Will Supermarket Garlic Grow: Growing Garlic From The Grocery Store

Will Supermarket Garlic Grow: Growing Garlic From The Grocery Store

Almost every culture uses garlic,which means it’s pretty much indispensable in not only the pantry but in thegarden as well. Even when used often, however, the cook might come upon agarlic clove that has been sitting around for too long and is now sporting agreen shoot. This might lead one to wonder if you can grow store bought garlic.

Will Supermarket Garlic Grow?

Yes, store bought garlic bulbs can be used to grow garlic.In fact, growing garlic from the grocery store is a pretty handy way to goabout growing your own fresh bulbs, especially if you have one in the pantrythat has already begun to grow. What else would you do with it but plunk it inthe dirt and see what happens?

About Planting Grocery Store Garlic

While it may seem a bit cavalier to say “plunk the clove indirt,” the actual planting of grocery store garlic is pretty much that simple.What isn’t quite so simple is discerning what type of store bought garlic bulbsyou wish to plant.

Much of the time, store bought garlic bulbs come from Chinaand have been treated to prevent sprouting. Obviously, treated garlic can’t begrown because it won’t sprout. Also, it’s been previously treated with a chemical,not a thumbs up for most people. Ideally, you would want to use organicallygrown garlic bulbs from the grocers or farmers market.

Plus, most garlic sold at the supermarket is of the softneckvariety, nothing wrong with softneck garlic except that it’s not cold hardy. Ifyou are planning to grow in zone 6 or below, it would be better to obtain somehardneck garlic to plant.

The store bought garlic can also be planted inside (oroutside) to be used for its delicious edible leaves which taste like mildgarlic. This is a great option for northern denizens whose climate may be toocool to grow the store bought bulbs.

Growing Garlic from the Grocery Store

While fall is the optimum time to plant garlic, it reallydepends on your region. Softneck garlic, the type you are most likely plantingfrom the supermarket, needs a bit of cold to form bulbs and leaves. In cool tocold climates, it can be planted in the spring when the ground is still cold orin the coolest month of fall in milder climates.

Separate the bulb into individual cloves. Plant the cloveswith the pointy end up and cover them with a couple of inches of soil. Spacethe cloves about 3 inches (7.6 cm.) apart. Within three weeks or so, you shouldsee shoots begin to form.

If your area is prone to freezing, cover the garlic bed upwith some mulch to protect it but remember to remove the mulch as temps warm.Keep garlic consistently watered and weeded.

Be patient, garlic takes up to 7 months to reach maturity.When the tips of the leaves start to brown, stop watering and allow the stalksto dry. Wait about two weeks and then carefully lift the garlic up from thedirt.


Can You Plant Store Bought Garlic?

If you plant store bought garlic, will it grow?

If you remember, about four weeks ago, I did just that. Planted China grown garlic cloves, straight from the grocery store.

YES. They’re growing!

Some of these guys are about ten inches tall already. I’m so excited!

Now, the next question is, will they produce?

I’m dying to know if these plants will grow into nice garlic heads, or if they’ll be duds. I won’t know till I harvest, sometime between mid-May to early June.

I think I’ll mulch them lightly with leaves or straw soon, to protect them a little from the winter months.

Maybe, with some luck, I’ll have a successful harvest early next Summer!

Did you plant garlic this year? Have any tips you can share??

A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


Tips for Growing Grocery Store Garlic

  1. Check for the optimal time to plant garlic for your zone. Here in Phoenix we start them in the October but many areas will be Spring starts.
  2. Your optimal planting area should get plenty of light and fertile soil that drains well. Mine grow wonderfully in raised beds.
  3. Break the cloves apart from the head. Look for cloves that are blemish free for planting.
  4. You want to plant the cloves 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep.
  5. Plant the cloves with the pointy end up.
  6. Once planted cover the area with mulch if your area is prone to freeze. Be sure to remove the mulch when it warms up.
  7. In less than 4 weeks you should start seeing shoots popping up through the ground.
  8. Trim off flowers the grow because these could cause smaller bulbs.

It can take anywhere from 90 to 240 days (3 to 8 months) for garlic to grow to maturity. Of course, the time for garlic to mature depends on when you plant it.

As mentioned earlier, you can plant garlic in the fall, or you can plant it in the spring for a faster harvest with smaller bulbs.

If you plant garlic in the fall, it will take about 240 days (8 months) to grow to maturity. For example, if planting on November 1, it will take until about July 1 for the garlic to mature into bulbs that are ready for harvest.

If you plant garlic in the spring, it will take about 90 days (3 months) to grow to maturity. For example, if planting on April 1, it will take until about July 1 for the garlic to grow into mature bulbs that are ready for harvest.


Can You Grow Garlic From Supermarket Bulbs?

Supermarket garlic usually comes from China. Source: www.abc.net

Question: Can I take garlic bulbs sold in my local supermarket and plant the cloves in my garden?

Answer: Yes, you can, but…

Were The Bulbs Treated?

These days, most supermarket garlic comes from China and it’s often treated to prevent sprouting. (Good luck finding which chemicals were used: the Chinese have never been very open to sharing such information!) Essentially, it’s dead and can’t sprout. So, unless you can actually see store-bought garlic bulbs sprouting, you may be wasting your time by planting it.

To test if your garlic is alive or dead, put it in the fridge for a week or so, then take it out. Cold treatment followed by warmth tends to stimulate sprouting if any is possible.

That said, there may also be locally produced garlic in supermarkets (probably in the organic food section) and it will likely grow quite readily if you plant it.

Is It Adapted to Your Climate?

Hardneck garlic is the best choice for colder climates. Source: www.waldeneffect.org

Supermarket garlic, and indeed, most garlic sold worldwide, is almost always softneck garlic (Allium sativum sativum). It’s not the cold hardiest kind and it’s rarely a good choice for cold climates. There are hardier varieties of softneck garlic … but a supermarket is no place to look for them!

So, in zone 6 and above, you could theoretically grow store-bought garlic for its bulbs. In cool temperate to cold climates, hardneck garlic (A. sativum ophioscordum), not found in the average supermarket, is usually the best choice.

Forget the Bulb and Eat the Leaves

Forget the cloves: just eat the leaves! Source: www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk

Of course, any garlic that sprouts can at least be grown for its edible leaves. They taste just like mild garlic and are a wonderful addition to your cuisine. That might be the best way to grow store-bought garlic, especially in the North. You can even grow garlic for its leaves indoors if you want to, but there won’t be much of a bulb at harvest time.

If You Do Plant Store-Bought Garlic

Plant it very early in the spring (cool to cold climates), when the ground is still cold to the touch, or in fall or at the coldest time of the year (mild climates), as even softneck garlic needs a bit of cold to do its best. Without cold, leaves may grow, but bulb formation may be weak or absent.

Real gardeners grow garlic truly adapted to their conditions. Store-bought garlic is just for experimenting. Source: www.epicgardening.com

The point here is that real gardeners grow garlic adapted to their local conditions rather than supermarket garlic, which is almost never the best choice. Instead, your local garden center probably sells appropriate varieties in the fall (the best time to plant garlic). Farmers’ markets, where you can actually talk to growers, are also an excellent source of climate-appropriate garlic: any garlic they successfully grow locally should be perfect for your conditions. Plus, there are nurseries specializing in garlic in most regions: that is where you should go for the widest choice and the best advice.

Sources of Garlic Cloves for Planting

August is just about the best time of the year to order garlic bulbs by mail for planting in your garden, so don’t hesitate!

Note that the following sources often mention garlic “seed,” but you won’t actually receive itsy-bitsy seeds, but rather garlic bulbs you can break up into cloves. The cloves are the “seed garlic” they refer to and are what you will be planting!

United States

Good growing!


Grocery store garlic?

I have an extra head of garlic from the grocery store. Anyone ever have luck with that? It's not organic, as far as I know, but seems like often enough, garlic that sits in the pantry will send out a green shoot or two.

There was a thread about this not long ago. Scroll down Beginner Vegetables until you get to "It's time to plant garlic." Based on that thread, I just planted 5 cloves of grocery store garlic, my first time ever to plant garlic. It's going to be hard to wait to see what happens!

It should work fine. Just don't save seeds from it, it is probably a hybrid. You can alwats save the cloves to replant. You will have plenty of garlic

Excellent! Thanks for the pointer to the other thread (milesdt), and for the advice (1lisac). I will give it a try.

I've grown garlic purchased from the supermarket three years in a row with great success. Choose the largest cloves to plant and eat the smaller ones. The bigger the clove you set, the larger your final head of garlic will be.

One can neve have enough garlic!

I have friends that grow successfully from grocery store garlic. It didn't work well for me. Basically, I think it just has a lot of variables, and depends on the conditions. I am growing more expensive stock this year, and can already tell a big difference in the overall greater health of the plants. Of course, I won't know for sure until next year at harvest!

We always planted garlic in a corner of the fence and forgot it. When the tops started dying down, we would dig up the cloves and replant a few for next year. It will gradually spread and take over the whole corner. If you have room this is a good way to grow it.

Sounds like a good method, Jim41. If I ever get a deep enough patch of decently draining soil, I will try it. As it is, I've got just a couple inches over rock, most places in the garden. But over years, I hope to pull out rock and soften it all up with compost and such -- at least a bed or two.

Update: I did put some garlic cloves in a couple of pots and one of them is sending out a shoot. Maybe it's sort of hit and miss, basilandbella (starting from grocery store garlic, I mean).

LiseP - have you tried putting raised beds over your rock? I have one area that has a boulder about an inch below the surface so there's no way I could pull it out. I made a mound of soil over it and planted some sweet potatoes. The sweets produced some nice tators right on top of the boulder.

This summer I went to my local Garlic Festival for the first time to learn about garlic growing. There were many hardneck varieties available to purchase and lectures on how to grow them. One overall theme was to avoid the supermarket varieties since they are grown in China, forced to grow quickly for market, and thus not hardened off properly for home growing. Thus one may find (as I do) that they sprout fairly quickly if not used promptly or begin to rot. Home grown ones should store longer since you harden them off after harvesting. One can plant the Chinese ones, of course, but I have found them to produce much smaller bulbs. If you can find local growers to purchase from you will get the right ones for your climate. I was given two bulbs last year and was amazed at the size I got! So this year I went to the Festival and bought 4 varieties of Hardneck which I planted in October. We'll see how they do. I see some have started to come up already. They will be mulched with straw in the next few days for the winter.

I am certain that there is a certain variable, but, from what I've learned from my past failures and resulting research, it might just be the variety. I live in an odd climate. It's too hot for things hardy to zone 8, and too cold for things hardy to zone 9, if that makes any sense. Garlic needs some good cold. Here, if we hit 20 degrees one night in the summer, the whole town goes to pieces.

I meant winter. I was looking outside, wishing for summer!

Here are two links that might help with info on growing garlic. One of them says something about putting in cold (the fridge) for three weeks in warmer climates. A local garden center should know who grows and sells garlic in your area or if it's possible to grow it there at all.
Actually it may still not be too late in the south to plant garlic at this point. We are told Columbus day is a good point of reference in my area.
Good luck. Think spring!

I believe I posted on the other garlic thread that I've grown "grocery store" garlic for over ten years, at least. (Quite possibly much longer than that.) I don't have trouble growing it at all, nor do I have trouble with storage of it. Grocery store garlic, more often than being one of the California strains, usually Calif White a.k.a. Calif Early or Calif Late, is a soft-neck variety, best grown in the southern areas. Gardagore, I imagine the garlic festival people you spoke with in your area are growing hardnecks, another reason for you to buy from them as hardnecks are more suitable to your area than softnecks.

As for Chinese garlic, I planted some in December 2008 (a bit late for me since I normally shoot for Thanksgiving week for garlic planting). A fellow market vendor bought a huge bag of it wholesale and gave me some of the bulbs. It grew fairly well but I noticed that many of the cloves had dark spots like larvae in them. I suppose it was considered edible but it wasn't something a farmer would want to plant for fear they could've been nematode.

Yesterday I set out garlic (Calif White) that was harvested this past June/July. Quite a few bulbs were set on weed mat next to my boxed beds all summer. I had such a big harvest that the smaller bulbs were set aside "for later". Hah! Good ol' procrastinator me ended up later being yesterday, November 30th! In spite of our temps in the upper 90's, even 100є+ for several weeks, in spite of them being in full sun all summer, in the drought then followed by rains, they eventually sprouted a couple weeks ago, still sitting where I left them on the weed mat. I divided those and set them out.

I also allow some heads of garlic to continue growing, sometimes doing so on purpose, sometimes just forgetting them in the beds. Those, too, will sprout, sending up nice top growth, producing great roots, and I will pull them up and set them out as well. I actually took pics yesterday, thinking of this thread, so will post later today, if ya'll like.

Basilandbella, now is a good time to set out your garlic cloves. And as Gardagore mentioned, a cool period is helpful ("vernalization"), especially for softnecks. Several weeks (some folks believe several months) will trick them into thinking they've seen winter. Keep in mind there are other factors concerning bulbing, i.e., daylength at the proper time, length of vernalization time, soil nutrition, etc, but overall garlic is a fairly easy crop to grow. I say go for it.

And now I see that once again I've become entirely too long-winded! Whooops!

Thanks, Shoe, for your usual informative posting! Since the Garlic Festival I have been looking at the grocery store garlic carefully. Virtually all I find is from China but I can imagine that being in the South you have more access to the soft neck California varieties. I said earlier in my posting that I do have some grocery store garlic growing. In fact it has become almost invasive because I didn't know anything about harvesting it at the time ( several years ago!) so have let it go. It produces abundantly, just small bulbs and doesn't last when harvested. You are correct that the hard neck does well in this climate. Still learning!!

gardagore, at one garlic festival I once went to they even had garlic ice cream! Yep, I HAD to try it! Maybe with your smaller whites you can try using them for that, eh? Might be fun to try!

Garlic from China. Yeh, that is a bane to US garlic producers, apparently barging in on their sales. However, from a report I wrote not long ago I found that California still provides about 75-85% of US garlic, unfortunately quite a bit of it goes to processing (garlic powder, garlic salt, dehydration, etc). I'll check our local grocery stores and see if they list the origin of their garlic. What I have is from saved cloves over the past years with only a few "new" bulbs purchased here and there when it is so cheap I can pass it up.

Now if I could just "grow" my own olive oil then all my stir-fry dishes would be the best I'd ever hope for! *grin

If I remember correctly, our local gardening TV show said that garlic from China has no roots. The bottoms will be concave. So, any garlic that has roots (I assume) did not come from China.

Sometimes I see packages of several heads of garlic being sold as a unit - on the label it says from China.

Garlic wouldn't grow if it had no roots. I'm sure your radio show meant the roots were trimmed though, Honeybee. Fortunately it takes very little root to bring life into garlic. Inside each clove is the root life whether one can see any on the outside.

I wonder if it would be worth the time to have people cut the little roots off each bulb. I know I wouldn't have that kind of time. Also it seems it would allow early deterioration of the harvested garlic.

This pic is of my harvested Chinese garlic planted in '08. I know my planting stock was from China because the mesh bag it came in (a 24# wholesale bag) had the import tag on it. I would've noticed the bulbs/cloves being butchered/cut on and certainly wouldn't take the time to plant them if so.

Here is a close-up of a couple of cloves from that garlic. See the one in the palm of my hand and notice the little brown-ness on the bottom? No roots there but that brown-ness will begat roots.

I also notice those ends are concave and wonder if that is what your radio show was referring to, Honeybee. I'll have to look more closely at some of my other garlic to compare.

Horseshoe - It's probably the USDA that doesn't allow rooted garlic into America - or perhaps some other agency. Probably to avoid forgeign pests from entering the USA.

I don't remember whether or not the TV guy said it would not grow - I only remember he said it would not have roots.

I should start writing down these things LOL

I can believe that, Honey, about theUSDA. Remember all those phyto-laws that kicked in for certain plants a while back? I'm sure something like that comes into play for veggies (and I hope here is, too).

You've got me wondering about those "concave ends" now. wondering if that is variety specific or if from cutting roots off. Could someone look at your seed garlic from another source (i.e. not China) and see if it looks like what I have shown in the first clove pic above?

And while I have your attention I gotta show ya'll something really neat! When taking pics yesterday I wondered if this garlic, which still looks edible, was beyond sowing/planting. I broke open a clove mainly to see how fresh or dry it was and Lo and Behold, inside was the life force, perfectly comfortable and just waiting its turn to perform! Pretty neat, eh?

Shoe (back out to haul/cut more firewood before I lose my daylight)

Horseshoe - the first summer (2007) I grew garlic purchased from an online vendor, and I remember muttering to myself that it looked just like what I usually purchase from the supermarket, only a great deal more expensive!

2008 - I planted garlic I purchased from the supermarket - they were pure white and grew very well. I seem to remember that they had roots.

2009 - I planted more garlic from the supermarket - they had a slight purple cast. Hubby and I agreed that we liked the taste, so I saved some of the cloves.

2010 - this year we had a great garlic harvest, and I have already set cloves for next summer's harvest.

I think what I have is a soft neck artichoke type as these sometimes have purple blotches according to this link:

Sorry, Horseshoe, I don't have any seed garlic from another source to compare with your photo :(

Thanks for sharing the photo. So did you eat it, or plant it? Personally, I would have eaten it!

This photo is of the cloves I set November 19th - they really should have been planted at the end of October.


Watch the video: How to Harvest Wild Garlic. Identify Field Garlic