There’s nothing like the smell of fresh garlic in home cooking, and growing your own garlic is a great way to be sure that you always have the freshest, most flavorful garlic on hand when you need it. If you’re short on space in the garden or live in an apartment, don’t fret! Garlic can be easily grown in pots on a sunny balcony, doorstep, or patio.
When to Plant Garlic in Pots
To grow garlic in pots, the best time to plant is in the fall. Depending on where you live, this could be anywhere between September and November. What you want to look for is a soil temperature of about 60 degrees F. This cool weather helps to jump-start growth that will result in larger garlic bulbs and a greater number of cloves in each bulb.
How to Choose Garlic for Planting in Pots
Choose cultivated garlic varieties for growing in pots such as ‘Russian Red’, ‘New York White’, ‘Music’, ‘Silver Rose’, ‘Early Italian’, and ‘Elephant’, all of which are suitable for growing in pots. If you live in the southern portion of the U.S. or in California, ‘Ajo Rojo’ is a good garlic variety to try, as it is well-suited to the warmer climate in your area. Do not try to plant garlic bulbs from the supermarket as is very likely that these garlic bulbs have been treated to prevent sprouting and there is a high degree of probability that they will die off in cold, wet weather.
How to Plant Garlic in Pots
To plant garlic bulbs in pots, choose deep pots with a circumference of at least 6 inches and fill them with a high-quality, well drained potting mix (add some sand if necessary). It is important to use deep pots as garlic originated in the mountainous regions of Asia and consequently has evolved to grow fine, deep roots that search down deep for water. Plant one garlic clove per pot in an upright position (the bottom of the garlic clove has a flat, slightly concave end), no deeper than 1 ½ inches below the surface of the potting mix. Water the pots well and place them outside in a sunny location.
Harvesting and Storing Garlic Grown in Pots
Depending on your location, the weather, and garlic varieties chosen for planting, garlic grown in pots will be ready for harvesting in mid to late summer. The best way to tell that the garlic is ready to be harvested is that the foliage has died off, or mostly died off. If it is very wet close to harvest time, consider harvesting your garlic a little early and drying them under cover in order to prevent the outer parchment layer from rotting.
To harvest garlic bulbs, gently ease them out of the potting mix using a trowel. Be careful not to bruise them as this greatly reduces the time that you can store them. Wash the garlic bulbs, especially the roots, and leave them outside for a week or so to dry if the weather is dry and not too hot out (garlic bulbs will sunburn in the hot sun). If the weather is wet, dry your garlic bulbs under cover. When the bulbs are dry, trim off the roots, remove the outer discolored parchment, and (if you’d like and you’ve grown the right variety) braid your garlic for storage. Store your garlic in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area and it will keep for up to eight months (depending on variety).
Planting Garlic in Containers