Lickin’ the Cold of Winter with Garlic!

“Dear Miss Horticulturist,

A few weeks ago I purchased a large quantity of garlic from the grocery store.  I didn’t get all of it used in time and now it is sprouting.  Can I plant it and overwinter it?”


Thanks for reading and for submitting your question.  Because WordPress doesn’t provide me with a ton of information, I’m going to guess that you purchased a California White garlic and that you live in an area that gets cold in winter.

The Good: Garlic can be planted any time during the year.  You are going to want to plant the cloves down about 6 inches.  It does take some time to come up,  so don’t give up on them!

The Bad: California White types do not overwinter in colder areas.  If you were to plant it at this time of year, it would grow up until winter, but not come back in spring.  They are what is known as a ‘softneck’ type.  For garlic that you want to overwinter, you should put in a hardneck variety in northern (wintery) climates.

The Ugly: Okay, there really is no ugly, but I just was in the mood to use that analogy.  =)  For future reference, if you are planting a hardneck variety, they should be put in the ground on October 12th.  That is ‘the day’ –although, I admit, I put mine in last year on a very warm day in November because I moved in late October last year.  The varieties I recommend are:

Musik:  A hardy, high-yielding hardneck porcelain variety out of Canada that grows well in northern climates. Very large bulbs yield 4 to 5 buff-colored cloves streaked with red. Good hot flavor. Easy to peel. Stores 6 months or more.

Inchellium Red:  One of the best flavored softneck artichoke garlics, the flavor mild and long-lasting with a hint of hotness that gets stronger in storage. Large off-white bulbs blushed pale purle at the base have 4 to 5 layers with 10 to 20 cloves per bulb. Stores for up to 9 months.  (Grows really well in Wisconsin.)

Italian Late, German Porcelian, Northern White, Siberian, Spanish Roja, and Purple Glazer.  I grew each of these this summer in my garden — and have found that no two varieties are alike.

Spring Garlic Varieties can be planted at the same time as onion sets in spring.  The ones I recommend are:

Late Italian: A softneck artichoke garlic with tight, light colored wrappers surrounding fat, round outer cloves. Has pleasing rich garlic flavor. Very productive. Keeps 6 to 9 months.

Silver Rose:  This softneck silverskin garlic makes beautiful braids with its rose colored cloves encased in smooth, bright white wrappers. Widely used by gourmet cooks who know and use garlic. Fast growing and stores up to 8 months.

California White:  An easy-to-grow strain acclimated to northern conditions. The large bulbs can be separated into cloves that are planted the same as onion sets. A bulb makes 10 to 20 cloves.

Elephant Garlic: Very mild flavor is ideal for soups, salads and sauce leaving no garlic aftertaste. Actually a member of the leek family. Mammoth bulbs weigh up to one pound or more, each with 5 to 7 huge cloves.  (Note from my garden: 2009 was the first time I grew these and I didn’t have much luck.  I’m not sure if it was our very cool summer or they just need something more than the other types of garlic, leeks, shallots, and onions I grew.  I need to do more hands on research with these. =)


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. 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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