How to Grow Garlic from Seed to Harvest
Many people currently consider growing garlic at home. If you also want to grow your own garlic, great!
In this article, I give you all the information you need to know to grow garlic from seed to harvest in a step-by-step approach.
I walk you through all the different steps and also provide you with some additional helpful tips at the end of this article.
Enough talk, let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
Garlic Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||1 to 2 feet tall and 5 to 10 inches wide.|
|Climate||Garlic grows best in cool climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Garlic plants grow best with full sun.|
|Soil Requirements||Garlic prefers loose soil with neutral soil pH.|
|Country of Origin||China.|
|Growing Difficulty||Intermediate – Difficult.|
|Perennial?||No, garlic is harvested in the first growing year.|
|When should you start to grow?||You can already start in winter.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can harvest one garlic bulb per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||6 to 8 months from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Basal Rot, Botrytis Rot, Downy Mildew, Penicillium Decay.|
|What to do with it?||You can use garlic for dressings, casseroles, soups and much more.|
What Types and Varieties of Garlic can you grow?
While you may think that there are not many different garlic varieties out there, the opposite is actually true. I give you an overview of the most popular garlic varieties to grow in the following.
- Chesnok White
- Iberian Wight
- Solent Wight
- Wight Cristo
- Iberian Wight
Even though there are several varieties of garlic you can choose from for growing purposes, they will all taste quite similar and, in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter what garlic variety you choose to grow.
Honestly, also the overall growth behavior and the appearance of the different garlic sorts will be quite similar.
However, it can be crucial to get the right garlic variety to grow depending on the climatic zone you live in.
For instance, in warmer climatic zones, you can grow different varieties than in colder climatic zones. I go into more detail on this topic later on in this article.
When should you start to grow your Garlic?
Since it can take quite a while for your garlic plants to grow from seed to harvest, you should start out with your planting efforts rather early on in the year.
In fact, some people even claim that it can make sense to start growing your garlic in November the year before.
Hence, make sure to start in time so that you will be able to harvest the fruits of your work at the end of summer or in early fall.
How long does it take to grow Garlic from Seed to Harvest?
If you grow garlic from cloves and start growing garlic in the winter, you can expect to harvest your garlic bulbs in the late summer or at the beginning of autumn the following year.
However, please note that this also greatly depends on where exactly you live and also on your overall skill level regarding growing your own plants.
In fact, it is not that simple to grow garlic and if you have never done it before, it may take longer than the regular time span since you will make some mistakes on the way.
However, don’t get impatient. Just wait and let nature do its work.
Chances are that you will be just fine if you wait long enough to see success.
Always remember that gardening is about the ride, not about the end goal.
In fact, if you don’t love growing your own plants, you will not be in gardening for too long since it is often cheaper to buy crops from your local store instead of planting them.
What is the best Climate to grow Garlic?
Garlic plants usually like the cold and also need some time in the cold to develop bulbs and to grow in an optimal manner.
Therefore, it is advisable to start growing your garlic in winter, especially if you live in a moderate or rather warm climatic zone.
What Temperatures do Garlic like?
While garlic requires quite cool temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit at the beginning of the growth cycle, it will be much more tolerant towards warmer temperatures later on.
In fact, this is the reason why you should start growing your garlic in winter.
Hence, as long as you start out in winter when it is rather cold outside, it doesn’t matter too much if you live in a rather warm or in a moderate climatic zone.
Sure, if you live in regions with enormous levels of humidity and hot temperatures all year long, you will have a rather hard time with growing garlic.
However, for most of us, climatic conditions will not be a big problem for growing garlic as long as you follow the instructions in this article.
What do you need to grow Garlic?
There are some things you need to get before you can actually start growing your own garlic. I listed all these things for you below:
- Garlic cloves
- Growing bed (to grow your garlic seedlings)
- Flower pots (alternatively, you can grow your garlic in your garden)
- Fertilizer (I recommend natural fertilizer or making your own fertilizer; I show you how to make your own fertilizer later on in this article)
- Potting soil
- Slug fence (if you plant your garlic in your garden instead of using a pot)
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- pH test kit (optional to determine the acidity level of your soil)
- Garden lime (optional)
- Excitement for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Garlic at Home?
You might also ask yourself what yield you can expect from growing garlic at home. For each garlic seedling, you can expect to harvest a bulb of 5-12 garlic cloves.
Hence, if you do it right, you can get a really decent return on your garlic investment 😉.
What Plants should you grow with Garlic?
If you want to learn more about what you should grow with garlic, make sure to also check out my article that shows you all the good and bad garlic companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Garlic?
Growing your own garlic is not just about the yield. In general, if you grow your own plants, you really enjoy the process and not only the end result.
For me personally, I love seeing my garlic plants grow and I am always happy if I can just watch them develop in a healthy manner.
Thus, for me, it’s about gaining experience.
If I harvest five cloves or 12 cloves a bulb, I honestly don’t care at all. In fact, it’s all about the growing experience for me and growing my own plants is just a nice hobby for me.
However, growing your own garlic can do even more for you.
Especially if you are quite stressed all day long from your job or also from your private life, you should definitely try to grow your own plants.
In fact, by growing your own garlic, you can unplug from your stressful daily life for a while and can just sit in your garden or on your balcony.
In turn, since your stress level will decrease, chances are that also your overall health will improve as well. If your health improves, so will your overall life expectancy.
Growing Garlic: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Garlic Plants
Before you can actually start the seeding process, it is time to plan where exactly you want to grow your garlic.
In fact, selecting the optimal site for your garlic plants is crucial to provide them with the best growing conditions possible.
Does Garlic like Sun or Shade?
Most garlic varieties love the sun and you should therefore search for a nice sunny spot in your garden or on your balcony so that your garlic plants will have optimal conditions throughout the year.
What are the Soil Requirements of Garlic?
Garlic likes loose soil that is rather pH neutral. This means that the soil should not be too acidic nor too alkaline.
If you are not sure about the soil conditions in your garden, you can use a pH test kit in order to determine the pH value in your garden.
If your garden is too acidic, you could add some garden lime to make it more alkaline.
However, this is rather optimal and you can just use conventional potting soil from your garden center and you should be good to go.
Even more important than the acidity level is that your soil will be quite loose. In fact, garlic plants love loose soil.
Thus, make sure to loosen up your soil in order to prepare your growing site.
How much Space do Garlic Plants need?
Garlic plants don’t need too much space. In fact, they stay rather small and you only have to give them around 20 square inches of spaces to develop in a healthy manner.
Hence, you can also grow many garlic plants on a rather confined space if you want to supply your whole family and friends with garlic.
Should you plant Garlic in a Pot or in the Garden?
You can plant your garlic both in your garden or in pots. Pots have the advantage that you can move the location of your garlic plants rather flexibly if you don’t like the initial location.
If you grow your garlic in your garden, you will not have this level of flexibility.
However, by growing garlic in your garden instead of pots, you will have much more space and can grow more plants.
Hence, it is a tradeoff and you should decide whether you want to grow your garlic in pots or in your garden depending on your individual circumstances.
2. Plant Garlic Seeds
Now that you figured out the optimal location for your garlic plants, it is time to go into the actual garlic seeding process.
Should you buy Garlic Cloves or Seedlings?
First, you have to decide whether you want to grow garlic from cloves or from seedlings that you could sometimes get in garden stores.
In my opinion, there is simply no need to rely on garlic seedlings since you can easily grow your own seedlings.
Moreover, only if you grow your own seedlings, you will get the full garlic growing experience and learning how to grow seedlings can also be quite helpful, not only for future garlic growing projects, but also if you want to grow various other seedlings.
Hence, just grow your own seedlings instead of getting them from the garden center.
It is quite simple and I will show you how to do it in the following chapters.
Should you buy Garlic Seeds or Garlic Cloves?
While it is actually possible to grow garlic from seed, it is far easier and much more practicable to just use garlic cloves in order to grow garlic.
Especially for beginners, it is quite hard to grow garlic from seed and I highly recommend that you just get some garlic cloves from your favorite seed company or even from your local grocery store.
How to plant Garlic Seeds
Once you got enough garlic cloves, it is now time to start the actual growth process. You just need to fill your growing bed with potting soil and put the cloves onto the soil.
Make sure that each clove has at least 5 inches of space to each other so that your garlic seedlings will have enough space to develop in a healthy manner.
After you placed all of your cloves, you just have to cover them with some additional soil of about two inches in height.
Now you just have to place your growing bed somewhere outside of your home where it is quite cool.
Remember, you have to start in winter so that your garlic will get enough cold weather to develop in a healthy manner.
Hence, also don’t close your growing bed. Just expose it to the harsh outside conditions.
Your garlic will be just fine and will wait until conditions are suitable for germination.
However, keep in mind that not all garlic cloves will turn into garlic seedlings and that you plant more cloves than you want to get seedlings from.
A good ratio of cloves to the required number of seedlings is around 2:1.
How long does it take to see the first Garlic Seedlings?
In fact, if you start our quite early in January this year or even in November the year before, it can take up to April until you finally see your garlic seedlings reach the soil surface.
However, this is perfectly normal and you should not worry about seeing any results for a quite long time.
It is still quite important that you expose your garlic to the cold outside conditions since garlic needs this to grow in a healthy manner.
Therefore, just wait for a few months until you finally see your garlic seedlings reaching the soil surface.
How to protect your Garlic Seedlings once they germinate
As long as your garlic seedlings stay inside your growing bed, you don’t have to worry too much about protection.
In fact, if your growing bed is high enough, snails and other unwanted guests will not be able to enter it.
However, still make sure from time to time that everything is alright with your seedlings.
When should you transplant your Garlic Seedlings?
You can transplant your garlic seedlings into your garden as soon as they are big enough. I would suggest you wait until your garlic seedlings exceed a height of 5 inches.
If they are smaller than that, your garlic plants will usually be quite vulnerable to pests and other unpleasant outside factors and may even die off.
Hence, be patient and wait for a while before you transplant your garlic seedlings to your garden or to a pot.
If your garlic plants meet this criterion, you can prepare the soil in your garden. In order to make this as easy as possible, just dig some holes in your garden.
Those holes should be around 20 square inches in size and should be around 5 inches deep.
After you dug your holes, you can just mix potting soil with the soil from your garden.
If you think that your garden soil is too acidic, you can also add some garden lime to make it more alkaline.
However, in most cases, using a mix of garden soil and potting soil from the store should be fine.
Also make sure that the soil mix is quite loose so that your garlic plants have an optimal medium to develop big bulbs.
After you filled up your holes with this soil mix, just transplant one garlic seedling on each spot and you are done.
If you want to use a pot instead of planting your seedlings into your garden, you just have to put potting soil in your pot and transplant your seedlings into the pot.
Either way, make sure to water your seedlings after you transplanted them.
What kind of Protection do Garlic Seedlings once you transplanted them?
While they were in your growing bed, your garlic seeds had been protected quite well.
However, now they will be exposed to the harsh outside world and you should make sure that you protect your seedlings against slugs or other unwanted creatures.
The simplest way to do so is to just use a snail fence.
This will not only protect your garlic seedlings from snails, but it can also help to keep away various other small animals that want to eat your seedlings.
3. The Garlic Growth Process
Now that your garlic seedlings have been planted into your garden or into your pot, you have done the majority of work.
From now on, your garlic plants should grow relatively easy and you will not have to do too much manual work anymore apart from watering them on a continuous basis.
However, there are still some open questions that I answer for you in the following.
Should you prune your Garlic Plants?
No, there is no need for pruning your garlic plants.
In fact, if you pruned your garlic plants, you would take away plenty of energy from your garlic which is urgently needed to form decent bulbs.
Hence, never prune your garlic plants and just let them grow in a natural manner.
Do you have to pollinate your Garlic Plants by Hand?
Similar to the pruning, there is also no need to pollinate your garlic plants by hand. In fact, you don’t have to do any manual work in this regard.
Just let your garlic plants flower, you don’t have to worry about it at all. In fact, nature knows what it’s doing and you should interfere with nature not too often in order to provide your garlic plants with original growing conditions.
Always remember that garlic plants evolved for quite a long time and early on in the history of our planet, there had simply not been any humans who could potentially have cared about plants at all.
Instead, those plants found a way to sustain their population without any human intervention.
Thus, human intervention often does more harm than good and the same is true quite often when it comes to growing plants.
How to stake your Garlic Plants
There is also no need to stake garlic plants. In fact, they will stay rather compact and small and will have sufficient stability even without staking or tying them to sticks.
Hence, just let them grow and you will be just fine.
4. The Garlic Harvest
You did a lot of work over the past months and now it is finally time to see whether those efforts pay off in terms of actual garlic bulbs.
When should you harvest your Garlic?
Your garlic will usually be ready between June and August. However, depending on the climatic conditions you live in, this can vary quite a lot.
A sure sign that your garlic is ready is when the leaves of your garlic plants turn yellow and it is clear that your garlic plant will no longer be able to grow anyway.
Thus, at this point, just pull your garlic plant out of the soil and hopefully, there should be a garlic bulb waiting for you at the end of the plant.
As mentioned earlier, growing garlic is a little bit trickier compared to growing most other vegetables.
Therefore, don’t be too disappointed in case your yield is rather limited.
Chances are that you will get better in growing plants over time and you should just stick with it.
After all, as I told you before, growing plants is not about the end result, it’s about loving the process.
How to store your Garlic?
If you really managed to successfully grow garlic, congratulations! I know that it is not easy at all.
However, once you got to this point, you have to think about how to store your garlic.
The best place to store garlic is in a dark, dry and cold place.
However, make sure that you use your garlic rather soon since it may start to germinate otherwise after a certain period of time.
What should you do with your Garlic?
You can use your garlic for many different dishes. In fact, I frequently use garlic while cooking on several occasions.
Even though your breath may smell quite bad after you eat garlic, it will still be quite good for your health and it will also make many dishes much tastier.
Whether you use garlic for pasta, for seafood or for various other dishes, I am sure you will find ways how to use your garlic in the best possible manner 😉.
Garlic Plant Care Tips
While you already got most of the information related to growing garlic at home I like to share with you, there are still some general open points which I discuss in the following.
How often should you irrigate Garlic?
For instance, we haven’t talked about watering your garlic plants in detail yet. In fact, irrigating your garlic plants is quite simple.
You just have to water them on a regular basis and you will be good to go. If you are not experienced in gardening yet, you can also test the soil with your fingers and see if it is still wet or not.
For example, if you dig a small hole in the soil and you feel some moisture, you don’t have to water your garlic plants.
However, if you only feel dry soil, it is time to irrigate your plants.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Garlic Plants?
The best time of the day to water your garlic plants will arguably be in the early morning.
However, just follow your intuition and water your plants whenever you feel that they urgently need it.
In fact, I haven’t seen any significant effects by watering my plants just in the morning and I doubt that this will matter too much at all.
How often should you fertilize your Garlic Plants?
Garlic plants usually don’t need much fertilizer and if you used the soil mix I mentioned in one of the previous chapters, you should just be fine to leave your plants without giving them additional fertilizer.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Garlic Plants?
If you really want to give your plants additional fuel, make sure to use natural fertilizer instead of chemical substances.
You can buy those natural fertilizers online or in your garden center.
Alternatively, you can even make a simple but yet effective natural fertilizer yourself.
You just need to collect some stinging nettles, place them in a bucket full of water and wait a few days until the plant material has released plenty of nitrogen into the water.
After a few days, just remove the stinging nettles out of the water and you can use this natural fertilizer for your garlic plants without having to worry about hurting the soil as it would be the case by using chemical fertilizers.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Garlic?
The good thing about stinging nettles is that the stinging nettle liquid can not only be used as fertilizer, but it can also be used as natural pesticide.
You just have to spray stinging nettle liquid onto your plants and your plants will be protected against most pests in a natural manner.
Hence, there will be no need to use chemical pesticides at all.
Moreover, you can also remove weeds by hand instead of using herbicides in order to make your growing experience even more natural and eco-friendly.
If you want to know more about garlic pest management, also make sure to have a look at how to control garlic pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
I have to say I am really proud of you that you made it to the end of this super-long article.
Honestly, I know it can be quite exhausting to read all of this.
However, I still tried to keep the article as short as possible without losing any important information so that you can grow garlic from seed to harvest in the best possible manner.
If you like my garlic growing guide, make sure that you share it!
Also feel free to read my other growing guides and my growing garlic FAQs if you further want to improve your knowledge regarding growing your own plants at home.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.