Garlic is a delicious vegetable that’s also pretty easy to grow indoors. And there’s nothing better than having fresh garlic at your fingertips. Not only this, but garlic greens look great in a kitchen and can double as cute houseplants. Today, let’s go through the steps and challenges of growing and planting garlic indoors. It’s simple to plant, grow and harvest. And it’s a great entry into the world of indoor gardening.
Garlic Bulbs and Garlic Shoots: The Indoor Controversy
Before we dive in, we should note that there’s a lot of disagreement in the gardening community on what can and cannot be grown indoors when it comes to garlic. The cold weather – which garlic plants in many climates would normally experience outside – is a big factor in garlic bulb development. But when you grow garlic inside, you probably won’t keep your home at freezing temperatures (just think of the electric bill).
We’re currently doing some experiments in our condo to provide some personal advice on how to grow a garlic indoors. Until then, this post will largely be about growing garlic shoots – which eventually become garlic scapes on hardneck varieties- which have a slightly more mild form of garlic, and they’re a great way to garnish food. These garlic greens are incredibly simple to grow, and you will begin seeing garlic sprouts just 7-10 days after planting them.
What You’ll Need To Grow Garlic Indoors
Here are the essentials you’ll need:
- soil-less potting mix
- Light source (growlight or access to direct sunlight)
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- watering can
For growing garlic greens indoors, you don’t necessarily need a wide container. It just needs to be at least 8-10 inches deep.
Drainage is incredibly important for garlic plants, which can rot or develop mold if they’re in too much water. Be sure to include a few drainage holes at the bottom of the container to allow the water to escape.
Potting Mix For Growing Garlic Indoors
While you can grow garlic in regular potting soil, it’s best to grow indoor garlic in a soil-less potting mix. You can either buy a potting mix, or you can create your own with a combination of vemiculite (puffed clay), perlite (puffed quartz), coconut fiber, peat moss, bark and fertilizer. These soil-less potting mixes will provide excellent drainage, which is important for preventing a fungal root disease.
While it’s possible to grow with garlic from a grocery store, there’s a good chance this garlic has been chemically treated (so it will last longer), and it won’t sprout well (or at all). Instead, purchase an organically grown garlic bulb – you can purchase these either on Amazon or at your local nursery. Be sure to keep the garlic bulb in tack until you’re ready to plant the garlic cloves.
There are two primary types of garlic (although, some people put Elephant garlic in a third category) called hardneck and softneck.
Hardneck garlic is known for having a flavor that’s more intense than softneck garlic. For this reason, it’s a common favorite among chefs and cooks. It’s also known for having skin that’s easy to peel. The main downside of hardneck garlic is that it has a short shelf life. It will typically only last four to five months. One of the most popular hardneck garlic varieties is called Rocambole.
While not as flavorful as hardneck garlic, softneck garlic is probably the garlic type that you’re most familiar with. It’s commonly found in a grocery store – likely the artichoke or silverskin garlic varieties. It has a longer shelf life and typically produces a higher yield with larger bulbs, which makes it a great option for grocery stores.
Insert: Garlic Knowledge is Garlic Power: garlic is a species in the Allium genus, which means it’s relatvies with scallions, chives, and onions.
Preparing the Garlic
Now that you’ve gotten your garlic bulbs, and your container is filled with the right potting mix, you’re ready to prepare the garlic cloves. Break the garlic bulb apart and take out the garlic cloves. You’ll want to take the biggest and healthiest looking cloves, and you’ll want to leave the white/grey paper-like material around the clove.
When planting your garlic cloves, you should plant with the flat end down and the pointed tip up. The blunt side is where the roots will grow, while the pointed tip will produce the leaves.
Push the cloves at least 2-3 inches deep in the potting mix. You’ll also want about an inch of soil on top of the clove.
You’ll need to keep your garlic watered as it grows. The potting mix should be evenly moist. You want to make sure you’re not overwatering it, though, which can cause things like mold and fungus to grow.
Lighting And Placement
Now that your garlic is planted, you’ll want to place it somewhere that receives direct sunlight, such as a southfacing windowsill. If that’s not an option for you (our Chicago condo only receives a couple hours of sunlight a day), you’ll need to look at grow lights, which can simulate real sunlight.
Your garlic greens should start sprouting – assuming your plants have had the appropriate amounts of sun and water – within the next 7-10 days. After a couple weeks, they should be around 5″ tall, which is when you’ll want to start harvesting them. Make sure you keep at least an inch of the garlic greens in place so your plant can regrow again.
If you’re planning to harvest the garlic bulb, it will take up to 10 months for it to be ready. You’ll notice that the shoots will begin to turn brown. Dig the garlic bulbs up from the ground and then let them dry in a spot with good air circulation for approximately two weeks. Store garlic in a place away from the sunlgiht and on a newspaper to absorb the water.
At soon as the skin become paper-like, you’re ready to start using your fresh garlic!
Garlic is one of the most versatile vegetables available, and now you can grow it in the comfort of your own home. If you have access to an outdoor garden, it may make sense to grow garlic bulbs outside. But in a pinch, you can easily grow garlic greens inside. We’ll work on growing the garlic bulb indoors and let you know our results as soon as we have them!