How to Grow Garlic Indoors

Updated on June 21, 2019
KCO profile image

Katy's garden of herbs, peppers and greens is constantly expanding as she learns new techniques and tries new plants!

You’ve got the right idea to grow your garlic inside. In some areas, starting garlic inside is the only way to get it to maturity. The bulbs have a very long growing season, so they really benefit from spending the beginning or all of their lives inside.

Growing garlic indoors is easy if you follow these simple steps:

  1. Separate the cloves.
  2. Plant in containers with good potting soil.
  3. Give them full sun and frequent watering.
  4. Harvest the scapes (the green shoots) for cooking.
  5. Harvest the bulbs after six months.

Let's look at tips for how to grow your garlic inside.

Organically grown garlic.
Organically grown garlic. | Source

Potting Garlic Bulbs

Pick the best bulbs from either a nursery or the produce section (if grown organically). You’re looking for white, healthy bulbs. Toss the ones with any yellow or black on them. Separate out the cloves and leave the skin on.

I use trough-shaped pots for all my onions and garlic. I like them because they're shallow—garlic doesn't need a whole lot of depth—but I can fit in a lot of plants length-wise.

Orient the cloves skinny side-down in the pot. Give them 3–4 inches of space. Cover with 1 inch of dirt.

The Best Soil for Garlic

You will need potting soil that includes nutrients. Garlic will benefit from fast-draining soil. You can mix soil with compost before potting.

Caring for Indoor Garlic

Garlic likes moisture. If you set up your soil and pot correctly so they drain well, watering isn’t as tricky. It’s difficult to overwater if your setup drains well, but it’s still possible.

Since your plant is indoors, it’s easier to predict how often it needs water. Start by watering every other day and test the soil. Water as often as necessary to keep the soil moist.

If you see the shoots turn yellow while they’re still young, stop watering! This is a sign they’re getting too much water. If the plant is healthy and over six months old, yellow shoots and withering is sign the bulbs are ready for harvest.

Lighting

Getting your plants enough light makes all the difference. Garlic does best with full sun, so pick a sunny window for your indoor plants.

Indoor LED Grow Lights

Consider getting some small LED lights to supplement your natural sunlight. Have them turn on for three to five hours a day to bring the plant’s total sun exposure up to at least eight hours. Learn more about choosing indoor lights for your plants.

It doesn’t cost much in your electric bill, because LEDs are very efficient. And your herbs will really show the difference.

Fertilizing

Garlic needs a lot of nutrients, so ensure it starts out with good soil. The bulbs will be good until they begin growing shoots. That’s a good time to add nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the soil. It’s not totally necessary, but your garlic will be bigger and healthier come harvest time.

Garlic ready for harvesting.
Garlic ready for harvesting. | Source

Harvesting

You can harvest the scapes (the green shoots) when they are tall enough that they start to curl at the top. Leave at least one shoot per plant.

Scapes are very similar to chives and can be used wherever you want a spicy, onion taste in your meals.

The bulbs are ready to harvest after six to eight months of growth. Once the shoots start to wilt, it's time to dig them up.

Moving Outdoors

In the warmer months, you can move your garlic pots outside. If you have the space, get them in the sunniest part of your yard or patio.

If you plan on moving your garlic outside, start them inside in mid-winter (December-February).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    • Larry Slawson profile image

      Larry Slawson 

      5 months ago from North Carolina

      Very cool. I'll have to try this... I love garlic!

    • Jennifer Jorgenson profile image

      Jennifer Jorgenson 

      5 months ago

      What a great idea! I can't believe it never occurred to me to try growing garlic indoors. Our soil gets compacted easily especially from weather so our outdoor garlic has mostly produced smaller bulbs. But I'm thinking in a pot indoors I could be sure they have a more loamy soil and perhaps get larger bulbs. Thanks so much for this!

    • KCO profile imageAUTHOR

      Katy Medium 

      5 months ago from Denver, CO

      Marlene, the plants are not very aromatic until you cut into them. So your house won't smell like garlic. Good luck if you decide to try it! Come back and post if you have any issues.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      5 months ago from USA

      I completely fancy the idea of growing garlic indoors. I have a nice little window sill that a trough could sit on. I think I will try it. I am just curious about one thing. When growing the garlic indoors, does it make the house smell like garlic?

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