Indigenous landscaping & garden design
in Johannesburg & Pretoria, South Africa

How to plant garlic

  • How to plant garlic

    Some quick tips on how to plant garlic!

    Garlic is a wonderfully fragrant herb to add to many cooked dishes.  It has numerous health benefits, acts as an antibiotic, helps with chest infections, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and prevents strokes by thinning the blood.

    Garlic has a specific planting window from mid-February to the end of March. For best results one should use organically grown garlic.

    How to plant garlic:

    • Prepare the planting area in a spot that will drain freely and receive at least 6 hours of sunshine
    • Enrich the soil with well-rotted compost
    • Break up a head of garlic into individual cloves
    • Push the cloves into the soil with the tip of the clove pointing upward, to a depth of three times the length (about 5cm deep)
    • Plant the cloves 15-20cm apart
    • Firm down gently
    • Cover with a layer of mulch
    • Keep moist but don’t overwater
    • Shoots should start pushing through the mulch within 4-8 weeks of planting
    • Garlic can also be planted in pots filled with a quality potting soil.

    Growing tips

    • Foliar feed with a kelp-based plant food once a month from September to November
    • Remove flower stalks as they affect the quality of the bulbs


    • It is time to harvest when the leaves turn yellow-brown, usually within 6 months
    • Gently dig out the bulbs, tie them in bunches and hang them in a cool, dry, well-aerated room for about 4-6 weeks to cure

    If you’re living in the Southern hemisphere, February to April is the ideal time to plant garlic, so go out there and plant your own garlic!

    53 comments on “How to plant garlic”

    1. Goodday I bought a few sprouting cloves from my Local Checkers veggie stand, can I plant them now and in pots how deep do I plant them and can I plant them in normal potting soil. It is about ten galicbulbs so I believe it will be a few pots that is needed. How much water per week in pot of about 45cm x 50cm. My husband loves garlic so I want to surprise him with his own supply this year.

      1. Hi MJ

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Plant the cloves in your pots spaced 15cm apart using a mixture of topsoil and compost at a ratios of roughly 80:20 and ensure that the pots drain easily. Place in full sun and water with 1 litre every second day, ensuring that the soil isn't too moist as that will rot the bulbs.

        All the best.


    2. Thak you for the information. I live in Pietermaritzbug KZN and have planted garlic as per your advice . Shoots already protruded.

      1. Hi Sidney

        You can certainly experiment with planting in November in a shaded area and you may have some success. However,however the ideal time to plant garlic is February - April in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine.


    3. Hi,
      I am on the north coast in KZN, La Mercy to be exact and have about 1/2 hectare available and am really keen to start growing garlic.
      Is the conditions favorable this close to the ocean and when is the ideal time to start?

      1. Hi Lourinda

        You'd have to check whether your soil conditions are suitable.

        Perhaps check with the Garlic Grower's Association for additional information specific to your area.


      1. Hi Sean

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        If you're planting on a large scale, it's best to follow planting guidelines regarding the timing.

        For domestic purposes, you can try to plant in August but accept that you may not be successful.


    4. Hi is the Karoo suitable for garlic. When would be the best time to plant? What is the best tipe of soil and how much water, firtelizers and pesticides does garlic need.

      1. Hi Wilhelmien

        It would be best for you to contact the Garlic Grower's Association if you're considering growing garlic commercially.

        The advice here is for home-owners.


    5. Hi I have planted 2Hectors of garlic for the first time, they did well but not that big. Is there any manure/fertilizer that I can use during growing time (6 Months) to make them big bulb, Iam having challenge of selling them , if yes please advice. Iam from Limpopo, Louis Trichardt/Makhado

      1. Hi Florence

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        It would be best to get your soil tested and contact the Garlic Grower's Association for further advice.


          1. Hi James

            Thanks for visiting our site.

            The advice here is for domestic gardeners. It's best for you to contact the Garlic Grower's Association for commercial growing advice.


    6. Hi I'm Isaac I'm staying in Kagiso Krugersdorp area I just want to know if the area is suitable for growing garlic this time of the year, or during rainy season please advice how to water garlic

      1. Hi Isaac

        Yes, garlic can be grown in your area. It is best to plant it in May and it requires moderate watering.


    7. I am from Eswatini ian interested in growing garlic. Where can I get the garlic bulbs in bags that are ready to be planted. What is the nearest place to us Eswatini to purchase these seeds? Please help out.

    8. Is it too late to plant garlic? I am in Cape Town and have been given some beautiful elephant garlic.

      1. Hi Christina

        You should be able to still plant your garlic. Enjoy the beautiful rains.


    9. Hi

      I have 4 hectares land in the Free state,Frankford district,on the banks of the Vaaldam. Used to grow mielies and potatoes in the soil.
      Will garlic grow in that climate,taking it gets very cold during the night in that area?

      1. Hi Roelf

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Garlic can generally handle frost and very cold winters. You'll need to check your micro-climate and perhaps seek assistance from the Garlic Growers' Association.


    10. Hi.
      In Durban today 02-04-19 I've just planted 25 garlic cloves from *** (supplier name removed). *** is a reputable bulb company but I'm worried about the size of the bulbs, too small for my liking. Can they surprise my by giving me bigger bulbs, is the date above correct for planting.

      1. Hi Cyfoh

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You've planted your garlic at the right time and sourced your bulbs from a reputable supplier. However, there are over 600 garlic varieties and each is selected for different properties such as size, flavour, number of cloves, colour etc. Large cloves produce large bulbs. Next season, you could perhaps try a different variety by sourcing your growing stock elsewhere.


    11. i stay in Koppies and iur soil is typical clay. I want to grow garlic next season is the soil ideal for garlic?
      Can i use cow manure?

      1. Hi Glenda

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Garlic usually fairs better in a loam soil. However, some growers do succeed with clay soil, but I'd recommend the addition of organic material which will help to condition the soil and allow it to drain more freely.

        Cow manure is a good additive for the soil, but ensure that it is well-rotted before applying.


      1. Hi Louis

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Sorry, we can't assist you. Perhaps an agricultural body can assist you.


    12. Hi Glenice

      I have recently bought a bag of garlic. Some of the individual cloves are very small and thin and a hassle to peel. I was told that these can be kept for planting. Can I keep them to dry and plant Them in February. I live in Pretoria and it’s very hot at the moment, over 30 degrees.

      Also, can they be planted now in November?

      Thank you

      1. Hi Rezana

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        I believe that the best garlic to grow is from the larger bulbs as the resultant plants will resemble the parent plant with large cloves

        When presented with tiny cloves, I simply crush the unpeeled cloves with a garlic crusher and only the flesh comes out. Some of the flesh will remain in the crusher, but the time and saved is worth it.

        Garlic cloves should be fleshy, not dry when planted out. The planting window is between February and March. However, on a domestic level, you could try planting them out now and perhaps you may be lucky.


    13. Good day.

      We are a registered Cooperative and and very much interested in farming. We have land in Onderstepoort and Rustenburg. We need more information on farming garlic and Butternut.

      Your help with information and training would be much appreciated.

      Emelda Jood

    14. Hello Glenice,
      I have some garlic bulbs which for me are delicious, so strong that they burn.
      I would like to try and grow some myself. I live in Hillcrest, Kwazulu Natal. Can I plant now? Our temperatures never go below 9 degrees C. And average a high of 20 degrees C at the moment until beginning of December.

      1. Hi Kim

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        The growing conditions in KZN are excellent so give it a go.


    15. I stay in Willowvale in the Eastern Cape about 30km from the sea. I would like to start a business of growing garlic . Is the area right for that kind of business.

      1. Hi Nyameka

        You'll have to find out more about the growing conditions in your area (Soil, climate, water, etc.) then speak to the Garlic Growers's Association for advice.


    16. Hi, we live in the lower Free State on the border of the Eastern Cape Northern Cape, near Colesberg in a town called Bethulie. Very cold here currently but good sunny days with summer rain fall.
      Is it too late now to plant garlic bulbs?


      1. Hi Deon

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You're too late for planting this season. However, now is a great time to start planning for next year and searching for suppliers of cloves which can be purchased from August.


    17. We recently plant about 3/4 of ha garlic. We did not plant the garlic in a upright position. Will it have a impact on the garlic bulbs.

      1. Hi Danie

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Oops, that's quite a large area to make that mistake!

        Your garlic may still grow. However, the plants will be unnecessarily stressed and may eventually die.

        All the best for the next season.


      1. Hi Sikhumbuzo

        You'd have to do some market research. The garlic grower's association may be able to help with this.


      1. Hi Kenneth

        A rewarding plant that's in high demand.

        There's lots of information on the internet.

        Also check for your local garlic grower's association.


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    Grounded Landscaping is an award-winning landscaping company specialising in indigenous, wildlife-friendly gardens. We are based in the Cradle of Humankind, a world heritage site and part of the grassland biome of Southern Africa. We service most areas of Gauteng, including Johannesburg, Centurion and Pretoria.
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