When and How to Plant Garlic

A garlic clove pokes out of the soil, about to be planted

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Planting garlic in fall is an excellent way to get a head start on the growing season. Learn about when and how to plant garlic.

Is garlic easy to grow?

Yes—garlic is one of our favorite crops to grow because once you plant it, it is incredibly low maintenance. Hardneck varieties of garlic grow garlic scapes that need to be cut back and harvested in the late spring. But other than that, there’s very little you need to do between planting garlic and harvest time.

Can you grow garlic from a clove?

Yes! In fact, planting individual cloves is exactly what you’ll do to grow a beautiful head of garlic.

A garlic clove pokes out of the soil where it is about to be planted

Does the clove size matter?

Not necessarily. What does matter is the size of the garlic head that the clove came from. Cloves from small heads of garlic will grow more small heads of garlic, even if the individual cloves are big. So look for a big head of garlic to use as your seed garlic.

How much garlic can you grow from a clove?

Each planted clove will grow into a new head of garlic. How many garlic cloves are in that head will depend on the type of garlic. Softneck garlic varieties tend to have more cloves per head, but the individual cloves are smaller. Inversely, hardneck garlic typically has fewer cloves, but the garlic cloves are larger.

Growfully Protip

If you plant hardneck garlic, you’ll get the added bonus of garlic scapes! Scapes are the curly green shoots that hardneck varieties put out in the spring. If you leave them be, they will eventually grow into a flower stalk with seed pods. But we suggest that you harvest them instead—not only are they delicious, but they also encourage the plant to put its energy into bulb production. 

Close up on a curly garlic scape

Can I plant store-bought garlic?

Yep, as long as that grocery store garlic is domestic (i.e.: from the United States). Most imported fruits and vegetables are irradiated when they come into the United States, which stops them from sprouting. So supermarket garlic that comes from California will grow in your garden, but garlic from China will not.

Can I plant garlic that I harvested last season?

Yes, and we recommend it! When you harvest garlic, save your best garlic bulbs to plant in the fall. Not only will this save you money (you’ll invest in seed garlic just once), but over time, you’ll end up with a garlic variety that is precisely suited for the microclimate of your garden.

In what month do you plant garlic?

In most climates, you should plant garlic between September and November. In order to form bulbs, garlic needs at least 30 days at temperatures around 40°F, and having your garlic in the ground over the fall and winter is an easy way to achieve this.

Growfully Protip

If you live in Zone 8 or above, some gardeners have seen success when they stick the garlic bulbs in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks before planting.

A hand presses a garlic clove into the soil

How long does it take to garlic to grow?

If you plant garlic in the fall, you’ll be able to harvest garlic bulbs in the summer (likely late June or July).

Where can I get seed garlic bulbs?

As we mentioned above, the best place to get your seed garlic is from last year’s harvest. But you’ll need to get a starter head or two of garlic from somewhere else first! Garden centers, farmers’ markets, and hardware stores will typically all have seed garlic for sale. You can also order seed garlic online from your favorite seed companies—we like Peaceful ValleySeed Savers, or Baker Creek.

Teach me how to plant garlic!

  1. Prepare the soil. Amend the soil with 2-3″ of compost or rich organic matter before planting. You may also want to add some fertilizer, especially if you have alkaline soil, as garlic prefers a slightly acidic soil.
  2. Separate the individual cloves of garlic, and discard any that are damaged or rotten.
  3. Plant the cloves 3-4″ deep in the soil with their pointy ends up. There should be 6-8″ of space between the cloves.
  4. Cover the garlic with soil.
  5. Add a thick layer of mulch on top of the soil to keep the soil warm through the winter.

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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Meet Cassie
Meet Your Guide

Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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