Sprouting Garlic for Spring Planting

Garlic is best when planted in the fall, as it leads to bigger and more flavorful bulbs when they are harvested the following summer.

But if spring is quickly approaching, and you weren’t able to plant any garlic, then there is a simple shortcut you can use to sprout your garlic cloves in time for spring planting. In this article, we offer steps for starting garlic in the winter or early spring — all you need is a bowl or cup, and a sunny window!

A batch of garlic cloves in moss pellets sprouting green tops.

Sprouting Garlic Cloves in a Bowl or Cup

Place the garlic cloves, or even a whole bulb, in a small bowl, cup, or clear open-top bottle. Add enough water so the bottoms of the cloves are submerged. Keep the tops above the waterline, or chances are they will rot before they are able to sprout.

Some people will stick toothpicks into the sides of the cloves in order to suspend them in the water, though this isn’t necessary. Keep them in a sunny window.

Another method is to use moss pellets as a sprouting mechanism. These pellets allow the cloves to stay moist without drowning in too much water.

The garlic cloves generally begin producing roots within a few days. You’ll need to change the water when it gets too cloudy, which is frequently. After the roots begin to form, the green tops will begin to sprout.

If you’re only sprouting garlic for the green sprouts, you can trim the sprouts for use when they reach about three inches. Otherwise, you can either replant them outside in spring as soon as the soil is workable, or place them in a suitable container with soil awaiting transplant.

Garlic Sprouts in Time for Spring

If you wanted to plant garlic, but missed the traditional autumn planting period, there’s no reason to lose hope. By submerging garlic cloves in a cup or small bowl of water, and placing them in a sunny window, it is possible to achieve sprouted cloves in just a few weeks. Come springtime, you’ll be able to transplant your sprouted garlic cloves into your garden just in time for the summer harvest.