Can You Plant Garlic That Has Sprouted?


If you leave garlic (Allium sativum) lying around in the cupboard or refrigerator too long, it will eventually sprout.  Before you compost or throw out that sprouted garlic, remember that it just might have another chance at life!

So, can you plant garlic that has sprouted?  Yes, you can plant garlic that has sprouted.  In fact, planting garlic cloves is the only way to get garlic, since they do not produce flowers or seeds!  With proper care after planting, sprouted garlic cloves will bulb and grow into more garlic.  Usually, garlic cloves are planted in fall, but you can also plant them in spring to get smaller cloves.

Of course, there are some steps you need to take before you simply plant your sprouted garlic clove in the ground.  Let’s talk about planting sprouted garlic and what you need to do to prepare your garden for this crop.

Can You Plant Garlic That Has Sprouted?

Yes, you can plant garlic that has sprouted.  In fact, planting garlic cloves is the only way to grow more garlic, since garlic does not produce true seeds or flowers!

sprouted garlic
You can plant sprouted garlic to get new bulbs the next year.
Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Garlic_with_Horns.jpg

For more information, check out this article on garlic from the University of New Hampshire Extension.

However, you do need to do some planning to decide when to plant your garlic.  According to the University of Georgia Extension, garlic needs 6 to 8 weeks of cool weather below 40 Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) in order to go through vernalization, which causes bulbing.

Besides cool weather, what else does garlic need to grow successfully?  Let’s dive into how to plant your sprouted garlic.

How to Plant Sprouted Garlic

There are some steps you can take before and after planting your sprouted garlic bulbs to give them a better chance of growing to maturity.  We’ll start with preparing the soil.

Prepare the Soil for Planting Sprouted Garlic

Before you do anything, choose a sunny area for planting your garlic.  Garlic needs full sunlight, meaning 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.

sunlight through forest
Garlic needs full sun, meaning 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.

Garlic also needs well-draining soil to prevent it from sitting in water, which can cause the bulbs to rot.  If necessary, add some compost to your soil to improve drainage (this is especially important for clay soils).

For more information, check out my article on making your soil drain better.

After working compost into the soil, you can also use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, to provide nutrients for your garlic.  The University of Massachusetts at Amherst suggests applying 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 3 pounds per 100 square feet of soil.

Choose the Right Time to Plant Garlic Cloves

Garlic is an annual, planted in either fall or spring.

If you plant garlic bulbs in the fall, aim to put the bulbs in the soil 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost.  You can find the last fall frost date in your area with this calculator from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

frost
If planting garlic in the gall, do it 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost.

Planting at this time gives the garlic bulb enough time to grow roots, but not enough time to grow shoots before winter comes.  Don’t worry if it does grow a few shoots though – garlic is frost hardy.

In Northern regions of the U.S., you will probably be planting fall garlic bulbs in October.  In Southern regions of the U.S., you will probably be planting fall garlic bulbs in November.

If you plant garlic bulbs in the spring, you should plant as soon as soil can be worked (that is, when the ground thaws).  This probably means March or April in most of the U.S.

Just remember that a spring planting will yield smaller garlic bulbs, since the plants have less time to develop.

For more information, check out this article on growing garlic from the University of Georgia Extension.

Plant Your Garlic Bulbs

Leave the “paper” (thin white skin) on your garlic bulbs – do not peel them!  If you need to wait for fall or spring to plant them, then keep them dry to avoid rotting.

When ready to plant, gently pull apart the sections of the garlic bulb to separate it into cloves.  Each clove is one potential plant that will produce a bulb and many garlic cloves next year!

garlic cloves
When ready to plant, separate the garlic bulb into cloves, and leave the white paper skin on them.

Plant each garlic bulb 2 inches (5 centimeters) deep, with the pointed end facing up (if sprouted, the green end will be facing up).

Leave 6 inches (15 centimeters) between planted garlic cloves, to give them enough space to grow without competing with one another.

If planting multiple rows of garlic, leave 1 foot of space between the rows.  This leaves plenty of room for weeding, watering, fertilizing, and harvesting.

For more information, check out this article on growing garlic from the University of Georgia Extension.

Care for Your Garlic after Planting the Cloves

First, you should water your garlic right after planting.  Keep the soil moist (but not too wet) to help them grow their best.

garden hose
Be sure to water your garlic right after planting, and keep the soil moist.

Then, cover the soil with mulch to help retain moisture and protect against the cold of winter.

Once the garlic bulbs start to form, do not add any more fertilizer.  When then leaves start to turn brown and fall over, it is time to slow down and eventually stop watering to avoid rotten garlic bulbs.

How Long Does It Take Garlic to Sprout?

Garlic can sprout after a couple of months if stored in the cold (such as in a refrigerator).

After you plant your garlic, you may see some growth above ground in a matter of weeks, or it may take until the following spring if you planted in late fall.

How Long Does Garlic Take to Grow?

It can take anywhere from 90 to 240 days (3 to 8 months) for garlic to grow to maturity.  Of course, the time for garlic to mature depends on when you plant it.

As mentioned earlier, you can plant garlic in the fall, or you can plant it in the spring for a faster harvest with smaller bulbs.

If you plant garlic in the fall, it will take about 240 days (8 months) to grow to maturity.  For example, if planting on November 1, it will take until about July 1 for the garlic to mature into bulbs that are ready for harvest.

If you plant garlic in the spring, it will take about 90 days (3 months) to grow to maturity.  For example, if planting on April 1, it will take until about July 1 for the garlic to grow into mature bulbs that are ready for harvest.

How Do You Know When Garlic Is Ready to Harvest?

Garlic is ready to harvest after about half of the leaves die back.  You can tell that this is happening when the leaves start to get dry, turn yellow and brown, and then fall over.

You should stop watering around this time, to prevent the garlic from rotting as it finishes growing.

If you planted garlic cloves in the fall, you will harvest in the summer, probably in June or July.

If you planted garlic cloves in the spring, you will harvest in the summer, again probably in June or July.  You will get smaller bulbs with a spring garlic planting than with a fall planting.

Remember that garlic will not bulb and mature in high temperatures (such as we have in July and August in much of the U.S.)

When you harvest your garlic, do it on a sunny, dry day.  This will keep bulbs dry and prevent rotting.

After harvesting the garlic bulbs, hang them up to cure and dry for 2 weeks.  Do not peel the garlic until it is ready to use!

According to the University of Georgia Extension, you can expect a yield of about 4 pounds of garlic per 10 feet of row.

If you like, you can also harvest garlic scapes or garlic greens.

In spring, hardneck garlic produces a scape, which you cut off after the stalk curls.  A garlic scape can be used in a way similar to scallions.

garlic greens
You can harvest garlic early to get garlic greens.

As an alternative, you can harvest garlic before maturity to get green garlic.  Green garlic is used like green onions in salad or cooking.

For more information, check out this article on garlic from Rutgers University.

One more thing to keep in mind: there are three types of garlic.

The first type is hardneck garlic, which yields fewer but larger cloves.

The second type is softneck garlic, which yields many but smaller cloves.

The third type is elephant garlic.  In fact, it is not really garlic, and is closer to a leek.

For more information, check out this article on garlic from the Ohio State University Extension.

Can You Plant Garlic From The Grocery Store?

Yes, you can plant garlic from the grocery store.  However, there are a couple of warnings to keep in mind when doing this.

First of all, garlic from the grocery store may take longer to sprout.  This is because it is treated to prevent sprouting to improve shelf life.  To avoid this, buy garlic from a farmer’s market.

A more serious problem is the threat of disease.  Garlic from the grocery store may carry disease, which can then be transferred into your garden to infect your other garlic plants.

Conclusion

By now, you know that you can plant your garlic that has sprouted and get new garlic cloves next year.  You also know what steps to take to prepare your garden for growing garlic.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions about planting sprouted garlic, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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