How To Grow Garlic In Pots
Whether for cooking or as a home remedy, garlic offers a myriad of uses around the home. However, is it easy to grow on your own? Can and should you grow garlic at home in pots of containers?
As is the case with all plants (except zucchini, that stuff grows everywhere!) you have to do things the right way if you want to make the work worth it. We’ll give you the tips for how to grow garlic in pots or containers regardless of your space limitations.
- What You Need to get started
- How to grow garlic in pots: 4 simple steps
- Final Thoughts on Growing Garlic in Containers
What You Need to get started
- A container or pot at least 8-10 inches deep
- A soil-free potting mix
- Garlic bulbs
How to grow garlic in pots: 4 simple steps
Growing garlic in containers is not as complicated as you think. In just four easy steps, you’ll be harvesting garlic in no time.
1. Choose And Prepare The Container
The great thing about growing garlic is you can use any container. Allium Sativum or garlic will grow and thrive in a plastic pot, bucket, and even a leftover can. However, you should make sure that there are drainage holes for water to escape (1).
A hole at the bottom of the container is critical. It allows water in the soil to drain freely, so adequate air is available for the roots.
Containers without drainage can cause several problems for either hardneck garlics or softneck varieties. Having standing water in the pot decreases proper bulb formation and may even result in rotting.
If you want to save yourself from the hassle of drilling holes, you can always plant garlic in terra cotta pots with drainage. They are readily available from your local farmer’s market or hardware store. Plus, they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while planting garlic in a container doesn’t need to grow very deep into the soil, you still want to give the cloves room to grow a bit of extra space. (2) Make sure ton only use containers that are 8 inches deep at the minimum!
2. Layer in Your Potting Mix
Whether you’re growing garlic indoors or outdoors, you should never use regular garden soil for garlic planting. Garlic grows best in soil with pH levels between 6 – 7 (3). What you should use instead is a soil-free potting soil mix because it provides the necessary moisture and nutrients for a garlic bulb to grow.
When you are filling the container with potting soil mixture, you don’t have to fill the container all the way to the top.
If you want to save a few dollars, you can use a 50/50 blend of soil and compost. You can also give the soil an extra nutrient boost by adding some nutrient-rich compost made right from your own apartment! Make sure that the compost will not block the container’s drainage holes. Remember, this plant doesn’t like soggy soil.
3. Plant The Garlic Cloves
With the potting mix in the container, here comes the fun part – planting the garlic! But how deep do you plant garlic? When growing garlic in containers, you’d want to plant garlic clove anywhere from 2-5 inches deep.
The key is to make sure that the tops of the garlic cloves will end up around an inch below the surface.
Place individual cloves in each hole. Make sure to plant the cloves with the tip pointing upwards. The opposite end of the point is where the roots will grow, downward and out.
Some growers plant deeper than 3 inches, however this only works well in sandy soils that drain very well.
Make each hole four or five inches apart from the others and at least a few inches from the edge of the container.
If the hole is too deep to dig with your finger, use a trowel handle, a piece of bamboo, or some other stick-like tool to drill long, shaft-like holes that won’t disturb the rest of the bed.
Don’t forget to fill the holes back in!
One misconception in growing garlic in a container is you have to use garlic heads. That is not true. You don’t need to plant the entire head of garlic; you can grow garlic from cloves. You will need to break and separate garlic heads while making sure the white papery wrapper is still intact. Choose and plant only the big garlic cloves because the larger the clove, the more likely you will end up with a larger bulb in the long run! (3)
Save yourself from disappointment. Don’t plant grocery store garlic. They are treated not to sprout!
If you have a bulb or head of garlic with some sprouts already, you can use its cloves to plant in the container.
Don’t forget that there are two types of garlic – hardneck and softneck garlic. Hardneck garlic has a stalk in the center, while softneck does not. Supermarket garlic is often a softneck variety.
You can learn more about these two garlic types by watching the video below:
4. Care for the garlic plant
Just like with any plant, growing garlic requires care and attention.
To grow garlic in containers, place the container in a spot where the garlic can get full sun. Like other plants in the allium family, Garlic plants need at least six hours per day. (3) Garlic can tolerate partial shade but not advisable for an extended period or during its growing season.
Did you know that garlic plants flower? (4) (Garlic? Who woulda thunk it!)
…[Hardneck] varieties produce tiny bulblets at the end of a tall flowering stalk in addition to a fat underground bulb of cloves.
It’s a good idea to cut those flowers right off at their base before they bloom. It’s a sad loss, but it’ll help keep the nutrients flowing to the most valuable part of the plant: the bulb! Once the garlic sprouts, you can add compost or fertilizer to provide more nutrients for the bulb. You can do this every few weeks until it is harvest season.
As for the water requirements of garlic growing in containers, you need to keep the soil thoroughly moist. However, do not overwater it.
Over-watering Garlic may clog the soil, preventing oxygen and other nutrients from reaching the garlic’s roots.
If the soil is waterlogged, garlic’s foliage will turn from a healthy dark green hue to a pale yellow before they are ready for harvesting.
One way to check the moisture level without disturbing the garlic is by digging down the soil next to the plant. If the dug soil is moist to the touch, you don’t have to water the garlic just yet. If the soil is dry and crumbles, you can go ahead and give water to the growing garlic.
Also, consider collecting and using rainwater when possible, as it can be more gentle than tap water! Note: Click here for more information on collecting and using rainwater!
Final Thoughts on Growing Garlic in Containers
Growing garlic in containers is easy and doesn’t really a whole lot of effort. While there are numerous garlic varieties, it grows very similarly regardless of the kind you’re working with, which makes breaking down the growing process very simple.
Whether you’ve grown your own garlic in pots before or are planning to soon, share some of your thoughts, plans, and experiences in the comments section below!
The best month to grow garlic is during September to mid October. However, if you are growing garlic indoors, this doesn’t matter. As long as you’re able to provide the recommended nutrients and optimal environment, your garlic should grow in no time.
The best temperature to grow garlic in pots is 32° to 50°F for the first two months. Once it matures, garlic can thrive in hotter temperatures. If it is below freezing outside, your house will have lower humidity than usual, even if the temperature is controlled. Make sure to keep a closer eye on plants during these times so that garlic indoors doesn’t dry out!
Garlic is ready to harvest when its leaves are brown or yellow. However, you don’t have to wait for all the leaves to change color. Having three to four brown leaves is enough.
If you harvest garlic too early, the bulb is smaller and is not yet divided into cloves. Leave the garlic too long in the ground, and the bulbs will divide with each clove starting to form and grow shoots. Although you can still use and eat over-ripened harvested garlic, its shelf life is shorter. When you want to harvest your garlic, never pull the plant out of the soil. The stalks can break, leaving the bulb stuck in the soil. Using a spade or garden fork loosen the soil, carefully not hitting the bulb. Then, grab the bulb with your hand.
You can soak garlic cloves for as little as 30 minutes up to 24 hours. Some use baking soda water mixture while others just prefer lukewarm water. Soaking garlic is not really necessary to successfully grown and harvest garlic in containers, but it can aid in pest and disease control. If you are going to soak your garlic cloves, you don’t have to peel them. Some garlic soaking techniques include rubbing the cloves with alcohol and using a liquid seaweed solution.
It will take 3 months for garlic to grow and fully mature. However, this depends on what type of garlic or garlic variety you will plant in the container. Hardneck garlic can reach full maturity and are ready to harvest about 180-210 days. Softneck, which is commonly sold in a grocery store, takes mature faster. However, avoid buying supermarket-bought garlic because they’ve been treated not to sprout. Regardless of garlic variety, you need to extend your patience as garlic is a long growing season plant.
- Choosing A Container For Planting. Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/containergardening/choosing_drainage.cfm
- Growing Garlic. Retrieved from: https://gardenate.com/plant/Garlic
- Growing Garlic. Retrieved from: https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/fact-sheets/pdf/garlic.pdf
- Get Your Garlic On: A primer on planting, growing and harvesting. Retrieved from:
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.