Growing Garlic from a Single Clove

Growing garlic is very easy to do. All you will need is a single clove to grown an entire head of garlic.  But you can’t just buy garlic from the store and think that it will grow into garlic heads.

Most of the garlic sold in the supermarket has been treated so that it will not sprout.   Organic Garlic Works best. You can get it in the organic section of your supermarket, from the farmer’s market or online from sources such as Amazon.(affiliate link)
How to grow garlic from a single clove

Growing Garlic is easy to do.

I got mine from the supermarket.  It looked like this:

GROWINGGARLIC1Organic garlic is more expensive than normal garlic but it normally has very large cloves (sometimes mistakenly called Elephant garlic for this reason).

For growing garlic, large cloves are what you want.  This photo shows how large they are.  I use organic garlic in all my recipes daily.  It’s full of flavor.

organic garlicDirections for growing the garlic in the ground:

  • Fall is the time to plant garlic. It loves the cold and will be ready to use next spring and summer.
  • Just place the end of the clove with the root down into the soil the same way that you plant any other bulb.  You do not need to remove the paper slip from the clove.  The dark area will turn into a root in time.
  • The larger the clove, the larger the head will become.
  • If you plant the garlic in pots, place your container in a warm part of your home with direct sunlight, or outside on a deck or porch, and wait for the garlic to root itself and begin to send up new shoots.
  • Once the garlic has become established in the soil, cut back the scapes (the shooting flowery tendrils) and the plant will begin to put all its resources into growing a big delicious garlic bulb.
  • In order for the garlic to form a bulb, most types require at least 40 days with the temperatures below 40º F.
  • After getting those cold days, the garlic will split into several new cloves and form bulbs.  Generally this will take about 6 months.
  • Harvesting the garlic is the fun part.  See more information on planting and harvesting garlic here.

Once you have completed this process, just take off another clove and start all over again.  You can also plant it directly into the soil in zones 3 and warmer.  It has a long growing season but planting in the fall will ensure that your bulbs will be larger and more flavorful next summer.

The clue for harvest time is when the tops start to go yellow and fall over.

If you want to grow the garlic in a pot, follow the steps above as well as these:  The pot will need to be at least 8 inches in diameter with a similar depth, to allow for good grown of the roots.  Plant the cloves about 4 inches apart to allow for the bulb to swell. They will grow best in rich compost.  Keep the compost mixture evenly moist but not wet.

Ready to head to the store for organic garlic?

And if you find that your head of garlic has already sprouted, you can use it as an indoor plant to grow garlic greens.

See more gardening tips.

 Note:  As a word of caution, there are some states where it is not legal to do grown garlic from store bought garlic. Idaho is one that a reader alerted me to, and in this state they are required to purchase garlic for planting at a local store like Zamzow’s or D and B Supply. The reason, is to protect the cash crops. Be sure to check with your local agricultural agencies to see if yours in one too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sharing is caring!

  45 comments for “Growing Garlic from a Single Clove

  1. 08/21/2014 at 10:00 am

    We ( hubby and I) were just talking about adding garlic to our garden next year. I invite you to share at my Thursday Favorite Things blog hop ( you can link up through Sat) Hugs!

  2. Sindy Collins
    09/15/2014 at 4:22 pm

    “Roses love Garlic” – so to say. Garlic repels many pests that are harmful to rose bushes so your bushes can thrive if garlic is planted around them, so, companion planting here is another idea.

    • admin
      09/15/2014 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Sindy. Thanks for the tip. Good to know! Carol

    • Veronica savage
      02/09/2018 at 8:44 am

      How do I know when the garlic is ready for harvesting

      • Carol
        02/09/2018 at 11:34 am

        Hi Veronica,

        The clue for harvest time is when the tops start to go yellow and fall over. Bulbs grown indoors generally don’t meet the cold requirements. In order for the garlic to form a bulb, most types require at least 40 days with the temperatures below 40º F. After getting those cold days, the garlic will split into several new cloves and form bulbs.  Generally this will take about 6 months. arol

  3. Rebecca
    09/15/2014 at 6:39 pm

    And if you grow several cloves, and when the stalks die off (usually around July in W.Va.) and braid the stalks
    and hang them on a hook in the kitchen, the garlic will last all Winter. I usually grow enough to have several braids
    of garlic hanging in the kitchen. Enough to last all Winter long. Course we plant more of them every October.

    • admin
      09/15/2014 at 10:24 pm

      Hi Rebecca. I love the look of braided garlic. Have never done it but must try soon. Carol

  4. Dorothy Szepesi
    09/16/2014 at 4:18 pm

    I’m puzzled by this part: ” Once the garlic has become established in the soil, cut back the shoots and the plant will begin to put all its resources into growing a big delicious garlic bulb.” You are trimming back the leaves? How often and by how much? I’ve heard of cutting off the flower stalk before it flowers, but not the leaves. . . . .

    • admin
      09/16/2014 at 10:00 pm

      HI Dorothy. Sorry for the confusion. I was talking about the scapes. (The sprouting flowery tops that curl as they mature and ultimately straighten out into long spiky tendrils. These stalksshould be removed to encourage larger, more efficient bulb growth. Carol

      • Shannon Medlin
        11/28/2015 at 9:25 am

        I love garlic and so much of it because I use it almost daily. I am going to try this. I wish you could send a picture of what to chop off as it grows because as I continued to read I got confused about the winter braids. I thought I was cutting it off so how could I braid it? lol As you see I do not know anything about a garden but this is going to be my year!! I do a tomato plant in the spring and seem to kill it before they turn red…lol

      • Linda
        09/30/2017 at 11:54 am

        They are garlic scapes, not scrapes.

        • Carol
          09/30/2017 at 12:06 pm

          Thanks for alerting me to my type Linda! Carol

      • Oregon Gardener
        02/12/2018 at 2:53 pm

        Don’t waste those scapes, they’re great for eating. Dice them into anything that can benefit from a mild garlic flavor. I’m having a microwaved egg with diced vegetables daily for breakfast, and these work great for that.

  5. Claudette
    11/08/2014 at 1:39 am

    Whats the latest you can plant garlic? Also, i have heard that its better to leave the garlic in the ground for the first year and harvest the second year. Have you heard of this?

    • admin
      11/08/2014 at 11:01 pm

      Hi Claudette It depends where you live. In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic 6 to 8 weeks before that frost. In southern areas, February or March is also a good time to plant. I have not heard that it’s good to leave them in the ground the first year, but if you plan to plant garlic again for the next season, save some of your largest, best-formed bulbs to plant again in the fall. Carol

  6. Kathy
    12/13/2014 at 10:09 am

    If I plant them in pots how large of a pot should I use? How many to a pot? any other info you may be able to provide. We live in Central Texas (Austin!) and have extremely rocky soil – like dig an inch down and you hit pure limestone extremely rocky soil.

    • admin
      12/13/2014 at 5:14 pm

      Hi Kathy The pot will need to be at least 8 inches in diameter with a similar depth, to allow for good grown of the roots. Plant them about 4 inches apart to allow for the bulb to swell.

      Carol

  7. Cheryl
    05/15/2015 at 7:06 pm

    As a word of caution, I would like to mention that there are some states where it is not legal to do this. Idaho is one, and in this state we are required to purchase garlic for planting at a local store like Zamzow’s or D and B Supply. The reason, I believe, is to protect the cash crops.

    • admin
      05/16/2015 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks Cheryl. I have updated the article with this info. Good to know! Carol

  8. Carol
    08/08/2015 at 9:24 am

    If I plant the cloves in a pot, should I leave the pot on the patio or in the garage for the winter? I live in Michigan and sometimes our winters are brutal.

    • admin
      08/08/2015 at 10:30 am

      Hi Carol. I think I would leave the pot in the garage. Garlic needs to be somewhat protected from the cold in a harsh winter, and plants in pots get colder than the ground. Carol

      • sue sergeant
        09/03/2016 at 9:39 pm

        I just picked up some garlic from a farmer’s market in Wisconsin (Waukesha, WI). my plan was to use those cloves to grow garlic. I live in Illinois but we have the same climate. the problem I have is that where I live, the previous garlic I planted got so overgrown with weeds (we live out in the country) that I couldn’t find it nor harvest it…….

        SO – I wanted to plant this garlic in planters. I did read where you said the planter should probably be kept in the garage, but what about watering? When and how would I do that? at what point would I NOT water them………..

        my other thought was to plant them in those 6″ pots and put those in the ground. I watched a video wherein they sprouted the bulbs before planting. your thoughts on that? not sure what climate the person was in…..

        • Carol
          09/06/2016 at 12:06 pm

          HI Sue. I have not actually grown garlic in containers. I have only grown it in the ground. My understanding, though, is that you cut back on watering a bit over the winter but do not let it dry out. Garlic likes cold weather, that is why we plant it in the fall. Planting the pots in the ground is sort of counter productive, to my way of thinking. The roots are kept in the pot instead of the ground, but this would help with your weed situation.

          Carol

  9. Yvonne Russ-Bell
    08/15/2015 at 1:40 pm

    I’m so glad I read this article. I’ve tried growing garlic before, but with store bought garlic bulbs–and wondered why was I not successful. Well I’m off to a nearby garden shop to be garlic bulbs. I’ll let you know how I make out.

    • admin
      08/15/2015 at 2:20 pm

      HI Yvonne. yes…please do let us know how it works for you. Carol

  10. Dianne F. Bryant
    10/03/2015 at 3:49 pm

    thank you for this great information. I think I will try to grow garlic since it is my favorite herb.

    • admin
      10/03/2015 at 9:55 pm

      Good luck. Let me know how it turns out!

  11. mendy
    10/15/2015 at 11:58 am

    Simple question I know, but do you plant the entire head of garlic, or seperate the cloves from the head and plant the cloves?

    • Carol
      10/15/2015 at 1:59 pm

      Hi Mendy. The cloves are separated and then planted.

  12. tania
    10/23/2015 at 1:52 am

    Is garlic deer resistant!

    • Carol
      10/23/2015 at 10:52 am

      Hi Tania. No guarantees but most of the time deer do not like anything that is a smelly and strong tasting plant so they would leave garlic alone.

  13. Diane
    10/25/2015 at 8:26 pm

    Sounds easy enough – we’ll see come spring.

  14. Carol
    10/25/2015 at 9:21 pm

    Good luck with it. Hope it grows!

    • Brenda
      11/02/2015 at 8:38 am

      I live in northern IL and planted garlic cloves in my raised garden bed about three weeks ago – yesterday, as I was cleaning out the dead tomatoes and foliage, I noticed green shoots coming up. Does this mean I should trim them and cover with leaves or do I pull them out and start over?

  15. Barbara
    11/02/2015 at 8:04 am

    Do you have pictures of the garlic as it is growing in the ground and shows which part to trim off? Also, how deep should I plant the clove in the ground?
    Thanks!
    Barbara

  16. Carol
    11/04/2015 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Barbara. I don’t have such a photo now.. you would plannt the cloves about 1 inch deep with the points facing up. Carol

  17. Bonnie Skaggs
    04/30/2016 at 12:18 pm

    We have a lot of garlic cloves in the freezer if we plant them will they grow into a big garlic bulb?

    • Carol
      04/30/2016 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Bonnie. It depends on the type of garlic that was frozen. Remember that most store bought garlic won’t grow, but organic will. Some people routinely freeze garlic cloves before planting on purpose. The cold does them good. Also, remember that garlic is planted in the fall, not in the spring. You won’t have much luck if you plant it now. Carol

      • Bonnie Skaggs
        05/27/2016 at 11:56 pm

        thank you so very much for your help

  18. Rogue Gardener
    02/03/2018 at 9:18 am

    I wonder who is in charge of finding and charging people who grow garlic grown from the bulbs bought at the grocery store… or cilantro, or potatoes, or parsley, or many of the other delights in my garden that have grocery store origins.

  19. Oregon Gardener
    02/12/2018 at 2:38 pm

    I’m growing garlic this year from old garlic, and most of it has come up. I failed to plant any in the fall of ’16, but I had enough hanging in my root cellar from my ’16 crop to make it all the way through to the fall of ’17. This gave me a great opportunity to discover which varieties are the best keepers! The winner by far is elephant garlic – most of it was still in great shape for both eating and planting. (I know, technically elephant garlic is not a true garlic but a member of the leek family – but it’s easy to grow and one of its large cloves has about the same amount of garlic flavor as a clove of true garlic.) Another treat that elephant garlic provides are the flower heads and stems, called scapes, which can (and should) be harvested prior to opening and used as garlic greens.
    I have always planted my elephant garlic in the fall, but according to Wikipedia it can also be planted in the spring – so you still have time! Also, elephant garlic loves to generate small brown corms (? not sure if this is correct term) that otherwise go to waste but can be planted to produce one reasonably-sized clove. Sort of like garlic seed! Watch for these when harvesting, they can fall off and get left behind.

  20. Oregon Gardener
    02/12/2018 at 2:48 pm

    Around here, a great source of garlic for planting is our Farmer’s Markets. You may be able to find several locally-grown varieties, and may also be able to chat with the actual grower about varietal differences and best growing methods for your region. You can either purchase whole bulbs early in the year, or I generally buy in the fall at planting time and settle for the smaller cloves the farmer / gardener has rejected when he/she selected their best and largest cloves for planting.

  21. Oregon Gardener
    02/12/2018 at 3:13 pm

    My garlic keeps well enough hanging in the root cellar (I just make pairs of reasonably sized bundles each tied with one end of a piece of twine and hang them from the ceiling) that it lasts until the next year’s harvest. My issue is I grow too much, and have old garlic left when the new crop comes in. I peal it and put it in full-strength vinegar (white or apple cider, whatever is available) and store it in the fridge. It lasts for many months, and you have the side benefit of garlic-infused vinegar. The spouse / cook also loves the convenience! Just use it as fresh garlic cloves, we never notice any residual vinegar taste.

    • Carol
      02/12/2018 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks for all the tips. Sounds as though you have been growing garlic for a while! Carol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *