Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow, and learning how to grow garlic is simple. Even better, once you’ve grown it, you can regrow garlic year after year from your own bulbs

Keep reading for tips for how to grow garlic in any climate, including hot climates like the low desert of Arizona.

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10 Tips for How to Grow Garlic

Arizona Vegetable Planting Guide- When to plant garlic in Arizona

1. Choose the best garlic variety for your climate

To grow garlic successfully, it is important to choose the variety best-suited to your climate.

Hardneck varieties of garlic are cold-hardy and a good choice for those in cold climates. This type produces a flower stem or “scape” which must be removed for bulbs to fully form. The scape is edible and delicious. 

Hardnecks do not store as well as softneck varieties. 

Softneck varieties are the best types to grow if you live in a warm climate (like the low desert of Arizona). Softneck types store well and are often braided for storage. The flavor may be less intense than hardneck types. 

2. Plan ahead and order garlic early

When it is time to plant garlic, many growers are often already sold out. It’s best to plan ahead and order garlic months before it is time to plant. 

  • If possible, look for a local grower; they will sell varieties well-suited to your climate.
  • Check the ship date of whoever you order garlic from to ensure they ship in time for your preferred planting date. (Note the time needed for vernalization of hardneck varieties in warm climates — see below). 
  • Many companies begin selling garlic in May and are often sold out by August. Plan ahead and order early. 

I’ve had the most success with garlic from Forever Young Farms. They sell softneck varieties well-suited to growing in the low desert of Arizona, and they ship it in time to plant. 

Other online retailers that sell garlic include: Botanical Interests, Baker Creek, Terroir SeedsTerritorial Seed CompanyPeaceful Valley Farm, and Seed Savers Exchange

It’s best not to grow grocery store garlic. The garlic may not be a good variety for your area and may have been treated with a growth inhibitor.

3. Prepare garlic before planting

If you live in a warm climate and you are growing a hardneck variety of garlic, the bulbs must be vernalized. Vernalize garlic cloves by putting them in the fridge (cloves intact) in a closed paper sack for at least 6 weeks. 

Softneck varieties also benefit from vernalization, but it isn’t as critical as for the hardneck types. 

If you live in a cold climate and plant in the fall, the bulbs will naturally be exposed to the needed cooler temperatures. No artificial vernalization is necessary. 

What is vernalization

4. Plant garlic at the right time

Garlic is usually planted in the fall — from September through November. Plant garlic about a month before the soil freezes in cold climates. 

The best time to plant garlic in the low desert of Arizona is during the month of October. 

5. Choose the best location for planting garlic

Choose an area that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.

Garlic grows best in full sun

Garlic grows best in loose, well-draining soil. Prepare the soil by loosening soil to a depth of several inches.

Raised beds or containers that are at least 6” deep are excellent choices for growing garlic. 

Garlic grows well in containers and raised beds

Garlic is a heavy feeder. Amend the planting area with compost and a balanced organic fertilizer.  

Add balanced fertilizer before planting

Garlic is a good companion for most crops (other than beans, peas, sage, and parsley); tuck a few bulbs around other vegetables to help deter pests. 

Plant garlic in wells of fruit trees — may help deter common pests

Garlic is a good companion plant for many crops

6. Plant garlic correctly

Break apart the bulbs, and soak in a solution of fish and kelp fertilizer and baking soda (1 T of each per gallon of water) for at least 8 and up to 24 hours. 

The baking soda has antibacterial benefits and the fertilizer stimulates growth.

Separate cloves and soak garlic before planting

Plant with the flat side (roots) facing down and the pointy side (sprouting side) facing up. 

Which end of garlic to plant - How to grow garlic in Arizona - growing garlic in Arizona - #arizonagardening #garlic #garden #howtogarden
Plant garlic with the roots facing down

Plant cloves 2-3” deep and 4-6” apart. For square foot gardening, plant 9 per square.

Plant garlic 2-3" deep

Mulch planting area well, especially in cold climates.

Mulch garlic well, especially in cold climates

7. Care for garlic as it grows

Water well when new leaves are forming. When leaves begin to die back, water less often. It’s best to water garlic deeply, less often. 

Garlic is a heavy feeder. Feed monthly with an organic fertilizer while garlic is actively growing.

Cut off flower shoots (scapes) as they emerge to encourage bulb development.

Hardneck garlic scape
Hardneck garlic scapes forming

8. Harvest garlic at the right time

Garlic is ready to harvest when about half the lower leaves are brown and the cloves are plump and well-formed. Garlic left in the ground too long will begin to split and the garlic will not store well.   

In the low desert of Arizona, garlic is often ready to harvest during the month of May.

Stop watering when the lower 3-4 leaves brown. Dig up a test bulb to check on size. 

About a week later, harvest the garlic by gently lifting with a fork rather than pulling. 

Do not rinse or trim roots and stems after harvesting.

9. Cure harvested garlic for longer storage

Allow the harvested garlic to cure in a shady well-ventilated area. The ideal temperature for curing is around 75-80°F (this may need to be inside if you live in a hot summer climate like me). Provide a slight breeze with a fan (if possible) if it is indoors.

Softneck garlic can also braided and hung up to cure. 

Lay the garlic out in a single layer on a rack or floor, or braid the stems of softneck varieties.

Curing onions and garlic indoors

Allow the garlic stems to wither and the papery skins to tighten around the cloves.

Cured garlic

Trim roots and trim stems to about 1″ when the necks are moisture-free and completely tight and dry.

Trim roots after curing

10. Store cured garlic properly

  • Store bulbs in a dry cool place. A great way to store garlic is in mesh net bags (I use these mesh bags from Amazon) hung up in a cool place. 
  • Check cloves regularly, and use any soft ones right away. Softneck varieties will store longer than hardneck varieties. 
  • Save the largest cloves for planting next year. Leave the stored cloves intact.

Roasted Garlic Recipe

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How to grow garlic in Arizona
How to grow garlic in Arizona

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24 Comments on How to Grow Garlic: 10 Tips for Growing Garlic

  1. I planted my garlic and onions into ½ whiskey barrels against a west facing wall. This was great protection during the winter but wondering if I should move to a cooler/shader location now that temps are going up. They both have 1 ½ ‘ green tops on them. I am in Gilbert.

    • If you have another spot with afternoon shade that you could move them too, it may keep them from drying out quickly and getting stressed. If not, be sure to water them well. Containers dry out more quickly and need to be watered about daily when our temps heat up.

    • It depends on where you live. In the low desert of Arizona garlic is planted in October and it grows through the winter and is harvested at the end of May. Arizona’s summer heat is too much for garlic.

  2. I’m going to try growing garlic this year. I received my garlic in brown bags. Do i need to close them and store them in the fridge or add some holes ventilation into the paper bags and then store them in the fridge?

    • You don’t need to put holes in the bags, you can simply put the brown paper bags with the garlic in the fridge. Turn the tops down a few times to close the bags.

  3. My husband and children put in an in ground garden For me for Mother’s Day. They put many different plants in for me, one being garlic. I’m from NE and never planted garlic close to each other, but these bulbs are right next to on another. In Tucson I am afraid it will be too hot for the garlic but also the way they were planted at the nursery they are too crowded. Should I dig them up now? They were flowering when they brought them home.

    • What a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift! Once the garlic is flowering it should be pulled. Next season try planting bulbs in the fall and giving them a little bit more room. That may help.

  4. Great article for Phoenix gardeners! I just received inchelium red bulbs from baker creek heirloom seed company. Going to put them in the fridge today but October is coming up quickly and need to get them in the ground. Do you think I should give them 6 weeks in the fridge and plant them at the end of October or should I just leave them in the fridge for 2 weeks and plant them early October?

    • Soft neck varieties (like the one you are planting) benefit from but do not require vernalization (chilling). I’d pop them in the fridge until you are ready to plant, but don’t delay planting to chill them.

    • The garlic in the garden beds get watered as much as the raised beds do (1-2 times per week) the garlic planted in the fruit tree wells get watered much less, maybe once a month depending on how wet the winter is.

  5. If I order garlic now at the beginning of October will I still have time too plant or should I wait until next year?

    • Order soft neck varieties, they don’t need chilling as much. I would get it planted as soon as you can. Better late than never, garlic can be pretty forgiving.

  6. I just used cloves from the ones from the store I use to cook with. It was just a test. Not sure if hard or soft. Planted them last fall, its March 2021. If they are soft neck approx when would they be ready?? I have one that grew much sooner than the rest and is larger. I keep thinking that one may be ready, but the rest are definitely not ready no matter if hard or soft. Those I will just keep an eye on as May rolls around.

    • Good plan. You can harvest early for young garlic, but for the best bulbs leave in the ground until May here in the low desert.

  7. Where do you get your garlic? I’m in Southern Nevada, about 5-10 degrees cooler than Phoenix and I can’t find a supplier that will ship garlic for desert planting.

    • I’ve been getting mine at Forever Young Farms the last couple of years and love it. I know they are sold out for the season this year though.

      • I just wanted to say thank you! I actually read this article quite a while ago, and I was so grateful for your suggestion to try Forever Yong Farms. I ordered my garlic in June and it arrived last Thursday. Now, it is the refrigerator vernalizing. I’m in Gilbert, and it was so great to find a company that specializes in garlic for southern growers. Thanks again for the recommendation! I am a rookie at growing garlic, so if there are any specific varieties for our area that you just love, I would love to hear them!

        • You’re welcome! What a great feeling to have the garlic in the fridge already. I’ll let you know on the varieties. I’m trying to be better at keeping them separate after harvest but they usually get combined.

  8. Angela
    I received my garlic yesterday. Renee’s early California garlic. Should I put them in the frig or straight to the dirt. I’ve never grown garlic so a bit nervous that I’m going to kill them before I even get started. Lol

    • You can plant right away or pop in the fridge (cloves intact) until you are ready to plant. You’ve got this!

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