Garlic Types and Growing Tips








Softneck garlic(Allium sativum sativum)

Large bulbs comprised of 12 to 20 cloves, with the largest ones on the outside of the bulbs. Large, vigorous plants grow best in mild winter areas. Most grocery store garlic is softneck garlic. Flavor is generally mild, with more spiciness in some Asian strains. Will keep for eight months under cool, dry conditions.

Creole types such as ‘Burgundy’ taste great and store well, even in the humid South. In the West, try late-maturing ‘Susanville’ or other California-bred varieties. ‘Red Toch’ is remarkably tasty and cold-hardy.

Hardneck garlic
(Allium sativum ophioscorodon)
Medium to large bulbs comprised of six to 12 symmetrical cloves around a hard central stalk. Cold-hardy plants produce delicious edible scapes. Plants that are allowed to flower may produce bulbils. Often sold in gourmet shops, hardneck garlic has a complex, spicy-sweet flavor. Storage time ranges from three to eight months.

Often called porcelain or continental strains, ‘German White’ and ‘Music’ produce tender scapes and six or more big, juicy cloves. Big-flavor rocamboles such as ‘Chesnok Red’ and ‘Spanish Roja’ excel in cold winter climates.

Elephant or Buffalo garlic
(Allium ampeloprasum)
Large, upright plants with strappy leaves need wide, 12-inch spacing. Baseball-size bulbs comprised of four to six cloves have mild flavor, which makes them great for roasting. To increase bulb size, harvest the edible scapes or use blossom clusters as cut flowers. Seed is sold simply as elephant garlic, or you can start with a store-bought bulb. In areas where elephant garlic grows wild, feral seedlings moved to the garden will form bulbs in two years.



For more information on garlic, including planting, growing, harvesting, cooking and storage advice, see Growing Garlic.