Yes, you can absolutely plant grocery store garlic. While specialty garlic bought from nurseries may produce larger bulbs, grocery store garlic will grow just fine when planted. As long as the garlic cloves are firm and not dried out, they can be used for planting.
What type of garlic can you plant from the grocery store?
Most garlic sold in grocery stores is the softneck variety. This includes artichoke garlic and silverskin garlic. Softneck garlic produces smaller bulbs with a higher number of smaller cloves. It also has flexible stalks that make it easy to braid.
You likely won’t find hardneck garlic varieties like rocambole, purple stripe or porcelain in the grocery store. Hardneck garlic produces larger bulbs with 4-12 larger cloves and has stiff central stalks.
Will grocery store garlic grow well when planted?
Yes, garlic bought at the grocery store will grow just fine when planted. The bulbs may be a bit smaller than garlic grown from nurseries, but they will still produce good quality garlic you can use in your kitchen.
Grocery store garlic is grown in mass quantities under different conditions than specialty garlic. But the cloves still have the ability to grow into full bulbs when replanted.
Does grocery store garlic produce seeds?
No, grocery store garlic does not produce true seeds. Like all garlic varieties, the cloves are the propogating parts that grow into new plants.
Garlic is propagated vegetatively, not through seeds. Each clove will grow into a shoot that produces a bulb with a cluster of cloves. The cluster of small cloves around the central stem is sometimes referred to as the “bulbils”, but they are not true seeds.
Is organically grown garlic from the store better to plant?
Organically grown garlic bought in stores is not necessarily better for planting than conventionally grown garlic. The organic designation mainly refers to the way the garlic was grown.
However, organic garlic may have fewer chemical residues which could possibly interfere with growth. But either organically grown or conventionally grown garlic bought at markets will grow well when replanted.
Does garlic from the store produce smaller bulbs?
Garlic grown from grocery store bulbs does tend to produce smaller bulbs than specialty garlic from nurseries. But the bulbs can still reach a good usable size.
Expect bulbs to be around 1-2 inches in diameter on average. While nursery garlic may produce bulbs 3 inches or larger in size. The number of cloves per bulb will also be lower, likely in the range of 5-10 cloves.
However, even smaller bulbs will provide enough garlic for kitchen use. And the bulb sizes can improve over several growing seasons as the garlic adapts to your climate and soil conditions.
How much grocery store garlic do you need to plant?
To plant a substantial amount of garlic for a home garden, you’ll need about 10-15 heads of grocery store garlic. This will give you 50-100 cloves or more to plant.
Each clove will multiply into a bulb with 5-10 cloves by the end of the growing season. So starting with 50-100 cloves gives you a good amount of garlic to harvest and use.
Save and replant some of your best bulbs again in fall to continually increase your garlic crop over time.
Should you choose large garlic heads to plant?
When choosing grocery store garlic for planting, pick heads that are firm, dry, and have good sized cloves. Avoid garlic with very small cloves or cloves that are shriveled.
Larger heads do not necessarily have the largest cloves. You can find big, healthy looking individual cloves in any size head. Cloves from smaller bulbs can grow just as well as larger cloves.
Also avoid bulbs with green shoots emerging or other signs of sprouting. Choose fresh, dormant bulbs for the best results.
Do you have to keep cloves from different plants separate?
No, you don’t have to plant cloves from separate plants separately. It’s fine to mix cloves from multiple garlic bulbs in one planting space.
Garlic plants are not self-incompatible like some plant varieties. Two different plants grown side by side will not affect each other’s growth or production.
Mixing cloves from several bulbs can help reduce the spread of disease if one bulb carries any pathogens. It also helps produce a random genetic mix that adapts well to your garden site.
Can you replant garlic from the grocery store each year?
Yes, you can replant garlic grown from grocery store bulbs each year. Replanted garlic may produce slightly smaller bulbs but will continue thriving season after season.
To replant garlic, select the largest, healthiest bulbs from each summer’s harvest. Break the bulbs into individual cloves and plant them in the fall. Over time, you’ll develop customized garlic strains adapted to your specific growing conditions.
Does garlic from the store carry disease?
Grocery store garlic is less likely to carry major diseases than seed garlic from other sources. Mass produced garlic is treated with fungicides and tested for pathogens.
However, it’s still possible for diseases like fusarium or bacterial infections to be present at low levels. Planting cloves from multiple bulbs helps prevent any one disease from spreading.
Also practice crop rotation and avoid planting garlic in the same spot each year. This further reduces any disease organisms that may be present in the soil.
Should you soak grocery store garlic before planting?
It’s not necessary to soak grocery store garlic cloves before planting, but some gardeners recommend it. Soaking for 30-60 minutes in lukewarm water may increase germination rates.
The theory is that a quick water soak “wakes up” the cloves and stimulates root and shoot growth after planting. But non-soaked cloves will still grow well as long as the garlic is fresh.
Can you plant garlic cloves from the produce section?
It’s best to avoid buying loose garlic cloves for planting from the supermarket produce section. These loose cloves are more likely to be old, dried out or damaged.
For the highest vitality and germination rates, select whole bulbs of garlic and carefully break them into individual cloves yourself. This way you can inspect each clove and handle them with care to plant.
Tips for planting grocery store garlic
- Select firm, fresh bulbs with no sprouting or mold
- Separate bulbs gently into largest, healthiest individual cloves
- Soak cloves for 30-60 minutes (optional)
- Plant cloves root-side down, 2-4 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart
- Cover lightly with soil and water after planting
- Mulch beds with straw or leaves
- Plant in the fall for largest bulbs the following summer
What is the best soil type to plant garlic in?
Garlic grows best in loose, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Sandy loam or silt loam soils are ideal. Clay soils can be used but may need extra compost worked in to improve drainage.
The soil should have a neutral pH around 6.5-7.0. Avoid planting garlic in acidic or alkaline soils. Test your soil and amend with lime or sulfur to balance the pH before planting if needed.
Do you have to amend soil to plant grocery store garlic?
It’s a good idea to prepare a garden bed with compost or other organic material before planting garlic. This will provide nutrients for growth and improve soil structure.
Mix 1-2 inches of compost or well-rotted manure into the top 6-12 inches of soil. Avoid using fresh animal manure which can burn plants. Nursery-grown garlic benefits from very rich soil amended with plenty of nutrients.
Where should you plant garlic from the grocery store?
Garlic can be planted in garden beds, raised beds, containers, or any spot that provides full sun and well-drained soil.
Morning sun is essential. In hot climates, plant garlic where it will be shaded in the afternoon. Planting near vegetables like lettuce, brassicas and beans can deter pests.
Rotate garlic location each year to prevent disease buildup in the soil. Avoid planting where other alliums like onions recently grew.
When should you plant garlic cloves from the grocery store?
The best time to plant garlic from the grocery store is in mid to late fall about 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes. This gives the cloves time to develop good root growth before winter.
Planting garlic in the spring will result in smaller bulbs. Get cloves in the ground in October-November for harvest the following summer.
In mild climates, cloves can be planted as late as January or February. Just make sure the ground isn’t frozen yet. Earlier fall planting is better where winters are harsh.
Planting grocery store garlic in fall vs spring
|Fall planting||Spring planting|
|Larger bulbs form with full clove development||Smaller bulbs and cloves|
|Higher yield||Lower yields|
|Less risk of bolting||Higher risk of premature bolting|
How deep and far apart do you plant garlic cloves?
Plant garlic cloves 2-4 inches deep and space them 4-8 inches apart. Deeper planting to 4 inches helps produce bigger bulbs.
Space standard size bulbs 6 inches apart. For giant garlic varieties, use 8 inch spacing. Further spacing reduces competition for nutrients between plants.
After planting, cover with soil and water gently. Mulch beds with 2-4 inches of straw or leaves to retain moisture and insulate cloves over winter.
How much water does planted garlic need?
Garlic needs about 1-1.5 inches of water per week from rainfall or irrigation during the active growing season in spring and early summer.
Well-mulched soil will retain moisture and prevent the need to water as frequently. Irrigate when the top few inches become dry.
Too much watering will cause bulbs to rot. Allow soil to dry between waterings. Garlic can tolerate some drought but produces best with consistent moisture.
Should you fertilize garlic planted from the grocery store?
Applying nitrogen fertilizer in spring can promote larger bulb growth with garlic from the grocery store.
Side dress garlic with a balanced organic fertilizer, compost tea, fish emulsion, or other nutrients 2-3 weeks after spring growth begins.
Excess nitrogen early in the season causes excessive leaf growth and poorer bulbs. Fertilize when plants are 6-12 inches tall for best results.
How do you know when garlic is ready to harvest?
Garlic is ready to harvest when about 50% of the leaves have turned yellow or brown. This is a sign the bulbs have sized up and cloves have matured.
Stop watering plants a week or two before harvesting. Then dig bulbs when some green leaves remain but most have senesced.
Gently loosen soil and lift bulbs without snapping off leaves if possible. Curing bulbs properly is key to good storage quality.
How do you cure garlic bulbs from the grocery store?
Curing helps prepare harvested garlic for long term storage. Leave garlic plants whole or loosely braid. Hang bundles in a warm, dry place out of direct sun for 2-3 weeks until fully cured.
You can also cure garlic in trays or mesh bags. Make sure air can fully circulate around bulbs. When completely cured and dry, clip roots and stems to 1 inch length.
Store cured bulbs in a cool, dark place. Properly cured and stored, grocery store garlic will last up to 8 months.
Can you save grocery store garlic to replant?
Yes, it’s recommended to save your best homegrown garlic bulbs from the grocery store to replant again each season.
Choose the largest, healthiest bulbs with no disease or damage. Store these select bulbs fully cured in a cold, dry area over summer.
In fall, break apart bulbs into individual cloves and replant. Over time you’ll develop strains well adapted to your garden’s conditions.
Planting garlic bought at the grocery store is an easy and low cost way to start growing your own garlic at home. While the bulbs may be smaller than specialty garlic, they will still produce a worthwhile crop.
Choose fresh, firm bulbs and plant the largest cloves in fall for best results. With proper care and curing, you can save your own homegrown garlic to plant again each season.