Types of garlic to plant in spring – 6 of the best varieties to consider

You can plant garlic in spring, though some varieties are better than others for planting early in the year

Unpeeled garlic bulbs on wooden kitchen surface
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Garlic is a hugely popular crop to grow and a common sight in vegetable gardens and kitchen gardens worldwide. Though regularly planted in fall, you can still grow many types of garlic by planting them in the spring.

If you want to grow garlic and haven’t planted yours yet, or you have particularly wet or heavy soil (garlic planted in fall risks rotting in those conditions), then we take a look at some garlic varieties that can provide a great harvest even from a spring planting.

Garlic comes in two types, hardneck and softneck garlic. The hardneck garlic varieties are hardier than softneck types and more suited to colder climates. 

Softneck garlic varieties are suited to milder climates and mature quicker than hardneck types - which makes them much more suited to planting in spring. 

Freshly-harvested garlic grown in pots

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Can I plant garlic in the spring? 

Most growers plant garlic in the fall, but, it is possible to plant garlic in spring and get a harvest of bulbs. However, the likelihood is that you will get smaller bulbs in your garlic harvest than with fall plantings. This is merely down to the fact that fall-planted bulbs will have had a longer growing season. 

To give yourself the best chance of a good harvest, it is advisable to plant the garlic bulbs as soon as the soil is workable in your US hardiness zone. Or you can grow garlic in pots to start it earlier in a protected spot, to be moved outdoors come spring.

Garlic varieties for spring planting

Garlic cloves being planted in the ground by hand

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You can plant a hardneck garlic variety in spring, but it will need a period of cold exposure, such as in a fridge for a minimum of three weeks but ideally closer to eight weeks, before planting to ensure it produces bulbs. 

Also, only plant good quality seed garlic from reputable suppliers in your garden. It is not advised to grow garlic from grocery store garlic as it risks introducing diseases into your vegetable garden - seed garlic should be certified to be free of diseases.

California Early

California Early Garlic

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A popular softneck garlic that is commonly seen in kitchen gardens and vegetable gardens across the US. This garlic variety is very simple to grow and takes around three months to mature from a spring planting. It should mean a summer harvest from planting the bulbs in spring. 

You can expect around 6-10 cloves of mild-tasting garlic per head and can store this garlic variety for up to six months. You can get California Early bulbs at Burpee.

Early Italian

Early Italian Garlic

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This is another softneck that matures quickly - making it ideal for a spring planting - and then can store for a really long time, up to 12 months. Early Italian is a garlic variety that produces reliably large white bulbs with around 8-12 cloves per bulb. 

It is a type that can cope with hot summers without any fuss, making it perfect for warmer southern and western climates. The cloves have a mild-flavor and are very versatile for use in the kitchen. You can get Early Italian bulbs at Burpee.

Nootka Rose

Braided Nootka Rose garlic

(Image credit: Alamy/Janet Horton)

Nootka Rose is a softneck garlic variety that is a reliable and consistent grower. Fall-planted bulbs will grow strongly and produce up to 24 cloves per large bulb, while a spring planting will often result in more of a mixture of medium and large bulbs. 

The bulbs feature pink-to-red streaks and this garlic variety has a strong and robust flavor for cooking. Nootka Rose is good for if you want to braid garlic and does also have a long storage life. You can get Nootka Rose bulbs at True Leaf Market.

Chesnok Red

Chesnok Red garlic variety

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This is a really good all-round garlic variety to consider if you are looking for new types to try in your vegetable garden this year. It is a hardneck variety, so will require a period of cold treatment prior to planting in spring, but the extra effort will be worth it. 

Chesnok Red is often hailed for its sweet taste, similar to that of onions, that makes it ideal for roasting or sauteing. It has beautiful purple stripes on the bulbs, and up to 10 cloves per bulb. You can get Chesnok Red bulbs at Burpee.

Silver Rose

Silver Rose Garlic

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Silver Rose is a fast-growing softneck garlic variety that is reliable and ideal for any planting location - that includes it having a good tolerance to warmer climates. 

It has a mild flavor and you can expert around a dozen cloves per white bulb, with the cloves having skins tinged with pink. It is a good variety for braiding and can store for up to a year. You can get Silver Rose bulbs at Nature Hills.

Inchelium Red

Red Inchelium garlic cloves

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This type of softneck garlic produces reliably large cloves and is renowned for its flavor. It has even won US national taste awards, which has boosted the popularity of Inchelium Red among garlic growers. 

It produces an average of 15 cloves per purple-flushed bulb, which are ideal for roasting or baking. You can get Inchelium Red bulbs at True Leaf Market.


Can you plant elephant garlic in the spring?

Elephant garlic produces really large bulbs and has a milder flavor than regular garlic. Elephant garlic is commonly planted in fall, before the first frosts, though it can be planted in early spring. 

Bulbs planted in spring are likely to be one single large bulb come harvesting time, these bulbs can be lifted and used or left in the ground to overwinter and split into cloves next year. You can buy elephant garlic bulbs from Amazon.

How deep do you plant garlic in the spring?

The depth you plant garlic in spring is the same as how deep you put the cloves when planting garlic in fall. The tip of the cloves want to be around an inch below the surface of the soil and each clove wants to be planted around 8-10 inches apart.

An alternative way of growing garlic in spring is to grow garlic in water to get garlic greens. By placing cloves in a container filled with an inch of water, and placing that on a sunny windowsill, you can sprout green shoots that can be harvested when they are a few inches tall. They have a delicate flavor and can either be eaten raw or cooked, often used to replace onion, leeks, or green onions in recipes.

Drew Swainston
Content Editor

Drew’s passion for gardening started with growing vegetables and salad in raised beds in a small urban terrace garden. He has gone on to work as a professional gardener in historic gardens across the UK and also specialise as a kitchen gardener growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers. That passion for growing extends to being an allotmenteer, garden blogger, and producing how-to gardening guides for websites. Drew was shortlisted in the New Talent of the Year award at the 2023 Garden Media Guild Awards.