Vampires of the South Beware! How to Grow Garlic in the Deep South…


“What would be the best varieties of garlic for my deep south location and best planting time? Thanks, Bob”

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Dear Bob,

Thank you for the email regarding Garlic.  I admit, I am a northern gardener and we can grow garlic easily up here when using hardneck types. For southern gardeners, it is a little bit more tricky.

There area lot of great softneck varieties that are used by southern growers.  These include: Siberian, Thermadrone, Romanian Red, and Georgian Crystal are great varieties for the novice garlic grower.

When selecting garlic varieties, you want to keep the vernalization requirements of the particular varieties you grow in mind.  This cooling period allows the garlic to metabolically convert the storage enzymes in the clove that is planted over to growth enzymes and eventually leads to the development of roots and shoots. Planting in fall will allow the cloves to remain at temperatures of 40ºF for about 2 months.

If you live in an area where the temp does not drop to 40ºF for long enough, you can allow your cloves to go through the process of vernalization in your refrigerator.  Keep it on the top shelf of your fridge (the warmest part) so it does not freeze. Also make sure that it does not get too moist or it will rot!

My best suggestion for any gardener is to grow more than one variety to start off with. Depending on the temperatures you have in your garden in winter and other factors that will affect the growth your garlic, you can make an educated decision on what is best for you by diversifying your palette of varieties.

As for planting, the best time is now up through December. Plant the cloves 4-6 inches deep in well-drained soil with the shoot end up to prevent deformities. Garlic cloves should be spaced 6 inches apart. I like to plant mine in double row beds that are 8 inches apart.  The cloves will come up and grow throughout the winter. As the garlic grows, keep it weeded or your bulbs will be small.

As your garlic matures, it will begin to put up seed heads called scapes. Many people like to remove these because they think it will result in a larger bulb. I have done it both ways with every type I have grown and have found that it does not make the bulbs significantly larger. I recommend leaving them on, and by doing so you will also have the bonus of the mini bulblets that form on them. Allowing these bulblets to grow and mature will give you your planting stock for your next season.

For more information on growing and harvesting garlic, you can check out my previous articles on garlic here .

Thanks for your question!

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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One thought on “Vampires of the South Beware! How to Grow Garlic in the Deep South…

  1. Pingback: Chinese Garlic Chives | Landscaping - Gardening

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