When to Plant Garlic in California for the Best Result?

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

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If you are wondering when to plant garlic in California, spring and fall are appropriate times for growing garlic in California.

Plus, you need to rely on the frost date to choose the best time. Usually, seeding before the frost date will be most effective.

California’s growing seasons for garlic will vary in different regions. Gardeners in the North often seed the garlic between mid to late September and October.

Mid-September to the end of November is the ideal period for planting garlic in the Central region.

Meanwhile, the best time to plant garlic in Southern California will be later, it usually falls around the beginning of October and the end of December.

Best Time To Plant Garlic In California

In general, there are 2 ideal windows for gardeners to launch their garlic crops in Cali, including fall and spring. Also, they can calculate based on the frost date of the regions to have a cash crop.

In frost-free areas, where the summer temperatures don’t get higher than growing garlic temperatures (32 to 50 degrees F), like Sacramento and San Diego, you can plant garlic year-round.

Keep reading for more information. 

1. In The Autumn


Autumn is the best time to plant garlic in California. The garlic growing season commonly lasts from mid-September to late in November. Also, the time can be changed depending on the first frost date in different areas across the state.

Typically, the first frost date in this state runs from August 1 to December 31. This time can vary from region to region. Hence, sowing garlic season can start sooner or later, depending on the first frost date in each area.

  1. For instance, if you live in Northern California, late September to October is the perfect time to seed garlic cloves. At this time, the nighttime heat is about 50 degrees F, which is a favorable condition for garlic growth.
  2. Growing garlic in Southern California usually happens from early October to late December. Meanwhile, the garlic crop in Central Cali will be a little earlier. It often falls between mid-September and late November.

By scattering cloves before frost time, they will avoid the adverse effects caused by frozen ground. Plus, their roots have enough time to form and grow well before temperatures get colder.

Growing at the right time in the fall is extremely important since it helps garlic withstand the harsh climate and cold temperatures in the winter and re-grow in the early spring.

Normally, garlic frost tolerance in the winter is -30 °F.

There are 2 problems gardeners can face if they select the wrong time, let’s check what’ll happen:

  1. The roots don’t strongly flourish before winter if the cloves are planted too late.
  2. In contrast, roots have plenty of time to yield, leading to super tender tops when you sow garlic bulbs too early.

After the vernalization period during the winter, you can see the foliage and bulbs thriving strongly on winter garlic. Then, their development will be stopped in the summer because of the high temperature.

Soil with a pH of 6.4 to 6.8 is best for autumn-planted garlic in California. Also, planting big cloves will yield larger bulbs. Remember to sow the cloves individually and keep the garlic plant spacing within 6 inches.

2. In The Spring


In case you can’t grow this cultivar in the fall for some reason, planting it in the spring is possible. Most plant garlic in January or in February.

Planting should happen about 6 – 8 weeks before the last frost. California’s final frost date extends from January 21st (zone 2) to July 20th (zone 19). Each zone has a different last frost date.

For instance, the date runs from April 1st to April 10th in zone 9b, meaning it’s a good time to plant garlic from 10th – 15th February.

Here’re some important notes for planting garlic in the spring:

  1. Gardeners need to incubate the garlic cloves below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) for about 40 to 56 days before growing. Putting them in the refrigerator is an effective way you can apply.
  2. The best way to plant garlic in spring is to sow the cloves in the 2-inch deep prepared holes in the ground. Make sure the holes are about 2 to 4 inches apart. It’s better to use small cloves if you want to harvest green ones in the late spring.
  3. The soil to plant spring garlic needs to be drained and dry. Moreover, the garlic growing area must be airy and illuminated by sunlight for about 6 to 8 hours per day.
  4. Although putting garlic cloves in the soil in the spring is a viable option, it’s not widely adopted as spring temperature in areas of Cali ranges from 60 to 70 degrees It is much higher than the garlic growing temperature (32 to 50 degrees F).

Best Garlic To Plant In California

Regarding the best garlic bulbs for planting in California, both hard-neck and soft-neck varieties are great choices because they suit California’s climate, temperature, and weather incredibly.

  • Soft-neck garlic consists of silver garlic, artichoke garlic, and creole garlic. They often have a lot of bulbs and don’t have a stem in the center. This variety strongly yields in warm, sunny areas in California with light or no frost.


Blanco Piacenza, California Early, Cuban Purple, Labrea Purple, and Nootka Rose are prominent names of soft-neck garlic groups widely grown in California.

  • Unlike the soft-neck category, hard-neck garlic, including Rocambole garlic, porcelain garlic, and purple stripe garlic, needs colder temperatures to thrive. As a result, this type is widely distributed in cold winter California area


Maiskij, Shila, and Italian Purple are well-liked representatives of hard-neck garlic popularly planted and sold in California. Their common feature is a pungent and spicy taste.

Notes For Caring And Harvesting Garlic In California

Caring Garlic


After sowing garlic, caring is an essential thing that gardeners need to pay attention to help garlic grow stably and harvest high-quality bulbs.

  1. In cold regions, don’t forget to protect your garlic from the frozen ground and weeds by mulching the garlic beds with seedless straw.
  2. The flower begins to bloom in spring, but it will be better for bulb development if you cut the flower.
  3. During the dry season (between May and June), garlic needs to be watered regularly every 8 to 10 days.
  4. Remember to provide water every 3 to 5 days during the bulbing time, and you should stop watering a few weeks before harvest.

Harvesting Garlic

For fall-planted garlic, late June to August is the right time to harvest garlic in California.


  1. For spring-grown ones, you must rely on the garlic germination time (4 to 8 weeks) and growing time (5 to 8 months) of each variety to identify whether the garlic is ready to pick.
  2. Furthermore, the harvest time of soft-neck and hard-neck garlic is different. People usually start picking hard-neck garlic bulbs from late May to late July, while the time to collect soft-neck ones extends from mid-May to mid-August.
  3. In short, start digging garlic bulbs when you find the tops turn yellow and fall over. You can use a garden fork to dig and collect garlic. Remember to leave the roots and foliage to dry completely before removing them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does California garlic take to grow?

Growing garlic season in California often ranges from 5 to 8 months. However, for garlic planted in the spring, you can harvest bulbs after about 3 months.

What city in California is known for garlic?

Gilroy, located in Northern California’s Santa Clara County, is the most famous place for planting garlic in this coastal state. It’s known as the “Garlic Capital of the World”.

This city accounts for over 50% of US garlic production and 90% of processed garlic.

Can I plant garlic in October in California?

As I mentioned, garlic season usually starts in the fall in California, so planting garlic in the fall is possible. This is the right time to put California Early cloves in the ground in areas with mild climates.


Identifying when to plant garlic in California will help you get the highest-quality garlic bulbs in the summer in your small garden.

For the best result, you should sow cloves in the autumn and spring. Don’t grow garlic on a frost date, since cold temperatures and frozen ground will affect garlic growth. It’s best to choose a day before the frost time.

Have you decided on the time to start the garlic season yet? Don’t hesitate to let me know via comments! Thanks for your time!

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