Garlic is one of the most versatile herbs and one nearly every pantry has. It is not only a necessity in enriching flavors of many dishes, but also provides multiple health benefits making it extremely popular around the world. This combo of nutrition and flavor makes it a great choice for gardeners, and growing it indoors gives you a longer, constant supply of this herb. With that in mind, let’s jump right in and learn how to grow garlic indoors.
Garlic plant warnings
While it is a relatively easy plant to grow, the garlic plant needs ample amount of sunlight and aerated, nutrient-rich soil to flourish in. You’ll want to make sure that you have a location with ample light to grow them in, which can be difficult indoors without supplementing.
On a positive note, garlic is fairly frost tolerant and can survive a light frost. This makes them an excellent first choice for the spring if you’re planning to grow outside. In fact, you can actually plant garlic seeds in the fall and they will survive the winter and sprout in spring. This is the standard way of growing garlic.
Better Health - Garlic Plant Benefits
As previously mentioned, garlic can help you in many ways. There’s evidence that it reduces the risk of a heart attack, brightens your skin, boosts immunity and so much more.
Furthermore, it also acts as an excellent repellent for animals. Many animals are turned off by the smell and taste of garlic, and will usually leave your plant alone. It has also been shown to repel mosquitoes. This makes it excellent for growing on a balcony or other area that might be exposed to wildlife. A bit of garlic can actually help keep your area bug free.
Planting, Soil, and Container
To start growing garlic indoors all you need are some cloves. You can simply take store bought cloves and place them into a container and, given proper care, you’ll be able to grow a fresh garlic plant. This is an interesting and fun way to start your plant that is different from most other types. We’ll talk more about the specifics of this process in the next section. Of course you can also use a seedling or grow from seeds as well.
In either case, you want to choose a container that is at least 8-10” deep. Garlic roots go deep but don’t spread out much, so choose a container that is deeper than wide. Each clove (or seedling) should be planted about 6” apart from each other. If you’re using a small, windowsill pot you may only want to plant a single clove in it. As always, ensure your chosen container has proper drainage.
Fill your chosen pot with a high-quality potting soil. Most store bought soil will be fine, but you can always go with vegetable specific soils as well and they may perform better.
How to Plant Garlic Cloves
While planting a seedling is fairly straightforward, starting with cloves is a bit unique and not something many gardeners have tried before. Plant the cloves point side up into the soil so that half of it is still peeking out. You can plant more cloves to start to ensure a healthy one, and then prune them back once you see growth. 3-4 to start is a good number to shoot for. I highly recommend trying this route as it is very easy and lots of fun to start from a non-traditional method like seeds.
If you have a whole bulb that’s okay too, you can simply break out the cloves and plant them as above. One word of caution though, some store-bought bulbs may have been treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting on the shelf. You want to avoid these, and should instead look for bulbs specifically sold for growing to prevent wasted time.
Water and Feeding
Garlic will be a heavy feeder during the summer, so requires a bit of care to keep growing. You’ll want to check the soil and water if it begins to dry out. Most people will water once every 3-5 days, but this can be more if it’s unusually dry or hot.
For feeding, you’ll want to use a nitrogen rich fertilizer roughly once per month. If you start to see your plants’ leaves yellowing (and you’re keeping up watering) you can opt to fertilize a bit more. This is a common issue, and one that is easily corrected if dealt with quickly.
Once the summer fades, you’ll typically be able to cut down on both watering and feeding. For those planting in fall, you generally won’t need to feed your plants until spring when they really start growing.
Garlic’s Sunlight Needs
As noted above, garlic is a fairly light hungry plant and will not do well in low light conditions. Look to get it at least 8 hours of bright light per day. Less than this and your plant will likely not grow well, and may fail to produce anything edible. Outside of watering, not enough light is the next big killer for garlic plants. Supplementing with grow lights may be required, especially in the cooler and darker months or if you’re growing indoors.
Harvesting garlic is a bit more involved than other plants, but not difficult once you get the hang of it. Wait until the bottom of the stems begin to brown and a few leaves have died off. You should still have some green left, but noticed that the plant has slowly begun to die off.
In the week or so leading up the harvest stop watering the plant. This helps the plant cure in the ground, and also makes it easier to pull out.
Once you’re ready, gently pull the whole bulb out of the ground. You want to break up the soil a bit before doing so as pulling too hard can actually separate the stalk from the bulb. Once the bulb is out gently wipe off any excess dirt by hand. Don’t use water or get the bulbs wet at this point.
Now, you’ll want to let the garlic cure for 3-4 weeks before using. You can either bundle several stalks together and hang them bulb-side down or lay them flat in a cool dark place. Afterwards, the garlic is ready to use to spice up any recipe.
How to Grow Garlic Indoors
Garlic is a fantastic choice for indoor gardeners, and hopefully you’ve learned the key steps on how to grow garlic indoors. While it is light hungry and feeding heavy, it is still a quite hardy plant and can deal with a bit of forgetfulness. Give it a bright spot and check it every few days and you’ll be enjoying delicious and healthy garlic in no time.
Growing Garlic Indoors FAQS
How Long Does it Take For a Garlic Plant to Grow?
After a week, you will start to see stems and leaves sprout from your plant. If you want, you can snip them and use them for cooking as well. However, it will take about two to three weeks for the leaves to grow properly. A fully mature plant however can take as long as 9 months to grow, so it’s certainly not a short term project.
What Do I Do If My Garlic Leaves Are Yellowing?
The first step is to make sure you’re watering it enough, this is often the cause of yellowing leaves. Next, if you are watering it the correct amount, give your plant a little extra, nitrogen rich fertilizer. Don’t go overboard though as you could burn out the plant.
Can You Grow Garlic From Cloves?
Yes, you can simply place the cloves into the ground and care for them as normal. Do take care though, some store bought varieties may have been treated to prevent sprouting.