How Deep Do Garlic Roots Grow?

Garlic, a close relative to onion, is one of the easiest vegetable that can be grown in your backyard. However, harvesting and storing garlic bulbs for longer days is not something most people would enjoy.

Would you agree with me, if I say soil, water and sunlight are very essential for a healthy garlic plant?

Similarly, how deep you planted the clove and how deep do garlic roots grow have great impact on the yield.

Vegetable plants like garlic prefer well-drained and loose soil that allows roots to grow and uptake nutrients from it.

Is it essential to know how deep roots grow?

Yes, without knowing how long garlic roots grow a new gardener can end-up planting in wrong location that blocks the growth of roots.

And for a successful yield a healthy root system is very essential.

Garlic roots grow up-to 3-12 inches deep into the soil. While planting you must break the top soil at-least up-to 6 inches. This is to allow the roots to grow easily.

However, there are cases where the mature garlic plant roots grew 30 inches deep into the soil during first year.

You can add soil amendments to improve its ability to drain water and aeration. Prior to that as a gardener you must know about root system of this plant.

Garlic Root System

Roots of garlic are edible; it may surprise few of you.

With shallow roots that need plenty of room to stretch, garlic roots are elongated, thin and delicate.

Depending on maturity of the plant and variety, garlic roots grow 6 inches long and 1 inch in diameter.

Old and long roots will have lateral roots that grow 1 inch.

Based on a report, a garlic plant that begun in just after spring can have roots growing 22 inches long and spreading 15 inches around the plant.

Root system of garlic is similar to its close relative onion and leeks. A matured garlic plant can have 40 to 60 roots covering 18 inches laterally and 30 inches deep.

Garlic roots system develops rigorously in early stages. Providing enough water, nutrients and minerals contribute in root growth.

Deep roots actively uptake water, nutrients and oxygen to from the soil to the plant, which will be used to make food and eventually produce quality yield.

How Deep Do Garlic Roots Grow?

As mentioned above knowing how long roots grow plays vital role when you’re planning for a garlic crop.

Roots of garlic plant can grow 12 inches long. Depending on the variety and climatic conditions roots of this vegetable plant can grow reach up-to 12 inches.

Soil must be loose enough to provide aeration and roots to grow deep.

Choose the container or raised bed that can give at-least 18 inches of depth for roots to grow. Though garlic roots may not reach the depth, but it will provide extra space for larger bulb to grow.

Roots of garlic are delicate and slender; the soil must be loose enough so the roots can easily grow through them.

Also Read: How Many Garlic Grow from One Bulb?

How deep and how far to plant garlic?

If you plant garlic clove too deep, they fail to germinate. Similarly, if plant too shallow, the clove don’t have enough soil to germination and grow.

Clove needs, water, warmth, sunlight and oxygen to make its way – germinate. So depth of planting has great impact on overall plant growth. (Source)

  • Plant clove’s pointy side upwards in the well drained loose soil up-to 2-3 inches deep.
  • Either raise bed or container, you must break the soil surface at-least 6 inches deep. This will allow the roots to easily grow, eventually helping the plant to grow healthy.
  • Choose a container that is 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep. Give 4-6 inches of space between two garlic plants.
  • Closely planted garlic plants may fight for nutrients and results in poor yield.
  • If you’re planning to grow garlic in ground or raised-bed, space between cloves must be 6 inches and row should be spaced 12 inches apart.
  • Water garlic cloves once and wait for germination.
  • After germination you can water garlic plant, but ensure you don’t overwater them.

Check this out: How Deep Do Potato Roots Grow?

Importance of soil in growing root vegetable?

Root vegetables like garlic and onions hate standing in wet. Soil must be well-drained, loose and must include organic matter.

Clay soils aren’t preferred to grow root vegetables.

Choosing soil is the first step towards growing garlic after seed selection.

Sandy loam and peat soil are recommended by gardening experts to grow root vegetables.

A well-drained soil allows the roots to grow, drain excess water and provide aeration for roots.

Loose soil allows the root system to grow longer in search of trace minerals that increase the yield.

Important tips to grow garlic plant

  • Compact soil blocks the growth of root system. So, it is very essential to have loose soil. You must add lots of organic matter to the soil to improve its drainage.
  • Garlic needs good amount of phosphorus and potassium. It also needs nitrogen rich fertilizers. You can add bone meal, blood meal and wood ash to increase nutrients in the soil. Add old compost regularly to increase plant growth and for quality bulbs.
  • Growing season is very essential if you’re planning to grow a healthy plant. Most people recommend growing garlic in the fall, which can be harvested in summer.
  • Garlic prefers cool weather to grow. Temperature between 32F to 50F is ideal for its growth. (Source)
  • Spacing is very essential to grow garlic plant. If you crowd them up, bulbs will grow smaller and if you plant them too far, you’re wasting the ground. Space between rows must be 12 inches and between plants should be 6 inches.
  • Succession planting will gift you with yield every month or even week.

What happens if you plant garlic clove too deep or on top of the soil?

When you plant the clove too deep, the clove must waste its energy to travel more than 3 inches to reach the surface of the soil.

In some cases, the germination can’t happen due to lack of sunlight. In other cases, you may get poor quality garlic bulbs during harvest.

Similarly, planting on top soil can’t help in germination process.

Clove must be planted 2-3 inches deep to occur vernalization process.

Raised bed or container: which is preferred?

Both have their advantages. Depending where you live and how much space you’ve in your backyards, you can choose raised bed or container.

Gardeners who live in apartments should opt for container gardening, because they have no choice.

If you’ve space in your backyard, you can grow garlic plant directly in ground. However, most gardeners recommend growing root vegetables in raised bed.

Raised beds provide loose soil which is very essential for garlic plant roots.

Just make sure that plant location gets 6-8 hours of sunlight. Without adequate sunlight the garlic plant fails to produce quality bulbs.


Plant does well when you plant it in certain depth.

Loose soil that drains well and has organic matter will allow garlic roots to grow longer.

Container or raised bed you choose to grow must have loose soil, because compact soil will halt the growth of root system.

Garlic roots grow 12 inches long, so ensure that planting location has no blockage like basements or pipelines.

As mentioned above, roots of garlic are delicate. To make their work easy, break the soil 6 inches deep so they can easily grow and produce quality bulbs.

Sunlight, water and nutrients are essential for root growth. Fertilizers that are added to the soil will be used by plant through roots. Having rigorous and strong root system will anchor the plant string and efficiently supply required nutrients.

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