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Is It Too Late to Plant Garlic? A Zone-by-Zone Information

Whereas most backyard duties are winding down, fall is the excellent time to plant garlic. This flavorful allium favourite operates on an reverse schedule than most of our backyard crops: cloves are planted within the fall, anchor their roots earlier than frost, then overwinter, and start forming shoots and bulbs in spring. If fall is transitioning to winter in your space, chances are you’ll marvel if it’s too late to plant garlic.

Most fall-planted garlic is harvested mid-summer the next yr. Nevertheless, the optimum time for planting depends upon your USDA hardiness zone. If you happen to’re uncertain whether or not you’ve missed your fall planting window, here’s a zone-by-zone information to find out if it’s too late to plant garlic in your area.

Is It Too Late to Plant Fall Garlic?

Planting garlic in the garden. Close-up of an elderly woman's hands in an old green glove holding a handful of garlic cloves over a garden bed. There are also strawberries growing in the garden bed.
Garlic is usually planted between September and November, however planting too early can result in points.

In most areas of the US, garlic is planted between September and November. If the bottom stays workable and unfrozen, it’s in all probability not too late to plant garlic. Nevertheless, a deeper layer of mulch safety could also be essential to hold late-planted garlic cozy as frigid nights strategy.

Probably the most widespread errors are associated to planting too early somewhat than too late. If you happen to plant too quickly, the cloves might prematurely sprout tender inexperienced shoots that dry out the clove over winter and doubtlessly kill the plant. 

The purpose is to search out the proper window of cool, however not frosty, climate the place garlic can get established for winter with out stimulating an excessive amount of development.

  • In zones 0-3, September planting is right to make sure the garlic can anchor its roots earlier than heavy frosts.
  • In zones 4-5, Plant in early October.
  • For zones 6-7, late October is a typical planting time.
  • In zones 8-10, October or November are appropriate.
  • In zones 11-12, softneck garlic is usually pre-chilled within the fridge and planted in late December or January to develop throughout the coolest a part of the yr.

Zones 1-3

Close-up of a woman's hand in a turquoise rubber glove planting garlic cloves in the soil in the garden. There is also a wicker basket on the ground full of garlic cloves for planting. Garlic cloves are small, teardrop-shaped bulb sections with a papery skin.
For northern areas, plant garlic by the top of September to permit root improvement earlier than the bottom freezes.

Frigid northern zones ought to intention to get garlic within the floor by the top of September. If fall frosts come notably shortly, early September is right to make sure the cloves can develop roots earlier than the bottom freezes.

By the point October and November rolls round, the bottom is normally beginning to freeze and is now not workable. If you happen to missed your window, I like to recommend planting in spring and having fun with recent “inexperienced garlic” like scallions. Alternatively, you’ll be able to strive planting in insulated patio containers to overwinter outdoor.

For these zones, frost heaves are a significant danger to garlic that isn’t correctly buried. Most varieties are planted at about twice the depth of their dimension or roughly 3-4″ under the floor. The cloves should be completely coated with soil and mulch to make sure they don’t rise above the floor when the bottom freezes under them.

Zones 4-5

Close up of young small sprout of garlic in the garden. The soil is covered with a thin layer of mulch. Garlic sprouts are small, upright, and consist of thin, elongated, pale green leaves with slightly pinkish tips.
Plant by mid-October to keep away from extreme sprouting earlier than frost.

Growers in zones 4 and 5 have a barely longer window for fall garlic planting. Ideally, you need to have your cloves within the floor by mid-October. You don’t wish to plant a lot sooner than this as a result of extreme quantities of untimely sprouting can desiccate the cloves. A small inexperienced shoot above the mulch is OK, however you don’t need your vegetation placing an excessive amount of vitality into tender inexperienced development proper earlier than frosts.

If the soil stays workable and unfrozen, you should still get away with planting in late October or early November, however this relies completely on the climate. The possibilities of success lower as the autumn continues as a result of an excellent late planting might not have time to develop roots earlier than the nighttime temperatures dip under 30°F. On this case, the cloves usually rot or freeze below the soil and don’t come up the next spring.

Typically, 4 to six weeks earlier than the bottom utterly freezes is right. If you happen to danger a later planting, generously apply straw or leaf mulch to insulate the cloves as a lot as doable. Rising in a raised mattress might assist the vegetation set up in late fall.

Zones 6-7

Close-up of a gardener's hands in yellow rubber gloves planting garlic cloves in a sunny autumn garden. Each clove has a distinct and slightly flattened shape, featuring a curved or rounded bottom and a pointed top.
In zones 6 and seven, the best planting window extends from late October into November.

As we transfer towards extra average climate areas, gardeners in zones 6 and seven have extra flexibility. The prime window for planting is late October and into November in gentle years. Mid-November is normally thought-about the most recent restrict for planting, however it could possibly nonetheless yield decently sized bulbs so long as the cloves have a few weeks to type roots earlier than heavy frosts set in.

Your first gentle frost of the season is one other nice reminder that it’s time to get your garlic in. When nighttime temperatures begin dipping into the higher 30s, promptly put together your beds and get your cloves within the floor with a pleasant layer of straw mulch. 

Zone 8-10

Close-up of a man's hands holding a garlic harvest. Garlic bulbs are composed of multiple individual cloves enclosed in layers of papery skin. They have a round, slightly flattened shape with a root base at the bottom. The bulb itself is covered in a white papery sheath.
Planting on the proper time is essential to make sure good bulb formation.

Gardeners in average winter areas can plant from October via December and generally even January. These zones have the widest vary for fall garlic planting as a result of the winter isn’t normally too intense. Sometimes, you’ll be able to plant 2-3 weeks earlier than your anticipated first fall frost date. 

Nevertheless, you need to not plant too early or too late. Planting too early could cause untimely exhaustion of the clove, leading to little to no bulb formation. Planting too late means the garlic might not get sufficient chilly publicity to provide massive, wholesome bulbs.

If you happen to missed the autumn planting window or your winters are notably gentle, chances are you’ll wish to go for softneck varieties that require much less chilly publicity. Gardeners in zone 10 particularly can develop hardneck varieties however ought to select ones that require much less chilly publicity, equivalent to Creole Crimson or Spanish Roja; nonetheless, all softneck varieties will work in zone 10.

Zones 11-12

Close-up of planted garlic cloves in a soil trench in the garden. Nearby lies a gray basket full of cloves. Garlic cloves are individual bulb segments with a distinct teardrop shape, covered in thin, papery white skin.
In subtropical areas with out frost, you’ll be able to develop garlic, however the bulbs will not be as massive.

Subtropical areas with out frost can nonetheless develop garlic. Nevertheless, it might not type the large, luxurious bulbs we frequently see in colder areas. As a result of these areas don’t sometimes expertise constantly chilly temperatures, it’s greatest to pre-chill your hardneck seed garlic or select softneck varieties that require much less vernalization.

Vernalization is the pure chilly publicity interval wanted to type massive bulbs. In southern areas, garlic might profit from 3 to five weeks of refrigeration earlier than planting in early winter across the holidays in December and January.

Zones 11-12 might have extra bother rising hardneck varieties as a result of they want extended winter climate below 40°F for full bulbs. Strive vernalizing hardneck varieties in your fridge earlier than planting. In these heat areas, to efficiently develop any hardneck garlic in any respect, you need to choose varieties meant for warmer-climate growers, equivalent to Spanish Roja or Creole Crimson. It’s simpler to stay with softnecks right here!

Whilst you might miss out on the distinctive garlic scapes extra generally discovered within the northern zones, southern growers can nonetheless get pleasure from garlic shoots like scallions and properly sized softneck bulbs for braiding.

Rising Ideas

Close-up of a gardener watering growing garlic plants with a large light orange watering can in the garden. The gardener is wearing a black sweater, blue jeans and red rubber boots. The garlic plant has long, slender, and flat leaves that grow from the center of the garlic plant.
For profitable planting, choose massive cloves, plant them correctly, and preserve constant moisture.

It doesn’t matter what zone you’re planting in, these tried-and-true ideas will enable you to get pleasure from essentially the most considerable yields with minimal effort:

  • Plant solely the biggest single cloves and discard small, rotten, or malformed cloves.
  • Place the foundation aspect down and pointy aspect up about 2-4” deep.
  • For the biggest bulbs, house 6-12” aside.
  • Select hardneck varieties for chilly northern zones and softneck varieties for the south.
  • Don’t plant too early. Wait till nighttime temperatures are constantly under 50°F.
  • In areas with exhausting freezes and frost heaves, plant as much as 5” deep and mulch generously.
  • If desired, pre-soak seed cloves for 8 hours in a gallon of water with 1-2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda to scale back the probability of illness unfold. This isn’t required however could also be helpful if you happen to’re attempting to develop garlic you acquired from a market or different unusual supply.
  • Fertilize with kelp or fish emulsion in spring.

Do not forget that garlic has shallow roots and requires constant moisture throughout its spring and summer season bulbing intervals. In most areas, winter and spring rains are sufficient to irrigate. 

Nevertheless, as soon as dry summer season climate approaches, it’s useful so as to add drip strains or soaker hoses to water vegetation from the bottom beneath the mulch in case your garlic has not but absolutely matured. Water-stress vegetation is not going to yield high quality bulbs, however overwatered garlic might rot. 

To discover a comfortable medium, completely amend your beds with compost for loads of drainage and recurrently verify the moisture so the soil is at all times cool and moist however by no means soggy.

Ultimate Ideas

In case your backyard soil hasn’t frozen and stays workable, you’ll be able to in all probability nonetheless plant garlic. November is mostly a bit of late for zones 1-5, however zones 6-12 nonetheless have ample time to plant your cloves. 

If you happen to reside in a chilly area, select a hardneck selection and densely mulch with straw or deciduous leaves. If you happen to reside in a heat or subtropical area, select a softneck selection. 

Worst case state of affairs, you’ll be able to at all times save planting for spring and luxuriate in “spring garlic” identical to you’d with scallions. When doubtful, go for a later planting over an earlier one. You don’t wish to danger your cloves prematurely sprouting and drying out earlier than winter units in!



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