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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.

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Friday 30th of October 2020


Carol Speake

Saturday 31st of October 2020

I don't use commercial fertilizer. I use compost to add nutrients. It gets larger over the time it grows.

Oregon Gardener

Monday 12th of February 2018

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.


Monday 12th of February 2018

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

Oregon Gardener

Monday 12th of February 2018

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.

Oregon Gardener

Monday 12th of February 2018

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.

Rogue Gardener

Saturday 3rd of February 2018

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.

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."