Successful Spring Garlic Planting: A Comprehensive Guide to Growing & Storing Flavorful Bulbs

Successful Spring Garlic Planting: A Comprehensive Guide to Growing & Storing Flavorful Bulbs

Ever wondered if you can plant garlic in the spring? It’s a question many gardening enthusiasts grapple with. After all, garlic isn’t just a culinary powerhouse, it’s also a joy to grow, offering not only flavorful bulbs but also beautiful, delicate flowers.

Key Takeaways

  • You can plant garlic in both the fall and the spring – each season offers unique advantages and challenges.
  • While fall planting is traditional and produces larger bulbs because of natural vernalization, spring planting is also feasible but requires cloves to undergo artificial vernalization through refrigeration.
  • Spring-planted garlic results in smaller bulbs due to a reduced growing season but can still provide robust flavor.
  • The success of spring garlic planting relies heavily on factors such as proper soil prep, location, cold treating the cloves, and understanding that the resulting bulb size may be smaller.
  • One of the primary drawbacks of spring planting is the reduced bulb size, accompanied by the increased need for attentive care. However, advantages include flexibility of planting schedule and decreased risk of pest infestation.
  • Care for spring-planted garlic involves a routine of systematic watering, effective weeding, smart fertilizing, vigilant pest control, and timely harvesting.
  • Once harvested, spring garlic needs to be appropriately cured and stored in optimal conditions to maintain its flavor, typically lasting several months. Regular inspection of stored garlic and removal of any decaying or sprouting bulbs is critical for preservation.

Spring is an ideal time for planting garlic, and careful planning can lead to a successful harvest. YouTube features a tutorial that walks through the entire process of growing and harvesting garlic, providing visual and practical tips. Ohio University’s Student Farm discusses techniques to extend the growing season, including the use of tunnels to protect plants and extend growing periods.

Understanding Garlic Planting Seasons

Garlic, known principally as a culinary staple, doesn’t align with the standard planting seasons of many garden vegetables. Traditionally, garlic gets its roots in the ground during fall months, cultivating its potent bulbs beneath the frost of winter. This technique, popular amongst seasoned gardeners, enables the plant to undergo vernalization, providing a cold treatment phase for several weeks. Conditions like these coax the single clove into splitting into multiple smaller cloves, creating the bulb we are familiar with.

However, it doesn’t imply that garlic is a fall-exclusive crop. Yes, you can plant garlic in the spring, but it requires that the cloves undergo artificial vernalization—essentially refrigerating them for a period typically between 30 to 40 days. After this chilling period, the cloves are then ready for spring planting—a practice common in warmer climates where winters are mild, unable to provide the necessary cold exposure.

Spring-planted garlic produces bulbs by mid-to-late summer, with August being the prime time for harvesting. It’s crucial to understand that the size of these bulbs tends to be smaller than fall-planted ones. The reason lies in the growth period—spring-planted cloves have less time to establish a robust root system before forming bulbs.

In essence, garlic planting seasons come down to your patience, preparedness, and location. With the right steps, you can cultivate delicious garlic bulbs year-round. Only remember, if you’re planning a spring plant, prep your cloves by providing a cold treatment phase, bear in mind the reduced bulb size, and await the flavorsome outcome by late summer.

Can You Plant Garlic In The Spring?

Can You Plant Garlic In The Spring?

Yes, you certainly can plant garlic in the spring. Spring planting gives you the advantage of skipping the winter over, which fall planting demands. However, bear in mind, the smaller bulbs typical of spring-planted garlic result from the shorter growing season.

Practice preparing the garlic cloves by conditioning or cold treatment for optimal growth. The cold treatment emulates the natural vernalization that fall-planted garlic undergoes during winter. For this process, refrigerate the cloves for a couple of weeks — specifically, between two to four weeks — before planting.

Prioritize locating the right planting site. Garlic prefers full sunlight and well-drained soil rich in organic matter. So, prepare your garden bed with plenty of compost and perform a soil test to ensure balanced nutrient levels.

Engage in deep planting. Set the cloves about 2 inches (5 cm) deep and 4 inches (10 cm) apart to give them ample room for growth. With the pointed end facing up, broadcasting measures that ensure each clove receives adequate nutrients and water.

Anticipate harvesting by late summer. Although your garlic bulbs may be smaller, they’ll pack the same robust flavor of their fall-planted counterparts. And, they’ll be ripe for harvest once the lower leaves start to yellow and wilt.

Notice how, while spring planting doesn’t yield as large bulbs as fall planting, it’s a viable option if you’ve missed the traditional planting window or if you just want to try something different.

Pros and Cons of Planting Garlic in Spring

Pros and Cons of Planting Garlic in Spring

You’ve learned the mechanics of spring garlic planting. Let’s delve deeper into the merits and drawbacks of this planting alternative.


  1. Flexibility: As the traditional model suggests fall planting, planting garlic in the spring offers you an agrarian flexibility that can bolster your harvest, especially if you’ve missed the prior autumn planting window.
  2. Predator Avoidance: Pests and diseases commonly target garlic over winter. Hence, spring planting reduces the risk of loss, ensuring a healthier batch.
  3. Experiential Learning: Spring planting serves as a propitious opportunity to learn, providing insights that can be invaluable for next year’s planting strategy.


However, certain downsides might deter you from spring garlic planting.

  1. Smaller Size: This is the most common gripe among spring garlic planters. With a condensed growth cycle, garlic planted this way tends to be smaller in size compared to bulbs planted in autumn.
  2. Limited Consumable Variety: Hardneck garlic, which produces a flavorful scape (or stalk), fails to do so when planted in spring. It’s a trade-off, sacrificing scape production for a later planting time.
  3. Increased Care: Garlic planted in spring demands more attentive care. Proper soil preparation, regular watering, and timely harvesting become crucial for a successful yield.

Regardless of its challenges, spring garlic planting can be a rewarding endeavor for both seasoned and novice gardeners. Recognizing these pros and cons assists your decision, allowing you to make a choice that best suits your gardening approach. The key lies in understanding how each choice impacts your garlic growing experience and, in turn, your harvest.

How to Successfully Plant Garlic in Spring

Turning your attention towards planting garlic in spring, it’s all about proper planning and care. Keep in mind, garlic planted in spring may produce smaller bulbs, but rest assured, they’ll be packed with flavor and ready for harvest by late summer.

Firstly, equip yourself with the right tools. A shovel, gloves, and compost are primary requirements. Then, select a full sun location in your garden. Garlic prefers well-drained soil, so prepare accordingly.

The next step involves picking the right garlic variety. Softneck garlic varieties yield higher in spring planting scenarios, so opt for this variety. With garlic choices solidified, plant the cloves pointy side up, 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart, around early to mid-spring.

Investing in regular watering and ensuring your plants get at least six hours of sunlight a day leads to healthy growth. It’s a fine line between overwatering and underwatering, so keep an eye for yellowing or wilting leaves. If found, adjust water and sunlight accordingly.

Weeding is another crucial element of successful spring garlic planting. Eliminate weeds as they emerge, as these unwanted plants contest your garlic for nutrients.

Lastly, consider mulching. Mulch helps regulate soil temperature, maintains moisture, and suppresses weed growth. Apply a couple of inches of organic mulch around your garlic plants, keeping clear of the plant stems.

By adhering to this planting and care routine, expect a flavorful harvest by late summer. Keep in mind, remaining cognizant of soil conditions, sunlight, watering regime, and mulch application makes a notable difference in the success of your spring garlic planting journey.

Caring for Spring-Planted Garlic

Your spring-planted garlic needs periodic care for a thriving growth. Systematic care routine is your best companion in transforming tiny garlic cloves into bountiful harvests. Caring for spring-planted garlic includes regular watering, efficient weeding, smart fertilizing, vigilant pest control, and timely harvesting.

Regular watering shapes the primary step in garlic care. Moisture loss from soil indicates that watering is in order. Water your garlic beds deeply, ensuring the moisture seeps down to the root level. Unlike fall-planted garlic, spring-planted garlic hasn’t had time to develop sophisticated root systems and so, demands careful watering.

Effective weeding is crucial for your garlic’s growth. Weeds not only compete with your garlic bulbs for essential resources but also invite pests. Regularly check your garden beds and remove sprouting weeds, allowing your garlic to thrive without hindrances.

Smart fertilizing plays its role in garlic’s success. Upon noticing your garlic tops growing vigorously, it’s time for fertilization. Apply an organic, nitrogen-rich fertilizer, facilitating bulb’s growth. Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers near harvest time, preventing them from compromising bulb’s maturity.

Vigilant pest control aids in maintaining your garlic’s health. Garlic cannot contend with pests and insects, such as onion thrips, garlic rust, or basal rot. Monitor your garlic plants regularly, looking for any signs of pest infestation or disease. Take action at first signs of trouble, preserving your plants’ health.

Timely harvesting contributes to the quality and taste of the garlic bulbs. Harvest your garlic when the lower leaves have browned, leaving six to seven green leaves on the stem. Flexible harvesting allows the drying and curing process to begin, resulting in flavorful, robust garlic bulbs.

In taking these steps, you provide your spring-planted garlic with the optimal opportunity to grow and flourish. Commitment to the care process bestows a rewarding harvest, full of tasteful, aromatic, home-grown garlic. Care and cure transforms your spring into a season of success, producing a yield that puts a smile on any garlic lover’s face.

Harvesting and Storing Spring Garlic

Harvesting and Storing Spring Garlic

Once your spring-planted garlic matures, the act of harvesting becomes your primary focus. Unlike fall-planted garlic, spring garlic gets harvested earlier in the year, typically in late summer. Evidence of maturity includes yellowing leaves and a lean in the stem, indicating readiness. Avoid over-delay for harvest, it may cause the cloves to burst through the bulb’s skin, making them prone to disease and affecting their overall storage potential.

Hand pulling is often the best method for harvesting your garlic. Dig around the base of the suspension to loosen the soil, then gently pull the garlic out. Be careful, unnecessary force can cause damage to the bulb, affecting its preservation capability.

After harvest, curing comes next. This process entails air-drying your garlic in a well-ventilated, shady spot for 2-3 weeks, allowing the skins to tighten around the cloves and prolong the storage life. Enormous temperature swings or exposure to full sun during curing can damage the stored garlic, reducing its lifespan. With appropriate curing, spring-planted garlic stores superbly, maintaining its flavor for several months.

Maintaining optimal storage conditions enhances the longevity of your garlic. Store in a cool, dry place with temperatures ranging around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 degrees Celsius). High humidity or temperatures can prompt sprouting or rotting, cutting short your garlic’s storage life. In proper conditions, your spring-planted garlic potentially lasts until your next summer harvest.

Inspect your stored garlic regularly. Discard bulbs show signs of decay or sprouting to prevent the spread of disease to healthy bulbs. For seed garlic, save the largest and healthiest cloves from your harvest. These ensure better yields in the subsequent season.

Remember, while garlic planted in spring often produces smaller bulbs, your commitment to proper harvesting and storage methods counteracts this, offering a bountiful and tasty harvest, you’ll relish for months to come. Your dedication encourages prosperous results in your spring garlic planting ventures.


So, you’ve seen that planting garlic in the spring isn’t a far-fetched idea. Yes, the bulbs might be smaller than those planted in fall, but they’ll still pack a punch of flavor. The key lies in the care you provide. From watering to weeding, fertilizing and pest control, each step is crucial to your garlic’s success. Harvesting at the right time and curing properly will ensure that your garlic stays fresh for longer. And don’t forget to store them in a cool, dry place. Keep an eye on your stored garlic, tossing out any that start to rot. Remember, the healthiest cloves make for the best planting stock for your next season. So, go ahead and give spring garlic planting a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Can you plant garlic in the spring?

Yes, you can certainly plant garlic in the spring. While it may yield smaller bulbs compared to the traditional fall planting, spring-planted garlic can still provide a flavorful harvest by late summer.

What are some steps to care for spring-planted garlic?

Steps to care for spring-planted garlic include regular watering, weeding around the area, applying appropriate fertilizers, proactive pest control, and practicing timely harvesting.

When and how should I harvest spring garlic?

Harvest your garlic when the tops begin to yellow and fall over. It’s recommended to use hand pulling method, ensuring you don’t damage the bulbs or surrounding plants.

How should harvested garlic be stored?

After the harvested garlic has been properly aired and dried, it should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent sprouting or rotting. Inspect stored garlic bulbs regularly, removing any that show signs of decay.

Why is it necessary to inspect stored garlic regularly?

Regular inspection of stored garlic helps to discard any decaying bulbs and preserves the healthiest cloves for the next planting season. This ensures a bountiful and tasty harvest.