Skip to main content

Can you propagate garlic at home?

Garlic is known for both its delicious taste and its medicinal benefits. If you are aware of these merits of garlic and want to grow it in your home garden, you may be wondering if that is possible. Well, the good news is that you can propagate garlic right at home. And once you learn how you might not ever buy your garlic from the supermarket again!

How do I get started?

Garlic is propagated in two ways. One way is by planting cloves that are separated individually from bulbs. Another way is using the small, unseparated bulbs of hard neck garlic. These bulbs are found in the scape, which emerges in mid-spring up the middle of the developing garlic bulb. It will produce a “flower” filled with tiny garlic cloves, known as bulbils. Removing the garlic scape redirects growth energy into producing a larger garlic bulb. Also, many people consider the garlic scape as a delicacy in cooking.

propogating garlic
Victoriia Palii / Shutterstock

Bulbils are the best way to propagate garlic because the number of bulbils is higher than cloves, meaning you’ll grow more garlic. Also, unlike cloves, bulbils don’t grow under the soil. So there’s less chance of losing your production because of soil-borne diseases. If you want to propagate garlic from cloves, make sure to use disease-free cloves.

How do I propagate garlic cloves?

To propagate garlic cloves you need to separate the cloves from the bulb and make sure to save the papery thin cover of each clove. The covers protect the cloves from pests.

Next, dig small holes approximately 1 inch deep and 2 inches wide. Maintain a distance of at least 5 to 6 inches between each hole; also, keep an average of 6 to 10 inches between each row.
If you’d prefer, you can also plant bulbils in seedling trays indoors or in a greenhouse. The results will be the same, so you just need to determine what method works best for you. A 6-inch pot should be able to hold about 10 bulbils.

Place a clove in each hole with the pointed side facing upward. The roots grow from the bottom of the cloves and the shoots grow from the pointed side. Cover the holes with well-drained soil and compost and a soil pH of 6 to 7.5.
Keep a handle on the weeds

Make sure you keep your planting area free of weeds so they don’t choke out your tender, new garlic. It will actually look like chives so don’t mistake it for grass. Some experts suggest planting bulbils in furrows so you can easily distinguish shoots from weeds and grass.

The small bulbils can take as much as three years to produce a good-sized bulb while large bulbils will produce small bulbs the first year. This is also the time to make sure you water regularly. The bulbils need to be kept moist; if allowed to dry out in the early stages of growth they will die.

propogating garlic
Ksenia Lada / Shutterstock

If you are planting cloves in the fall, there is always the risk of losing your crop to winter kill or voles or moles. Use 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the garlic clove beds to protect them from freezing, but do not mulch until just before snowfall. Mulch attracts pests like voles and moles that will make a comfy nest right over their winter snacks!
You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the garlic is mostly brown and starting to dry. Cure in a well-ventilated area with no direct sunlight.

Replenish soil before replanting

Once you’ve been successful harvesting bulbils your first year, you’ll probably want to turn around and replant them. But don’t just leave them in the ground to grow another year! You’ll want to plant them farther apart the second year and you don’t want to use the same soil two years in a row, which would increase your chance for diseases.

It’s a good idea to replenish the nutrients in your soil before the second planting. Composted mature or vegetable compost are both highly recommended.

The key here is patience! It can take a few years to achieve beautiful, large garlic bulbs, but the investment is worth it.

Editors' Recommendations

Creeping thyme is a colorful alternative ground cover to grass – what to know
Growing a creeping thyme lawn
Purple creeping thyme flowers

Grass lawns may be common and popular, but they aren’t always a great fit. Whether you’re having trouble keeping a grass lawn healthy or are just looking for a more interesting alternative, there are plenty of options you can choose from. One is planting a creeping thyme ground cover! Creeping thyme is a beautiful plant that can grow in gardens and containers, but you can also let it spread out to cover your lawn. Wondering if a creeping thyme ground cover is right for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Is a creeping thyme ground cover right for you?

Creeping thyme is easy to plant and requires little care, making it a good option for homeowners who are busy or travel often. Additionally, creeping thyme is a flowering plant. During summer and early fall, a creeping thyme ground cover will be full of pink or purple flowers, which are pretty to look at and attract pollinators. Creeping thyme loves full sun and hot weather, and it’s moderately drought tolerant, so it’s perfect for areas that are too sunny or hot for some other grass alternatives like moss.

Read more
7 fantastic types of pine trees you can grow in your yard
Add one of these pines to your yard
Small pine tree

Pine trees are a great way to keep a winter garden looking lively, but they’re beautiful in any season. Pine trees are great for providing windbreaks, offering winter food and shelter for birds, adding a pleasant smell to your yard or garden, and just looking nice! Not all types of pine trees are ideal for every yard or purpose, though. If you want to add a pine tree to your home but aren’t sure where to start, this guide to fantastic types of pine trees will help you make your choice.
Eastern white pine

Eastern white pines are one of the most common types of pine trees planted across the U.S., making them familiar and easily accessible. They’re often grown as Christmas trees or planted as windbreaks, but they’re just as lovely growing on their own in a yard or garden. You can even find dwarf varieties that can grow in containers.

Read more
Does vinegar kill weeds? How to use your favorite household cleaning product in your garden
Everything you need to know about using vinegar to tackle unwanted weeds
Glass bottle labeled vinegar on table

Whether you're a seasoned or novice gardener, there's a good chance that you've heard about using vinegar as a weed killer. Since many gardeners are interested in using natural alternatives to harsh commercial herbicides, vinegar has become a go-to for removing pesky weeds. But does vinegar kill weeds effectively? Is it really the miracle weed killer that DIY enthusiasts make it out to be? Vinegar can, in fact, help with weed management, but it has both pros and cons as a natural herbicide. Here's what you need to know about using vinegar in the garden.
What makes vinegar an effective weed killer?

Vinegar is essentially a solution of acetic acid with water — the vinegar that you buy at the grocery store is typically 5% acetic acid and 95% water. Acetic acid kills plants by damaging their cells. Upon contact with acetic acid, cell walls break down, which leaks plant fluid and dries out plants. You want to be careful about applying vinegar to your landscape, since it will likely kill any plant tissue upon contact, including foliage that you're actively growing.
How do you create a DIY vinegar weed killer?

Read more