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

Whereas most backyard duties are winding down, fall is the proper 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, you could surprise if it’s too late to plant garlic.

Most fall-planted garlic is harvested mid-summer the next 12 months. Nevertheless, the optimum time for planting is dependent upon your USDA hardiness zone. When you’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?

Garlic is usually planted between September and November, however planting too early can result in points.

In most areas of america, garlic is planted between September and November. If the bottom stays workable and unfrozen, it’s most likely 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 method.

The most typical errors are associated to planting too early quite than too late. When you plant too quickly, the cloves could prematurely sprout tender inexperienced shoots that dry out the clove over winter and doubtlessly kill the plant. 

The objective is to seek 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 progress.

  • 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 in the course of the coolest a part of the 12 months.

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 tip of September to permit root growth earlier than the bottom freezes.

Frigid northern zones ought to goal to get garlic within the floor by the tip of September. If fall frosts come notably rapidly, 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 not workable. When you missed your window, I like to recommend planting in spring and having fun with contemporary “inexperienced garlic” like scallions. Alternatively, you possibly can strive planting in insulated patio containers to overwinter outside.

For these zones, frost heaves are a serious 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 have to 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, it’s best to have your cloves within the floor by mid-October. You don’t need 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 power into tender inexperienced progress 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 could not have time to develop roots earlier than the nighttime temperatures dip under 30°F. On this case, the cloves usually rot or freeze beneath the soil and don’t come up the next spring.

Typically, 4 to six weeks earlier than the bottom fully freezes is right. When you danger a later planting, generously apply straw or leaf mulch to insulate the cloves as a lot as doable. Rising in a raised mattress could 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 reasonable 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 of the newest restrict for planting, however it will probably 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 mild 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 reasonable winter areas can plant from October by December and typically 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 possibly can plant 2-3 weeks earlier than your anticipated first fall frost date. 

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

When you missed the autumn planting window or your winters are notably gentle, you could need 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, reminiscent of 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 possibly can develop garlic, however the bulbs might not be as giant.

Subtropical areas with out frost can nonetheless develop garlic. Nevertheless, it could not type the large, luxurious bulbs we regularly see in colder areas. As a result of these areas don’t usually expertise persistently chilly temperatures, it’s finest 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 giant bulbs. In southern areas, garlic could profit from 3 to five weeks of refrigeration earlier than planting in early winter across the holidays in December and January.

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

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

Rising Suggestions

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 giant cloves, plant them correctly, and preserve constant moisture.

It doesn’t matter what zone you’re planting in, these tried-and-true ideas will make it easier to take pleasure in essentially the most ample yields with minimal effort:

  • Plant solely the biggest single cloves and discard small, rotten, or malformed cloves.
  • Place the basis facet down and pointy facet up about 2-4” deep.
  • For the biggest bulbs, area 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 persistently 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 cut back the probability of illness unfold. This isn’t required however could also be helpful for those who’re making an attempt to develop garlic you acquired from a market or different unusual supply.
  • Fertilize with kelp or fish emulsion in spring.

Keep in mind that garlic has shallow roots and requires constant moisture throughout its spring and summer season bulbing durations. 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 traces or soaker hoses to water vegetation from the bottom beneath the mulch in case your garlic has not but absolutely matured. Water-stress vegetation won’t yield high quality bulbs, however overwatered garlic could rot. 

To discover a completely happy medium, completely amend your beds with compost for loads of drainage and commonly examine the moisture so the soil is all the time cool and moist however by no means soggy.

Closing Ideas

In case your backyard soil hasn’t frozen and stays workable, you possibly can most likely nonetheless plant garlic. November is usually slightly late for zones 1-5, however zones 6-12 nonetheless have ample time to plant your cloves. 

When you dwell in a chilly area, select a hardneck selection and densely mulch with straw or deciduous leaves. When you dwell in a heat or subtropical area, select a softneck selection. 

Worst case situation, you possibly can all the time save planting for spring and revel in “spring garlic” identical to you’d with scallions. When doubtful, go for a later planting over an earlier one. You don’t need to danger your cloves prematurely sprouting and drying out earlier than winter units in!

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