Growing garlic in a pot is an easy way to enjoy this harvest, even if you have nowhere to garden.
Growing garlic in pots is a long-term project, but it’s very simple and mostly obvious. This technique is especially worth the effort if you waited too late to plant garlic in your garden and the ground was frozen, or if you don’t have any outdoor planting space at all. Fortunately, all types of garlic are grown in light containers.
Potted garlic grows indoors and outdoors, so it’s possible to grow this edible onion for you year-round, no matter where you live. With a few simple steps, you can successfully grow garlic in pots to grow your own quality garlic.
Types of garlic
Garlic, a member of the genus Allium, is a relative of onions, leeks and chives. Garlic tolerates exceptionally cold temperatures and can be grown outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 4-7. In addition to these areas, some extra precautions may be useful in cold and hot temperatures.
There are two types of garlic to choose from, soft-necked and hard-necked. They taste similar, but your growing conditions can determine which one works best for your area. Broad-necked garlic is usually smaller but has several cloves in one head and grows best in temperate climates.
Harthalsic garlic, on the other hand, is larger but produces fewer cloves in the head and is harder in colder climates. Harthalsic garlic also produces a characteristic flowering stem, called protection, which is located in the center of the head. Fine garlic is stored for more than a year, while hard garlic is stored for about six months.
When to plant garlic in pots
Regardless of whether you opt for a hardneck or soft-necked planting, garlic should be planted in the fall, when the temperature begins to drop. Like other bulbs, garlic cloves begin to drain the roots before the leaves appear. With autumn planting, cold weather encourages the garlic to produce roots without immediately sending leaves, which ensures the beginning of spring growth.
How to plant garlic in pots
After deciding on the best garlic for you, buy onions (often called garlic seeds) from reputable garden centers and other trusted plant manufacturers. Using garlic from grocery stores is not the best option, as it may have been treated with growth inhibitors to prevent germination. Then follow these five steps to grow garlic in pots.
1. Start by choosing the right container. Garlic needs a lot of moisture to grow well, but it has a shallow, marinated root system, so it doesn’t need a large amount of soil. Instead, farm boxes and short containers work well with garlic. I prefer plastic pots for garlic because they retain moisture better than clay containers, and they are much lighter, making them easy to move.
2. Then fill the container with a pot mixture about halfway and then mix a measured amount of organic fertilizer, for example, Espoma Garden-tone. Mix fertilizer evenly into the soil. Add more pot dough about an inch below the rim of the container. Mix a little fertilizer to get the extra potting soil mixture.
3. Starting from the garlic head, spread all cloves. Pay close attention to the size and strength of each of them. Larger hard cloves should be kept for planting, while very small or soft cloves should be left. If you prefer, remove the excess paper cover surrounding the cloves, but leave the main outer coating intact.
4. Push each clove with the pointed side up into the prepared soil, to a depth of about twice that of the cloves. Leave about three inches between the planted carnations.
5. After planting all the garlic cloves, fill the entire container well with water so that excess moisture drains away the soil. It is natural for the pot mixture to settle, and you can even take out a serving of cloves. If this happens, just add more to the lid.
Tips for growing garlic in pots
Like other bulbs like tulips, garlic needs a cooling time below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for about two months to grow properly. In particularly cold winter regions, it is necessary to protect newly planted garlic cloves in outdoor pots.
Cover the pot with thick straw or fallen leaves to prevent damage to the plants during root growth. In the spring, remove the protective layer. You can also store the pot until spring in an unheated place, for example, in a garage. Either way, pour the potted garlic enough to keep it moist in winter. Do not water when potting soil is frozen.
If potted garlic begins to grow after the cooling period, place the container in full sun (at least 8 hours a day) and provide plenty of water. In warmer and drier climates, this can mean daily watering. Fertilize your plants every two weeks with an all-purpose fertilizer or an organic fertilizer specifically designed for garlic, such as a blend of Keene Garlic.
Can you grow garlic indoors?
It is possible to grow garlic in pots indoors. However, without additional lighting, it is better to grow indoor garlic for edible leaves, rather than onions. Simply place the planted carnations in a south-facing window after the leaves rustle over the soil surface and keep the pot well watered.
Fertilizing indoor garlic is not necessary because the cloves contain enough stored nutrients to support the leaves. Cut the garlic leaves once they are a few inches long. Cloves can send a second leaf rinse for another harvest.