needs depends on the type of garlic you grow, as well as your climate.

How Do You Replant Garlic?

First, ensure your bulbs are healthy and keep them intact until a day or two before replanting. Then, pull apart your best bulbs and plant them according to the instructions above to have a successful harvest.

Harvesting Garlic

When Should Garlic Be Harvested?

Garlic is ready to be dug or pulled from mid-to-late July (earlier in warmer regions).

Softnecks tend to mature about a week earlier than hardnecks. Softnecks are ready to harvest when about half of the crop has fallen over and is lying on the ground. 

Hardnecks may be harvested when the lower leaves have died and turned brown.

How Do You Check Whether Garlic Is Ready For Harvest?

To check if they are mature, pull up a bulb and cut a cross-section. If the cloves are tight against the central stem, then the garlic needs more time. When you begin seeing spaces develop between the stem and the cloves, then it is time to harvest.

How Do You Harvest Garlic?

To harvest garlic, you need to loosen the soil with a shovel or hand tool, then carefully dig up the bulbs. Do not pull the stalk from the ground. Then, brush off any dirt gently and prepare your garlic for curing.

Curing Garlic

Dry the garlic out of direct sunlight and in a place with good airflow.

How Long Should Garlic Cure for?

Allow bulbs to cure for about two weeks, and then the stem and roots may be trimmed.

What Temperature Should Garlic Store At?

Garlic can be stored at room temperature for short-term use, or for longer storage between 32° to 50° F with moderate humidity.

How Long Do You Store Garlic for?

Rocamboles and Purple Stripes store for about 6 months. Porcelains and Artichoke types store 8 to 10 months. Silverskins will often store a full year.

How Much Garlic Should You Plant?

1 acre = 43,560 square feet = 6,272,640 square inches
6,272,640 square inches ÷ x inches between rows ÷ x inches within rows = # cloves/acre
1 pound hardneck (5-6 bulbs) with 5-6 cloves per bulb = ~33 cloves
1 pound softneck (7-10 bulbs) with 6-10 cloves per bulb = ~80 cloves
So, with rows 24 inches apart and 6-inch spacing: 6,272,640 ÷24 ÷ 6 = 43,560 cloves/acre
For hardneck garlic: 43,560 ÷ 33 cloves= 1,320 pounds per acre
For softneck garlic: 43,560 ÷ 80 cloves = 545 pounds per acre
Let’s say you only want to plant a 25’ (300”) row with 6-inch spacing:
300÷ 6 = 50 cloves needed
@ 33 cloves/pound, you need about 1.5 pounds of hardneck garlic for a 25-foot row.
@ 80 cloves/pound, you need 0.6 pounds of softneck garlic for a 25-foot row.

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