All About Growing Garlic

Here is a concise primer on growing garlic that covers varieties, how and when to plant, pest prevention, and harvesting and storage.

| October/November 2009

Grow garlic

Your reward for growing garlic is the world of flavors that await in every bulb! Garlic’s taste has several dimensions that come alive depending on how the plant is cooked. Shown here, from left to right, are braided softneck garlic, fresh elephant garlic, and purple stripe hardneck garlic.


(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

The last crop to go into the garden, garlic is planted in fall and harvested the following summer. Flavorful, nutritious, and helpful for warding off vampires, garlic also is easy to grow as long as you plant varieties suited to your climate. Fertile, well-drained soils with a near-neutral pH between 6.5 and 7.0 are best for growing garlic.

Garlic Types to Try

Softneck types grow best where winters are mild, though some tolerate cold to Zone 5. Most varieties do not produce scapes (edible curled flower stalks), but softnecks are great for braiding. Subtypes include Creole, artichoke and many Asian varieties.

Hardneck types adapt to cold winter climates, and all produce delicious curled scapes in early summer. Popular subtypes include porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole varieties.

Elephant garlic produces a large, mild-flavored bulb comprised of four to six big cloves. Closely related to leeks, elephant garlic is hardy to Zone 5 if given deep winter mulch.

Check out our Chart of Garlic Types, which includes descriptions, growing tips, and great varieties to try. 

8/5/2017 2:36:04 PM

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7/28/2017 11:44:03 AM

just harvested some garlic; and attached to the heads are garbanzo looking what i think are seeds, but what are they? Phil

7/14/2017 3:43:07 PM

Is it time to harvest the soft neck variety when the stalks wither and turn brown?

10/17/2015 9:56:26 AM

Regarding the comment about being allergic, or sensitive to garlic. Often we are unable to properly digest certain foods due to a condition called "leaky gut." Foods pass through the digestive tract not properly broken down and so alert the immune system that an invader is present. That offending food is targeted by the immune system and symptoms result. The way to heal "leaky gut" is to follow a protocol that facilitates this. One such protocol is GAPS - Gut & Psychology/Physiology Syndrome which removes foods that are contributing to leaky gut and encourages eating those that will heal and seal the digestive tract. There are other, such as Donna Gate's Body Ecology Diet. The important thing is that whichever one is chosen, it is followed long enough to achieve this level of healing. Once this occurs, individual usually find that not only can they again eat garlic, for example, but can eat other foods that previously gave them issue. Another possible cause may be liver related. In that case making sure pathways of elimination are functioning well first, followed by a good detox, may be what is required. I hope this is helpful! Sue Clinton RN, RHN Greater Kingston Weston A. Price Foundation Co-Chapter Leader Certified GAPS Practitioner

7/28/2015 10:33:37 AM

The last two years I tried to grow garlic and both years it turns yellow and dies around mid july. I pulled a couple up and they are no bigger than when I planted them. Can someone give me an idea as to what may be happening?
4/23/2015 9:34:21 PM

I planted garlic last year in the spring. Well as you know and I found out you are supposed to plant in the fall. So now, I have all of these plants growing like onions. my question is what now? do I pull them all up or leave them and see what they do later this year. Some are single plants and some are multiple clumps....? don't know why.

10/25/2014 8:07:28 AM

I live in Northern New Mexico and planted garlic about three weeks ago (early October), planning on harvesting next summer. However, it has already put up shoots that are now 6" high. Should I replant for a summer harvest, or will these shoots reappear on the cloves I've already planted?

6/18/2014 3:46:24 AM

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6/17/2014 5:17:11 AM

It's informative and useful.

Barbara Pleasant_3
10/23/2009 8:34:36 AM

Chi, you can certainly grow garlic in a pot, but not to get big bulbs. Instead, set aside little cloves and plant them 1 inch apart and 2 inches deep. Then leave the pot outside, where it’s cool. Garlic will break dormancy and start growing roots better under cool conditions. When the greens appear, harvest the plants as “gallions” – scallion-like edibles with the flavor of garlic. Steph, I also avoid commercial garlic powder, raw garlic, and dried onions in the interest of digestive comfort, but I have no problems with lots and lots of garlic in cooked dishes. DKR, we have some feral garlic, too, and I think the only way to move it on is to dig it out. Also make sure flowers are not allowed to produce mature seeds. If I didn’t deadhead my garlic chives, they would take over the world.

10/17/2009 11:14:13 AM

Has anyone tried planting it in pots? I live in S. Louisiana, so winters here rarely get below 20 degrees. Our first frost won't be until mid-December, so I hope to get a make-shift greenhouse, attached to the side of the house, done in time to start a few plants. I was in a car accident recently and the fall garden will not happen this year. I hope to plant a few pots with fall veggies, though, and would love to start a garlic pot, if possible.

10/7/2009 10:53:08 PM

Courious if anyone else out there is allergic to seems that every food I eat with garlic raw or powder give me terrible stomach cramps...really really bad. even though I like it I never want to eat it again!!! Or who knows maybe its something else, altered in some way??? Doctors do not have a clue about it. Any help would be great. I am thinking about trying to grow my own because I can control how it is handled. (oh and this problem just started a few years ago). thanks

10/1/2009 2:03:08 PM

My question is how do you get rid of it. My mother planted some in the yard over 25 years ago. It has spread everywhere, when you pull it out, you always leave a little behind and it comes back. This stuff is small, not very usable and everyting smells like it if you end up cutting it off.

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