Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) is a plant belonging to the onion
It has a tall, solid, flowering stalk and broad, flat leaves.
Growing Elephant Garlic involves several key steps to ensure a successful harvest.
Elephant Garlic plants require well-drained soil and should be planted in a sunny location.
Planting depth is crucial, and bulbs should be set about 2 inches deep with the pointed end
Adequate spacing is essential, allowing roots to grow freely.
These plants are considered biennials, completing their life cycle in two growing seasons,
with fall planting and spring/summer harvest.
Regular watering is necessary, particularly during dry periods.
Elephant Garlic can be a rewarding addition to a garden, providing a milder flavor than
Growing elephant garlic can be a rewarding experience, providing you with flavorful, oversized
Here’s a comprehensive outline of the 8 steps to successfully cultivate elephant
Selecting Elephant Garlic Bulbs
Selecting the right elephant garlic bulbs is crucial for a successful harvest.
Follow these tips for choosing the best seed garlic bulbs:
Size and Quality:
Opt for large, healthy bulbs with firm cloves. The size of the bulb is an indicator of the potential
size of the cloves you’ll harvest.
Cloves and Bulb Structure:
Look for bulbs with well-defined cloves. Avoid bulbs with soft spots or signs of disease.
Healthy, plump cloves contribute to robust plant development.
Skin Color and Texture:
Choose bulbs with clean, papery skins. Avoid bulbs with mold, discoloration, or softness.
The skin protects the cloves during planting and early growth.
Aim for bulbs with uniform size and structure. This promotes consistent growth and development
in your garlic crop.
Purchase from Reliable Sources:
Buy garlic bulbs from reputable nurseries, farmers’ markets, or online suppliers.
Reliable sources ensure the quality and authenticity of the garlic varieties.
Hardneck vs. Softneck:
Consider whether you want hardneck or softneck garlic. Hardneck varieties are known for their
robust flavor and produce scapes, while softneck varieties store well and are often braidable.
If possible, choose garlic varieties adapted to your local climate. Local varieties are more likely
to thrive in your specific growing conditions.
Consult Growing Guides:
Refer to growing guides and expert tips to understand the specific requirements and
characteristics of the elephant garlic varieties you are interested in.
Choosing the Planting Location
Selecting the right planting location is essential for successful elephant garlic cultivation.
Follow these guidelines to choose an optimal planting site:
Elephant garlic thrives in direct sunlight.
Choose a location that receives full sun exposure for at least six hours a day to promote
healthy growth and bulb development.
Elephant garlic prefers well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to bulb rot.
Ensure the soil is loose, friable, and enriched with organic matter for optimal growth.
Plant elephant garlic cloves 4 to 6 inches deep. The cloves should be positioned with their
pointed ends facing upward. Adequate planting depth encourages strong root development.
Elephant garlic can tolerate cold temperatures. Plant cloves two weeks before the first frost date
in the fall, allowing them to overwinter through the spring.
Avoid Waterlogged Areas:
Avoid planting in areas prone to waterlogging, as this can lead to root diseases. Well-draining
soil helps prevent water accumulation around the garlic bulbs.
Consider Local Climate:
Take into account your local climate when choosing a planting location. Adapt the timing of
planting based on frost dates and temperature variations in your region.
Fall or Spring Planting:
Elephant garlic is typically planted in the fall before frost sets in. However, it can also be
planted in early spring.
Consider your local climate and soil conditions when deciding on the planting time.
Heavy Soil Considerations:
If you have heavy soils, adjust planting depth and consider incorporating organic matter to
improve soil structure and drainage.
Preparing the Soil
Proper soil preparation is crucial for growing healthy elephant garlic.
Follow these steps to prepare the soil for elephant garlic cultivation:
Loose, Well-Draining Soil:
Elephant garlic thrives in loose, well-draining soil. Ensure the soil structure allows water to
permeate easily, preventing waterlogging that can lead to root diseases.
Organic Matter Enrichment:
Improve the soil structure by incorporating organic matter. Add a couple of inches of compost to
enhance fertility and provide essential nutrients for the garlic plants.
Prior to planting, add a generous layer of compost to the soil.
This not only enriches the soil but also contributes to moisture retention and supports
Consider conducting a soil test to assess nutrient levels. Adjust the soil pH and nutrient
content based on the specific needs of garlic for optimal growth.
Breaking Bulbs into Cloves
Break elephant garlic bulbs into individual cloves before planting. Plant these cloves with the
pointed end facing up for successful germination.
Consider applying a layer of mulch around the planted cloves to help regulate soil temperature,
retain moisture, and suppress weed growth.
Plant elephant garlic cloves 4 to 6 inches deep, allowing for proper root development. Ensure
adequate spacing between cloves to avoid overcrowding.
Repeat Soil Amendments:
Throughout the growing season, consider repeating soil amendments, especially if the soil
shows signs of nutrient depletion.
These steps will create an optimal environment for elephant garlic, promoting vigorous growth
and robust bulb development.
Planting Depth and Timing
For successful elephant garlic cultivation, the planting depth and timing are
crucial factors to consider:
Create a planting furrow in the soil and plant elephant garlic cloves about 2-3 inches deep.
This depth allows for proper root development and helps protect the cloves during early growth.
Elephant garlic should be planted in the fall before the first frost date.
Planting earlier, around the beginning of October, is ideal for zones 5 and below, where the
ground freezes. In warmer climates, it can also be planted in early spring.
Plant each clove into well-prepared, weed-free soil, with its pointed end up, approximately
Adequate spacing between cloves, about 20-30cm apart, ensures proper growth and prevents
Elephant garlic can overwinter throughout the spring, and the cloves can tolerate cold
temperatures. This allows for a longer growing period and harvest after approximately 240
days if planted in the fall.
By following these guidelines for planting depth and timing, you can maximize the chances
of a successful elephant garlic harvest.
Maintaining a proper watering routine is essential for the health and growth of elephant garlic.
Here’s a recommended watering routine based on the gathered information:
Elephant garlic plants typically need at least 1 inch of water per week.
Ensure the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Drip irrigation is recommended
to provide even moisture distribution.
Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during active growth periods.
Aim for a balance where the soil is neither too dry nor excessively wet to prevent root diseases
and encourage healthy development.
Ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. Well-draining soil helps maintain the right
moisture level and supports optimal root health.
Fertilization and Watering:
Fertilize the elephant garlic with a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
However, avoid over-fertilizing to prevent stress on the plants. Adjust the watering routine
based on fertilization frequency and weather conditions.
By following this watering routine, you can provide the necessary hydration for elephant garlic,
supporting its growth and ensuring a successful harvest.
Fertilizing the Plants
Proper fertilization is crucial for the successful growth of elephant garlic.
Here’s a concise guide based on the gathered information:
Before planting, incorporate 1,000 lb of fertilizer with a 5-10-15 or similar analysis,
along with 5% sulfur, per acre. This provides a good starting point for soil enrichment.
Fertilize moderately according to soil test results. Avoid fertilizing once bulbing has begun, as it
may hinder bulb development.
Use a balanced fertilizer to supply essential nutrients during the growth stages.
Ensure fertilization aligns with the plant’s growth stages.
Apply fertilizer before setting the crop and adjust the frequency based on the plant’s needs,
avoiding interference with critical development phases.
Caution during Bulbing:
Be cautious not to fertilize once bulbing initiates to promote optimal bulb development.
By following these fertilization guidelines, you can provide the necessary nutrients for elephant
garlic, supporting healthy growth and ensuring a successful harvest.
Weeding and Mulching
Weeding and mulching are essential practices for successful elephant garlic
Remove weeds regularly, especially after mulching in the spring.
This prevents competition for nutrients, allowing elephant garlic to thrive.
Apply a layer of mulch around the plants. Mulching helps control weeds, retain soil moisture,
and regulate soil temperature, protecting the roots from extreme conditions.
Mulching Type and Caution:
Choose an appropriate mulch type to avoid suffocating the plants.
Ensure the mulch is not too heavy, as excessive mulching can lead to suffocation or pose a burden
on the plants.
Spring Mulch Removal:
In the spring, remove the mulch carefully to allow the garlic to emerge unobstructed.
Weed the area thoroughly to maintain a clean and nutrient-rich environment for optimal
By incorporating these practices into your elephant garlic care routine, you can create a
favorable environment for growth, minimize weed competition and enhance overall plant
Harvesting Elephant Garlic
Harvesting elephant garlic involves observing the plant’s foliage and timing the harvest
Elephant garlic is typically ready for harvest 180-210 days after planting.
Harvesting is ideal when the bottom third of the tops turn brown, indicating maturity.
Monitor the foliage; once it begins to turn yellow or brown, it signals the right time to harvest.
The top growth often dies back by late summer, providing a clear visual cue.
Gently pull up the plants from the soil. Brush off excess soil from the bulbs, handling them
To facilitate drying, trim the roots and remove excess foliage, leaving a few inches above the
After harvesting, break the bulb into individual cloves for culinary use or replanting.
Planting depth for cloves is typically 4-6 inches deep, with a spacing of at least 12 inches
By following these guidelines, you can ensure a successful and timely harvest of elephant garlic.
A Comprehensive Guide for Growing Elephant Plants
Growing elephant garlic is a rewarding endeavor, offering flavorful and oversized bulbs.
Follow these 8 steps for a successful cultivation journey:
Select Quality Bulbs:
Choose healthy elephant garlic bulbs from reputable sources.
Planting Depth and Timing:
Plant cloves in well-drained soil, 2-3 inches deep, during the appropriate season for your region.
Maintain consistent moisture, ensuring the soil remains lightly moist but not waterlogged.
Fertilizing the Plants:
Apply a balanced fertilizer moderately, avoiding fertilization once bulbing starts.
Weeding and Mulching:
Keep the growing area weed-free and apply mulch for moisture retention.
Harvest when foliage turns yellow or brown, typically 180-210 days after planting.
Careful Harvesting Process:
Gently pull up plants, brush off excess soil, and trim roots for optimal drying.
After harvest, break bulbs into individual cloves, ready for culinary use or replanting.
Follow these steps for a bountiful harvest of this unique and flavorful garlic variety.
Growing Elephant Garlic requires careful attention to planting depth, spacing,
and environmental factors.
It is recommended to plant elephant garlic in the fall, allowing for a longer growing season and
optimal clove development.
The cultivation process involves providing well-drained soil, ensuring proper sunlight, and
Elephant garlic, a biennial plant, completes its life cycle in two growing seasons, with fall
planting and spring/summer harvest.
Valuable resources such as gardening guides and publications offer detailed insights for a