Garlic Plant Growing: Indoor and Outdoor Care Tips for Planting Garlic Bulbs

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | April 1, 2024

Woman watching garlic cloves go onto a pizza after reading a garlic plant guide that explained how to plant and grow garlic at home.

Look no further than the garlic plant if you want a potent vegetable to grow in your garden.

It’s revered for its cultural significance, hailed for its medicinal capabilities, and adored for the depth of flavor it adds to thousands of dishes in the kitchen.

If you are a garlic lover, your garden is the best place to get garlic for your daily needs. Interestingly, you can plant garlic plants indoors or outdoors and have them thrive wherever you want.

The garlic plant is easy to grow, requiring little attention, especially during planting.

This comprehensive guide helps you discover how easy it is to grow garlic plants and how to take care of them.10 It details the steps to take in garlic plant growing, indoor and outdoor care tips for planting garlic bulbs, and garlic plant facts to help you succeed in your planting efforts.

Garlic Plant

(Allium sativum)

Garlic Plant in oval frame on green background.
  • Characteristics: Strongly aromatic herb with a rounded bulb made of 10-20 cloves
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Genus: Allium
  • Leaf: Flat, sword-like, pointed, long leaf
  • Seed: Doesn’t have true seeds
  • Blossoms: Pom-pom-like, clustered pink small flowers
  • Native Habitat: Middle Asia
  • Height: 18-24 Inches
  • Canopy: 18-24 Inches
  • Type: Annual
  • Native Growing Zone: USDA Zones 1-10

Image Credit: Светлана (zoosnow)17

Growing Garlic: How To Grow Garlic at Home

Before planting garlic in your home garden or knowing how to grow garlic at home, there are a few things you need to decide.

For example, how much do you want to produce? A small place in your garden or a few enough to produce garlic for your home.

Another factor to consider is the variety you want to plant. Garlic is available in two varieties, soft neck and hard neck.

The Soft-Neck variety is the most common type for planting because you can store it for up to a year after harvesting. On the other hand, the Hard-Neck variety has a stronger smell, but you can only store it until spring.3

Once you’ve decided how much garlic you want to plant and the variety, the next step is to prepare your garden.

How To Prepare a Garlic Garden For Planting Garlic

A productive garlic bed is situated on soil, which permits the water to drain properly and is directly exposed to the sunlight.

Therefore, the initial stage of preparing a garlic garden is finding an appropriate location for your growing garlic bulbs.3

Dig the soil deeply to make it loose. Since garlic grows well in fertile soil, add your manure in and continue to dig as you mix thoroughly with the soil.

Plant Garlic Cloves: How To Grow Garlic From Cloves

Planting garlic from cloves is undoubtedly the most effective method of creating an initial Garlic Plantation.

Graphic that shows the step-by-step guide to growing garlic from cloves which includes preparing the soil, selecting and separating the cloves, planting the Garlic cloves, and watering the soil.

Instead of purchasing them at the market, make sure you get your cloves from an authorized supplier. The ones you see in the market are not free from diseases and may not grow well if they are planted.1

Here are a few steps to take to grow garlic from cloves:

  1. Take the individual cloves out of the bulb and select them for planting.
  2. Put each clove into the prepared soil and push it down so just the pointed end shows above ground level. Make certain it’s facing upward.
  3. Space the cloves from 5-6 inches on a row and 10-12 inches between rows.
  4. If you prefer container planting, space the cloves at least 5 inches apart, planting each clove in a separate pot.
  5. Water well around the planted cloves to let the soil settle around the cloves.

Growing a Garlic Plant From a Seed

You may ask, Is growing a garlic plant from a seed possible?

Garlic doesn’t produce true seeds.13 So, you cannot plant the seeds of the garlic in order for them to sprout up.

Most of the propagation is through cloves. But you do hear people talk about garlic ‘seeds.’

Most times, the part they refer to as seeds are the cloves.

Growing a Garlic Plant From a Cutting

The most suitable garlic variety to grow from cuttings is the Hard Neck. You should allow it to develop scapes at the top.

Normally, the scapes are cut off to allow the bulbs to grow bigger.15

The scapes grow into bulbils. Wait for the outer cover of the bulbils to burst open.

This tells you when the bulbils are ready for harvest, and you can prepare them for planting.

Cut off the entire flower head from the stalk and allow it to dry. Remove the bulbils and plant them like you’d plant cloves.

Here are the steps to do when growing a Garlic Plant from a cutting:

  1. Dig small holes about six inches apart in a row for planting the seeds.
  2. Place the bulbils in the holes with the pointy side facing upwards.
  3. Cover the bulbils with soil and water them generously.
  4. Ensure you water the bulbils often throughout their growing process, but be careful not to overwater them.

Growing a Garlic Plant From a Seedling

Garlic seedlings are fragile. So, you must be careful when transplanting to avoid breaking them.

Here’s how to grow a Garlic Plant from a seedling:3

  1. Plant garlic cloves or bulbils in an ideal growing medium where they can germinate before you move them to the garden.
  2. Once the cloves have their shoots, prepare the garden outside for transplanting. This preparation includes digging holes where you can place the shooting cloves.
  3. Loosen the soil around the germinating cloves, being careful not to come too close to them. You want to ensure that you don’t alter the developing root system.
  4. Have a lump of soil surrounding the bulb and transfer it to its new home undisturbed.
  5. Cover the bulbils with soil, leaving the shoots above the ground.
  6. Water them generously until the ground is wet enough.

Remember that when it comes to growing a Garlic Plant from a seedling, the best time to transplant it is early in the morning before the sun rises or on a cloudy day to avoid the strong sun.

Planting Tips for Garlic Plant: How To Plant Garlic

If you are planting garlic for the first time or want to know how to plant Garlic, you need to know what works and what doesn’t to have the best results. Here are some planting tips for Garlic Plants:

How Far Apart To Plant Garlic Plant

Garlic Plants require enough space in the soil to develop their bulbs. How far apart to plant Garlic Plant then?

Plant each clove or seedling at least 5-6 inches apart in a row and separate each row by about 10-12 inches.

Garlic Planting Season: When To Plant Garlic Plant for the Best Yield

Garlic cloves must stay in the cold ground for some time before germinating. So, when to plant Garlic Plant for the best yield and what is the best Garlic planting season?

The best time to plant them is in the fall when the ground is wet and cold.

The bulbils develop fast and are ready to harvest by summer.

Companion Plants For Growing Garlic Plants

The Garlic Plant is a good neighbor to most plants as they mutually benefit from each other. For example, the Garlic Plant has a deep, pungent aroma that many pests find repulsive.

Therefore, plants growing near garlic can grow pest-free and healthy.8

On the other hand, a Garlic Plant benefits from ground-covering plants that keep weeds at bay, especially around the bulbils. It also benefits from other plants’ ability to keep off pests that may attack it.

Graphics of companion plants for growing Garlic Plants showing Garlic Bulbs with Rue Plant, Chamomile, Tomato, Cabbage, Roses, Strawberry, Spinach, and Pepper images around it.

For example, the Rue Plant has a pest-repellent smell that keeps flies and maggots away. These flies lay eggs at the bulb area of the Garlic Plant and cause a maggot infestation on the developing bulbs.

Some companion plants for growing Garlic Plants that you can consider include chamomile, cabbage, peppers, roses, rue, spinach, strawberries, and tomatoes.

There are a few plant exemptions that you should not grow near the Garlic Plant. These plants may inhibit the Garlic Plant’s growth, as they compete vigorously for the available resources.

Such plants include beans, peas, sage, asparagus, and parsley.

Best Growing Conditions for Garlic Plant

The only way to ensure you get good yields from your Garlic Planting venture is to provide the best growing conditions for Garlic Plant.

Here are some conditions you should meet when growing garlic.12

Watering Needs for Garlic Plants

Garlic needs a consistent level of moisture to grow optimally. Therefore, when it comes to the watering needs for Garlic Plants, you need to ensure that you water it often, especially when the soil around it appears dry.5

Thankfully, garlic is planted during the fall. So, there is enough rainfall to allow the garlic to grow well.

Once the rain ceases, water them up to 1 inch in depth.

Garlic Plant Growth Rate: How Long It Takes To Grow Garlic

If you plant your garlic from cloves or bulbils, you might be wondering, how long it takes to grow Garlic Plant?

You have to wait at least 9-10 months before harvesting the bulbs.4

Graphics of Garlic Plant growth chart showing Garlic Plant growth rate based on age and height from seedling to full grown Garlic Plant.

The good news is, once you plant the garlic in the right conditions, there’s nothing else you need to do other than wait for the harvest.

Of course, you must be on the lookout for pests and diseases that may attack your Garlic Plants. Also, you may need to water them occasionally, especially in drier months to help boost the garlic plant growth rate.

Growing Zones for Garlic (Where To Grow)

The different varieties of Garlic Plants thrive in different planting zones. For example, the hard-neck garlic variety does well in USDA growing zone 1-5, while the soft-neck prefers USDA growing zone 8-12.6

If you live between the specified growing zones for Garlic Plant (where to grow), you can plant any of the garlic varieties.

When To Harvest Garlic

After nine months of waiting, it is a fully grown Garlic Plant and is ready for harvesting. So, what signs do you look for to know when to harvest garlic?

Well, unlike onions that show yellow leaves when ready, the Garlic Plants remain green even after maturity. However, you may notice that some of the foliage is drying up, especially the outermost leaves.7

If you are unsure whether to harvest, pull out one of the bulbs and use it to gauge the maturity of the others.

Garlic Plant Care: Pests & Disease Control

Garlic pests and diseases are devastating.14 They can wipe out your whole garden if you do not take measures to control them as soon as they attack.

Better still, you can learn to prevent them before they attack healthy plants in your garden.

Common Pests of the Garlic

When it comes to common pests of the Garlic Plant, thrips are Garlic Plants’ biggest enemy and can cause significant losses once they attack. They position themselves under the leaves and suck the sap in them.

While this attack alone can kill many plants, it may also infect them with dangerous viruses like Iris Yellow Spot Virus (IYSV) that kill them in no time.

Other pests, like the nematodes, are microscopic, making it difficult to spot them when they attack. They are similar to worms and bore into the Garlic Plant, where they reproduce as they feed on it.

Natural Pest Control for Garlic

The first step in controlling pests in your garlic garden is to inspect your plants thoroughly as often as possible so you can identify them when they attack.

Angled shot of a wooden plant box with growing garlic plants showing their long green leaves.

(Image: Paul Neumann16)

Also, remove all the weeds in the garlic garden. Most weeds are pest carriers and encourage their presence in the garden.

Garlic Plants are excellent at attracting beneficial insects to them, especially when they start flowering. These insects are natural pest control for Garlic Plant and can help you eliminate pests that may attack your Garlic Plants.

Garlic Plant Disease Prevention: How To Stop Garlic Diseases

Garlic bulbs fall victim to deadly diseases such as White Bulb Rot, Downy Mildew, Brown Rust, and Onion Yellow Dwarf Virus.10

Most of these diseases are usually fungal and do best in an environment with much more humidity than garlic needs for healthy development.

Management strategies include improving soil drainage in poorly-drained soils, adopting suitable plant-to-plant distances to promote better airflow among plants (which helps reduce pest build-up), and removing last season’s crop debris.

Additionally, removing weeds from your garden is one of the methods for Garlic Plant disease prevention or how to stop Garlic Plant disease. It will prevent disease outbreaks that are transmitted by pests.

What Is a Clove of Garlic or Garlic Clove?

When preparing a dish that requires garlic, the recipe likely mentions the number of garlic cloves to use, not the bulbs.

So, what is a clove of garlic?

First, when you look at fresh garlic, you see a bulb-like head covered with a thin outer layer that feels papery and easily peels out. Under the papery outer layer, there are many individual lobes that join at the stem.

These lobes vary in size. Some are larger than others and can easily detach from the stem.

One lobe is called a clove of garlic. One garlic bulb can have about 10-20 cloves.

How To Identify Garlic Plant

The common garlic is easily mistaken for its close cousins, the onions.

However, there are distinct characteristics of the Garlic Plants that can help you spot the difference.

Garlic Plant identification graphics showing Garlic Plant USDA growing zones and Garlic Plant leaf, Garlic Plant flower, and Garlic Plant bulb in circle frames.

Here are some ways distinct characteristics that will help you how to identify Garlic Plants.

Garlic Leaves

Garlic leaves are long and slender. You can spot them immediately because they have a flat, sword-like shape protruding from the base of the plant.

The dark green leaves stretch to a length of about 12-14 inches and a width of about 2-3 inches. These dimensions vary depending on the variety you have in your garden.11

Garlic Flower/Garlic Blossom

The dense, pom-pom nature of the Allium flower makes it easy to spot, even from a distance, like a Garlic blossom or Garlic flower. It usually blooms into greenish-white or pink flowers, clustered into a spherical ball at the top of the hollow stem.2

Other garlic cultivars may have different types of flowers, including types of white flowers uncommon to the wild garlic.

Garlic Seeds

Unlike other flowering plants that produce seeds after the flowers dry out, Garlic Plants hardly reach the seed-bearing stage. If they produce seeds after all, they are not true and appear like tiny black seeds resembling onions.9

What most people refer to as garlic seeds, especially when planting, are garlic cloves.

Garlic Bulb

When about ten cloves come together around the stem, they form the bulb. It’s white and rounded, with a papery sheath covering the cloves.

Garlic Plant Facts

Garlic is a nutrient-dense plant loved for its numerous health benefits to the body on consumption. Here are a few interesting facts about the Garlic Plant:

  1. Crushing and mincing will help you obtain the most of the nutritional benefits. Use it for making delicious food.
  2. While this piece covers just two types of Garlic Plants, there are more than 300 types available in hues from pink, to mauve, to white.
  3. The garlic is originally from a wild plant species, but today, it is farmed and used domestically. It is still cultivated wild in certain areas of France and Italy.
  4. Garlic is awesome at clearing up acne. Rub it gently on the pimples at night for best results.

In terms of the carbon footprint of vegan diet, garlic fits easily into everything thanks to its very low carbon emissions.

It means it is not simply a superfood for the body but can reduce the emissions when you grow your own (no transport is needed).

Adding types of garlic plant to your garden or your indoor gardening containers is a great way to retain this fresh kitchen staple, year round.

Frequently Asked Questions About Garlic Plant

How Much Sun Does Garlic Need? How Much Sunlight Does Garlic Plant Need Each Day?

Expose your Garlic Plants to at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.

Which Is the Ideal Garlic Plant Growing Zone?

Depending on the variety, Garlic Plant growing zone will change. The Hard Neck variety thrives in USDA planting zones 1-5, while the Soft Neck variety grows in USDA zones 8-12.

Are Garlic Plants Perennial Vegetables?

Technically, garlic is not one of the perennial vegetables. Most people grow them as annuals, but you may leave smaller plants in the ground and have them regrow the following spring.


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