How To Plant Fall Garlic [ Full Guide ]

Garlic is a highly versatile and popular crop that’s a staple in many cuisines around the world. Planting garlic in the fall allows it to establish roots before the ground freezes, resulting in larger, healthier bulbs come harvest time. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the step-by-step process of planting fall garlic, from preparing the garden to selecting the right varieties and timing the planting for optimal growth and yield.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Fall Garlic

Planting fall garlic involves several key steps:

  1. Prepare the Garden: Clear the planting area and ensure the soil is well-drained and fertile.
  2. Select Garlic Varieties: Choose the right garlic varieties suited for fall planting.
  3. Planning and Timing: Determine the ideal timing for planting based on your climate and growing conditions.
  4. Planting Process: Separate bulbs into individual cloves and plant them pointy side up, ensuring proper spacing and depth.
  5. Mulching and Care: Mulch the planted area and provide appropriate care throughout the growing season.

Preparing The Garden For Fall Garlic Planting

Before planting fall garlic, it’s essential to prepare the garden to create the ideal growing environment for the crop.

Clear The Planting Area

Begin by clearing the planting area of any weeds, debris, and previous crop remnants. Ensure the soil is loose and free of any obstructions that may impede the growth of the garlic.

Soil Preparation

Garlic thrives in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. If the soil is compacted, consider loosening it using a garden fork or tiller to improve aeration and drainage. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil with essential nutrients.

Raised Beds Or Containers

For gardeners with heavy or poorly drained soil, consider planting garlic in raised beds or containers. This can help ensure proper drainage and reduce the risk of waterlogged soil, which can lead to rot and disease issues.

Selecting The Right Garlic Varieties

Choosing the right garlic varieties is crucial for successful fall planting. There are two main types of garlic: softneck and hardneck. Softneck varieties are better suited to milder climates and have a longer shelf life, while hardneck varieties are well-adapted to cold winters and often produce flavorful scapes.

Softneck Varieties

Popular softneck garlic varieties suitable for fall planting include:

  • Artichoke: Known for its large, easy-to-peel cloves and mild flavor, making it a versatile option for cooking.
  • Silverskin: Often used for braiding due to its long storage life, silverskin garlic has a strong, pungent flavor and smaller cloves.

Hardneck Varieties

For those in colder climates, consider planting hardneck garlic varieties such as:

  • Rocambole: Known for its rich, complex flavor and striking purple stripes on its bulb wrappers, rocambole garlic is a favorite among garlic enthusiasts.
  • Porcelain: Porcelain garlic varieties produce large, easy-to-peel cloves and are known for their robust, spicy flavor.

When selecting garlic bulbs for planting, opt for high-quality, disease-free bulbs from a reputable source. Avoid using garlic from the grocery store, as it may be treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting.

Planning And Timing Of Planting

Timing is critical when planting fall garlic, as it needs time to develop roots before the ground freezes. The general rule of thumb is to plant garlic 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes, allowing the cloves to establish roots without producing much top growth before winter.

Fall Planting Time

In most regions, the ideal time to plant fall garlic is in the late summer or early fall. However, the specific timing may vary based on the climate and hardiness zone. For those in colder climates, aim to plant garlic in early to mid-fall to ensure sufficient time for root development before winter.

Adjusting The Planting Time

If you miss the ideal planting window, you can still plant garlic later in the fall, but be prepared for a potentially smaller harvest. Garlic planted too late may not have ample time to establish strong roots before winter, impacting bulb formation and overall yield.

Spacing And Depth

When planting garlic cloves, space them approximately 4-6 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart. Plant the cloves with the pointed end facing upward, and bury them 2-3 inches beneath the soil surface. Ensure the cloves are planted at a consistent depth to promote uniform growth and bulb development.

Planting fall garlic is a rewarding endeavor that can yield plentiful harvests of flavorful bulbs. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can prepare your garden, select the right garlic varieties, and time the planting to ensure optimal growth and yield. With proper care and attention, your fall-planted garlic cloves will develop strong roots and thrive through the winter, ultimately producing robust, flavorful bulbs for culinary enjoyment.

Proper Soil Preparation For Garlic Planting

Garlic is a versatile and flavorful crop that can be grown in the fall for a bountiful harvest the following summer. Planting garlic in the fall allows the bulbs to establish roots over the winter and produce healthy, robust plants come spring. Additionally, fall-planted garlic tends to have a stronger and more intense flavor than its spring-planted counterparts.

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To successfully plant fall garlic, it is crucial to prepare the soil adequately, choose the right location, and properly handle the garlic bulbs.

Before planting fall garlic, the first step is to prepare the soil to provide the ideal growing conditions for the plants. Garlic thrives in loose, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Here are some tips to ensure that your soil is ready for garlic planting:

  1. Clear the area: Begin by removing any weeds, rocks, or other debris from the planting area. This will help prevent competition for nutrients and provide a clean space for your garlic to grow.

  2. Amend the soil: Garlic plants require fertile soil, so it is essential to enrich the soil with organic matter. Incorporate well-rotted compost, aged manure, or other organic amendments into the soil to improve its fertility and texture. This will provide the necessary nutrients for the garlic plants to thrive.

  3. Break up clumps: Using a garden fork or a tiller, break up any large clumps of soil to create a loose and friable planting bed. Garlic roots need space to develop and grow, and loose soil allows for easy penetration and nutrient absorption.

  4. Ensure proper drainage: Garlic bulbs are susceptible to rotting if the soil is compacted and poorly drained. To prevent this, consider adding organic matter or coarse sand to improve drainage. If your soil is heavy clay, creating raised beds can also help improve drainage.

  5. Test soil pH: Garlic prefers a slightly acidic soil pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. To determine the pH of your soil, you can use a pH testing kit or send a soil sample to a local extension service for analysis. If your soil pH is outside the desirable range, adjust it by adding lime to raise the pH or sulphur to lower it.

Properly preparing the soil will provide a strong foundation for your garlic plants, allowing them to establish a healthy root system and maximize their growth potential.

Choosing The Best Location For Planting Garlic

Selecting the right location for planting garlic is essential for its successful growth. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the planting site:

  1. Sun exposure: Garlic requires at least six hours of direct sunlight per day to grow optimally. Choose a location that receives full sun, as this will promote healthy plant growth and help prevent diseases.

  2. Air circulation: Good air circulation around the garlic plants is crucial to prevent the development of fungal diseases, which can harm the crop. Avoid planting garlic in low-lying areas or areas with dense vegetation that may restrict air movement. Planting garlic in raised beds can help improve air circulation.

  3. Protection from harsh weather: Select a location that offers protection from strong winds and extreme weather conditions. Garlic plants can be sensitive to frost, so planting garlic in areas with protection from cold winds or using row covers can help mitigate the risk of damage.

  4. Crop rotation: To reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases, it is important to rotate crops. Avoid planting garlic in areas where other Allium crops (such as onions, leeks, or chives) have been grown in the past few years. Rotating crops helps prevent the buildup of soil-borne diseases and pests that can affect garlic growth.

  5. Accessibility to water: Ensure that the chosen location is easily accessible to a water source. Adequate irrigation is necessary for garlic plants, especially during dry spells or when establishing roots in the fall.

By carefully selecting a suitable location for your garlic plants, you are providing them with optimal growing conditions and reducing the risk of diseases and other adverse effects.

Preparing The Garlic Bulbs For Planting

Selecting high-quality garlic bulbs is crucial for a successful harvest. When choosing garlic bulbs for planting, look for the following characteristics:

  1. Size: Choose bulbs that are large and healthy, as they are more likely to produce larger cloves. The larger the cloves, the larger the resulting bulbs will be.

  2. Cloves: Select bulbs that have firm, compact cloves. Avoid bulbs with soft or discolored cloves, as they may be infected with diseases or may not develop properly.

  3. Variety: Garlic comes in a variety of flavors, sizes, and colors. Choose a variety that suits your taste preferences and growing conditions. Common varieties include hardneck garlic (such as Rocambole, Porcelain, or Purple Stripe) and softneck garlic (such as Silverskin or Artichoke).

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Once you have selected your garlic bulbs, it is essential to prepare them for planting. This involves two steps: cracking the bulbs and separating the cloves and treating the cloves with a fungicide.

Cracking the bulbs and separating the cloves: Gently separate the individual cloves from the garlic bulb. Be careful not to damage or bruise the cloves, as this can reduce their ability to sprout and grow. It is recommended to plant only the larger and undamaged cloves, as these have a higher chance of producing a healthy plant.

Treating the cloves with a fungicide: Garlic cloves are prone to fungal infections that can affect their growth. To prevent these infections, you can treat the cloves with a fungicide before planting. Dip the cloves in a fungicide solution as per the product instructions or use a natural fungicide such as a mixture of water and neem oil. This will help protect the cloves from rot during the planting process and promote healthier growth.

Taking the time to carefully handle and prepare the garlic bulbs ensures that you are providing them with the best conditions for growth and minimizing the risk of diseases.

Digging And Planting Garlic Cloves

Now that you have prepared the soil and the garlic bulbs, it’s time to plant the cloves. Follow these steps to ensure proper planting and spacing:

  1. Digging the holes: Using a small garden trowel or your hands, carefully dig holes in the prepared soil. The holes should be around 2-3 inches deep and spaced 4-6 inches apart. Create rows with approximately 12-18 inches of space between them.

  2. Placing the cloves: Gently place each prepared clove in the hole with the pointed end facing upwards. Ensure that the cloves are oriented correctly, as planting them upside down can affect their ability to sprout.

  3. Covering with soil: Once the cloves are in place, lightly cover them with soil, ensuring that they are completely buried. The tip of the clove should be just below the soil surface. Avoid compacting the soil too much, as this can hinder root growth.

  4. Mulching: After planting, apply a layer of mulch around the garlic plants. This helps to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Suitable mulch materials include straw, dried leaves, or grass clippings. Apply a layer of mulch around 2-3 inches thick, taking care not to cover the garlic shoots completely.

  5. Watering: Water the newly planted garlic cloves thoroughly. Adequate moisture is crucial for root development and establishment. Ensure that the soil is evenly moist, but not waterlogged.

Planting fall garlic can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for any gardener. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create the ideal conditions for your garlic plants to thrive and produce a bountiful harvest. Remember to prepare the soil adequately, choose a suitable planting location, handle the garlic bulbs with care, and plant the cloves at the correct depth and spacing. With proper care, attention to detail, and a little patience, you will soon be enjoying flavorful homegrown garlic that will enhance a variety of dishes in your kitchen.

Tips For Spacing And Planting Depth

Garlic is a popular and important crop for many gardeners and farmers. It is easy to grow and has numerous health benefits as well as culinary uses. Garlic bulbs can be planted in both the Spring and Fall, but Fall planting is the preferred method for many due to the cooler temperatures and longer growing season.

Before planting, you must choose the right variety of garlic for your climate and soil type. Most garlic varieties can be planted in the Fall, but it is recommended to choose a variety that is known to perform well in your area. Common Fall garlic varieties include Chesnok Red, Music, and Spanish Roja.

Garlic should be planted in a sunny location with well-draining soil. The soil should be loosened to a depth of 10-12 inches before planting. Remove any stones, weeds, or debris from the planting area.

The next step is to break the garlic bulbs into individual cloves. The larger cloves will produce larger bulbs, while smaller cloves will produce smaller bulbs. Make sure to keep the papery outer layer of the cloves intact.

The spacing of the garlic cloves will depend on the variety and size of the bulbs. Generally, garlic cloves should be planted 4-6 inches apart and 2-4 inches deep. If your soil is heavy and prone to moisture retention, plant the cloves slightly shallower.

After planting, cover the cloves with soil and water them well. Add a layer of organic mulch (such as straw) to protect the garlic from extreme temperatures and retain moisture in the soil.

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Care And Maintenance For Fall Garlic Plants

Garlic requires minimal care and maintenance after planting. However, it is important to provide your garlic plants with consistent moisture throughout their growing season. Water your garlic regularly, aiming for 1-2 inches of water per week.

Garlic is a heavy feeder, meaning it requires a lot of nutrients to produce good quality bulbs. Fertilize your garlic with nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the early spring, a few weeks after the emergence of the shoots. Avoid using nitrogen-based fertilizers after mid-May, as this can cause the bulbs to split.

It is important to weed regularly around the garlic plants to prevent competition for nutrients and moisture. Weeds can also harbor pests and diseases that can harm the garlic crop.

Garlic scapes, which are the curly shoots that emerge from the garlic plant in the summer, should be removed to encourage the plant’s energy to go to the bulb. Cut the scapes when they begin to curl, but before they straighten completely. The scapes are edible and can be used in cooking.

Harvesting And Storing Garlic

Fall-planted garlic is typically harvested in the early summer, around late June or early July. The garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested when the leaves begin to yellow and die back. Be sure to stop watering the plants a week before harvesting to allow the bulbs to dry and cure.

To harvest garlic, loosen the soil around the bulb with a garden fork or shovel. Be careful not to damage the bulbs. Gently pull the bulbs out of the soil and brush off any dirt or debris. Do not wash the bulbs at this stage, as this can increase the risk of rotting during the curing process.

After harvesting, hang the garlic bulbs in a warm, dry place for 2-3 weeks to cure. The curing process allows the bulbs to dry and preserve for long-term storage. Once fully cured, cut off the tops of the bulbs and remove any excess dirt or debris. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place.

Common Pests And Diseases For Fall Garlic

Like all crops, garlic is susceptible to pests and diseases. The most common pests for garlic are bulb mites, thrips, and nematodes. These pests can damage the roots and bulbs, resulting in stunted growth and poor quality bulbs. To prevent these pests, rotate the location of your garlic crop from year to year and avoid planting in areas with heavy clay soils.

Garlic is also prone to fungal diseases, such as white rot and downy mildew. These diseases can cause the leaves to wilt and the bulbs to rot. To prevent fungal diseases, avoid overwatering and ensure the soil has proper drainage. It is recommended to apply a fungicide in the early spring to prevent fungal infections.


Fall-planted garlic is a great addition to any garden or farm. With proper care and maintenance, garlic can be a profitable and healthy crop. Choose a variety that is suited for your climate and soil type, plant at the proper depth and spacing, and provide consistent watering and fertilization. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a successful garlic harvest.


When Is The Best Time To Plant Fall Garlic?

The best time to plant fall garlic is typically in October or November, when the temperature drops and the soil has cooled down a bit.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Fall Garlic?

Before planting garlic, it’s important to loosen the soil and work in some compost or other organic matter. Make sure the soil is well-draining because garlic doesn’t like wet soil.

How Deep Should I Plant The Garlic Cloves?

Plant the garlic cloves about 2-3 inches deep, with the pointed end facing up. Make sure to space the cloves about 6 inches apart and leave about 12-18 inches between rows.

How Often Should I Water The Garlic After Planting?

Keep the soil moist but not too wet. Water the garlic about once a week during dry periods, and avoid wetting the leaves to prevent fungal diseases.

When Can I Harvest Fall Garlic?

In general, fall-planted garlic will mature in 8-9 months, so you can harvest it in the summer of the following year. Look for yellowing and dying leaves as a sign that the garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested.