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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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Cecil Brackett

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

Hi, first I love galic. I grow vegetables, fruit, and flowers. Both in the ground and in containers made from plastic barrels. I've always wanted to grow my own garlic. No success in the past. My major problem would seem to be the 40 days of 40 degree temperature. I live in Tampa, FL. We have 2 growing seasons. Would there be a way of tricking the cloves into believing they were in 40 degree Temps and then planting them in pots? Or, am I just wishing? We might have a week or so of cooler weather not 40 days.

Carol Speake

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

I don't know how to trick it. Perhaps another reader has an idea.

mariann miles

Wednesday 16th of June 2021

hello carol, First i want to say u have a very humble n gentle spirit, u must be Christian u have a very gentle way with speaking, how refreshing, glory to Jesus, thank u. n thank u for your artical on how to grow garlic. i bought a head of store bought garlic last week n put the whole thing in a saucer of water n placed it on my sunny side kitchen bench, n in less than one week green tops started to appear. i live in the middle of sunny Australia in a place called Coober Pedy an opal mining town. i live in the hot desert with NO soil, ( it was an ancient SEA now dried up n hence NO SOIL) so we, my husband n i bought a indoor grow tent with lights etc n our store bought vegetables that we grow from kitchen scraps is doing marvelously. we have never grown garlic, so will be interesting to see. Thank u for your artical, n God Bless u n your husband. God gave mankind every herb n seed to eat Genesis 1:29 If ever i would love to fellowship with u via email. there are NOT too many Christians here where i live in the desert n NO CHURCH. im from a Baptist Back ground from the 80s all my love in Jesus Mariann n husband Gary 17th June 21

Carol Speake

Friday 18th of June 2021

Thanks for the kind words, Mariann. My husband and I lived in Perth, Australia for 15 years but have now relocated to the US.


Saturday 24th of April 2021



Friday 28th of May 2021

@CJJ, I would suggest you use them as garlic greens this year. Plant some in early March and stick the pot outside. Don’t bring it back in. (This is for zone 5b or the Carolinian Zone)

Carol Speake

Monday 26th of April 2021

The best place to get information about your particular hardiness zones and plants is your department of agriculture. My advice is about growing garlic in general, not in any specific local.


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

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