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How to Grow Garlic: 10 Tips for Growing Garlic

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 yearly from your bulbs

Keep reading for garlic tips in any climate, including how to grow garlic in Arizona and other hot climates.

How to Grow Garlic

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10 Tips for How to Grow Garlic


1. Choose the best garlic variety for your climate

Learning how to grow garlic is simple. Garlic is easy to grow, but choosing the variety best suited to your climate to grow garlic successfully is important.

Hardneck garlic

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. 

How to grow garlic

Softneck garlic

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. 

Finding a source that ships garlic at the right time can be the most challenging part of growing garlic in Arizona. I’ve had the most success with garlic from Forever Young Farms. They sell soft neck 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.

avoid grocery store garlic

3. Prepare garlic before planting

If you live in a warm climate like Arizona 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 six 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. 

vernalize garlic
How to grow garlic

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. 

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

when to plant garlic

5. Choose the best location for planting garlic

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

How to grow garlic
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.

How to grow garlic

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.  

How to grow garlic
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. Garlic grows very well in containers.

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

How to grow garlic
Garlic is a good companion plant for many crops


6. Plant garlic correctly

soak garlic before planting

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.

How to grow garlic
Separate cloves and soak garlic before planting
benefits of presoaking

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.

How to grow garlic
Plant garlic 2-3″ deep

Mulch planting area well, especially in cold climates.

How to grow garlic
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. 

How to grow garlic


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

How to grow garlic

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

How to grow garlic
Hardneck garlic scape

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. 

How to grow garlic

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

How to grow garlic

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 Arizona). Provide a slight breeze with a fan (if possible) if it is indoors.

Softneck garlic can also be braided and hung up to cure. 

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

How to grow garlic
Curing onions and garlic indoors

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

How to grow garlic
Cured garlic

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

How to grow garlic
Trim roots after curing

10. Store cured garlic properly

How to grow garlic
  • 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

Roasted garlic
Roasted garlic

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Kiran

Monday 8th of January 2024

I live in Phoenix and ordered my garlic from a local grower and have been storing it in the fridge. However I have not been able to plant it in time before the cool season. Do you think the garlic will keep for planting next season in October?

Angela Judd

Thursday 11th of January 2024

I would go ahead and plant it now. Your bulbs may be smaller, but I don't think it will keep until next season. You could hold back a few and see if they make it if you wanted to as an experiment.

Tracy Kirby

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

I'm planting garlic for the first time and this was very helpful. Thank you! The only thing I'm confused about is that you say the hardneck garlic has scapes, but you don't say the softnect garlic has scapes. Are scapes/shoots different that the stems or leaves for softneck garlic? I'm not sure what to cut to develop the bulb underground. Thank you for the clarifications.

Angela Judd

Thursday 12th of October 2023

You don't need to worry about cutting anything off if you're growing softneck. They don't have a scape that needs removed.

C.

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

Hi Angela, I bought 2 varieties of soft neck garlic from Botanical Interests last fall and didn’t have enough space to plant them all. I forgot about them and still have them in a dark cabinet. Can I plant them this year?

Angela Judd

Thursday 6th of July 2023

Hi. If they are not rotten or soft, then yes they should be fine. Wait to separate the bulbs until it is time to plant.

Katie

Sunday 7th of May 2023

Hi Angela, this is our second year doing garlic (from forever young) in Phx and I just checked the bulbs, they are so small. We have followed the directions so I am wondering why the bulbs are so small? Like a small walnut. Any ideas?

Angela Judd

Monday 8th of May 2023

That's frustrating. Let them keep going for a bit - hopefully, they will grow more. Each year is different.

Storm

Friday 7th of October 2022

I have grown garlic for the first time this year but have grown onions for a few years. I pulled my first garlic plant/bulb and it was perfect, however, when I pulled a few more, all the bulbs had separated into individual cloves and each clove has shot its own shoot (as in they had gone from being a tight bulb and became open separate cloves still joined at the roots with some of the cloves appearing to have formed into their own bulb). Other plants just have what appears to be a single large clove. Not sure what I've done wrong. Did I leave them in the ground too long? (I'm in Queensland, Australia so we have opposite seasons to you). Thanks

Storm

Monday 17th of October 2022

@Angela Judd,

Thank you Angela. I just re-read this webpage and now see that it does mention about the bulbs splitting if left too long. I actually had no idea when to pull them (found this page after I pulled them). I will try again next year and pull them earlier. Thanks again.

Angela Judd

Thursday 13th of October 2022

Hi, yes they were probably left in the ground too long.