How Deep Can You Plant Elephant Garlic?

Written by Desiree Vilar in Garlic

Elephant garlic cultivation requires specific conditions to flourish, with planting depth being a crucial factor for ensuring robust growth and optimal yield. In this article, we will focus on the pivotal role that proper planting depth plays in the growth and yield of elephant garlic.

Elephant garlic should be planted at a depth of about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) below the soil surface. Planting at this depth ensures proper root establishment and growth. Consider spacing the cloves 6 to 8 inches apart to allow for adequate growth.

When planting elephant garlic, the depth at which you plant the cloves can vary significantly with soil type. Let's find out how this factor affects planting depth.


  • For planting elephant garlic in the ground, a depth of 4 to 6 inches is recommended, with adjustments based on soil type (6 inches for sandy soil, 4 inches for clay soil to avoid waterlogging).
  • When planting in water, cloves should be submerged 6 to 8 inches below the water's surface, and for pot planting, ensure the clove top is 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface.
  • Planting elephant garlic too shallow or too deep can lead to a range of issues, including exposure to elements or pests, weak growth, failure to emerge, rot, and slow growth.

Ideal Planting Depths for Elephant Garlic

When planting elephant garlic, it's essential to get the depth right for optimal growth.

You should plant your cloves approximately 6 inches deep. This depth helps the roots establish themselves without being too close to the surface.

Proper spacing is also crucial. Allow for 8 to 12 inches between each clove to ensure your garlic has sufficient room to develop. Good spacing prevents competition for nutrients and promotes better air circulation, reducing disease risk.

Plant in well-drained soil with added compost to nourish your elephant garlic as it grows.

You can plant either in the fall for a harvest the next summer or early spring if you missed the fall window. Keep in mind that fall planting generally yields larger bulbs.

When placing your cloves in the ground, remember it's the pointed end that faces up. Whether you're planting a single clove or multiple cloves from one bulb, this orientation is key for the shoots to reach the surface.

In areas with moderate climate, elephant garlic is a robust choice, often producing sturdy scapes and sizable bulbs.

Caring for your planted garlic involves maintaining moist but not waterlogged soil. Whether you're a fan of hardneck or softneck varieties, remember that elephant garlic, an Allium, leans more towards a vegetable like a leek in terms of care and growth patterns.

How Deep to Plant Elephant Garlic in Water

When planting elephant garlic in water, you need to provide enough depth for the roots to develop properly. Start by selecting a container that's at least 12 inches deep. A depth of 6 to 8 inches is recommended for planting each clove.

  • Container depth: Minimum of 12 inches
  • Planting depth: 6 to 8 inches below water level

Fill your container with a water-holding medium supporting the garlic while allowing the roots to grow. Plant each clove with the pointed end facing upwards. Here's a quick guide:

  1. Ensure the water level is steady.
  2. Submerge cloves 6 to 8 inches below the water's surface.
  3. Allow space between cloves for proper growth.

Remember, after planting, maintain the water level to keep the cloves submerged but not so high that they float away.

Keep an eye on the water clarity and quality, changing it if it becomes too cloudy or depleted of nutrients. This will encourage strong root development and healthy growth. You can expect to see garlic sprout in as little as 7-10 days.

How Deep to Plant Elephant Garlic in the Ground

When planting elephant garlic, depth is a key factor to ensure proper growth. Your cloves should be planted with the pointed end up. You want to aim for a depth of about 4 to 6 inches to protect them from cold temperatures and help with root development.

The exact depth may vary slightly depending on your soil type, but here's a quick guide to follow:

  • Sandy Soil: Plant cloves 6 inches deep.
  • Clay Soil: Stick to 4 inches to avoid waterlogging.

Remember to space your cloves about 8 to 12 inches apart. This spacing provides ample air circulation and room for the bulbs to develop without crowding. After planting, gently press down the soil and give them a light watering.

How Deep to Plant Elephant Garlic in Pots

When planting elephant garlic in pots, choosing a pot at least 12 inches deep is crucial. This depth allows adequate room for the development of the roots. It's essential that your pot also has drainage holes to prevent water-logged soil.

Here's a straightforward guide on planting depths:

  • Prepare the pot: Ensure it's 12 inches deep with drainage.
  • Planting depth: Sow your cloves with the pointed end up.
  • Covering: After placing the clove, cover it with soil so that the top of the clove is between 4 to 6 inches below the surface.

For optimal growth, simply remember these rules:

  • Space appropriately: Allow each clove 8 to 12 inches of space.
  • Watering: Maintain a balanceโ€”moist but not soggy.

By adhering to these tips, you will create a suitable environment for your elephant garlic to thrive in pots.

How Deep to Plant Elephant Garlic Corms

When planting elephant garlic corms, you'll want to plant the corms 10-15cm deep in the soil. (Divide your elephant garlic bulb into cloves and plant them)

Spacing is also important. Make sure to leave about 20-30cm between each corm to give them ample room to develop. This spacing helps prevent overcrowding, which can lead to stunted growth.

For the best results:

  • Depth: Plant corms 10-15cm deep
  • Spacing: Leave 20-30cm between each corm

Adequate planting depth allows the corms to establish strong roots, while the right spacing promotes good air circulation and sunlight exposure, essential for healthy growth. Remember to water your corms well after planting to settle the soil around them.

Planting Elephant Garlic Too Shallow or Too Deep

Planting Depth Issues Too Shallow Too Deep
Main concerns Exposure to elements, pests, weak growth Failure to emerge, rot, slow growth
Specific risks - Cloves risk exposure to the elements - Cloves might fail to emerge
- Increases the chance of being eaten by pests - Risk of rot in soggy soil
- May result in weak or stunted growth - Growth can be slower or inhibited

Planting elephant garlic too shallowly may cause the cloves to be exposed to harsh temperatures and could dry out quickly or be damaged by frost.

When cloves are buried too deep, they might struggle to break through the soil or become too soggy, especially in soil that doesn't drain well.

Well-draining soil, possibly with the addition of sand, helps prevent any issues related to overly moist conditions that can lead to rot.

Adjusting Depths in Varying Soil Types

In lighter soils, you should aim for a shallower depth to ensure the bulb can easily push through to the surface come the growing season.

A good measure is three to four inches deep. This depth helps protect the bulb from intense light as well as pests and diseases without being too shallow.

For heavier soils, with more organic matter or organic material, go deeper, around six inches. These soils hold more water and the added depth helps prevent diseases and gives the cloves enough room to develop without pests easily reaching them.

Regardless of the soil type, you will need to add fertilizer or well-rotted manure to provide full-spectrum nutrition.

When you're ready to plant, make sure you choose a pot or garden bed with full sun exposure. After planting, a layer of mulching can help conserve moisture, reduce weeds, and keep the soil temperature stable.

Remember that proper planting depth is just the beginning. As your garlic grows, curing it in a cool, dark spot with low humidity and proper temperature will ensure your harvest lasts longer.

When the flower stalks of your elephant garlic begin to droop, it's a sign they're ready to harvest.

Why Does Garlic Need to Be Cured? (How to Cure It)

After harvesting, garlic isn't just ready to use; it undergoes a curing process, which is essentially a drying phase to ensure the bulbs store well over time. โ€ฆ

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