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How Deep to Plant Garlic

Garlic cloves grow best when planted 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) deep. The garden beds or containers should have at least 12 inches (30 cm) of soil. Always cover garlic with soil after planting. Never just put the cloves on top of the dirt. Planting garlic too deep could result in poor growth if the cloves grow at all. When you plant the cloves at the right depth, the fully developed roots will usually reach about 9 inches (23 cm) down.

How Deep Does Soil Need to Be to Grow Garlic?

Plant garlic in garden beds or containers that have at least 12 inches (30 cm) of soil. The root growth will not likely reach that far down. However, this soil depth gives the plants a little extra room for larger garlic bulb growth.

  • Garlic prefers to grow in beds or containers with at least 12 inches (30 cm) of soil.
  • The roots will not reach quite that far down, but it does offer room for bigger bulbs.
  • Plant your garlic cloves pointy side up 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) below the soil surface.
  • The roots will likely reach down 9 inches (23 cm) mark as the bulb grows.
  • Extra soil helps prevent your garlic from developing crowded roots.

You will need to plant the individual cloves pointy side up about 1–3 inches deep (2.5–7.5 cm). Then, the plant will likely develop a 9-inch deep (23 cm) root system beneath the clove. The extra soil beyond that helps protect the roots from getting crowded and starved for nutrients.

Should You Cover Garlic with Soil?

Always cover your garlic cloves with soil after planting. Create rows about 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Start at the end of the row and push one clove 1–3 inches deep (2.5–7.5 cm). Make sure the clove has the point facing up. Cover that clove with soil. Repeat that process every 6 inches (15 cm) down the row for all your cloves. This spacing allows each garlic plant adequate room to grow.

  • Cover garlic with soil immediately after planting.
  • Plant your cloves in rows spaced 12 inches apart  (30 cm).
  • Space your garlic cloves 6 inches apart (15 cm) to give them room to grow big bulbs.
  • Add straw mulch over the top of the garlic if you’re in a cold area.
  • Water for one month after planting, and then stop until spring arrives.

In areas with cool temperatures, add up to a 6 inch (15 cm) application of mulch over the top. Straw mulch works best. You can also use shredded leaves, alfalfa hay, or even compost. The soil should stay moist through the winter. You likely won’t need to water after the first month of planting. Start watering again in the spring.

Can You Plant Garlic on Top of Soil?

Do not plant garlic on top of the soil. The cloves will not grow unless placed beneath the soil. The cloves should have at least 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) of dirt over them. An extra 6 inches of straw mulch can provide additional protection in cold areas. This rule applies to all types of garlic, including both hardneck and softneck garlic variety.

  • Never plant garlic right on top of the soil.
  • Plant cloves 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) beneath the soil surface.
  • Add up to 6 inches (15 cm) of straw mulch on top of freshly planted garlic to provide extra protection.
  • Garlic must stay in the soil through winter for the vernalization process.
  • Vernalization triggers the plant to create the signature bulb with separate cloves.

Garlic needs to stay in the soil through the winter to grow actual bulbs. Exposure to cold temperatures triggers vernalization. This causes the single clove to break up into many separate cloves. Without that, you’ll only end up with green leaves from your garlic plants.

What Happens If You Plant Garlic Too Deep?

Planting garlic too deep will result in poor growth. Sometimes, the plants do not even grow at all, especially if they don’t get enough sun. The cloves have to expend extra energy to travel more than 3 inches (7.5 cm) to the soil’s surface. Losing that energy can impact the harvestable bulb size.

  • Planting garlic at depths greater than 3 inches (7.5 cm) can negatively impact its growth.
  • Deeply planted garlic with heavy soil packed on top may not even grow.
  • Mulch can add even more bulk over the plants, although it might decompose by spring.
  • If the mulch does not decompose over winter, push it to the side in spring to reduce the burden on your plants.

There are many benefits of mulch, but it can add a lot of bulk over the plants. In most cases, the mulch will break down by springtime. If it doesn’t, you can remove it. Just rake the mulch off the top of the plants without disrupting the soil too much. Then, your garlic varieties can easily sprout through the soil surface.

How Deep Do Garlic Roots Go?

Garlic roots can reach 6 inches (15 cm) in length. The roots typically spread out in the 3–9 inches (7.5–23 cm) of space beneath each clove. Garden beds and containers only need to have 12 inches (30 cm) of soil to best support garlic’s growth.

  • Garlic roots typically grow to about 6 inches (15 cm) long.
  • Root systems can reach depths of 3–9 inches (7.5–23 cm).
  • Garlic needs to grow in containers or garlic beds with 12 inches (30 cm) of soil or more.
  • Shallow roots can easily dry out if the soil does not stay sufficiently moist.
  • Water your plants for 30 days after planting, then stop watering until spring arrives.

Garlic’s shallow roots are susceptible to drying out. Keep the soil moist in the first month of planting to promote good root development. Rain in the winter months will keep the soil moist until spring. Resume watering once the last frost date passes.

How Deep Do You Plant Garlic Bulbs?

Follow these essential rules when planting all varieties of garlic:

  • Plant garlic cloves 13 (2.5–7.5 cm) inches deep.
  • Cover the cloves with soil instead of leaving them on the surface.
  • Planting your garlic too deep will result in poor growth
  • The soil where garlic is growing needs to stay moist through the growing season.

Cloves planted at the right depth will develop a good root system in the fall. The roots will usually reach 6 inches (15 cm) in length and grow to a depth of 3–9 inches (7.5–23 cm). Since the roots are shallow, they run the risk of drying out. The soil should stay moist through the growing season.

There’s perhaps nothing better than the taste of fresh garlic from your garden. As long as you put in the effort, you’ll be well rewarded by a nice harvest of delicious garlic. So, it’s definitely worth the effort it takes to get it right.

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