How to Regrow Garlic From Scraps (Ultimate Guide)

So, you want to regrow garlic from scraps or bulbs so you no longer have to buy them from the supermarket.

Did you even know it was possible? Because I sure didn’t.

Until I tried it. And realized how easy it actually is.

With garlic being such a common ingredient in everything from sauces to soups to pasta, it’ll save you money and time.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be kicking yourself for buying that bag of garlic for $3.99 at the grocery store. Ouch.

I can’t believe how few people know about this and regrow their own garlic. It saves some serious money when you think about how much of a staple ingredient this bulbous veggie is.

Plus, you can even grow it organically and avoid any weird pesticides and sprays used in commercially farmed garlic. Harvest it anytime in your backyard for free (or pretty darn close to it).

So let’s get started and dive in. Then you can enjoy your own garlic in everything to your mouth’s content.

Last updated: 1/7/21.

Quick care guide: Garlic

Plant typePerennial
OriginChina
Scientific nameAllium sativum
Other names
Soil typeWell-draining
Soil pH6-7
Sunlight requirementFull sun
Bloom seasonLate spring, early summer
ColorsGreen, white, yellow
Max height36 inches
Max width10 inches
Temperature32F during first two months, 50F when established
Humidity50% (moderate)
Watering requirements2-3 inches per week, twice a week
Fertilizer requirementsNitrogen-rich, 10-10-10 NPK, low requirements
Days until germination7-14 days
Days until bloom100 days
Speed of growthSlow
Hardiness zones3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Plant depth3-4 inches
Plant spacing4-6 inches between cloves, 12 inches between rows
PropagationSeed, scraps, cuttings, cloves
Common pestsBulb mites, leafminers, nematodes, onion maggots, thrips, aphids
Common diseasesRoot rot, white rot, veggie rot, rust, fusarium, fungus
Beginner friendlyYes
Care levelLow
UsesEdible, pest repellent

How garlic propagates

Before you grow your garlic from scraps, you need to know how it propagates.

Garlic is a bulbous veggie that’s extremely easy to grow. You can even do it with a tiny or mini garden, and also grow it indoors the conditions inside your home are right.

The bulb is cut into cloves and each clove is planted into the soil or a plant container. The cloves then develop and form their own whole bulbs, which have about 7-10 cloves of their own.

Your garlic harvest will grow exponentially over time and you’ll end up with more than you know what to do with. You’ll never have to buy it at the grocery store again.

With the abundance of recipes that call for this allium vegetable, you’ll always have garlic ready in your garden!

So, let’s get started.

Choosing a location

The location matters. Find somewhere in your garden that has well-draining soil and has no chance of being backed up.

Garlic appreciates moistened soil but will develop root rot or other fungal or bacterial problems if the water levels are too high.

If your yard doesn’t have any good, loose soil, consider using containers or raised plant beds. These will provide proper drainage and are easy to monitor.

A raised planter drains out the bottom and rarely gets clogged since it’s, well, raised.

Plus, you can monitor the water dripping out the drain holes on the bottom of the planter.

Avoid planting where other allium crops are present

One thing to note about garlic is that you should never plant it somewhere that has shared soil with other members of the allium family.

This is to reduce competition between similar crops and to ensure that the soil has adequate nutrients for allium crops. Members of this family will all compete for the same nutrients in the soil.

And if you regrow garlic in the same plot of soil, the previous crops likely already ate all of it up.

So, you can either choose a location where you’ve never planted crops like onion, leek, shallots, scallions, or chives.

Or you can get a plant container or plant bed and fill it up with high quality, organic, well-draining soil. Just make sure to avoid replanting where you grew other related vegetables.

This will guarantee the best possible germination success and will produce larger, tastier garlic bulbs. You may even increase your harvest yield.

Use a well-draining soil

You’ve heard this phrase a million times already.

So what exactly is a “well-draining soil?” No other blog actually goes into detail about it, which was something that I truly hated when I began planting microgreens in my garden.

To keep it simple, you’ll have to use a high-quality organic substrate that doesn’t clump over time. It should be loose with water retaining properties so you don’t have to water as much and save yourself time (and water bills). Garlic does well in organic soil with some rotted manure or compost mixed in.

You can also add some 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer when you first plant your cloves for regrowing. The soil should be fertile, loamy, and soft. It should fall out of your hands through your fingers rather than stick to them.

If your yard’s soil is clumped or hard, you’ll have to either buy some new soil or use a planter. Either way works.

Do all your mixing when you start so you don’t have to do it later. This includes adding plant food, fertilizer, compost, manure, or any other plant supplements you like.

You also avoid having to dig up your garlic later to add it, so do it when you plant the first time to avoid stressing out your garlic later.

If you choose to use a planter or raised plant bed, make sure it has drainage holes at the bottom because some require you to drill the drain holes yourself.

Add some sand or stones at the bottom to prevent waterlogging and clogging.

If you want to grow organic garlic, use organic soil, compost, manure, and everything else.

This is easy to accomplish since each bulb doesn’t need that much care and will keep your growing process organic certified. Selling at farmer’s markets with your fresh garlic harvest is one of the best feelings ever.

Choosing a bulb for regrowing

Now comes the fun part.

Buy some garlic directly from the store like you normally do. If they have an organic version, get that instead. It’s only a few cents more and you can get an all-natural, pesticide-free garlic bulb.

Besides, you’ll be eating from this original bulb for years to come.

So you get what you pay for. Start right end right. What goes in comes out. You get the point.

Choose a bulb that’s large, vigorous, and easy to cut. A sprouted clove with or without roots is fine.

Even if there are no roots or sprouts yet, it can still be regrown.

Prepare your cloves for regrowing

Get a paring knife and sterilize it with some rubbing alcohol to reduce the chance of plant bacteria.

Cut the garlic bulb into cloves like you’ve done a million times before. Wash each clove after you cut them.

When to plant garlic scraps

Freshly harvested garlic from the garden.
Soil type and location matters.

Choosing when to plant is up to you and your local hardiness zone. Garlic can be replanted from cuttings in either the fall or spring.

The scrap cloves do well in both conditions, but you should choose the one that has the least amount of temperature change in your location.

Fall planting for spring germination can be done if you have mild winters.

This is typically in the higher hardiness zones such as 6-9a.

Plant your cloves in the fall in a sunny area with high-quality organic soil. If you’re in the northern states, add 4-6” of mulch for the winter.

Snow and colder climates will damage or stunt bulb development. The mulch acts as a blanket to cover your garlic and provide some heat insulation from the morning sun and protect your crop from the elements.

  • If you live in the northern US, consider panting in the spring to avoid the winter. The bulb will be more developed when the winter comes around so it can tolerate cold.
  • If you’re in the southern US, you can plant in the fall without much worry- you just need to keep it warm during the cold.

Western US states have nothing to worry about. No mulch is likely needed!

Planting in the spring

Spring planting is preferable for northern states to avoid the cold winter.

However, you should still consider adding some mulch and monitor the temperatures if they drop below garlic’s preferred temperatures. Keep it above 32F during the first two months, then keep it above 50F.

Plant the scraps in the early spring in the same steps as listed above in this growing guide.

Plant the cloves

Go to your planting site or containers. The actual planting process is very easy, just like everything else!

Place the cloves about 6” apart and just leave them on top of the soil. Garlic should be planted in rows. Move one row down (or up) and space each row 12” apart.

The garlic should be placed with the pointed end facing the sky and the flat end into the soil. Don’t push them into the soil yet.

Take measurements and provide adequate spacing for each clove. They’ll suck up all the soil around them to grow. The more space you give, the less competition they have amongst each other.

This will produce larger and tastier bulbs for you to harvest.

Push the cloves into the soil about 2” deep. Add some backfill on top and then water generously the first time.

The same process applies to garlic planted in containers. Each container should only have 1-2 cloves at most unless you have a larger plant container or you’re using a plant bed.

Space accordingly.

Adding mulch to protect the garlic

A basket of garlic that was regrown in the yard.
Fresh garlic anyone?

Supplementing a layer of organic mulch can save your garlic scraps from the cold harsh winter. You can use straw or grass clippings- both of which can be collected for free!

Just make sure that the mulch medium you use isn’t rotting or infested with something because you don’t want any transfer to your precious regrow garlic cloves.

Mulch should be used in the lower zones or northern states where the temps regularly drop in the winter season. A single should be sufficient.

Add 4-6” of mulch to shield your garlic roots from being heaved and destroyed in cold and warm cycles. This is very easy to do and you can use everything- even chopped leaves!

Caring for the scraps

After you plant the garlic scraps, care is straightforward.

Similar to any other bulbous veggie like onions, all you need to do is water regularly and provide some plant food.

When you see the first leaves start to grow, add some slow feeding nitrogen plant food. Organic blood meal or some Osmocote are both excellent choices.

You don’t need to get the fancy type unless you want to grow organic garlic. Use as directed. Water regularly to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

This should be about 2-3” of water per week, with two watering sessions.

Mulch can be used all year. Unlike other overwintering plants (Brussels sprouts or collard greens) where the mulch is removed after the winter, the mulch for garlic can be kept annually.

This helps keep weeds out and keep the moisture contained.

Some spring garlic will produce flowers that have their bulbs (called bulbils).

Prune these off the plant because your garlic will be wasting energy to produce these bulbils. We’re not interested in those flowers- just the best darn bulbs ever produced.

You don’t want a half-developed bulb (which is what you’ll be eating) and a half-developed bulbis flower. You want all the energy to be devoted to just the bulb.

Summer care

In the summer, the garlic will stop producing new foliage and the bulbs begin to develop.

This is the only time you should get rid of the mulch. Keep it on during all other seasons.

You should also stop watering completely during this time. Let the soil dry out as hard as that seems.

Harvesting

Fresh organic garlic.
The right time to harvest garlic is when they turn tan and dry up.

Garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves have dried and turned brown or fallen off the plant.

For most varieties, this happens around July to August.

But again, depending on your local climate and hardiness zone, it varies plenty. The easiest way to tell is to simply watch the leaves turn color. 

In the late summer, the garlic should be ready.

You can bend the tops over to speed up the drying process. When the tops are dry, they’re ready to harvest.

Lifting garlic bulbs

The bulbs can be dug up carefully by using a garden shovel and loosening the dirt around the bulb.

They’re extremely sensitive to bruising and scrapes, so avoid making direct contact with them using any tools.

If you leave the garlic in the soil for too long, they’ll separate and be prone to plant infections or fungus. They also may not store well because they’ve been split.

Spread out each bulb in an area with plenty of air movement to dry them out. This is your priority right now- drying them out.

Place them on a flat area and spread them out.

Drying garlic out

When they’re harvested, set them on a plate and let them dry in a shaded area for at last 2 weeks. \

They’ll stink and start to smell like, well, garlic.

That delicious, pungent sharp aroma we all know and crave.

After they’re dry, cut the tops off. You can also leave them on if you plan to braid the tops into garlic string clusters.

You can leave them alone to dry for up to a month if needed.

Keep them separate from each other and out of sunlight. Provide plenty of air movement so they don’t develop any fungal or rot problems.

Remove the roots

The roots will become extremely brittle and dry.

You can remove them with scissors or just rub them off with your fingers. They fall off easily.

Otherwise, let them dry some more if you’re having trouble. Remove any debris, dirt, or other dirty things stuck onto the bulb. The bulbs should be dry.

Don’t use water or liquids. And don’t break the bulbs either.

Hang the bulbs

Garlic should be hung up in bunches by braiding the foliage and trying them together.

Save your biggest bulbs for replanting next season.

For those that are less artsy, you can just cut the stem 2-3” above the bulb and tie them together in the cluster of bulbs.

Hang the bunch on slatted shelves in a location that’s cool and dry. Keep the air moving. Use a fan if you have to. This will help dry out the garlic bulbs faster than doing nothing and letting them be idle.

There are lots of different ways to store garlic:

The bulbs are technically ready to use at this point. If they’re dry and the skin is peeling, they’re ready to go!

Enjoy your regrow garlic. You did it all with just cuttings and scraps. isn’t that amazing?

Saving the bulbs

If you need to store your garlic for replanting or you have too many, you can place them in a secure area that’s dry and dark. Keep it airy.

Bulbs should be checked often for any greens sprouting from the bulbs. If you notice this, use it right away. Reduce moisture in the area because it’s causing your stored garlic bulbs to sprout.

The thin papery covering helps prevent moisture, but if there’s too much humidity, it can seep through.

See this guide for more info on how to store garlic.

Regrow garlic in water

Garlic cloves that were regrown in water.
Yes, you definitely can regrow them in a bowl of water!

Believe it or not, garlic can be regrown in water. You don’t even need the whole soil part. That’s how easy it is to regrow this allium.

To do this, get a container and fill it up with a bit of water. You can use a planter or even a shallow bowl. Garlic isn’t picky. The container can be a jar, bowl, baking pan, or even a cut-up bottle. You can grow garlic indoors inside your house using this method.

Grab your garlic clove and cut it into cloves. Sprouted garlic may work more quickly, but even regular cloves are OK. If you want to regrow organic garlic, choose an organic variety from the store, and use organic soil, plant food, etc.

Put the garlic into the container on the edge. If it falls into the water and floats away, consider dropping the water level so it doesn’t float and stays in place. You can also just let it float in water.

Let the garlic grow. Place the container in a warm location out of direct sunlight. The garlic will develop small sprouts from the bulb.

The shoot is a small green stem that comes out of the pointed end. This should take about 1-2 days only. Don’t let the sprouted garlic sit in water for more than a day afterward.

Now that it has germinated, take the sprouted garlic and place it into some well-draining soil. Only the shoot should be sticking out of the dirt.

Water it regularly and keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

Over time, the leaves will sprout. At first, they’ll be green. Keep watering. Add plant food at 10-10-10 NPK or a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

In the summer, it should start to turn yellow. The leaves will dry top and you can dig around the bulb to harvest it. it’s ready to go.

This method can be used to regrow green garlic, cuttings, bulbs, scraps, cloves, or even whole bulbs!

Further reading

Here are some extra resources you may find useful:

Now you regrow your garlic scraps

A bunch of garlic regrown from scraps.
Enjoy these cloves in your soups, pastas, and other dishes.

You now have everything you need to know to replant this delicious and versatile crop from scraps. It’s super easy to do and even the beginner can do it.

Plus, you don’t have to buy any more garlic at the store on your next haul. That’s one less item on your list!

What do you think? Will you be replanting garlic from cloves at home? Do you have any questions? Post a comment and let me know!

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