In California, garlic is planted in the fall, from mid-September to the end of November. It’s best to plant your crop of garlic in the fall before the first expected frost date. This will allow the garlic to establish itself before the weather gets cooler.

Garlic is very easy to grow and, once planted, needs very little care. It takes about 6 to 9 months to grow from the time it’s planted until harvesting. Garlic is a great winter crop and can be added to many recipes. Planting dates vary across California and depend on the climate. Let’s look at when to plant garlic in California.

When to plant garlic in CA?

When to Plant Garlic in California?

If you live in areas where the winters are mild, and rain is ample, then you can plant garlic in fall. Garlic is planted in the early to late fall, from mid-September to the end of November. The exact time to plant garlic will depend on the area you live, the climate, and the temperature.

Northern California

In Northern California, plant garlic when average nighttime temperatures are around 50 degrees F during mid to late September through to October. It’s best to plant your garlic before the first expected frost date for your area. This will give your bulbs time to grow and establish roots and will mean that they will be less likely to suffer from frost damage. Bulbs that are planted too late are less likely to grow or may even be killed off by frost.

Most years, Garlic planted at this time will form good-sized bulbs. Bulbs will begin forming by the end of March and be ready for harvest sometime in June. Bulbs can last a long time unplanted.

Southern California

Garlic grows well both outdoors and in a greenhouse in southern California. It can be in the fall and harvested in late summer. Plant garlic bulbs 4 to 6 weeks before the first average frost. If you live in areas where the winters are mild, and rain is ample, then you can plant garlic in the fall.

Some people plant garlic in the summer, but it’s unlikely to sprout at this time. Garlic planted in the summer will most likely remain dormant until the fall when it will start to grow. It needs colder nights than days to germinate. Garlic can be planted in southern California in the fall or winter from early October until late December.

Central California

Garlic can be planted in the fall, from mid-September to the end of November. You’ll need to plant your garlic bulbs in an area that gets enough sun throughout the winter months.

How to plant garlic

When to plant Garlic in CA

Now that we know when to plant garlic in California, let’s look at some garlic growing best practices:

Prepare your garden area by mixing compost or aged animal manure into the soil.
Clear and loosen the topsoil, so it’s easy to dig.
Dig a hole with a shovel wide and deep enough for each clove.

Plant each clove with the pointy end up, spacing cloves about 8 inches apart in all directions. It’s important that the soil is well-draining, so you may need to add amendments prior to planting. If your garlic is getting too much water or isn’t draining well, you can try adding some sand or gravel to improve the soil conditions.

Each clove of garlic will multiply and grow into a bulb with between 5 and 10 cloves. Be sure not to plant your garlic too deep – the top of the bulb should be just below the soil surface. If planting in rows, space them about one foot apart.

Types of garlic

Types of Garlic that Grow in California

Garlic generally comes in two different types, hard neck, and soft neck. Hard neck garlic is much easier to grow than soft neck. They both produce a bulb, but they differ greatly in their appearance and growth habits. You can plant both types of garlic in California.

Soft-neck varieties have a tendency to bolt when grown in warmer climates; this means that they will flower and go to seed before forming bulbs. Hard-necked garlic is easier to grow than its counterpart because it reliably produces good-sized bulbs and stores well after harvest.


Planting garlic is easy and provides you with a great flavor that can be added to many recipes. Garlic takes about six to 9 months to grow and reach maturity. It can be planted in the fall and grows well throughout the winter and the following spring.

Garlic likes loose soil with good drainage and lots of sun (at least 6 hours a day). Plant the cloves around 8 inches apart in rows that are about 12 inches apart. Do not use fertilizer or feed garlic plants after mid-August, as this can cause the bulb to have a very large neck.

Related California growing guides: When to Plant Tomatoes in CA, When to Plant Potatoes in CA