Updated November 5, 2021 by Mark Marino
Undeniably healthy and, as any Italian chef could tell you, reliably tasty, garlic is a culinary staple that boasts a wide range of health benefits. Not only is garlic renowned for its anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties, but it’s also loaded with nutrients and can even help reduce blood pressure and bad LDL cholesterol. If you’re interested in growing garlic indoors, you can use these tips to help you create the ideal indoor gardening environment where you can grow and harvest this tasty homegrown garlic superfood.
Materials Needed to Grow Garlic Indoors
Sunny window (or sunlamp)
Organic garlic bulbs, garlic cloves, or seed garlic
Container (pots that are 6-8 inches deep are ideal for shallow roots; you can also use plastic; deep pots should have holes in the bottom for good drainage)
Soil (standard potting soil mix)
Fertilizer (slow-release granular fertilizer or liquid fertilizer)
Best Types of Garlic to Grow Indoors
Wondering how to grow garlic indoors? When considering the best types of seed garlic or garlic bulbs to grow indoors, you’ll want to choose softneck rather than hardneck garlic. Hardneck garlic bulbs tend to prefer colder temperatures, which makes them ideal candidates for outdoor planting. Garlic grows well in both settings providing you follow best indoor growing practices. However, if you plant a garlic bulb in your garden, you’ll have to be mindful of the outdoor gardening season.
Sowing the Seeds or Cloves
You can plant the garlic cloves from store-bought garlic, but sowing garlic seeds tend to produce the best results. Try to stick with organic or locally produced garlic cloves. Why? Because commercially grown or grocery store garlic is treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting or prohibit growth. Keep in mind that the garlic bulbs you buy at the store have likely been stored for some time; older garlic cloves like supermarket garlic aren’t as viable as younger planted cloves to easily grow garlic indoors.
To sow your garlic seeds or plant the cloves, prepare each deep pot first. If the pot or container has large drainage holes, you should add some pebbles to the base before you fill the container with potting soil. Well, draining soil is important, so take care to choose containers that have drainage holes. If you’re planting cloves, you can insert them unpeeled into the soil; cover them with about 2-3 inches of soil. Take care to plant the individual garlic cloves with their pointy side up. If you’re growing garlic in a window box-style planter, space the organic garlic cloves about six inches apart. Again, plant the cloves with their pointy side up.
If you are growing garlic from seed rather than individual cloves, you can propagate a large indoor growing garlic crop. Because you can grow indoors garlic in bulk using seeds, it may be better suited to growing garlic outdoors in your backyard garden.
Growing Garlic Indoors
To grow garlic indoors for optimum health, follow these care tips:
Garlic plants require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight to grow well. Place your plants in a south or west-facing window. If you don’t have a sunny window to plant your garlic bulbs or seed, you can rely on a sunlamp’s artificial light to provide for your garlic’s lighting needs.
Room temperature is generally fine for growing garlic indoors. However, you may want to store your garlic cloves in the refrigerator a week before planting, especially if you are using a hardneck garlic variety. Cooler temperatures are often ideal for giving garlic plants a good start; once they become seedlings, warmer temperatures may not affect the plants adversely.
When growing garlic indoors, you should water your garlic plants routinely so that the potting mix remains moist–but not waterlogged. Too much water can cause your indoor garlic bulb to rot. Check the soil surface to be sure it’s moist.
Whether you grow garlic indoors or outdoors, you should fertilize it for best results. Once your garlic seedlings reach about 6 inches in height, you can deliver a dose of liquid fertilizer or granulated fertilizer to the potting mix; then, plan to fertilize the plants about twice per month.
Pruning and Maintenance of Garlic Plants
Garlic greens will grow upwards of about 10 inches. Leaf shoots from garlic planted indoors begin in about a few weeks. You’ll need to snip garlic greens after they sprout. Planted garlic has edible leaves so you can add your snippings to your cooking. A good rule of thumb is to snip away about a third of the sprout each time you cut. Don’t cut too much as the garlic plant relies on its greens for photosynthesis to occur. Be sure that at least an inch of green sprout is left when you prune your garlic plants.
You can also transplant your garlic seedlings outdoors once they reach about 6 inches tall if you prefer. However, you should plan to transplant your garlic in the spring to your outdoor garden for best results. Outdoor garlic should also be planted in loose soil. Garlic planted outdoors requires soil loose–not compacted. You can use the same potting mix if you choose when transplanting your remaining plants to your garden.
When and How to Harvest Garlic
Garlic bulbs take time to develop–as long as six to 10 months. Typically, harvesting garlic won’t occur before that 6-month mark. You’ll see green shoots appear more quickly, but the bulbs require more time to grow. That’s why it’s important to carefully maintain your garlic plants throughout their long growing cycle until they’re ready to harvest. Once your garlic leaves stop growing, you’ll notice they will begin to turn brown. At this point, you should stop watering the plants. Allow the garlic shoots to dry out thoroughly. Once they are dry, you can dig up your garlic bulbs and harvest your garlic cloves.
Storing Garlic Bulbs
If you choose not to use your harvested fresh garlic right away, you can store the bulbs in a cool and dark place for several months. You can store your garlic at room temperature, but you shouldn’t refrigerate your bulbs; the cold fridge air will cause your garlic to sprout and leave your cloves tasting bitter. Moisture will cause mold to grow on your garlic, so keep the bulbs moist. Also, store your garlic with its peels intact. If you peel your garlic and chop too much, you can stow it in the fridge in an airtight container, but be sure to use it quickly before it sprouts or becomes bitter.
Can I Freeze Garlic?
If you have an especially terrific harvest, consider roasting your peeled garlic cloves. Then, you can freeze them for up to three months. Use the cloves as you need them.
Can You Grow Garlic from a Clove?
Yes, you can grow garlic from a clove. As discussed, you can plant a single garlic clove in a container to grow a garlic plant with harvestable bulbs. If you have many cloves, you can plant a crop of garlic.
Can You Grow Garlic Inside?
Yes, you can grow garlic indoors. When considering how to grow garlic indoors, remember that some types are more conducive to indoor settings than others. Softneck garlic is ideal for indoor planting, but you can also plant hardneck varieties. Softneck garlic tends to grow better at room temperature. Hardneck garlic prefers cooler temperatures.