How to Propagate Garlic

How to Propagate Garlic

How to Propagate Garlic

How to Propagate Garlic

Because garlic plants do not produce true seeds, propagating garlic involves planting individual cloves in the soil. A garlic bulb contains cloves that will germinate beneath the soil when you plant them. Propagate garlic during the cool months of the growing season to enable it to grow while the soil remains cooler. If the soil is too warm, the garlic plants will produce an overabundance of foliage and small garlic bulbs.


1. Prepare the planting area by cultivating it with the garden spade down to a depth of approximately 4 inches. Add 3 to 4 inches of aged compost over the top of the soil, and combine the compost and the soil thoroughly with the garden spade. Rake the soil surface smooth to finish the planting area preparation.

2. Create 3-inch-deep rows with the hoe, spacing the rows about 12 inches apart.

3. Separate the cloves from the seed bulb immediately before you plant them. Use only the largest outer cloves for planting to produce the healthiest garlic plants. Use the smaller cloves for cooking.

4. Place the garlic cloves into the prepared rows with the pointy end of the cloves facing straight up. Ensure that each garlic clove points straight up in the soil to produce straight plants, and space the cloves 6 inches apart in the rows. Cover the cloves carefully with soil, and firm the soil gently.

5. Water the newly planted garlic cloves immediately after you finish planting them. Keep the soil evenly moist while the garlic grows, but stop watering about two to three weeks before you anticipate harvest.

6. Add about 2 inches of mulch around the growing garlic to help keep the soil moist and protect the garlic plants from cold.

7. Fertilize the garlic when the plants become about 6 inches high. Sprinkle 3 pounds of granular fertilizer carefully over every 100 feet of row. Keep the fertilizer about 4 inches away from the plants, and incorporate the fertilizer into the soil with the hand rake. Water the fertilizer into the soil.

8. Harvest the garlic when about half of the length of the stems turns dry and yellow. Loosen the soil around the bulbs with the hand rake, and pull the bulbs gently from the soil.


1 . Buy garlic bulbs at the nursery in late fall or early winter (it’s unlikely you’ll find started seedlings). You’ll plant cloves directly in the ground about six weeks before the soil freezes. In mild climates, plant in January or February for harvesting in late summer or early fall.

2. Choose a garden site that gets full sun. Though garlic will grow in soil with any pH from 5.0 to 8.0, it does best in the slightly acid range (6.2 to 6.8).

3. Dig to a depth of 8 to 12 inches and amend the soil with plenty of compost to ensure the ideal combination of fertility, good drainage, and moisture retention.

4 .Remove all traces of weeds; they’ll easily win out over garlic’s grass-like foliage.

5 .Plant only the largest cloves from the bulb, and discard any that are pitted or tinged blue-green – both are signs of mold.

6 .Set unpeeled cloves, pointy end up, 2 inches deep, and 5 inches apart. For giant “elephant” garlic, increase the depth to 3 inches and the spacing to 10.

7. Top-dress the plants with compost, and mulch to retain moisture and deter weeds. Mulch again after the ground freezes to protect plants from the cold.

8 . Remove the mulch in spring so the sun can warm the soil, then add a fresh layer when new growth begins. To ensure large bulbs, cut back any flower stalks that develop, and spray young plants with compost tea (see “How to Make Compost Tea”) once or twice during the spring.

9 .Provide an inch of water a week until the foliage turns yellow or falls over – indications that bulbs are nearing maturity.

10. Clip garlic leaves to use any time, but remove no more than 1/4 of a plant’s top growth or you’ll reduce bulb size.

11 .Begin harvesting bulbs when about 3/4 of the tops are yellow.

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