Can You Plant Store Bought Garlic?

Garlic is a popular plant that can be easily grown from cloves planted in the ground. But what if you don’t have time to wait for your garlic to grow? Can you plant store bought garlic and will it grow?

Yes, you can plant store bought garlic. However, the quality of the garlic may not be as good as if you were using seed variety garlic.

planted store-bought garlic growing in raised bed
planted store-bought garlic growing in raised bed

It may take longer to germinate and some cloves may not sprout at all. Otherwise, growing garlic from store bought bulbs is a great way to make use of garlic you already have at home.

That said, there are some tips you can follow to ensure your store bought garlic planting is a success. Keep reading to learn more!

Can You Plant Store Bought Garlic?

I was curious about whether you can plant store bought garlic and, if you remember, about four weeks ago, I did just that. Planted China grown garlic cloves, straight from the grocery store.

And here’s the verdict…

Yes, you can plant store-bought garlic, although whether they will produce or not is debatable, and reliant on a number of factors.

Mine growing, as you can see. Some of these guys are about ten inches tall already. I’m so excited!

Now, while I was successful planting my store bought garlic, there are a few caveats for this.

Grocery store types of garlic may be cheap and convenient, but it is not always the best choice for planting.

The sprout inhibitor that is sprayed on the cloves can reduce the success rate, and the long period of time that the garlic spends in storage can also make it less likely to sprout.

If you are serious about planting garlic, it is best to buy seed garlic from a seed store or nursery. The cloves will be fresher, and therefore more likely to sprout, and you will have a greater chance of getting full-sized bulbs.

However, even with fresh seed garlic, there is no guarantee that every clove will produce a bulb. Planting garlic is always a bit of a gamble, but with fresh seed garlic, you will at least have a better chance of coming out ahead.

Issues to Be Aware of When Planting Storebought Garlic

Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow in the garden. If you want to get started growing garlic, you might be thinking about taking some of the garlic in your kitchen and planting it. Or perhaps you’ve already seen some of your garlic sprouting already in the bulb and considered planting it.

Can you plant it and get more garlic from it?

Yes, but there are some caveats to be aware of. Here they are:

Sprout Inhibitor

Garlic cloves from the grocery store can be planted, but getting full-sized bulbs may not be consistent compared to planting seed garlic bought from a seed store or nursery. A lot of the garlic you buy is sprayed with a sprout inhibitor that will reduce their chance of sprouting in the ground.

Old Garlic

In addition, most grocery store garlic is grown in China, where a farmer might keep it in a warehouse for months or even a year before it lands on the shelves.

Older garlic cloves may not have enough stored energy to make it through the winter and produce a new bulb. You may get lucky with a few cloves here and there, but for the most part, you’ll be disappointed with your harvest.

Seed garlic, on the other hand, is garlic that has been specifically grown for planting. The cloves are larger and healthier, and they have a much higher success rate of producing bulbs.

If you’re serious about planting garlic, your best bet is to buy seed garlic from a reputable source. With just a little care, you can easily end up with a beautiful bounty of fresh garlic to enjoy all season long.

May Spread Pests and Diseases

One of the main problems is that store bought garlic may spread pests and diseases.

If the garlic you purchase is infested, you could inadvertently introduce these problems into your own garden.

In addition, store bought garlic may not be adapted to your local climate, making it more likely to succumb to disease.

Might Not Survive in Your Climate

One potential problem with planting store-bought garlic is that it might not survive in your climate.

Garlic is a very sensitive plant, and it requires specific conditions in order to thrive. If the climate in your area is too hot or too cold, the garlic may not be able to survive.

May Produce Small, Underdeveloped Bulbs Because It’s Weaker

Homegrown garlic is typically stronger and produces larger bulbs. There are a few reasons for this.

First, this type of garlic is often grown in mass quantities. This means that the growers must take shortcuts in order to maximize profits.

For example, they may use lower quality soil or ship the bulbs long distances before they are sold. These factors can weaken the garlic and make it less likely to produce large bulbs.

Planting Store-Bought Garlic: Tips for Success

Planting garlic from seed cloves is always going to be your safest bet. However, if you decide to plant store bought garlic (and yes, it can be done successfully!) There are a few tips you will want to follow…

1. Know the Best Time to Plant

There are a few things to consider when deciding when to plant garlic. If you live in a climate with cold winters, it’s best to plant the garlic in the fall, before the ground freezes. This gives the roots time to establish themselves before the plant goes into dormancy.

In warmer climates, you can plant garlic in either the fall or spring. Fall planting is usually best, as it gives the roots time to develop before the hot summer months. However, spring planting can be successful as long as you make sure to water the garlic regularly.

2. Separate the Cloves, and Plant Pointy Side Up 1-2” into the Ground, 3-5” Apart

If you’re thinking about planting garlic, here’s what you need to do. Separate the cloves and plant them pointy side up 1-2″ into the ground, 3-5″ apart. Garlic prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

When choosing the planting site, grow your garlic near companion plants like cabbage, strawberries, spinach and other salad greens, tomatoes, or peppers. Don’t grow it near onions or related allium plants.

3. Choose Organic Garlic So You Know it Hasn’t Been Treated

Anyone who has ever tried to grow garlic knows that it can be a bit finicky. Most store-bought garlic is sprayed with chemicals to prevent it from sprouting, which makes it difficult to grow.

However, organic garlic is usually not sprayed, making it the best choice for planting. In addition, organic garlic is generally fresher and more flavorful than its non-organic counterparts.

Try to buy organic garlic that’s suited for your growing zone by shopping at your local farmers market.

4. Don’t Plant Grocery Store Garlic if You Want Hardneck Varieties of Garlic

Grocery store garlic is typically a softneck variety of garlic, which is more mellow in flavor and easier to store than hardneck garlic. However, hardneck garlic is much more versatile in the kitchen and can also be used to make garlic scapes, a delicacy that softneck garlic cannot produce.

For these reasons, many gardeners choose to grow their own hardneck garlic. However, it is important to note that hardneck garlic will not survive in a cold climate unless it is planted in the fall.

5. Vernalise Your Bulbs for 7 Days

If you want those bulbs to thrive, you’ll need to vernalise them for seven days.

Vernalisation is a process of gradually exposing the bulbs to colder temperatures in order to trick them into thinking it’s spring. This tricks the bulbs into sprouting earlier than they would normally.

To vernalise your garlic bulbs, simply place them in a cool, dark place for seven days. After that, you can plant them in well-drained soil and enjoy the fruits of your labor come harvest time.

6. Care for Your Plants the Same Way

Caring for supermarket garlic is pretty much the same as caring for garlic plants grown from seed garlic.

Water regularly during the growing season, but don’t overdo it. Too much water can cause the individual cloves to rot and also attract insects.

Use a fertilizer once the greens have emerged (just like you would for onions). Compost works well, since garlic needs a well-balanced blend of nutrients. Mulch to control weeds and to provide each garlic clove with the winter protection it needs.

To harvest garlic, harvest the bulbs when the foliage starts to yellow and die back. Cut off the tops, leaving about an inch of stem attached, and allow the bulbs to cure in a warm, dry place for two weeks.

Once they’re cured, you can store them in a cool, dark place for up to six months. The largest cloves will generally have the longest shelf life.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to plant store-bought garlic, and it’s a great way to get your hands on some delicious homegrown bulbs. Just make sure you follow these simple steps to give your garlic the best chance for success.

With some luck, I’ll have a successful harvest early next summer!

21 thoughts on “Can You Plant Store Bought Garlic?”

  1. I was told that I couldn’t plant & grow California garlic here in the Pacific Northwest. HA! Not only did it grow, it wintered over and reproduced. Someone visited my garden a couple of weeks ago and seeing my “Elephant Garlic” said, “Nice corn!”. He just about feel over when I told him that was garlic! Cheers!

  2. How do you plant store bought garlic? did you just stick the whole bulb in or one head at a time? (I’m very new to gardening, so excuse the question)

  3. We did this last year. It worked but the seed garlic we used produced better looking bulbs that were larger. The store garlic had pretty wimpy little bulbs by harvest time. I suspected that maybe the store garlic has been bred to need a lot of inputs.

    have you tried planting celery ends? You know the stub left over from when you use a stalk of celery? Works beautifully!

  4. Most people don’t know this, but if you have some open space to fill in along the fence line or somewhere similar, you can take a bag of seven bean mix from the grocery store and they will grow just fine. I first did this for wildlife food, but they did so well I picked several messes of beans off of them. I first got the idea by planting mixed birdseed for animal plots.

  5. I grew grocery store garlic (from California) in my garden (in Michigan) the last two years. It worked just fine, but the heads weren’t very big. The biggest disadvantage is that the types of garlic they sell at the grocery store are usually the kinds that don’t form scapes (which is one of the best parts of growing garlic).

  6. I plant store bought organic garlic and it seems to do just fine. I think I am going to do the same with organic potatoes. I spent way too much money on seed potatoes from a seed company and I regret it because I know a bag of potatoes would do fine. Also planted elephant garlic. They are a soft neck variety and are harvested differently.

    You may already know how to harvest it. I ended up planting lots of garlic this year. So hopefully we will have a good amount next year.

  7. I don’t know about your climate, but here no mulch in needed. The mulch may introduce fungus. I am guessing that you will get a nice crop.


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