How To Plant Spring Garlic [ Full Guide ]

Garlic is a versatile and tasty herb that is a staple ingredient in many recipes. Spring garlic, in particular, offers a milder and fresher flavor compared to the mature bulbs harvested later in the year. Planting spring garlic is a rewarding and straightforward process that can result in a bountiful harvest. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essential steps and considerations for planting spring garlic successfully.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Spring Garlic

To plant spring garlic, follow these basic steps:

  1. Choose the right garlic variety
  2. Prepare the soil by adding compost and ensuring good drainage
  3. Select a suitable planting location with full sun exposure
  4. Time the planting for early spring or the last frost date
  5. Plant individual cloves vertically, with the pointed end facing upwards and the flat end down, about 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart
  6. Water the cloves thoroughly after planting
  7. Mulch the area to retain moisture and suppress weed growth
  8. Monitor the garlic plants and provide regular irrigation and fertilization as needed
  9. Harvest the spring garlic when the tops begin to yellow and fall over, usually in late spring or early summer

Choosing The Right Garlic Variety

Selecting the appropriate garlic variety is crucial for achieving a successful spring garlic crop. There are two main types of garlic: softneck and hardneck. Softneck garlic is well-suited for milder climates and tends to store well, making it a popular choice for home gardeners. Hardneck garlic, on the other hand, thrives in colder regions and is characterized by its central woody stalk, known as a scape, which develops in late spring and can be harvested and used in cooking.

When choosing a variety for spring planting, consider the climate and growing conditions in your area. Some popular spring garlic varieties include Early Purple Wight, Germidour, and Red Duke. These varieties are known for their adaptability to spring planting and their ability to produce flavorful bulbs.

It’s also worth seeking out organic or locally adapted garlic varieties, as they are often better suited to the specific growing conditions in your region. Whether you opt for softneck or hardneck garlic, ensure that the bulbs are firm and disease-free.

Preparing The Soil

Garlic thrives in well-drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH level (6.0-7.0). Before planting, prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve the soil structure, enhance its ability to retain moisture, and provide essential nutrients for the growing garlic plants.

To ensure good drainage, avoid planting in heavy, compacted soil or areas prone to waterlogging. Consider adding a layer of coarse sand or perlite to improve the soil’s drainage if necessary. Proper soil preparation sets the stage for healthy garlic growth and helps prevent issues such as rot and disease.

Selecting The Planting Location

Selecting the right planting location is crucial for the success of your spring garlic crop. Garlic plants thrive in full sun, so choose a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Additionally, ensure that the location offers protection from strong winds, as excessive exposure can damage the tender garlic shoots.

If you’re planting in raised beds or containers, make sure they are positioned in a sunny area that meets the sunlight and wind protection requirements. Adequate air circulation is also important to prevent moisture-related diseases, so avoid overcrowding the garlic plants.

Timing For Planting Spring Garlic

Timing is critical when it comes to planting spring garlic. In most regions, the best time to plant spring garlic is in early spring, as soon as the soil is workable and the last frost has passed. However, specific timing may vary depending on your local climate and growing zone.

For regions with milder winters, planting can occur as early as late winter. It’s important to note that garlic bulbs require a period of cold temperature exposure to trigger the division of cloves within the bulb. Therefore, in colder climates, it’s essential to ensure that the cloves are planted early enough to experience this cold period before the onset of warm weather.

To determine the optimal planting time for your area, consult local gardening resources, cooperative extension offices, or experienced gardeners in your community. They can provide valuable insights into the specific planting windows for spring garlic in your region.

Planting spring garlic can be a gratifying endeavor for gardeners of all skill levels. By selecting the right garlic variety, preparing the soil, choosing a suitable planting location, and timing the planting correctly, you can set the stage for a successful garlic harvest. From the early stages of planting to the eventual harvest of flavorful spring garlic, each step plays a crucial role in the growth and development of this versatile herb.

As with any gardening endeavor, it's important to stay attuned to the specific needs of your garlic plants and provide care and maintenance as required. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can look forward to a bountiful yield of spring garlic to enjoy in your culinary creations. Happy planting!

Preparing Garlic Bulbs For Planting

Garlic is a popular and versatile ingredient in many dishes, known for its distinct flavor and numerous health benefits. While most people are accustomed to purchasing garlic from the store, growing your own garlic can be a rewarding experience. Spring is an ideal time to plant garlic, as the cloves have enough time to establish before the onset of winter.

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Before you can plant your garlic bulbs, it is important to prepare them properly. Follow these steps to ensure the best possible start for your garlic plants:

  1. Selecting the Right Bulbs: Choose high-quality garlic bulbs from a reliable source. Look for bulbs that are firm, plump, and have papery skin. Avoid bulbs that are soft, moldy, or showing signs of disease.

  2. Separating the Cloves: Gently break apart the bulb into individual cloves, being careful not to damage them in the process. Each clove will grow into a new garlic plant. Choose the largest and healthiest cloves for planting, as they will produce the strongest plants.

  3. Treating for Disease: To minimize the risk of disease, you can soak the cloves in a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water for ten minutes. This will help kill any pathogens that may be present on the surface of the cloves. After soaking, rinse the cloves thoroughly with clean water and allow them to air dry.

  4. Preventing Pests: Garlic cloves are sometimes targeted by pests, such as nematodes and bulb mites. To protect your cloves, you can soak them in a solution of hot water (122°F/50°C) for 20 minutes. This should kill any pests that may be hiding within the cloves.

Proper Spacing And Depth For Planting

To ensure that your garlic plants have enough space to grow and develop, it is important to plant them with proper spacing. Additionally, planting the cloves at the correct depth will help them establish strong root systems. Follow these guidelines for spacing and depth when planting your garlic cloves:

  1. Spacing: Garlic cloves should be planted 6 to 8 inches apart in rows. Leave a distance of at least 12 inches between each row to allow for easy access and airflow. Planting the cloves too close together can lead to overcrowding and competition for nutrients.

  2. Depth: Garlic cloves should be planted with their pointed ends facing up, and the flat ends facing down. The ideal planting depth for garlic cloves is approximately 2 inches below the soil surface. Planting the cloves too shallow may result in poor root development, while planting them too deep could inhibit their ability to sprout.

Planting Techniques For Spring Garlic

Now that you’ve prepared your garlic bulbs and determined the proper spacing and depth, it’s time to plant them. Follow these planting techniques to give your garlic cloves the best chance of success:

  1. Prepare the Soil: Garlic thrives in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Prior to planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or other debris. If the soil is heavy or clayey, add compost or well-rotted organic matter to improve its texture and drainage.

  2. Dig Planting Holes: Use a small garden trowel or your fingers to dig planting holes that are approximately 2 inches deep. The planting holes should be spaced according to the recommended spacing guidelines mentioned earlier.

  3. Plant the Cloves: Place a garlic clove in each planting hole, with the pointed end facing upwards and the flat end facing downwards. Gently push the cloves into the soil until they are at the desired depth. Ensure that the cloves are covered with soil, but avoid compacting the soil too firmly.

  4. Cover and Mulch: Once all the cloves have been planted, cover the area with a layer of mulch. This will help conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and protect the cloves from extreme temperature fluctuations. Suitable mulching materials include straw, shredded leaves, or compost.

Watering And Mulching

Proper watering is crucial for the growth and development of your garlic plants. Inadequate water can result in stunted growth, while overwatering can cause rot and disease. Follow these guidelines to ensure optimal watering and mulching:

  1. Watering: Garlic requires consistent moisture, especially during the early stages of growth. Water the planting area thoroughly immediately after planting to help the cloves settle into the soil. Thereafter, water the plants regularly, providing about 1 inch of water per week until the foliage begins to yellow and die back. Be mindful of rainfall and adjust your watering accordingly.

  2. Mulching: Mulching helps retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Apply a layer of mulch around the garlic plants, making sure to leave a small space around the stems for air circulation. The recommended thickness of the mulch layer is around 2 to 3 inches. Replenish the mulch as needed throughout the growing season.

  3. Weed Control: Mulching will help suppress weed growth, but it is still important to monitor the area regularly for any weeds that manage to sprout. Weed competition can hinder the growth of your garlic plants by robbing them of nutrients and water. Carefully remove any weeds by hand or use a shallow hoe to prevent damaging the garlic plants.

By following these steps, you can successfully plant spring garlic and enjoy a bountiful harvest. Remember to select healthy bulbs, separate the cloves, and properly prepare them before planting. Pay attention to the correct spacing and depth, and ensure that the garlic plants receive adequate water and mulching. With patience and care, you will soon be rewarded with homegrown garlic that will enhance the flavor of your culinary creations for months to come.

Fertilizing Spring Garlic

Spring garlic, also known as green garlic or young garlic, refers to garlic that is harvested before it fully matures. It is characterized by its tender stalks, milder flavor, and vibrant green leaves. Planting spring garlic is relatively simple, but it requires the right care and attention to ensure a successful harvest.

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Before planting spring garlic, it is essential to prepare the soil by enriching it with organic matter and nutrients. Garlic thrives in well-drained soil with a pH level between 6 and 7. Add compost, aged manure, or well-rotted leaves to the soil to improve its fertility. These organic amendments will not only provide nutrients but also enhance soil structure, allowing for better root development.

In terms of fertilizers, a balanced, slow-release fertilizer with equal proportions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) is suitable for spring garlic. Apply the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package, and mix it into the soil before planting. This will ensure that the garlic plants have access to the necessary nutrients as they grow.

Protecting Garlic From Pests And Diseases

Garlic is generally a hardy plant with few major pest or disease issues. However, it can still be susceptible to certain problems, such as onion thrips, nematodes, and fungal infections. Here are some steps you can take to protect your spring garlic crop:

  1. Crop rotation: Avoid planting garlic and other alliums in the same spot every year. This can help prevent the buildup of pests and diseases in the soil.

  2. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around the garlic plants. Mulch helps retain moisture, suppresses weeds, and acts as a barrier against soil-borne pests.

  3. Companion planting: Planting certain companion plants near garlic can help repel pests. For example, marigolds and alliums such as chives, shallots, and onions are known to deter aphids, thrips, and nematodes.

  4. Monitor for pests: Regularly inspect your garlic plants for signs of pest infestation. Examine the leaves for discoloration, holes, or wilting. If you spot any pests, such as aphids or thrips, you can use organic pest control methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap to manage the problem.

  5. Preventing fungal diseases: Garlic can be susceptible to fungal diseases such as white rot and downy mildew. To prevent these diseases, avoid overwatering the plants and ensure adequate air circulation by spacing them properly. If necessary, apply a fungicide according to the instructions on the product label.

By implementing these measures, you can minimize the risk of pests and diseases and ensure the health of your spring garlic crop.

Harvesting Spring Garlic

Spring garlic can be harvested at different stages, depending on personal preference. Some people prefer to harvest it as baby garlic, when the stalks are thin and the bulbs are small. Others wait until the bulbs have fully developed and the leaves have reached their maximum length.

To determine when to harvest spring garlic, observe the plant’s growth and appearance. When the leaves start to yellow and the stalks become weak and floppy, it is a sign that the garlic is ready for harvest. Gently dig around the base of the plants with a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil. Carefully lift the bulbs out of the ground, taking care not to damage them.

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It is essential to handle harvested garlic gently to prevent bruising or injury. To prepare it for storage, gently brush off any excess soil, but do not wash the bulbs, as this can increase the risk of rotting. Leave the bulbs to dry in a warm, well-ventilated area for about two weeks. This curing process allows the outer skin to dry and harden, preserving the garlic for a longer period.

Storing Garlic For Future Use

Proper storage is key to maintaining the quality and flavor of your harvested spring garlic. Here are some guidelines for storing garlic:

  1. Choose the best bulbs: Select garlic bulbs that are firm and free from blemishes, cracks, or signs of decay. Avoid bulbs with green sprouts, as this indicates advanced maturity.

  2. Store in a cool, dry place: Garlic should be stored in a cool, dry area with good air circulation. Ideally, the temperature should be around 60°F (15°C), with humidity levels between 50-60%. Avoid storing garlic near sources of heat or light, as this can cause premature sprouting or spoilage.

  3. Avoid refrigeration: While it may seem natural to store garlic in the refrigerator, this can actually cause the bulbs to become soft and moldy. Refrigeration can also alter the flavor and aroma of the garlic.

  4. Braiding or hanging garlic: To save space and ensure good air circulation, you can braid or hang garlic bulbs. Simply tie the stalks together with string or twine, making sure to hang them in a cool, dry place.

  5. Freezing or preserving garlic: If you have an abundance of spring garlic, you can also freeze or preserve it for later use. Peel the cloves and place them in an airtight container or freezer bag, then store them in the freezer. Alternatively, you can chop or puree the garlic with olive oil or vinegar and store it in the refrigerator for several weeks.

By following these storage methods, you can enjoy the fresh flavor of spring garlic throughout the year.


Planting spring garlic can be a rewarding experience that yields delicious and nutritious bulbs. By preparing the soil, fertilizing adequately, and protecting against pests and diseases, you can ensure a thriving crop. Harvesting the garlic at the right time and storing it correctly will allow you to enjoy its distinct flavor for an extended period. Incorporate spring garlic into your garden this season, and enjoy the taste of this versatile ingredient in your favorite dishes.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Spring Garlic?

The ideal time to plant spring garlic is in the fall, about 4-6 weeks before the first frost. This will allow the bulbs to establish strong root systems before the winter, leading to healthier and larger garlic plants in the spring.

Where Should I Plant Spring Garlic?

Spring garlic can be planted in any well-draining garden bed or container. Choose a spot with full sun exposure and avoid areas that tend to collect water, as garlic prefers dry soil.

Do I Need To Prepare The Soil Before Planting?

Yes, it is important to prepare the soil before planting spring garlic. Garlic prefers loose, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Till the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches and amend with compost or aged manure to improve drainage and provide nutrients.

How Do I Plant Spring Garlic Bulbs?

Plant individual garlic cloves with the pointed end facing up, about 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart. If planting multiple rows, leave 12-18 inches between rows to allow for proper growth. Cover with soil and lightly firm down.

Is It Necessary To Fertilize Spring Garlic?

Garlic is a light feeder and does not require heavy fertilization. However, adding a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at planting time and again when the plants reach about 6 inches tall can help promote healthy growth. It is important not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to decreased bulb size and pungency.