Planting Garlic In Nc

Garlic is a versatile and flavorful crop that is well-suited for North Carolina’s climate. With some planning and know-how, homeowners in NC can successfully grow their own garlic.

This article will provide tips and guidelines for planting garlic in North Carolina gardens and fields.

Variety Selection

There are two main categories of garlic – softneck and hardneck. Softneck varieties tend to be easier to grow and have better storing qualities, while hardneck varieties offer more flavor. Some top varieties suited for NC include:

  1. Softneck: Softneck varieties like ‘Inchelium Red’ and ‘California Early’ are heat and drought tolerant. They produce large, braidable bulbs good for long-term storage.
  2. Hardneck: Varieties like ‘Music’ and ‘Chet’s Italian’ adapt well to NC and have robust garlic flavor. Hardnecks do better in cooler zones with more moisture.


Most garlic are grown from individual cloves rather than seeds. Look for healthy, plump cloves without signs of mold or rot. Plant certified disease-free seed garlic to avoid introducing issues to your garden.

Planting Time

Garlic is generally planted in the fall in NC, from late September through November. This allows the bulbs to establish roots before the winter dormancy period. Planting too early runs the risk of bolting, while planting too late may result in small bulbs that don’t cure properly.

Aim for 6-8 weeks before the average first frost date in your area. The ideal soil temperature for planting is between 45-65°F. In warmer zones like coastal NC, January planting can also work.

Soil Preparation

Garlic grows best in loose, nutrient-rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 6-7. Before planting, have your soil tested to check fertility levels and pH. You may need to amend the soil with compost or other organic matter.

Till in any amendments at least 2-4 weeks before planting to allow time for them to break down. Remove weeds and debris. Rake the soil to create a smooth, fine seedbed for the cloves.

Planting Method

Individual garlic cloves are planted pointy end up, about 1-2 inches deep, and spaced 4-6 inches apart in the row. Leave at least 12-18 inches between rows for ease of weeding.

You can plant in raised beds, directly in the garden soil, or in containers with drainage holes. The soil should be moist but not soaked when planting. Plant the same variety together in blocks rather than mixing them.

Water the newly planted cloves if the soil seems dry. Place small berry baskets, boards or other accessories over newly planted sections to protect tender cloves from birds.

Common Problems

Disease pressure is usually low when planting garlic in the fall versus spring. However, be on the lookout for signs of issues like:

  • Mold/rot: Remove any cloves showing signs before planting. Improve soil drainage if mold is recurring.
  • Thrips: Sawtooth shapes on leaves indicate these tiny insects. Choose resistant varieties or use row covers.
  • Rust: Orange spots on leaves are a fungus. Improve air circulation and remove infected leaves. Fungicides help with prevention.

Care During Winter Dormancy

Garlic grows roots during winter dormancy. Aside from weeding, little to no other care is needed until growth resumes in spring. Mulch planted areas after the ground freezes to insulate bulbs.

Excess rain or saturated soil during dormancy can lead to mold issues.

Spring Care and Harvest

Growth will resume in early spring as the soil warms. At this stage, side dress with natural fertilizer like compost or fish emulsion to boost bulbs. Weed as needed and water during drought periods.

# Harvest garlic when the bottom third of leaves begins to turn brown naturally. This usually occurs in late June in NC depending on variety and growing conditions. For hardneck varieties, harvest as individual bulbs after flower stalk (scapes) form.

# Carefully dig or fork under bulbs, avoiding bruising. Cure bulbs in a dry, shaded area with good airflow for 2-4 weeks until skins are fully dried. Braid softneck varieties or store in net bags. Enjoy your harvest through winter!

Storing Garlic

Cured garlic can be stored for several months. Unpeeled bulbs last longest stored in a cool, dry, dark place with airflow like a hanging mesh bag or basket.

Check periodically for signs of mold or sprouting. Peel a few inner cloves to use within 1-2 months.


With the right timing, variety selections, and care, North Carolina’s climate offers an excellent growing environment for delicious homegrown garlic. Following these guidelines will help garlic thrive from planting through harvesting. With a little patience and TLC, you’ll be enjoying your garlic for taste and recipes year-round.

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