Garlic is a fun, hassle-free plant to grow and is considered a cold-season crop in states such as North Carolina. For you to have successful garlic harvests in the following summer season, it is important for you to know when to plant them!
So, when to plant garlic in North Carolina? Growing garlic in NC should be done in the fall, around October 15 to November 15. However, planting dates may vary depending on the area you live in the state.
Want to know more? Read further this article for more helpful and relevant information!
Table of Contents
- Best Time to Plant Garlic in North Carolina
- Best Kinds of Garlic to Plant in North Carolina
- Caring and Harvesting Garlic in North Carolina
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Time to Plant Garlic in North Carolina
1. Planting in the fall
Generally, the most recommended time to plant garlic in NC is in the fall so that they can start growing roots before the ground becomes too cold. Specifically, this would be around October 15 to November 15, but it depends on the area.
Since North Carolina has a relatively mild climate, garlic can be planted in January but this is a big risk since they might not be able to grow roots before the ground freezes.
Refer to the map below for the USDA Planting Zones of North Carolina:
The state lies in the following zones based on lowest temperatures: Zone 6A, Zone 6B. Zone 7A, in Zone 7B, and Zone 8A.
1. Western NC
Most areas in Western NC lie in Zone 6. In this region, plant garlic in mid to late October, that means sometime between October 1 to 15 is a good time.
2. Middle NC
Majority of the state belongs in Zone 7, which means garlic in this hardiness zone should be planted in late October to November, particularly around October 16 to November 30.
3. Eastern NC
Areas in Eastern NC, which have planting zones that fall in Zone 8, should start growing garlic in November to early December, sometime between November 1 to December 14. However, garlic should be refrigerated for 8 weeks prior to planting.
2. Planting before the frost date
Planting garlic in NC spring can also be done as long as it is done 4 to 6 weeks before the last average frost date in your area.
You can use the table below as a guide for the last average frost date in your area:
|City||Last Frost Date||When to Start Planting Garlic|
|Cary||April 4||February 21 to March 7|
|Charlotte / Fayetteville / Greensboro / High Point||April 5||February 22 to March 8|
|Concord||April 6||February 23 to March 9|
|Durham||April 9||February 26 to March 12|
|Raleigh||April 3||February 20 to March 6|
|Wilmington||March 26||February 12 to 26|
Keep in mind that although it is possible, planting garlic in spring is not ideal as the crop may not experience enough coldness to form bulbs.
Instead, you can opt to choose growing green garlic (garlic that hasn’t reached full maturity) instead in early April and expect to harvest them in the following month.
Best Kinds of Garlic to Plant in North Carolina
1. German Extra Hardy
- Type: Hardneck
- Hardiness: High cold tolerance; Occasional frost tolerance
- Flavor Profile: Medium heat
- Uses: Used raw since most of its flavor dissipates when cooked
- You can grow them in spring or fall at the ideal temperature range of 45°F – 85°F.
2. New York White
- Type: Softneck
- Hardiness: Good cold tolerance; Occasional light freeze tolerance
- Flavor Profile: Relatively mild heat
- Uses: Used raw in fresh salsa
- This soft-neck garlic thrives best in 40°F–50°F only recommended for outdoor growing.
3. Lorz Italian
- Type: Softneck
- Hardiness: High heat tolerance; Good tolerance to winter temperatures
- Flavor Profile: Mild to strong heat, depending on growing conditions
- Uses: Raw in salads, salsas, and other kinds of dips
- Planting this garlic in spring or fall will yield a good crop, typically with a soil temperature of 45°F – 85°F.
4. California Early
- Type: Softneck
- Hardiness: Good tolerance to mild winters
- Flavor Profile: Subtle and mild
- Uses: Great as an all-around garlic type
- If planted in the fall in North Carolina, this California Early White garlic will mature in about 230 – 240 days. It should be noted that they can withstand mild frost.
- Type: Softneck
- Hardiness: Extreme cold tolerance
- Flavor Profile: Smooth, spicy, and buttery
- Uses: Roasting, baking, or raw
- Late fall is the ideal time to plant Transylvanian garlic, as its ideal soil temperature range for sprouting is 40°F –50°F.
Caring and Harvesting Garlic in North Carolina
When planting in a field, choose an open spot with no weeds, and somewhere they can receive full sunlight. Keep in mind that garlic sun requirements are 6 to 10 hours daily.
When planting in containers, place the plants in a south-facing window as it is an ideal position for them to receive full sun the entire day.
Garlic prefers well-draining, organically-rich, sandy or loamy soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 and temperatures of 40°F to 85°F to grow well.
Before planting, perform a soil test. If your soil lacks organic matter, add compost or rotted manure (avoid using fresh ones) to improve its moisture and nutrient uptake.
Although garlic can survive dry spells, thoroughly water them once a week regardless if you planted them during the spring. If they are planted in the fall, avoid watering during the winter months.
Together with compost, apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer on the soil prior to planting. An additional application may be required in the succeeding spring season for fall-planted garlic.
The rule of thumb to follow regarding when to harvest is if each plant has yellowing or browning leaves and at least half of the remaining leaves are green.
Keep in mind that garlic plants take a week or two to germinate. Spring-planted garlic takes 90 to 150 days to reach maturity after planting, while fall-planted garlic takes 225 to 270 days.
Related vegetable planting schedule in NC:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it too late to plant garlic now in NC?
When summer comes about late March, or already in the middle of winter, it will be too late to plant garlic in NC.
What happens if you plant garlic too early?
Your garlic will be damaged if planted too early since the shoot of the plant already came out to the soil surface and is therefore vulnerable to frost.
Where to buy garlic bulbs for planting?
Purchase them from a reliable provider. Although they can also be bought at groceries and other commercial stores, your chosen variety may not be readily available.
When is garlic in season?
Usually, harvesting garlic begins in June and lasts until August. As such, they are considered a mid-summer season crop.
Now that you know when to plant garlic in North Carolina, it is important to check which planting zone your area falls under so that you can plant at the specific dates stated in the article above. Remember: timing is highly essential!
Additionally, you should bear in mind the proper location, lighting, soil, water, and fertilizer requirements so that you could have bountiful garlic harvests in the following summer season.