How to Plant Garlic in a Pot – A Beginner’s Guide

Garlic is a mainstay in many kitchens throughout the world. For that reason, there are plenty of gardeners who would love to grow some garlic of their own. However, if you are a beginner, you may not know where to start. If that sounds like you, read on. This guide will teach you how to plant garlic in a pot.

How to plant garlic in a pot

A Simple Guide on How to Plant Garlic in a Pot

Planting garlic in a pot is not an exceptionally difficult gardening task. But there are a few garlic-growing insights that you’ll need to know if you want to enjoy a healthy garlic harvest. The following steps will help you plant your garlic and care for it throughout its growth cycle.

Find a Good Soil for Planting Garlic

As is the case with any plant you want to grow in a pot, the process for planting garlic begins with good soil. The ideal soil that will support the healthiest growth for your garlic bulbs is:

  • Relatively lose
  • Neutral in acidity
  • Well-draining

Only after setting the stage with a suitable growing medium can you proceed with the rest of the garlic planting process. If you find soil that displays the three traits above, you’ll be off to an excellent start.

Know How to Plant Garlic Bulbs

Now that you have a pot full of healthy soil, it’s time to plant your garlic cloves. Begin with a whole bulb of garlic. Then, remove the outer layer of skin from the bulb and separate each clove. Select the cloves you want to grow, then follow these steps below:

  • Plant each clove about two to three inches below the soil’s surface
  • Leave about three to five inches of space between cloves
  • Cover the soil with an organic mulch such as bark mulch

Once you complete those steps, water your garlic thoroughly.  That cover’s the basics of how to plant garlic cloves. But as you might expect, there are a few other considerations you should make while planting your garlic crop.

When to Plant Garlic

Timing is crucial when planting garlic. In most cases, it will take at least seven months for a single clove to develop into a full bulb that is ready for harvest. Additionally, for a garlic clove to begin growing into a bulb, it must undergo vernalization. That process takes place naturally if you can schedule your garlic planting with specific seasonal changes.

We’ll cover the vernalization process a bit more in the sections to follow. For now, you should know that there are two times of year that you should consider for planting your garlic.

Planting Garlic in Fall

Often, gardeners have the most success planting their garlic cloves in the fall. If you live in a region that has cold winters with consistent temperatures below 40 degrees for several weeks, planting garlic in the fall affords you two major advantages:

  • More time to mature: Garlic cloves you plant in fall will likely be ready for harvest around the beginning or middle of the following summer.
  • Natural vernalization: The best time to plant garlic cloves is right around the first frost of the fall season. Check the frost dates in your region and plant your garlic at that time. Garlic planting that coincides with the first fall frost has the most time to vernalize.

Planting in fall gives your garlic enough time to mature and makes use of the cold winter weather that triggers vernalization. That process involves prolonged exposure to low temperatures that stimulate the planted garlic cloves to develop into bulbs.

Clearly, there are some inherent benefits to planting garlic in the fall. But what should you do if you miss the first frost or if you live in an area that does not get cold enough to begin with?

Planting Garlic in Spring

While it is a less popular approach, it is possible to plant your garlic in spring rather than fall. However, this comes with a few disadvantages. First, your garlic will take longer to develop bulbs worthy of harvest, and those bulbs are often smaller. However, you’ll still have plenty of green garlic stalks that you can harvest in the meantime.

If you decide to plant your garlic in the spring, your best approach is to get your cloves in the ground as early as you can. That way, you’ll give your garlic a chance to make use of what is left of the growing season.

As we mentioned above, cold temperatures help garlic cloves develop into blubs, and when you plant in the fall, you can allow the natural temperature drop to take care of vernalization for you. With early spring planting, it is unlikely that there will be enough cold days for your cloves to vernalize.  

In those scenarios, you’ll need to do some artificial vernalization. The best way to do that is by placing your cloves in a plastic bag that has some ventilation. Then put the bag in your refrigerator for about one to two months. Once you see some roots forming, your garlic is ready for spring planting.

Caring for Garlic Plants

By now, you know enough to get your garlic cloves planted in your pot successfully. Now let’s explore some of the ongoing maintenance you should conduct to give your garlic cloves the best chance to grow into large bulbs. Here are the basics of garlic care that you should keep in mind:

  • Sunlight: Place your potted garlic where it can receive full sun. At least six hours per day is best.
  • Water: During the growing season, keep the soil in the pot consistently moist with weekly watering.
  • Fertilization: Apply fertilizer once in spring and once just before the bulbs begin to grow in late spring. Formulas rich in phosphorus often work best.

Although your garlic will not need much attention during the winter, once the growing season begins, your role in growing your garlic will be a bit more involved. While meeting the growth requirements of potted garlic requires ongoing attention, that care is not a complex chore to upkeep.

Use the Best Container for Your Garlic

As you may have noticed in the sections above, garlic prefers to grow in soil that drains well, but it also calls for a lot of water in the growing season. As such, it is vital that you select a container that is porous enough to allow the water you give to your garlic to filter out rather than waterlogging the soil. For that reason and more, fabric grows bags are often the best containers to use while growing garlic in pots.

Our Fabric Grow Bag Recommendations…

Garlic Planting FAQs

Now that you have a grasp of how to plant garlic in pots, we’ll look at a few of the most common questions that new gardeners are likely to ask on their garden-growing journey. Below are those questions, along with a brief answer for each.

Do You Plant Garlic with the Skin on?

When you plant garlic, you should remove enough skin so that you can separate the bulb into individual cloves. Once you have reached that point, you don’t need to remove any more of the garlic’s skin.

How Deep Do You Plant Garlic?

It is important not to plant your garlic cloves too shallow or too deep. Aim to plant yours at a depth of three inches below the soil’s surface.

Can You Plant Garlic and Onion Together?

Although garlic and onion are part of the same family and have some similar growth requirements, they are not the best pair to grow together. While garlic is not as detrimental to onions as other crops, it can attract pests that will eventually infest the onions. For that reason, it is usually a good idea not to grow onion and garlic close to each other.

What is the Best Time to Plant Garlic?

The best time to plant garlic cloves is in the fall, right around the first frost of the season. This timing is especially useful if you live in a region with cold winters. That cold weather will encourage vernalization, leading to better garlic bulbs at harvest.

What Types of Garlic Can You Plant?

There are two types of garlic that are most common for gardeners to grow. Those options are hard neck garlic and soft neck garlic. The main difference between the two is that hard neck garlic is better suited for cold regions, while the opposite is true for soft neck garlic. However, keep in mind that these are two general categories and that there are numerous other garlic varieties you can grow.

Sources

https://www.britannica.com/topic/vernalization

Frost Date Chart: First and Last Frost Dates Across North America

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