Garlic Liliaceae

Garlic Liliaceae, Allium

Place of origin: Central Asia

Optimal temperatures for germination 75-80℉ (25-27℃)

Optimal temperatures for plant growth 65-70℉(18-20℃)


Characteristics Scientific name: Allium sativum

Garlic is resistant to cold, but it is vulnerable to heat. Suitable areas for growing garlic are the southern temperate zones or the northern subtropical zones. When temperatures exceed 75OF(25℃), stems and leaves don’t grow well.

For the bulbs or heads to form, seedlings need to be exposed to low temperatures (40-50℉, or 5-10℃) for a certain period of time. When exposed to temperatures between 32-40℉(0-5℃), bulbs quickly form, but are small in size. When temperatures are above 60℉(15℃), the bulb doesn’t enlarge. According to the variety, the need for and the degree of how low temperatures should be differs. Varieties suitable for warm places don’t need low temperatures very much, while the varieties suitable for cold places need low temperatures a lot. For example, the varieties grown in the northern US don’t grow well in the south. Likewise, varieties grown in warm places, don’t do well if grown in cold places. Therefore, it is important to select varieties that are suitable for the area where they are to be grown. Even if the seeds are saved in hopes that the plants will adapt to their new climate, the plants will neither bolt nor flower; therefore, eventually no seeds can be saved.

Garlic is adapted to a wide range of soils, but fertile, water-retentive soil is best suited for growing garlic. Even so, garlic can be grown in soils that do not retain water by making high ridges.

There are several varieties of garlic, but they are classified as either as hardneck or softneck.  It is useful to note that the soft neck varieties have the longest shelf life.

Softneck varieties are Silverskin and Artichoke.

Hardneck varieties are Porcelain, Purple Stripes, Rocamboles, and Asiatic.  Please note that the Asiatic does not grow well in clay soils nor in harsh winter climates.


The planting period for garlic varies but one marker for when to plant is around the autumnal equinox or later like around October 15th.  The trick is to give the plant enough time to develop a root system so that it can survive the winter.  Plant each clove with the tip up. Larger to midsized cloves produce larger bulbs than small cloves.  Planting depth is between 2-2½” (5-7 centimeters), and the cloves can be planted by plant sticking them into the soil. If cloves are planted too deeply, it takes time for buds to come out and the plants don’t grow well, but if planted too shallowly, the plants are easily damaged by the cold. It is also a good idea to cover the planting area with up to 4” (10 centimeters) of compost as this will protect the plants during the winter.  Garlic is one of the first plants to grow in the spring, so if no sprouts are emerging, lightly brush away some of the compost so that the plants can emerge.


The space between planted cloves should around 4-6” (10-15 centimeters), and the space between rows should be about 12” (30 centimeters).


Removing a Tiller Bud

Remove a tiller bud when two buds emerge and grow around 4-6” (10-15 centimeters) tall by removing the weaker of the two. If both buds are allowed to continue growing, eventually the plants will become hemispherical and neither side will mature.

Pick Bolting Stems


With varieties that easily bolt, pick the bolting stem quickly because if the stems are allowed to bold, the cloves will not enlarge. Pick bolting stems from the bottom, or if nothing else, remove the seed heads. Also, note that the bolting stems taste good and can be fried or eaten.


Harvest when 30-50% of the leaves turn yellow. If allowed to stay in the ground too long, the quality of the garlic deteriorates, and some of the problems could be broken skin, bad skin, and so on. Therefore, it is important to harvest at the correct time.

After harvesting, remove 1/3 of the leaves and stems. Cure the garlic in a location that has good air flow and is out of direct sunlight for three to four weeks. If the garlic is going to be stored for a long time, store them at 32O F (0℃) with less than 70% humidity.

[Photo caption] The bolting stem was not removed on the left plant but was removed on the right plant. Unless the plant is being grown for the express purpose of saving its seeds, removing the bolting stem has a remarkable effect on plant growth.

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