Can I Grow Garlic In Pots?

The quick and simple answer is yes. Garlic, Allium Sativum, is a favourite vegetable often used as a herb or spice and added to a wide range of culinary dishes including traditional English, Mediterranean and Asian. Garlic is grown from cloves, which are small bulblets, planted in late autumn and then harvested in the following summer. 

Hardneck and Softneck varieties

There are two types of garlic known as “Hardneck” and “Softneck”, with Hardneck having the stronger flavour. This type is better suited to colder climates and will produce fewer cloves, although they are generally larger than the Softneck type. It does not store very well and is unlikely to be usable come the following winter.

The Softneck type will store much longer, usually into the winter of the following year if the cloves were planted in the current autumn. Softneck cloves are smaller but generally there will be many more of them. Both types will need to be exposed to a period of cold, which is why planting in the autumn for harvesting the following year brings best results.

Planting the cloves in pots or containers

Although garlic is very often grown outdoors in beds, it can be grown in large pots or containers. The pots need to be at least 15cm deep but 20cm is better to allow ample room for development. The pots or containers should also be at least 20cm in diameter, which will be suitable for about 5 or 6 cloves. 

Garlic prefers a well-drained soil with a pH above 6.5. Fill the pots or containers to within 3-4 cm of the rim and push the cloves down into the soil to a depth of 2.5cm, ensuring the pointed end is positioned upwards. Apply water and position the pots or containers in a warm, sunny position away from cold winds and draughts.

General aftercare

Keep the plants watered during dry spells and add a liquid feed at fortnightly intervals. As the plants begin to grow freely, a few of the green leaves can be picked to use as a garnish or added to salads. Garlic takes a long time to grow, being around 9 months, from planting to harvesting, so you need a lot of patience.

During the plant’s growing period, remove any individual leaves that are turning yellow or dying. Also, remove any flower stems (scapes) that might appear, especially with the Hardneck varieties. Pots can dry out very quickly, especially during warm sunny days, so ensure they are kept moist at all times. However, stop watering when the bulbs are well formed to avoid them rotting. 

Harvesting and storage

If planted in the previous autumn, the plants will be ready for harvesting around early July in the current year. They are ready when all the leaves have turned yellow. At this time, lift them by tapping out the upturned pots or use a hand fork to remove them if in containers. It’s best not to delay harvesting beyond this time otherwise they will not store well.

You will need to dry the plants for between 2 and 4 weeks before using them. This is best carried out by leaving the lifted plants in the sun or moving them to a greenhouse and placing them on staging. A dry shed will also do so long as air can circulate freely. When all the foliage has dried, remove it an store the bulbs in a cool dry place ready for use.   


Do you have any garlic growing tips? Leave a comment below and let everyone know....


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