Growing Garlic

If you love garlic, you'll love what growing it at home can do for its flavor. Here, tips for how to grow it.
By: Marie Hofer


Hard-neck varieties of garlic do well in colder climates. Soft-neck types work best for warmer areas.

Hard-neck varieties of garlic do well in colder climates. Soft-neck types work best for warmer areas.

If you love garlic, you'll love what growing it at home can do for its flavor. Not only can you harvest it fresh, but you can try out lots of different varieties that aren't available to you in the grocery store. There are hundreds of varieties, each varying in color, spiciness and usefulness in methods of cooking.

The success of your crop depends in large part on when you plant. Fall is the best time, aiming for a planting window that's early enough to achieve good root development before the ground freezes and not so early that you have significant top growth. Usually that means planting garlic about the same time as spring-flowering bulbs. In Minnesota, that might mean mid to late September; November or even early December is usually the best time in the coastal regions of Virginia. To be certain about the right time in your area, check with your local extension office or trusted garden center.

Besides the timing, a few other factors are essential in getting a good crop of garlic:

  • Buy the bulbs at a garden center or via mail-order catalog. The bulbs at grocery stores may be treated to prevent sprouting or retard growth.
  • Separate the bulbs into cloves the same day you're going to plant them. If you wait longer than a day, the cloves will dry out.
  • Choose a site that has excellent drainage and receives full sun. Till or spade the soil six to 10 inches deep. If the location offers rich sandy loam, great! If not, amend the soil with liberal quantities of organic matter. You want the soil to be loose and very workable.
  • Dig a trench two to four inches deep if you live in the North, about an inch deep if you live in the South. It's helpful to line the bottom of the trench with bulb food. Garlic is a heavy feeder.
  • Space four to six inches apart and position the pointed tips up. If you're planting elephant garlic, space the cloves six to eight inches apart.
  • Cover with soil so that the tips are about two inches below the soil surface, and water well.
  • Provide a generous layer of mulch for the winter, especially if you live in a colder climate.
  • When spring arrives, be sure to keep the garlic bed well weeded.
  • Harvest in early to mid summer, and enjoy!

Next Up

When Is Garlic Ready to Harvest?

Learn what signs to look for to harvest garlic at the right time.

Is It Too Late to Plant Garlic?

Garlic is best planted in the fall, but there are ways to reap a harvest with a later planting.

Planting Garlic: The 411

Easy to grow and with seemingly endless health benefits, it's no wonder garlic has been used worldwide for centuries.

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe

Growing garlic? Use the scapes to make perfect pesto.

Can You Freeze Garlic Cloves?

Preserve your garlic harvest—or a bonus buy you found at the local market—by freezing. Learn how to freeze garlic safely.

How to Braid Garlic for Storage

Learn to braid garlic for storage and have flavorful — and beautiful — homegrown garlic at your fingertips well into winter.

Garlic Scapes Are a Flavorful Summer Treat

The green shoots that emerge from young garlic plants are flavorful, versatile and ready soon.

Growing Tomatoes Indoors

Learn how to get started growing tomatoes indoors — even in the winter.

Growing Edibles in the Shade

Learn what you can grow if your yard isn't blessed with an abundance of sunshine.

Heirloom and Hybrid Vegetables

Vegetable expert Renee Shepherd discusses the difference between heirloom and hybrid vegetables and the advantages or disadvantages of growing each.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

What's New in Outdoors

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.

Related Pages