The Perfect Time to Plant Garlic in North Carolina

Are you looking for a way to make the most of the autumn season? Well, look no further! Planting garlic in your garden is a fantastic way to ensure a bountiful harvest in the coming months. The best part? It’s incredibly easy to grow and care for. In this article, we’ll explore the ideal time to plant garlic in North Carolina and provide some tips for a successful harvest.

Understanding Garlic

Garlic, a beloved vegetable condiment known for its distinctive flavor, has been used to enhance dishes around the world for centuries. Belonging to the Alliaceae plant family, garlic boasts a unique sulfurous scent that sets it apart. Interestingly, the word “garlic” is derived from the Welsh term “garlleg,” a testament to its long-standing presence in various cultures.

When to Plant and Care for Garlic

According to the Central North Carolina Planting Calendar, the recommended time to plant garlic in the region is between September 15 and November 30. This window aligns perfectly with the fall season, making it an excellent addition to your vegetable garden. Additionally, November and December are ideal for planting other spring-flowering bulbs, so why not include garlic in your planting endeavors?

To ensure a thriving garlic crop, choose a site that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily and has well-draining soil. Garlic prefers a slightly acidic soil pH, ideally ranging between 6 and 7. Conducting a soil test before planting will help you make any necessary adjustments to create the perfect growing environment.

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To plant garlic, dig a hole about six to eight inches deep, including mulch. Take a single clove from a garlic bulb and place it in the hole, making sure the root side faces down. Remember to leave a six to eight-inch space between each bulb. Mulching the bulbs after planting can aid in weed control and maintain moisture levels in the soil.

Within four to eight weeks after planting, you should start seeing garlic bulbs sprouting. Don’t fret about frost events; garlic can withstand cold weather and actually requires it to grow successfully. In the spring, you might notice long stems emerging from the bulbs. These are flower stems, and it’s crucial to remove them when they reach approximately ten inches in length. By doing so, you allow the plant to concentrate its energy on bulb production. These stems, known as scapes, can be used for cooking and add a unique twist to various recipes.

When harvesting garlic, keep an eye out for older leaves that begin to wither. Once you notice this sign, gently loosen the soil around the bulb with a garden fork or shovel. Be careful not to pull the plant from its leaves, as this may damage the bulbs. After removing them from the ground, lightly brush off excess dirt. To cure the bulbs, it’s recommended to tie them into bundles and hang them in a shaded, dry, and well-ventilated area, such as a shed or garage, for four to six weeks.

Exploring Garlic Varieties

There are various garlic varieties to choose from, each offering distinct characteristics and flavors. Softneck garlic, scientifically known as Allium sativum var. sativum, is renowned for its tight bulbs and long leaves that are perfect for braiding. This variety can be further classified into two main groups: silverskins and artichoke types.

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Hardneck garlic, or Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon, evolved from softneck varieties and offers a more diverse flavor profile. However, growing hardneck garlic in the South can be a bit challenging, as it prefers richer soils. Nonetheless, certain varieties, such as Chesnok Red and German Extra Hardy, have been proven successful in this region.

Elephant garlic, scientifically known as Allium ampeloprasum, derives its name from its large bulbs. Unlike other garlic varieties, elephant garlic doesn’t possess an overpowering garlic flavor. This makes it an excellent choice for those who are sensitive to the distinct sulfur profile found in softneck and hardneck garlic.

Health Benefits of Garlic

Aside from its culinary value, garlic also offers numerous health benefits. The strong smell associated with garlic comes from phytochemicals produced by the plant to protect itself from predators. Consuming these chemicals can be advantageous to human health. Allicin, a sulfur compound found in garlic, is widely regarded as one of its most beneficial ingredients. It has been linked to cholesterol regulation, offsetting symptoms of metabolic syndrome, reducing certain cancer risks, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing blood sugar levels. Although further research is ongoing to confirm these findings, it’s clear that garlic holds immense potential as a health ally.


Incorporating garlic into your vegetable or ornamental garden not only provides a horticultural challenge but also ensures a flavorful addition to your meals. By following the recommended planting and care guidelines, you can enjoy a successful garlic harvest in North Carolina. So, seize the opportunity and embark on this rewarding gardening journey. For more information, visit the Ames Farm Center website for all your gardening needs.

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Growing garlic