Ultimate Guide of Growing Garlic and The Benefits (2022)

Garlic is one of the most underrated root vegetables ever! Some gardeners stay away from growing garlic out of fear of it, as it does take a bit of time to develop, grow, cure, and store. This should not deter anyone away, though. Garlic is an amazing plant to grow and deserves more credit than it gets.

This plant grows underground, and in some varieties you can even eat the sprouts that grow from the top! Garlic has a delicious and savory flavor, and is used in cooking throughout the world. It’s surprising just how many varieties there are out there.

You can also grow garlic virtually anywhere! This plant is surprisingly very hardy against both the cold and the heat, as long as the tops are established enough. The toughness of this plant, coupled with its dietary additions, works well for weight loss and inflammatory problems.


History of Garlic

The History of Garlic

The history of garlic is rich and extensive. The first written mention of Garlic was 5,000 years ago in Egypt and India. Interestingly, in China, it was referred to as early as 2,000 years ago. This is funny because it is the only place where garlic grows wild in the entire world!

Wild garlic refers to garlic that grows without the help of humans and propagation. Garlic has a great growing climate, and it is an international root vegetable. Surprisingly, garlic is one of the easier plants to grow.

Garlic seeds are difficult to grow, but bulbs aren’t! This plant grows asexually and reproduces with propagation. Garlic is also closely related to onions, although the task differs greatly!

Possibly the most amazing thing about garlic is that it is so versatile and flexible! Throughout history it wasn’t just used as an additive in food, but also as a medicine to treat joint and heart alignments.

Varieties of Garlic

There are two main types of garlic varieties. They are similar in taste but differ in size and growth. The two types are called hard neck and soft neck. Typically home gardeners grow soft necks, as they are easier to find and grow in warmer conditions.

Hardneck Garlic

With a hard neck variety, there are stems that grow on top. These are lighter and sweeter than soft neck varieties. For people who live in winter and snow-heavy climates, this variety is a great choice as it withstands freezing temperatures very well.

Hardneck garlic also produces flowers, although it’s not uncommon to see gardeners and farmers snipping the buds off so the plant can focus its energy on creating bulbs instead. Since they are hardy they technically have two growing seasons, early spring and late Fall.

The bulbs grow underground in a ring, as opposed to layered on top of each other. The hard neck garlic needs to be dried after harvesting, and sometimes are braided as the tops dry.

Softneck Garlic

Softnecks are also braided to dry and store. There are the more common varieties grown because of how it likes warmer climates. Softneck garlic is not winter hardy, and needs extra layers of warmth to survive frost.

They grow larger bulbs as the energy is pushed into the bulbs and roots but not the tops. The tops are not edible, but the bulbs are more fragrant and have a stronger taste. Sadly, this type of garlic does not store well, nor does it do well in the cold.

Since it cannot withstand freezing temperatures it has shorter growing seasons. After freezing, you typically have a 90 day wait time for harvest. The harvest does depend on the exact bulb, though.


Best Bulbs to Grow Garlic

Before diving into exactly how to grow garlic, it is important to review all the great options! There are so many bulbs to choose from, and they all grow in different environments.

1. Elephant Garlic – Top Pick

Top Pick
Elephant Garlic Sorted Bulbs

Elephant Garlic is our top pick for best bulbs to grow year-round! This large garlic variety is exactly what the name suggests, elephant size! Elephant garlic is not only large, but it’s also disease resistant against fungus and root rot.

Unlike other types of garlic, this one can be left alone in the frost for years without the risk of rotting (as long as it is not overwatered). It is important to limit the moisture in the garlic bulbs before curing and storing them.

You can boil the moisture out or dry it in a dark enclosed space. Elephant Garlic is also sold by the pound; the minimum amount you can buy is 1lb, but keep in mind it does have a high yield!

How do you use these garlic bulbs? Easy, you propagate them with water, a paper towel, and a closed bag! In just two weeks, you should see sprouts growing from the top of your garlic bulbs.

2. Fresh Siberian HARDNECK Garlic Bulb – Runner Up

Runner Up
Fresh Siberian HARDNECK Garlic Bulb

Fresh Siberian HARDNECK Garlic Bulb is one of a limited supply that doesn’t originate in Southeast Asia. Instead, the garlic bulbs are from Siberia and are excellent to grow in cold weather.

The Fresh Siberian HARDNECK Garlic Bulb produces large bulbs once they are planted and ready to harvest. This particular garlic bulb also has a colorful and vibrant ‘thin’ papery outside that protects the bulb from pests, moisture, and diseases. The color ranges from red, purple, orange, and pink.

You should expect this variety to grow up to 24 inches tall. However, the top growth can be smaller depending on factors like weather, disease, and water.

3. ALEXI Garlic Seeds – Best Garlic Seeds

Best Garlic Seeds
ALEXI Garlic Seeds

If you are looking for an adventure, you should try out these Alexi garlic seeds! While the majority of garlic bulbs sold in stores are propagated, you can still grow garlic from seeds. It does take longer, though.

While it takes longer, these seeds have a strong Fragrance even before peeling back the thin papery outside. These seeds are highly versatile and can happily grow in USDA zones 0-11 with ease.

Alexi garlic seeds take a minimum of 4 weeks to sprout, but the wait is worth it! The seeds have a high yield and germination rate, giving you a good amount of garlic for the money you spend!

4. Garlic Chives Seeds – Runner Up for Best Garlic Seeds

Another Runner Up
Garlic Chives Seeds

While these seeds are a runner-up, this does not mean they are any less effective! Chives seeds produce bulbs of chives, a smaller and thinner type of garlic. Chives have tiny bulbs underground and grow very long tops.

The long tops are what are mainly consumed. The tops are fragrant and sweet-tasting, growing up to 18 inches long. Chives are especially common in Asian cuisine or as a topping for decoration.

They do not grow as easily as other varieties, though, and need to be sown in USDA zones 3-9 with full sun and no frost. Each packet order comes with a minimum of 250 seeds that sprout in 3-4 weeks.


How to Grow Garlic From Bulbs

There is a lot that gardeners have to consider when taking on the task of growing garlic from bulbs. Since seeds often germinate poorly, bulbs are recommended. You can always try to plant seeds, but be prepared for longer harvest periods. Seeds are also susceptible to trauma and root rot.

There are a lot of steps to follow when growing garlic from bulbs, although it is easy! Don’t stress out when planning to grow garlic, as these plants can basically survive when left alone. You do have to start the process with propagation, but the techniques are simple!

Grow Garlic From Bulbs

Propagation

The only way to sprout roots or tops from a garlic bulb is to propagate it. The idea of propagating is a breeding or cloning process where you take a bulb or leaf from one plant to make another. Nearly all propagation needs water!

One common way to propagate garlic bulbs is to use your fridge! Have you ever forgotten about garlic or onions in your fridge, only to find them later with roots and a sprout? This happens because the moisture and cold temperature mimic outdoor growing climates.

The process of propagating using the refrigerator takes about 2-3 weeks. You should leave it exposed to the fridge, but away from other vegetables. The second way is just as easy, but you do not need refrigeration.

If you are interested in propagating a garlic clove, you need to gather three key ingredients; a plastic bag, water, and a paper towel. Wet the paper towel under running water and place the garlic cloves on the now-wet paper. Fold the paper towel, but try to space out each clove.

Once they are spaced out, you can place your garlic cloves in the paper towel inside the plastic bag. Make sure the bag zips and has some oxygen, but not a lot. Leave it in a dark area and check every 3-4 days. In two weeks, there should be sprouts.

Once the sprouts are longer than two inches, you can then bring them outside and sow them into their new spot. This can be an outdoor growing space, container, or raised gardening bed.

Growing Spaces

There are so many growing spaces to choose from! Everyone does so differently. For example, some urban gardeners that live in small homes or apartments grow their garlic in large containers or windowsill boxes. Others with large spaces plant them in the ground.

Truly, there is no wrong type of growing space for garlic. However, garlic does need at least a gallon of space to stretch out its roots and grow bulbs. If the area is too small or crowded, the bulbs will grow but very small.

Containers

Containers are a great tool to use! If you want more control over the soil, diseases, or have a smaller space, you can always use a container to grow garlic. Since containers are apart from soil touching other plants, this decreases the risk of spreading diseases.

Containers should be made with hard plastic, metal, or porcelain. While you can use light plastic or paper as a container material, it will wear over time and can break before the growing season is over. This is especially true if you live in an area that receives a lot of rain or sunlight.

You do need to be mindful of the size, though! Containers should be gallon-sized and stretch both tall and wide. Since garlic is a root vegetable, it needs plenty of space downward to grow and expand. If not, your plant can die from stress or produce short bulbs.

If you do decide to use containers, make sure that you place them in areas that achieve full direct sunlight. Not only is sunlight important, but the soil needs to be well-drained. Add drainage holes to the bottom using a lighter and needle, or an electric drill.

In the Ground

For gardeners with large spaces, you can plant garlic in the soil directly in your backyard or front yard. This is a bit tricky, though. Not all soil is fertile; some soil is too acidic and won’t germinate seeds or bulbs—the only way to tell for sure though is to test your soil with a soil testing kit.

If your soil is not fertile enough, you should amend the soil. However, this is more difficult and requires time and energy. Amending the soil is a process where you add nutrients and organisms back to the soil.

Lawn grass strips away nutrients necessary to grow new plants. This happens over time, and is commonly what makes soil no longer fertile. After you have done this, you need to make sure that the spot is free from tree roots and is in a sunny spot that gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight.

Growing Garlic Indoors

There are a few ways to tackle growing garlic indoors. While it may not sound feasible, it is! If you have a large enough windowsill box or container, you can hang one on the outer part of your windowsill. This way, your garlic plants can catch the sun.

You should make sure that it is tied adequately, though. Use reinforcements, so your containers don’t drop. It is also possible to grow inside of the window. However, it is a bit difficult unless you have a spot that gets direct light.

One of the best ways to grow garlic inside is to use grow lights. They are affordable, and you can position them as you like. The greatest grow light purchase is one that you can program to turn on and off throughout the day.

This is a perfect option for growing garlic inside. However, you do need to make sure that wherever you grow garlic is well ventilated. If you use good grow lights, water regularly, and plant in an area without ventilation, mold can easily grow and spread, causing sickness in your plants and yourself!

Raised Beds

For those of us lucky to have raised beds outside, we can plant garlic in them. Raised beds give you, the gardener, a chance to control the environment. The box is raised with the new soil that you choose.

Typically raised beds are used as flower beds, but as the urban gardening movement grows, some people are using raised beds to grow vegetables, fruits, and roots. In this outdoor space, you can also guard it with railing and netting from pests that may try to destroy and eat your food.

Which soil Should you Use For Growing Garlic?

Garlic bulbs and seeds need sandy loam soils that drain well. Although this is the best option, it is important to note that garlic is versatile and can be grown in any soil with a few modifications! For instance, clay-based soil does not drain well, but if you minimize your watering, your garlic plant should be fine.

However, if you do not use precautions, it is possible that either sandy or clay soil can retain too much moisture, resulting in root rot. On the other hand, if you use soils that are compact and tough, water will have a hard time staying inside, dehydrating your garlic bulb.


What is the Planting Season for Garlic?

The best time to plant garlic is a few weeks before the last frost. This is not always possible to know, but an estimated date is generally somewhat accurate. The first step is to propagate your garlic bulbs inside or root your seeds.

What is the Planting Season for Garlic

Some varieties are not winter hardy and cannot survive under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For those varieties, you should plant them in early spring after the temperatures warm up. Although it’s tempting to plant the garlic with the ‘tops’ or sprouts underground, they should actually stick up!

The roots will grow around the bulb, and the sprouts will also grow to provide you with lots of nutrients to eat. The tops are edible in some varieties and tend to be sweeter than the garlic bulbs themselves.

Top growth or the ‘sprouts” should grow up to 6-12 inches before the first freeze if they are winter hardy. If they die, remember that garlic and the top growth come back.

Garlic lays dormant in freezing temperatures but doesn’t die-instead it acts as storage.

What is the best month to plant garlic? August! This is when the scorching heat begins to mellow out, and plants can grow easier. In the summer, garlic does not grow too well, depending on the region. Temperatures above 90 degrees won’t produce top growth.

How deep should you plant garlic? Your garlic bulbs should be at least three to six inches deep in the soil. This way they have room to expand down and to the sides.

Watering

How much water do you need to use to water garlic? You should water your garlic plants deeply once a week if rain has not fallen (approximately 1-2 inches of water). You should only water garlic lightly as they enjoy dryer soil. As the temperatures warm up you do need to slowly stop watering as much. The same goes for winter.

The only time you need to water your garlic plants heavily is when they are still developing as seedlings. This way, they root quicker.

Harvesting

The most enjoyable part of growing garlic is harvesting the end results! How long does it take to grow garlic? On average, it takes about 6-9 months to grow garlic, although it depends on the climate and variety.

Garlic is one of the easier plants to know when they are ready for harvest: You can slightly uncover the dirt to see the status of the garlic. However, a good rule of thumb to follow is if the lower leaves or sprouts turn brown then it is time to harvest.

If you decide to check on the cloves, they should be plump and fill out the outer skin of the garlic. You should stop watering your plant if you notice that the leaves are turning yellow or brown. This process of drying out is called curing. Your garlic plant is near its last stage of ripeness at this point.

To pull the garlic, you need a few things like a container to hold the plants, a garden fork, and scissors. You can use only your hands if you like, but wear gloves as the roughness of pulling on the leaves can hurt your hands.

Use the garden fork or your hands to free up the soil. This makes it easier to grab and yank the garlic out without harming the plant’s paper thin coating. Take them out and immediately move them away from the sun. The sun can harm the plants and change the flavor of the garlic as it is not cured yet.

What happens if garlic is not harvested? If you don’t harvest garlic when it is ready, and you keep watering it, it will rot underneath as the bulb outgrows the paper-thin outer layer.

How to Store Homegrown Garlic

Before you can store garlic, you need to cure it properly. This solidifies the bulbs and dries them out so you can consume them. Don’t do it under direct sunlight, though. Leave the top and the roots on as they dry.

Dry inside or outside, but away from direct sunlight as it can burn and change the flavor/texture of garlic. The process takes about 3-4 weeks to dry. To store and dry, braid the dried leaves/garlic tops and let them hang for a few more weeks.

When storing them, they need a cool and dark place so they don’t rot. If you place them in the fridge, they may sprout with the cold temperatures and moisture. You should not store garlic in an enclosed closed space. They need air circulation or they will rot, and you can’t save them when this stage begins.

Store Homegrown Garlic

Possible Illnesses and Diseases

Like all plants, garlic bulbs are susceptible to illnesses and diseases. It is not always easy or possible to prevent them, so it is good to at least know what they are. The thin outer layer protects the garlic bulbs from diseases spread in the soil.

If you grow them and don’t harvest them when they are ready, the bulbs will outgrow this layer, and any diseases the soil carriers can infect the garlic, which spreads quickly, making it inedible. A few common diseases and pests for garlic bulbs are listed below.

Downy Mildew Peronospora destructor

The Downy Mildew Peronospora Destructor is a fungus that spreads quickly. The fungus develops primarily because new gardeners grow store-bought garlic to eat that was treated with pesticides, but is not disease resistant.

The fungus usually grows in areas with lots of humidity and moisture. It presents itself as a fuzzy new growth on the leaves and spreads, killing the entire plant. There is no good preventative trick. The only thing you can do is separate already infected plants from ones that are not sick.

Rust Fungus

Just like the name states, rust fungus is an airborne fungal infection that spreads and turns garlic plants into a deep rust red. It first begins as white spots all over the tops and the garlic clove underground.

Rust fungus is extremely dangerous for plants, as it kills them immediately. There is no treatment, as it spreads in humid areas with constant wind. If you notice any signs of rust fungus, pull the plant and discard the soil entirely.

Garlic Illnesses and Diseases

White Rot

White rot is the most common disease in plants, especially garlic cloves. White rot shows itself as a fuzzy white fungus that causes the bulb, roots, and tops to rot. The smell is bitter, and it spreads quickly.

All the leaves and tops of garlic die or turn yellow with white rot. The thing about white rot is that the fungus lays dormant in the soil for up to 20 years! This is why it is important to use brand-new soil, or soil that has not been infected with diseases.

If you had a plant that got sick, don’t reuse the soil for garlic, as it can be harmful to them!

Bulb Mites

Bulb mites are tiny bugs that devour everything in their paths, but they prefer starting with garlic bulbs. These pests not only destroy garlic bulbs, but they can bring diseases to the soil that then spreads to other plants.

Bulb mites are often difficult to notice as they are very tiny and white, which blends into the light bulbs of garlic. These small bugs are difficult to get rid of because of how tiny they are! You can use a pest remover or at-home solutions. Whenever we see mites we always spray them with water and soap.

The soapy water mixture makes it so the mites can’t hold on to the leaves. They slip and fall off, preventing the bugs from coming back.

Health Benefits of Garlic

Did you know that garlic is considered a superfood? It is! When you eat it raw, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce pain and swelling, specifically in areas like your joints. When cooked through a microwave though, the properties decrease ineffectiveness.

Raw garlic is actually used to treat conditions like high cholesterol, heart disease, and the hardening of the arteries. This is also backed by science! Some studies have found that garlic may help prevent certain cancers like stomach, breast, and lung cancer.

In one famous study, scientists found that people who frequently ate garlic (twice in one week) had a lower chance of developing lung cancer by about 44%.

Cancer is not the only thing that garlic can fight against, though! It is really good for skin and hair care. It is used to treat acne as it has antibacterial properties that strip away the dirt and oil from the skin, which can cause breakouts.

Sometimes the best solution for a health condition is a simple and natural preventative one. Garlic has been used throughout history to treat and prevent medical issues like heart disease and heart attacks.

Why does it help with heart health? Garlic has diallyl trisulfide, which delivers hydrogen sulfide to the heart in a safe and natural way that strengthens the heart.


Best Health Products with Garlic

1. Kyolic Garlic Formula 104 Cholesterol – Best For Lowering Cholesterol

Best Garlic Product for Hair Growth
Kyolic Garlic Formula 104 Cholesterol

The Kyolic Garlic Formula is a supplement that is odorless and easy to consume. There are approximately 300 capsules in one container you purchase. This means that it lasts a long time!

This product can be used to lower cholesterol, as it is made with organic and aged garlic free from pesticides and added chemicals. The natural properties that protect cholesterol and lower it over time are found in these capsules.

The Kyolic Garlic Formula is rich in sulfur. Since sulfur is linked to lower cholesterol as it improves blood circulation and protects the heart, you can use this product to protect your heart and decrease the chances of high cholesterol.

2. Homtiem Black Garlic – Best for Anti-inflammatory Components

Best for Anti-inflammatory Components
Homtiem Black Garlic

Homtiem Black Garlic is a chewy and ready-to-eat snack. The garlic is fermented for over 90 days and is raw. Since it is raw, the anti-inflammatory properties are stronger. The garlic is organic and comes from areas of Southeast Asia.

Interestingly, you can eat this anti-inflammatory snack raw or cook it into food. The consistency is different from raw garlic. Since it is fermented, there is a jelly-like consistency inside of the outer layer of garlic.

3. Farmasi Dr. C Tuna Concentrated Garlic Oil for Hair Growth – Best Garlic Product for Hair Growth

Runner Up Product for Hair Growth
Farmasi Dr. C Tuna Concentrated Garlic Oil for Hair Growth

Farmasi Dr. C Tuna Concentrated Garlic Oil is an oil that is filled with vitamins and minerals sure to add shine to your hair! The product is natural and leaves you with positive results.

How does this product help with hair growth? The garlic stimulates blood circulation, especially if you massage your scalp. The massaging and garlic helps urge blood flow for hair growth. This oil only goes on your head; you should not consume it,

There are also many added minerals and vitamins which promote shininess and hair strength. One of the main added ingredients is sunflower oil.

4. Ever Ego Italy Garlic Mask Hot Oil Treatment With Garlic – Runner Up for Best Garlic Product for Hair Growth

For Hair Growth
Ever Ego Italy Garlic Mask Hot Oil Treatment

The Ever Ego Italy Garlic Mask is a hair treatment that is versatile and uses garlic to strengthen and smooth hair. This treatment can be used daily as a hair mask after the use of shampoo or as a hot oil treatment. Either way, your hair will be slick and shiny afterward!

You can purchase this oil treatment online in a bottle of 16.9oz. Since there is so much of this oil, it lasts a long time! A little bit of this oil goes a very long way. The oil can tangle and soften hair after using shampoo.


FAQs

How long does it take to grow garlic?

Garlic takes about 3-9 months to grow from cloves. The length can be longer if you grow garlic from seeds or in a cold environment, as the growth slows down.

Can you grow garlic from a clove?

Yes! Growing garlic is common to grow from cloves. It takes less time than seeds and only needs water and a cold dark environment if you are propagating inside. You can also stick cloves into the soil to grow!

Does garlic come back every year?

Garlic does not come back. You can leave the garlic in the soil for up to three years before it rots, but once you take it out and pull the garlic, you need to replant to grow more.

What is the best month to plant garlic?

The best month to plant garlic is in August, as it is the start of Fall, which means you can establish roots, bulbs, and the tops in time for your first frost. Garlic can sustain freezing temperatures if its roots and tops are established.

How much water do you use to water garlic?

You should use only water garlic up to 1 inch each week, even less during winter.

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