The right way to Develop Garlic in Pots and Containers

The right way to Develop Garlic in Pots and Containers

Ah, garlic. I’ve an advanced relationship with this aromatic bulb, usually known as the “stinking rose.”

Again after I was a baby, I had extreme emetophobia. Worry of tossing my cookies, in the event you’ve by no means heard the time period earlier than.

I learn someplace that garlic might assist forestall the abdomen flu, so after I was twelve years outdated, I just about turned a strolling garlic clove.

A vertical picture of freshly harvested garlic with the scapes and roots still attached, set on a black surface with soil. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

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I ate it uncooked, a lot of it, each single day. I shredded the stuff and put it on toast. My classmates complained that the odor was seeping from my pores.

Lastly, after a yr of this obsession, I ate an excessive amount of and it made me get sick.

That introduced a agency halt to my overeating of the bulb. However I nonetheless love the stuff, and love to incorporate it in my cooking.

Garlic is a vital ingredient in a few of my favourite meals: contemporary salsa, soups, Italian dishes, Indian delicacies (garlic naan, anybody?), and a lot extra.

A close up of garlic bulbs with cloves in a small wooden bowl set on a wooden chopping board on a dark brown fabric surface, with a wooden spoon and fork to the right of the frame.

One winter at my dwelling in Alaska, I lastly determined to begin some indoors in a container, beginning with natural bulbs I purchased on the retailer.

We cowl how to do that particular technique of propagation in one other article. However on this one, I’ll give attention to educating you every thing you want to know to develop it in containers – whether or not indoors or out.

Right here’s what’s coming on this article:

All About Garlic

To get an in depth overview on the historical past of garlic, take a look at our article on how one can develop it in your out of doors backyard.

We’ll simply do a fast rundown right here.

Garlic is a part of the Allium genus, a member of the Amaryllidaceae household. Different crops on this genus embrace onions, leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots.

A top down close up of various members of the Allium genus. These include leeks, bunching onions, red and white round onions, garlic, and chives, all set on a wooden surface.

There are two most important varieties that gardeners develop: A. sativum, or “softneck” garlic, which has a floppy stalk, or A. sativum var. ophioscorodon, the hardneck selection.

More often than not, what you see on the grocery retailer is A. sativum. It’s simple to develop and the mature bulbs have an extended shelf life when cured, or dried.

The hardneck selection, A. sativum var. ophioscorodon, grows a stiff stalk that continues to be upright and doesn’t flop over when it’s prepared to reap.

This subspecies grows edible scapes – flower stems and blooms – in addition to bulbs.

A close up of bright purple Allium sativum flowers growing in the garden fading to soft focus in the background.

You gained’t discover garlic as we all know it within the wild. It’s been cultivated for 1000’s of years and used as a medicinal plant in lots of areas of the world, serving to individuals battle every thing from toothaches to heart problems to excessive ldl cholesterol.

Right here’s how one can develop this tasty, fragrant addition to your delicacies at dwelling in containers.

Why Select Container Rising

You is likely to be questioning why you need to develop garlic in containers in any respect.

Perhaps you’re like me, and also you merely like rising issues in containers. You may simply transfer the pots round, develop garlic at any time of the yr, and save house in case you have a small dwelling or backyard.

A close up vertical image of Allium sativum bulbs harvested from the garden with the roots and scapes still attached, hanging outside in the sunshine to cure.

The lengthy rising season that this plant requires earlier than it’s prepared for harvest means there’s a whole lot of time for it to be attacked by numerous pests and illness when grown within the backyard.

It’s additionally simpler to regulate the setting the place your plant is rising – you’ll be able to simply maintain the soil free and moist, being cautious to not make it too moist. You may even transfer your container into or out of the solar or rain.

Plus, you gained’t have to fret about weeds, or surprise how one can maintain the bottom from freezing and shifting the place of your bulbs in the course of the winter.

By holding a detailed eye in your little crop, you’ll have a larger probability of having fun with your personal contemporary, homegrown A. sativum in your cooking.

Selecting the Proper Container

To start out, you’ll want a container that’s not less than eight to 10 inches deep. This can give the roots sufficient house to develop comfortably.

Cloves have to be planted 4 to 6 inches aside, so maintain that in thoughts if you’re deciding on your container.

Two large sacks containing Allium sativum plants growing on a balcony with a blue metal fence in the background.

A 24-inch-long, eight-inch-deep container can maintain about 4 to 6 crops, which is able to maintain you properly stocked for some time.

Or, select a number of deep however smaller containers, and plant only one or two cloves in each.

A close up of a hand holding a small terra cotta pot containing one single Allium sativum plant with an upright green stalk.

This makes essentially the most sense if you need to have the ability to transfer the containers round, or if you’re rising in a smaller house.

Should you like the feel and appear of a terra cotta planter, that can work properly, though remember that terra cotta are likely to dry out extra shortly than different supplies.

Or, select a sturdy plastic pot for one thing lighter.

Should you dwell in a sizzling local weather, select a light-colored pot as black ones, when positioned within the solar, could cause the soil to overheat.

Both manner, be sure that the container has drainage holes, and add a bit gravel to the underside to permit water to empty away from the roots.

See our information to picking containers for an summary of the totally different supplies they’re constructed from.

Making ready Your Container

Fill your container with both of those:

  • Unfastened potting soil amended with some 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer, based on the directions on the bundle.
  • Backyard soil, filtered with wire mesh or a sieve to take away clumps and pebbles, and amended 50-50 with well-rotted manure or compost.
A man digging garden soil out of a wheelbarrow and sieving it through a metal grid to remove clumps and stones. In the background is a garden scene.

A. sativum likes free, well-draining, wealthy, and loamy soil with a pH between 6.0 and seven.5.

Test your backyard soil with a soil check to search out out if it has the precise pH on your cloves.

And ensure you don’t use soil that’s just lately been planted with different Alliums. This can assist forestall pests and fungi which are interested in Alliums from thriving close to your newly planted cloves. A few of the fungi can dwell within the soil even after the earlier Allium crops are lengthy gone.

The right way to Develop

Probably the most widespread technique to propagate garlic is to plant cloves from an current bulb.

You too can begin garlic from bulbils, the tiny micro-cloves that develop out of the scapes and flowers. You may develop these simply as you’d common cloves, however you’ll be able to count on them to take as much as two years to mature, so that you’ll should be affected person.

You will get seed cloves – regular-sized ones, not bulbils – from a backyard heart or nursery. Some will even be prechilled, or “pre-vernalized,” permitting you to plant straight away with out having to fret about inserting the bulbs within the fridge first.

Or, you are able to do what I did: purchase natural bulbs from the grocery retailer and propagate them at dwelling.

The rationale you want natural bulbs on this case is that conventionally grown grocery retailer garlic is typically sprayed with a development inhibitor to forestall it from sprouting.

You need yours to sprout. So go natural!

Remember the fact that you’ll normally solely discover softneck varieties on the grocery retailer. These thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and up.

A close up of dried, cured Allium sativum bulbs with paper skin still attached and stalks removed in a wooden container.

Hardneck varieties boast extra advanced flavors than softneck varieties, and normally produce bigger cloves – which implies much less peeling so that you can do earlier than cooking.

They’re additionally ideally suited for gardeners in Zones 7 and beneath, as a result of these varieties want not less than six to eight weeks of chilly publicity beneath 45°F earlier than they’ll sprout.

The easiest way to attain that is to plant within the fall, and let the bulbs overwinter by inserting your container outdoor.

A close up of three Allium sativum bulbs, with the scapes removed and dried roots still attached, set on a wooden surface.

Should you don’t dwell in an space with temperatures that dip to 45°F or beneath in the course of the winter, you’ll be able to nonetheless plant hardneck varieties.

However you’ll need to put the cloves in a paper bag and maintain them in your fridge’s crisper drawer for eight to 12 weeks to chilly stratify earlier than planting.

The most effective time to plant garlic in most areas is in September or October – simply earlier than winter comes round, not less than two weeks earlier than your first onerous frost.

However because you’re rising in containers, you’ll be able to plant at any time, particularly in the event you select to buy prechilled bulbs which are able to go.

Grocery retailer bulbs or those who haven’t been prechilled want to enter a cool basement or keep exterior in chilly temperatures for eight to 12 weeks earlier than coming again into the solar and heat for rising.

Whereas softneck varieties can profit from some chill time, they’ll develop fortunately with out it. You may plant them at any time and develop them indoors if it will get too sizzling exterior (above 90°F) or too chilly.

I planted mine indoors in the course of the month of February. I plan to place my container outdoor right here in Alaska within the subsequent week or so, because the climate is steadily rising towards 45°F, in order that they will profit from cool rising circumstances.

It’ll be prepared for harvest in July.

We’ll discuss extra about when to reap in a second. However first, let’s learn how to plant your cloves!

Planting Garlic Cloves

The very first thing you want to ensure you do is go away the papery pores and skin on the cloves if you break them other than the bulb. The pores and skin protects the cloves and helps maintain infections away.

I discover peeling garlic to be a cumbersome job in any case, so it’s good that you simply don’t have to do this earlier than planting!

A hand from the left of the frame holding three garlic cloves that have just begun to sprout, with a large red plastic container in the background, ready for planting.
Photograph by Laura Melchor.

As soon as your container is stuffed together with your soil of selection, take your cloves and dig small holes nearly the identical depth as they’re lengthy, roughly 1-2 inches in depth every, spaced 4 inches aside.

A close up of a hand planting a clove of Allium sativum into dark rich soil.

Place one clove inside every gap with the pointed aspect dealing with upwards. Chances are you’ll already see inexperienced sprouts capturing out of the clove, like I did after I planted mine.

Roots will develop out of the underside of the clove, so that you don’t need to by accident plant that aspect dealing with up.

A close up of a red plastic pot with three garlic cloves placed in small holes in the soil just prior to covering them lightly, with bright sunshine in the background.
Photograph by Laura Melchor.

Cowl loosely with soil and water totally.

For spring-planted softneck varieties, you’ll be able to both develop the crops indoors, or place them outdoor in a sunny spot so long as the air temperature is persistently above 45°F.

It’s because softneck varieties planted within the spring have a a lot shorter rising season – normally round 90 days from planting to reap, relying on the cultivar you select. You’ll get smaller cloves, however you’ll get them sooner.

For fall-planted softneck or hardneck varieties, put your container outdoor as quickly you’ve planted it, in a sunny location.

And remember that garlic wants not less than six to eight hours of solar each day.

A close up of the bright green foliage of Allium sativum growing in a container in light sunshine on a soft focus background.

In Zones 7 and above, softneck varieties will develop all via the winter and into the spring and summer season, producing hearty, fragrant bulbs about 240 days after planting.

Hardnecks will go dormant in the course of the winter months, after which start their development within the spring.

Each varieties require about six to 9 months to succeed in maturity, relying on rising circumstances and the actual cultivar you could have chosen.

Container Care

Garlic is straightforward to look after as soon as it’s planted. Be certain the placement the place you’ve positioned your containers persistently has sufficient solar, transfer them if obligatory, and provides them 1/2 to 1 inch of water each week.

To verify the moisture stage, dig down within the soil subsequent to your garlic, about two inches away from the plant and 4 inches down. If the soil is moist down there, you don’t have to water fairly but. But when it’s dry, go forward and provides it a deep watering.

If it rains closely, keep away from watering your crops for not less than every week – garlic hates moist ft, and this may trigger them to rot.

A close up of Allium sativum plants growing in a wooden container with raindrops falling on them, fading to soft focus in the background.

Do you reside in an space that will get waterlogged on a regular basis? (I’m taking a look at you, Seattle!)

That is the place you’ll profit from container rising: merely transfer your containers to a sheltered space and even indoors after a day or two of rain.

Use a develop gentle instead of direct sunshine whereas they’re indoors if wanted, after which pop them again exterior as soon as the rain stops.

You may cease watering hardneck varieties after the primary frost. Whereas the water could not freeze inside your container, it’ll be chilly sufficient to begin the vernalization course of, throughout which period the plant doesn’t want water.

A close up of young Allium sativum shoots growing in dark rich soil, on a soft focus background.

Go forward and cowl your crops with an inch of mulch, if you want, to maintain moisture locked in.

You may resume watering within the spring, as soon as your final frost is 2 weeks behind you.

That is additionally a very good time to combine in a granular 5-10-10 NPK fertilizer over the soil, based on bundle directions.

You may additionally need to add a bit extra mulch, particularly one with a lighter colour (like straw) to mirror warmth away out of your plant as summer season creeps in.

Protecting the soil cool is a vital issue within the success of your growing bulbs.

The plant will begin to type bulbs underground as soon as the soil begins to heat up within the spring, but when the soil will get too sizzling, bulbs can cease rising earlier than their time, leaving you with small or underdeveloped bulbs.

A vertical picture of Allium sativum shoots just starting to poke through the soil in a container garden.

As spring blooms in your space, you’ll have to trim the lengthy, curling scapes (flower stems) off your hardneck crops.

This ensures that the plant directs its vitality into bulb development quite than flowering and setting seed.

A close up of an Allium sativum scape with a long thin stem and a flowerhead developing on the end, pictured in the garden on a soft focus background.

Should you trim the scapes whereas they’re nonetheless tender, attempt roasting or sauteing them. They’re scrumptious!

A close up of a white ceramic plate with stir fried Allium sativum scapes with scattered sesame seeds, set on a hessian fabric on a wooden surface. In the background is sliced bread in soft focus.

You may even attempt your hand at making a garlic scape pesto. Do this recipe from our sister web site, Foodal.

That’s what’s so stunning in regards to the stinking rose: it doesn’t simply ship bulbs, however hardneck varieties additionally provide you with scapes and even beautiful flowers…

A close up of the bulbs, scapes, and purple flowers of the Allium sativum hardneck variety set on a rustic woven fabric.

…and bulbils to plant, in the event you let one or two of your crops go to seed.

Rising Ideas

  • Plant within the fall for finest outcomes, not less than two weeks earlier than your first frost
  • Present 1/2 to 1 inch of water weekly
  • Fertilize within the spring with a 5-10-10 NPK fertilizer
  • Mulch with straw or different light-colored natural materials to maintain the soil cool in summer season and to retain moisture

Cultivars to Choose

You may develop any cultivar in a container. Listed here are two ideally suited varieties that you would be able to propagate at any time in pots or planters:


For full-bodied cloves that peel simply, attempt rising a hardneck selection. That is the one I’ve chosen:


Ideally suited for many who dwell in northern climes, the extra-hardy ‘Siberian’ originated in Russia and Jap Europe and is standard in Alaska. I’ll undoubtedly be including this cultivar to my container backyard this fall.

‘Siberian’ produces spicy bulbs that flip delicate and flavorful when cooked. And these crops, which develop as much as 18 inches tall, are assured to develop attractive and engaging scapes, so long as you present the correct care!


Plant within the fall for a harvest the next summer season, after about 240 days.

Higher but, in the event you vernalize the bulb your self within the fridge for eight to 12 weeks previous to planting, you need to be capable of harvest yours in about 90 days at any time of the yr.

You should purchase a 1/2 pound of bulbs with 6-8 cloves every at Burpee.


For a milder clove with an amazingly lengthy storage capability – I’m speaking six to eight months – why not develop some softneck garlic?

California Early

This scrumptious, standard softneck bulb produces delicate cloves which are loved by garlic lovers around the globe.

With a superb shelf life, this plant grows as much as 24 inches tall.

Should you plant it within the spring or summer season, you’ll be able to harvest after 90 days whether or not you develop it indoors or out.

Simply remember to convey your pots indoors if temperatures rise above 90°F.

A close up of two bulbs of Allium sativum 'California Early' set on a wooden surface.

‘California Early’

For winter planting, maintain them indoors till the climate warms as much as about 45°F, after which set the pot exterior for some sunshine and heat if you want.

For an outside fall planting, count on a harvest in about 240 days.

You will get a set of 4 bulbs which are prepared for planting from Burpee.

Managing Pests and Illness

Because you’re rising your garlic in containers, you gained’t have to fret a lot about many pests or illnesses arising from current soil or neighboring crops.

Plus, this plant already does an honest job of deterring hungry critters with its pungent scent.

Should you do assume your garlic is being attacked, we’ve got a information to determine the pest and mitigate the injury and a seperate information to determine and management numerous garlic illnesses.

Downy mildew can typically be an issue in humid environments, or if crops are rising too shut collectively. This presents as white patches on the leaves.

A close up of the bulb of an Allium sativum that has gone moldy. The bottom of the stem is dried out and rotten and the bulbs have white fungus growing on them.

Maintain an eye fixed out for basal rot as properly, which begins with yellowing across the base of the plant, and progresses to the leaves dying again and going brown.

There’s not a lot you are able to do in case your plant reaches this stage apart from eradicating the contaminated bulb and as a lot of the encompassing soil as attainable to maintain it from spreading.

If the entire crops in a container are contaminated, toss crops and the grime, and disinfect the pot. Add new soil to the pot and check out once more.

The excellent news is that if you’re utilizing soil that hasn’t grown an Allium crop earlier than, the probabilities of basal rot infecting your plant are diminished. This fungus can thrive in soil for years, which is why it’s so vital to begin with clear, contemporary soil.

Be certain your soil is properly draining, and don’t overwater your crops or let out of doors crops change into oversaturated with rain.


In the summertime, probably round July or August, when the tops of your crops begin to flip yellow, cease watering them.

After about two weeks, a few third of the leaves needs to be yellow and floppy.

Every plant could mature at a barely totally different time, so don’t really feel pressured to reap them .

Wait till every reveals the telltale indicators of readiness – the yellowing of one-third of the leaves. This is identical whether or not you’re rising hardneck or softneck varieties.

To reap, gently dig down till your hand hits the bulb and gently take away it. Resist pulling the leaves, as this may trigger the stem to snap, separating the bulb from the leaves – you want these leaves and stalks to stay intact for the subsequent step: curing.

Get extra tips about harvesting your garlic right here.

Curing Garlic

If you wish to use your contemporary harvest right away, simply wash off the grime and peel it to disclose the plump cloves. Contemporary garlic normally has a milder, extra refined taste than bulbs which have been cured.

A close up of a large number of Allium sativum freshly harvested from the garden hanging on a wooden frame tied up by the scapes, drying in the sun.

With a purpose to retailer your container-grown garlic, you want to remedy it, or dry it out utterly.

To do that, wait to scrub your harvest. There’s no want to scrub any of the grime off the plant with water previous to storage.

The purpose of curing is to permit the entire moisture to empty out of the leaves and stalk, and into the cloves themselves. Brushing a number of the grime off by hand or with a dry rag is okay, and selecting on a dry day is really useful. However wait to scrub your garlic with water till simply earlier than you’re prepared to make use of it.

This helps the cloves retailer for longer, and retains them from falling prey to fungi, mould, and viruses whereas they patiently wait so that you can eat them.

To remedy, hold the crops someplace dry and shady, like a lined patio, or in an indoor room with good air flow.

A close up vertical picture of Allium sativum with braided scapes and roots still attached, drying out.

After about two to 4 weeks, the tops and the roots ought to look completely brown and dried out. That is when you’ll be able to minimize the stems and roots off and peel the outer wrapper off, revealing a wonderful, clear head inside.

Learn extra about storing and curing garlic right here.

Recipes and Cooking Concepts

Garlic is one in all gardening’s best presents to humankind, and it’ll by no means style higher than if you develop it your self in your container backyard.

There are such a lot of issues that you are able to do together with your container-grown garlic. Listed here are just a few of my favourite strategies:

Crush it and saute it with onions and celery for a flavorful soup base.

Roast it and toss it into your sourdough if you’re baking bread.

A close up of roasted potato wedges set on a rectangular black plate on a white cloth with black stripes.
Photograph by Meghan Yager.

Or make garlic parmesan oven fries with this recipe from our sister web site, Foodal.

Within the temper for biscuits?

A close up of a cheddar biscuit cut open and buttered, set on a printed sheet of paper, on a gray surface. To the left of the frame is a butter dish and a knife, and in the background is a wicker basket.
Photograph by Meghan Yager.

Do this fast and straightforward garlic-cheddar model, additionally from Foodal.

Is your mouth watering but? Mine positive is.

The Stinking Rose Has By no means Smelled Lovelier

There’s a cause why this fragrant and well-loved bulb boasts the nickname “the stinking rose.”

It’s pungent and beautiful and layered, and makes virtually any dish a thousand instances tastier, for my part.

A close up of Allium sativum softneck variety, recently harvested, with the roots removed and the scapes braided to be hung up to cure.

Plus, garlic would possibly even aid you to battle colds, decrease your ldl cholesterol, and settle your abdomen.

And if you develop your bulbs in a container, you’ll be able to take pleasure in these sickness-fighting advantages at any time.

Simply don’t go overboard with that final one, like I did as a twelve-year-old!

And don’t neglect to take a look at these articles on rising your personal produce in containers subsequent:

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