How To Grow Garlic In Pots: A Guide To Unlocking The Secrets Of Successful Growth

Imagine stepping onto your porch or into your backyard, and the air is filled with the enticing aroma of freshly grown garlic. 

Growing garlic in pots brings the satisfaction of harvesting your own flavorful bulbs, even if you have limited space. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, cultivating garlic in containers is within your grasp. 

In this guide, learn the secrets of successfully growing garlic in pots, from selecting the suitable container to nurturing your plants through each stage of growth.

1. Know When To Plant Garlic In Pots

Garlic is typically planted in the fall, about 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes, to allow it to establish roots before winter. 

However, the timing can be slightly different when planting garlic in pots. 

Here are the general guidelines for when to plant garlic in pots:

  • Early Fall: Planting garlic in pots should ideally be done in early fall, around September or October, depending on your climate. 
    • This allows the garlic bulbs to experience a period of cold dormancy required for proper bulb formation.
  • Soil Temperature: The soil temperature should be around 50°F to 60°F for optimal garlic growth. 
    • Ensure that the soil in the pots has cooled down sufficiently before planting.
  • Winter Care: Place the pots where they will experience cooler winter temperatures, such as in an unheated garage or a sheltered outdoor area. 
    • Ensure the pots receive some sunlight during the day. 
    • Water sparingly during winter, as the bulbs require less moisture during dormancy.
  • Spring Care: As the weather warms up in spring, resume regular watering and provide adequate sunlight for the garlic plants. 
    • Fertilize with organic compost or balanced fertilizer according to package instructions.

2. Choose The Best Garlic For Growing In Pots

When choosing the right garlic variety for container gardening, there are a few factors to consider. 

Variety

Opt for a softneck garlic variety, as they tend to perform better in containers compared to hardneck types.

Softneck garlic varieties are known for their adaptability, compact size, and ability to produce multiple layers of cloves.

Perennial Vs. Annual Garlic

When it comes to choosing between perennial garlic and annual garlic, it depends on your gardening preferences and goals.

Perennial garlic is a type of garlic that can persist and produce for multiple years without the need for replanting. These varieties often have small bulbils or bulblets at the top of their stalks, which can be harvested and replanted to propagate new plants. 

Perennial garlic can be a good option for gardeners who want a continuous supply of garlic without the hassle of replanting each year.

Annual garlic is typically grown from cloves and must be replanted yearly. It produces larger bulbs compared to perennial garlic varieties. 

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Annual garlic is favored by gardeners who prefer to experiment with different varieties each year or who have limited space and prefer to rotate crops.

Note: See further below for sourcing the best garlic for growing in pots.

Region Specific Garlic

It’s always a good idea to consult with local gardening experts or nurseries to determine the best garlic varieties in your specific climate and growing conditions. 

Bulb Size

Consider the size of the garlic bulbs. 

Look for smaller to medium-sized bulbs, which are more suitable for growing in pots with limited space. 

Large bulbs can take up excessive room in the container and may restrict the growth of neighboring plants.

Healthy Bulbs

Select garlic bulbs that are free from any signs of disease or damage. 

Choose firm bulbs with intact skins, as they are more likely to produce healthy and vigorous plants.

Sourcing Garlic

When sourcing garlic for container planting, it is best to obtain it from reputable seed suppliers, nurseries, or garden centers. 

Look for sources that specialize in organic or heirloom varieties to ensure the highest quality garlic bulbs.

Here are some options to consider:

  1. Local Nurseries & Garden Centers: Visit your local nurseries or garden centers that carry a variety of plants and seeds. 
    • They may have garlic bulbs suited explicitly for container gardening.
  2. Online Seed Suppliers: Many reputable online seed suppliers offer various garlic varieties suitable for container planting. 
    • Read reviews and choose suppliers with positive feedback and good customer service.
  3. Farmers Markets & Local Growers: Check out farmers’ markets or connect with local garlic growers. 
    • They often offer a diverse range of garlic cultivars and can provide valuable advice on which varieties are best suited for container gardening.
  4. Cooperative Extension Offices: Contact your local Cooperative Extension office, which is a valuable resource for gardening information. 
    • They can recommend reliable sources for garlic bulbs and provide guidance specific to your region.

3. Choose Garlic Growing Containers

When choosing pots for growing garlic in a container, consider the following factors:

Size

Select a pot with enough space for the garlic bulbs to grow and develop. 

The pot should be at least 8 to 10 inches deep to accommodate the long roots of garlic. 

The pot’s diameter will depend on the number of garlic bulbs you intend to plant. Allow approximately 6 inches of space between bulbs.

Drainage

Ensure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to escape. 

Good drainage is essential to prevent waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot and other problems.

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If the pot does not have drainage holes, drill or punch a few holes in the bottom before planting.

Material

Choose a pot made of durable and lightweight material, such as plastic, ceramic, or terracotta. 

Plastic pots are light in weight and are great at retaining moisture. Terracotta pots, meanwhile, are porous, allowing for better airflow.

Ceramic pots offer aesthetic appeal but may be heavier.

Insulation

Consider the insulation properties of the pot’s material, especially if you plan to grow garlic in colder climates. 

Terracotta pots provide better insulation and help regulate soil temperature, protecting the garlic bulbs from extreme temperature fluctuations.

Space

Assess the available space for the pot in your garden or balcony. 

If you have limited space, opt for smaller containers or consider vertical gardening techniques, such as hanging pots or tiered planters.

Ensure the pot has enough adequate space to place in between garlic bulbs in the container. This allows each bulb to develop fully and promotes good air circulation, reducing disease risk.

Aesthetics

Consider the overall appearance and style of the pot, especially if you are growing garlic in a visible area. 

Choose a pot that complements your garden or outdoor space.

4. Prepare The Soil For The Pot

A well-draining and nutrient-rich soil mix is the best-growing medium for garlic grown in pots. 

Here are some key considerations.

Soil Composition

Use a loose, well-draining soil mix that allows for good airflow and prevents waterlogging. 

When growing garlic in containers, it’s essential to choose a lightweight and well-draining potting mix specifically formulated for container gardening. 

These mixes usually contain a blend of peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and other organic matter.

Organic Matter

Add organic matter into the soil mix, such as well-rotted compost or aged manure. 

This improves soil fertility, enhances moisture retention, and adds essential nutrients for healthy garlic growth.

pH level

Garlic prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. 

Test the pH of your soil mix and adjust it if necessary using organic amendments like lime or sulfur.

5. Plant The Garlic

By following these directions, you can successfully grow garlic in containers and enjoy a fresh supply of flavorful garlic bulbs:

  1. Fill the container with the potting mix. 
  2. Break apart the bulbs by gently separating the garlic bulbs into individual cloves just before planting. Leave the papery skin intact on each clove.
  3. Make small holes in the soil part, following the variety’s specifications. Plant each clove with the pointed end facing upwards and the basal plate (flat end) downwards.
  4. After planting, water the container thoroughly to settle the soil and provide moisture to the garlic cloves. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  5. Find a sunny location for the container to receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  6. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, on top of the soil in the container. This helps conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and insulate the garlic bulbs.
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6. Care For The Potted Garlic

The following are general guidelines for caring for potted garlic.

Watering

Water the garlic regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist but not overly saturated. Avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely. 

Fertilize

Garlic is a heavy feeder, so provide regular doses of balanced organic fertilizer throughout the growing season (every 4 to 6 weeks). 

Slow-release granular or liquid organic fertilizers can be used according to package instructions.

Monitor

Watch out for pests and diseases, and take appropriate measures if needed. 

Garlic is generally resistant to many pests, but aphids and fungal diseases can sometimes occur. 

Remove any yellowing or damaged leaves to maintain plant health.

7. Harvest The Garlic

Garlic typically takes 6 to 9 months to mature. The leaves will turn yellow and dry out when the bulbs are ready for harvest. 

Carefully loosen the soil around the bulbs and gently lift them from the container. 

Allow the harvested garlic bulbs to dry in a well-ventilated, shaded area for a few weeks before storing.

Conclusion

Growing garlic in pots unlocks the potential for a rewarding gardening experience, even with limited space. 

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully cultivate flavorful garlic bulbs in containers.

Each step plays a crucial role in ensuring successful growth, from choosing the right garlic variety and sourcing healthy bulbs to selecting suitable pots and preparing the optimal growing medium. 

You can enjoy the enticing aroma and taste of freshly grown garlic right at your doorstep with proper care.

Lucy Young

Meet Lucy, a seasoned gardener with a green thumb and a wealth of experience cultivated over 10 years in her own backyard oasis. Now, she channels her passion into writing, sharing invaluable gardening knowledge on her website. From nurturing plants to expert pruning techniques, Lucy's articles are a treasure trove for both seasoned enthusiasts and budding gardeners. Join her on this leafy journey as she sprinkles insights, tips, and tricks to help you create your own flourishing paradise. Get ready to dig into her gardening wisdom and unlock the secrets of a thriving garden!

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