How to Plant Garlic in a Container

Posted on Nov 14 2011 - 2:08am by Mike Lieberman

The fall time is perfect to plant garlic to be ready during the spring. It’s also simple to do.

Each clove that you plant winds up turning into a clove of garlic. The larger the clove you plant, the larger the bulb it produces.

I saw a tip on soaking the cloves in Organic Gardening Magazine to help prevent rot from occurring.

Here is what you’ll need to soak the cloves:

  • Garlic cloves (amount depends on the size of your container)
  • Glass jar
  • Tablespoon of baking soda
  • Tablespoon of organic seaweed fertilizer

When removing the cloves from the bulb, you’ll want to leave the skin (or whatever it’s called) on each of the individual cloves. If the garlic is actually showing, it’s best not to use it. So be careful when removing the cloves.

Soak the cloves in the pre-soak solution for about 2 hours.

Since I’m planting in a 5-gallon container, I soaked about 8-10 cloves.

To plant the cloves:

  • Dig a hole about 2″ deep with your fingers.
  • Put the clove in pointy side-up and bury in the soil.
  • Space the cloves about 4-6″ apart.
  • Once they are all planted, water the container thoroughly.
  • Add mulch to the top or greenhouse it with a covering. I put a plastic bowl on top of it. This will keep the moisture locked in.


69 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Dawn Kelly November 14, 2011 at 9:10 am -

    I did this for the first time last year and now I know why they all rotted!

    Thanks Mike, I’ll be soaking them this time around.

  2. Deepthi November 14, 2011 at 9:37 am -

    I can’t get my hands on any fertilizer you have alternatives? 

  3. Erika Mullen November 14, 2011 at 9:48 am -

    This is timely thanks! I planted some in the ground w/o soaking.  I’ll try soaking some more to be planted in a container.

  4. Becky Striepe November 14, 2011 at 10:56 am -

    Aaah! I want to try this! I’ve ready that garlic is toxic to cats, and our fur kids love to chew my plants…any ideas on how I can keep the kitties away?

  5. Guest November 14, 2011 at 11:39 am -

    I wonder if this works for shallots as well

    Shallots rot easily

    Can we leave out the seaweed fertilizer if we don’t have any?

  6. Sales November 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm -

    What can I use instead of the seaweed? It’s not easy to get that here.

  7. Mike Lieberman November 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm -

    I’ve also heard that poorly drained soil could cause the rotting too.

  8. Mike Lieberman November 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm -

    Hm…do you have access to any other liquid fertilizers? Maybe they will work.

  9. Mike Lieberman November 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm -


  10. Mike Lieberman November 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm -

    Hmmm….never heard that before. I have heard that a gun is a great way to keep cats away….just saying. This article from Care2 has some good ideas if you don’t want to pac heat –

  11. Mike Lieberman November 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm -

    It’s worth a shot. Give it a go and let me know.

    In Organic Gardening Magazine it was a recommendation, so I’m sure that you can leave it out.

  12. Mike Lieberman November 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm -

    In Organic Gardening Magazine it was a recommendation, so I’m sure that you can leave it out.

  13. Ronnie November 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm -

    If you are classy like me and don’t clean out your cabinets very often, just look in the back of the cabinet for the garlic cloves that already have green shoots popping out and stick them in the ground, shoot side up no soaking required.

    Another experiment I had….If you use half of an onion, wrap the other half in saran wrap and put it in the fridge for a month or so. You have about a 75% chance the onion will start to grow a shoot out of the center and you can plant it to recyle it into a new onion(works better with purple onions than yellow ones for some reason)

  14. bea November 15, 2011 at 4:02 am -

    ehehe, loved your comment. cause i can so relate to that classy feeling…my fridge is a kingdom of different cultures..and one can for sure find a garlic clove with green shoots…tnx for the tip 😉

  15. Becky Striepe November 15, 2011 at 5:03 am -

    Thanks, Mike! We don’t have a gun, so I guess it will have to be cayenne pepper. 😛

  16. Yennywillywonka November 15, 2011 at 7:02 am -

    I found out this year that ginger left on my counter started to sprout and is now growing new ginger. It is next to my toaster oven, which might have something to do with it. Very slow growing though.

  17. Mike Lieberman November 15, 2011 at 8:49 am -

    Nice. Thanks for the tips!

  18. Mike Lieberman November 15, 2011 at 8:49 am -

    OHhh I gotta try that with the ginger.

  19. Mike Lieberman November 15, 2011 at 8:50 am -

    hahha. Become friends with those cultures…

  20. Diane November 16, 2011 at 10:14 am -

    the onion thing works with celery too, just save the base and sit it in water for a week or two, it will start to shoot from the centre, when the little shoots start to grow leaves plant it in the ground covering the base with compost. If you keep the earth wet and restrict growth using a cone made out of a 2 litre soft drink bottle, it will regrow and produce a new head of celery.

  21. Anonymous November 16, 2011 at 11:13 am -

    Interested to see how this turns out and how big the heads get. It seems like that’s not a lot of space for 8-10 cloves.

  22. Anonymous November 16, 2011 at 11:14 am -

    I’m interested to see how this turns out as well as how big the heads get. It seems like not a lot of space for 8-10 cloves.

  23. Mike Lieberman November 16, 2011 at 5:45 pm -

    nice. I wanna get on that.

  24. Ronnie November 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm -

    I’m going to try that too. Didn’t realize leaving food out till it starts to grow on its own was so popular!!

  25. Mike Lieberman November 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm -

    Nice. Hopefully I’ll have the same success.

  26. perfectstorm December 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm -

    I accidentally learned that last fall when I discovered celery growing from the top of the quick composter in my garden..

  27. Mike Lieberman December 19, 2011 at 7:53 am -


  28. Megan December 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm -

    How is your garlic doing?

  29. Mike Lieberman December 30, 2011 at 7:41 am -

    Last check it was doing well.

  30. Vicki Schoenwald January 2, 2012 at 8:38 am -

    Mke, I planted some Asparagus in my getto container  garden last year, they were one year old roots.  I will see how they do in pots, or if they have been winter killed this winter.  I am experimenting, and I will keep you posted. I am hoping they will survive the cold, though we haven’t been cold with below zero weather.I mulched them with wood chips

  31. Vicki Schoenwald January 2, 2012 at 8:44 am -

    I also did garlic, and it has been doing very well.  I mulched the garlic with wood chips and leaves to insulate.  When I was out in the ghetto garden over the holiday, the garlic tops are still green. I am using the blue 20 qt. buckets.

  32. Mike Lieberman January 3, 2012 at 11:00 am -

    Def keep me updated.

  33. Mike Lieberman January 3, 2012 at 11:00 am -


  34. Shawn73 January 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm -

    i’ve been soaking my garlic before planting for years. it makes a difference! I don’t use the baking soda, I use some H2O2 (food grade) and add some water and compost tea.

  35. Mike Lieberman January 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm -


  36. Maré January 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm -

    How often must the garlic be watered?

  37. Mike Lieberman January 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm -

    I am watering about once per week pretty heavily.

  38. Mario C. January 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm -


    I noticed the water you poured into the container looked like the water/bakingsoda/fertilizer mix… was it the very same water you were soaking the garlic in?

    If I don’t have seaweed fertilizer, can nori sheets dissolved in water work as a substitute?

    Thank you for droppin knowledge,  mario

  39. Mike Lieberman January 25, 2012 at 7:40 am -

    For the first time, I did use the same mix to water the garlic the first time. 

    Not sure about using nori. That’s a great question…

  40. Katerinapalmer February 6, 2012 at 6:07 am -

    I have to say, I love that organic seaweed fetrilizer by Neptune’s Harvest. I use it to grow my indoor banana plants and they are huge. Will have to try the garlic next.

  41. Mike Lieberman February 6, 2012 at 8:06 am -


  42. Michelle A. February 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm -

    I started growing garlic chives a few days ago from a couple of sprouted cloves.  They’re doing great!  Now I’m thinking of trying to plant some when it’s the proper time for my gardening zone.  Thanks for the tips! 😉

  43. Mike Lieberman February 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm -

    Good stuff.

  44. EDILEUZA February 19, 2012 at 8:37 am -


  45. Redwallmom February 27, 2012 at 7:01 am -

    is it ok to start garlic in early March?

  46. Mike Lieberman February 27, 2012 at 8:05 am -

    Pretty sure it’s usually started in the fall, but start it in March and see what happens.

  47. Katerina February 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm -

    I finally tried the Garlic and in like 5 days it has exploded into huge growths…excellent!…I have one question about the solution though. I understand the fertilizer, but what does the baking soda do? I am thinking of starting many of my seeds this way for this summer’s garden.

  48. Mike Lieberman March 1, 2012 at 8:05 am -

    Awesome! Baking soda helps to deal with fungus.

  49. Jennifer Patalsky March 14, 2012 at 1:21 am -

    Hi Mike, thanks for the tip. I have garlic the size of Katerina’s and I was wondering do you have any pics for the lifecycle of growing garlic? I see tall green things poking up and it makes me worry and wonder what have I gotten myself into? 🙂 Thanks.

  50. Mike Lieberman March 14, 2012 at 8:31 am -

    I don’t have pics like that. Hmm…would be difficult since much happens under the soil. I totally get what you are saying though. Let me think on that some more.

  51. c.j. March 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm -

    Hi Mike,
    what kind of cutting flowers can I plant in a pot on my patio? I live in a suburb of Chicago. Thanks. I just discovered your site, and love it.

  52. Mike Lieberman March 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm -

    I don’t know too much about flowers. Check for that.

  53. Branden N Levon March 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm -

    I live in Houston, Tx, but I have always grown roses in containers, but you can pretty much grow any plant in a container.

  54. Branden N Levon March 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm -

    My family has been growing garlic for many many years. You can use it at any point in its life cycle, but it will definitely be some time until you will be able to harvest a bulb like you buy at the grocery store. The actual garlic plant should get to be anywhere from 3-5 feet tall and will put out a large globe shaped white flower. This is when you should harvest it if you want a bulb of garlic, otherwise harvest and use it whenever. It will resemble green onions and has a much milder flavor. I often use it instead of green onions in salads.

  55. Rickrh68 March 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm -

    Hey Mike,
    They other day I was cleaning the fridge out and found a garlic bulb that I had bought and never used. It has started to grow on it’s own. I should be able to go ahead and plant them, right?

  56. Michellegarcia020308 March 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm -

    Mike, I have seen all the containers but what soil etc. do you plant everything in?

  57. Susanlm50 April 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm -

     Hi Mike, you didn’t say if this planted container would remain outside or inside through the winter.  Also, what are your winters like.  I’m up here in MN.

  58. Mike Lieberman May 1, 2012 at 10:06 am -

    Yes you should.

  59. Mike Lieberman May 1, 2012 at 10:06 am -

    I’ve been using Fox Farms Ocean Forest.

  60. Mike Lieberman May 1, 2012 at 10:06 am -

    Outside. Winters are mild here in LA.

  61. Helen May 10, 2012 at 5:36 am -

    interesting but too much talk before he started teaching about planting and harvesting the garlic

  62. Mike Lieberman May 10, 2012 at 7:23 am -

    Appreciate the feedback.

  63. Ckbarkved June 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm -

    I always say if its growing…plant it!

  64. Karla June 7, 2012 at 11:33 am -

    Hey Mike,
    What did you do with the seaweed/baking soda mix? Did you use it to water the garlic?Thanks!  

  65. Mike Lieberman June 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm -

    Yes ma’am.

  66. AdrianneRYT June 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm -

    But all good info, and all relevant 😉

  67. Lea September 7, 2012 at 11:39 am -

    My garlic does seem to be growing. It starts to get some green poking from the top of the bulb then it turns brown. What is the best moisture for garlic? I don’t want to over water and have it rot but I may be drying it out too much? Help!

  68. yelena zadoyen March 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm -

    can you plant garlic in the same pot as onions?

  69. Chelsea April 16, 2013 at 2:32 am -

    Where do you buy your dome coverings from?

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