Best Garlic Plant Stages Guide to Growing Garlic

Sharing the Best Garlic Plant Stages Guide to Growing Garlic. Knowing when to plant and harvest one of the most sought-after vegetables!

Last year when I visited my mother’s brother in a town near Boston, I just knew I’d come home with valuable information on how to grow garlic in 4 easy steps from garlic cloves. My Uncle Peter is a master gardener with years of experience and success.

I will remember this day for a very long time. First, he’s delightful to listen to and second, he is a wealth of knowledge. We chatted about young bulbs, and garlic scapes and I happily returned home with the inspiration to grow my own garlic, plus a few bottles of homemade wine from his vineyard. 

In this post, I will be sharing with you the fall-to-spring garlic stages.

cloves of garlic laying in dirt ready to be planted
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Hi there, I’m Susan. If you are new to ‘the Roost’ Welcome!! I always strive to provide fun new ways to inspire you each day, spark your inspiration and creativity, and give you the motivation to create the home of your dreams. All on a budget and while having fun doing it!

The life cycle of garlic

Before we discuss the growth stages of garlic we should first determine the different varieties of this perennial plant. The first type of garlic is softneck garlic or Allium sativum. The second is hardneck garlic. otherwise, known as Allium ophioscorodon. Both varieties require full sun and a long growing season.  

The difference between these two refers to the neck of the stalk.

The hard-neck variety varies from the softneck varieties as the hard-neck stalk grows up from the center of the plant and will turn rigid when mature. (It is best to remove this stalk when it appears with garlic flowers on top)

Softneck varieties do well in milder or warm climates and are most often found in the grocery store due to their shelf life being longer. This type of garlic does not develop a flowery top and will have many more cloves in a bulb.

garlic next to long narrow hole in dirt to plant garlic cloves

Garlic growing stages

1. Germination

While it is not often that garlic is grown from garlic seeds. it can be accomplished. The preferred method is to grow directly from mature garlic bulbs for germination.

2. Spring garlic or green garlic appears

This is known as young or immature garlic that has sprouted in the early spring weeks. Spring garlic can be harvested prior to the bulb is formed. It is quite tender.

3. Scaping

Early spring shoots form later in the springtime. Long and curvy they extend from the base of the plant similar to scallions or chives.

4. Young Bulb

This immature garlic bulb or bulbils, is the undivided bulbs that come from the scape of the hardneck garlic. Similar to flowering flower stalks, since there is no cross-pollination that occurs, the bulbils are excellent for reproducing a new plant for the next year.

5. Mature bulbs

When the lower leaves turn yellow to a yellow-brownish it is harvest time for your garlic.

garlic cloves buried in dirt trough ready to be covered with dirt

How long does it take to grow garlic?

​When planted in the fall, about 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes, it will be approximately 8 to 9 months until harvest.

During the winter months in a cold climate, as long as the dirt has covered them well they will do fine until spring.

Spring-planted garlic will take about 5 to 6 months to go from individual cloves of garlic to an entire plant.

Can you eat garlic at any stage of growth?

Yes, just about every portion of the plant is edible and can be used for cooking or eating prior to the plant’s full maturity.

The best time however is if you wait until the whole plant fully matures and the bulb will have divided.

This reminds me of when my youngest son was about four years old.

He had come into the kitchen and was about four feet away from me. I said, ‘Have you been eating green onions or garlic from the garden again?’ He exclaimed, ‘How can you tell Mommy?’

Little did he know that his breath permeated throughout the kitchen giving him away. He was known to eat fresh onions or garlic just as most children will eat an apple! ha He preferred it that way!

He is also the child who would shed tears if I hadn’t provided him with a very large plate full of raw vegetables on a daily basis, exclaiming ‘Why didn’t you give me my vegetables today, Mommy?”

green sprout of garlic coming up thru dirt in spring

What does garlic look like as it’s growing?

Once the smaller cloves take to growth you can expect to see green sprouts emerge from the ground in late spring. Since most of the growth is below ground, as long as you have well-drained soil, your garlic will be ready to harvest in early summer.

hand pulling garlic out of the ground

Frequently asked questions: Garlic plant stages

What do I need to know about garlic growing?

Garlic growing is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Patience is key as garlic needs several months to grow.

What is the difficulty of planting garlic?

Most importantly having good soil, planting at the correct time and good drainage are the requirements. Growing garlic is very easy otherwise.

What happens if you leave the garlic in the ground too long?

The risk of an improper harvesting time is the garlic can split and become moldy. It is best to pick just as the green stalks turn yellow in color.

What can you do with garlic besides use it in cooking?

Besides using garlic for flavoring food, garlic can be used to make an infused oil. Read more on how to do that here.

empty glass bottles on table with garlic and herbs ready to make insfused olive oil

Easy Vegetarian Green beans with garlic

Green beans with Garlic and Lime

Not into cooking with garlic?

According to Expert Home Tips here are 20 ideas to use garlic that are not cooking.

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Best Garlic Plant Stages Guide Pinterest pin

Shop & Source

garlic stems harvested on the ground in a large ple

Home gardens are the best. With a little bit of proper care, you will have fresh garlic in a few short months. The wait is definitely worth it!

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  1. So much great information, Susan! I love the story about your son eating onions and garlic! Priceless!

    1. Thank you Missy. Seriously, he ate the strangest things haha

    1. Thank you Renae! True story of how my son would eat raw garlic and onions out of the garden haha

  2. Thank you for sharing this Susan, I love garlic and try to incorporate it into just about every dish I make. I am also a fan of onions like your son, I like them raw, but I have to say, I do not eat them without putting them with a little something else. Yum! You gardeners are really inspiring this two black thumb gal!

    1. Thank you Cara! It’s so easy to grow and very good for us as I’m sure you know. He still loves garlic to this day! ha

  3. Overall, this blog post is a valuable resource for both beginner and experienced gardeners looking to grow garlic. It covers all the essential aspects of garlic cultivation and provides practical advice for achieving optimal results. I’ll definitely be referring back to this blog as I embark on my own garlic-growing journey. Well done!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It’s amazing how much fun growing garlic can be.

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