Elephant Garlic: How To Grow & Use It (2023)

Elephant Garlic: How To Grow & Use It (1)

If you are looking for something a little different to grow in your garden, elephant garlic is for you.

Unlike regulargarlic, elephant garlic is a perennial plant that can remain in your growing areas year after year.

It can be a great addition to wildlife gardens, perennial beds or polycultures, and can be grown in a wide range of different climates and conditions.

Related Reading: How To Plant Garlic In The Fall

What Is Elephant Garlic?

Elephant Garlic: How To Grow & Use It (2)

Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) is a relative of onions, leeks and garlic, and has most in common with the last two of these. Like the leek, it has a tall stalk and flat leaves.

It is garlic-like in flavour and, like garlic, forms a bulb that is made up of cloves.

As you might have guessed from the name – the bulbs are, however, much larger than those of regular garlic varieties.

The pleasingly and outlandishly large garlic bulbs of elephant garlic have an internal core made up of large cloves with papery skin. On the outside of the bulbs, there are also much smaller bulbils with a hard shell.

The internal cloves are used for culinary uses and for propagation. When planted, these will usually form new bulbs with cloves in their first year, providing that the season is long enough for them to do so.

The bulbils are often discarded. But these can also be planted. When placed in the ground, or in containers, these bulbils will produce a non-flowering plant in their first year. The bulbil will grow into what is essentially a single clove.

If left in the ground, this will behave like the cloves from the original bulb, and will divide into multiple separate cloves and produce a flowering head.

(Video) HOW TO GROW ELEPHANT GARLIC

If left alone, and not harvested, elephant garlic will survive for multiple years, spreading into a clump with many flowering heads.

These are ornamental and can look great in the garden. What is more, they can also be great for encouraging wildlife and for pest control.

Where Can You Get Elephant Garlic?

Elephant garlic is generally very easy to source. You can find it at many garden centres and plant nurseries.

Gardeners of your acquaintance may also be prevailed upon to offer up a few bulbs for you to cultivate, especially if they already grow plenty of their own.

If you do struggle to source elephant garlic in your local area, you can find plenty of suppliers online. Here are a few examples:

Kentucky’s Best Elephant Garlic@ Amazon.com

Elephant Garlic – Morel Distribution Company@ Amazon.com.

You can also find a range of independent sellers on other online marketplaces.

Even when buying online, it is best to source your elephant garlic from as close to home as possible, as it will be more likely to be suited to growing in your particular area.

How To Grow Elephant Garlic

Like regular garlic, elephant garlic is sown in either fall, for overwintering, or in the late winter/ early spring.

If winters are relatively warm, or you can provide winter cover, it is better to plant in fall to provide a better chance for the plants to divide into cloves rather than just producing a mono-bulb.

(Video) ELEPHANT GARLIC - The Garlic You Can Grow Anywhere!

Elephant Garlic: How To Grow & Use It (3)

First, choose a location for your elephant garlic.

It is better suited to wet conditions than regular garlic, though will not like waterlogging in winter. It will do best in a moist yet relatively free-draining area in full sun.

The ideal soil for these plants will have a neutral pH of around 6.0-7.0. It is a plant that can tolerate fairly high winds, but not maritime exposure.

Prepare a growing area, top dressing the soil with some good quality compost (home-made in your garden) and/or other organic matter.

Make sure that the area is free from weeds, as elephant garlic does not do well with competition.

Planting:

Elephant Garlic: How To Grow & Use It (4)

Take the elephant garlic bulbs and split them carefully apart, retrieving the large cloves and the bulbils for replanting.

(Make sure that you know where you have planted the bulbils, so that you do not try to harvest these in the first year but leave them in situ to mature.)

Take each clove and plant each one around 10cm deep. Use a dipper or a stick or branch to make the holes, or plant into the base of a furrow. Do not be tempted to force the cloves into the soil with your hands as this could damage them.

Make sure that you place the cloves with the pointed end upwards, and the root end facing down. They should be at least 20cm apart to give them the space they need to grow.

Cover over the holes or furrow with soil and water them in.

Mulch your bed with straw, or other organic material to protect the soil, protect roots from frost, conserve moisture and keep weeds down.

(Video) Growing Elephant Garlic | Growing Tips & Harvesting

Care:

Continue to water regularly during dry spells, or if growing undercover.

Cut off flowering stalks (or scapes as they are sometimes known) of elephant garlic that you intend to harvest and use them in your kitchen. They make an excellent pesto, and are also mild enough to use in stir fries or salads. You can use them anywhere that you would like a mild garlic flavour.

Cutting off scapes allows your plants to focus on bulb growth. However, if you want to use elephant garlic for a wildlife garden or ornamental reasons, you could allow some of your plants to flower.

Elephant Garlic: How To Grow & Use It (5)

Certain diseases and pests can affect elephant garlic, but a rich biodiversity in your garden, good watering habits and good airflow between your plants should reduce the incidence of any problems.

Companion Planting

Elephant garlic, like regular garlic and other members of the allium family, can be a useful companion plant for a range of other crops.

It is particularly beneficial due to its strong smell, which can confuse or repel a range of pest species.

Planting chamomile close to alliums is said to improve their flavour, and while this is merely anecdotal, you may like to give it a go.

Harvesting Elephant Garlic

Once mature, elephant garlic can reach a height of just under 1m.

Fall planted elephant garlic will usually be ready for harvest from around eight months after planting – the following summer.

Elephant garlic planted in spring can be harvested after around 90 days – though it is likely that the harvest will only be in the form of large, single bulbs.

As with regular garlic, elephant garlic is ready for harvest when most of the leaves on the plants have turned yellowish brown, and begun to flop over.

(Video) How to Plant, Grow, Harvest & Cure Elephant Garlic | Expensive Garlic

Gently remove the bulbs from the ground as and when they are required.

One of the good things about elephant garlic is that, like leeks, it can be left in the ground – unlike regular garlic which can tend to rot if left unharvested for too long.

Storing Elephant Garlic

In order to store your elephant garlic, it will first have to be left to dry and cure for a few weeks. Brush off as much soil as you can from the bulbs, but do not wash them. Then let them sit in a cool, dark spot with good air flow.

After curing the elephant garlic, cut off most of the stems and long roots and store them as you would store regular garlic.

You should choose a relatively cool and low-humidity location and maintain good ventilation at all times.

Making a Braid To Store Alliums

One way to store elephant garlic (as well as other garlic and onions) is to form braids which can be hung up in a suitable spot. To make braids, leave the dry stems at the top of each of the bulbs.

You can then braid the garlic into a three-way braid, starting with three bulbs and then adding in a new bulb every time you have done the left to middle, right to middle, left to middle manoeuvre. This can be an extremely attractive storage solution.

If you would like to make a braid, but the stems are too broken or fragile for the above, you can also make something that looks very like a braid. First:

  • Make a loop of natural twine that is long enough to make a braid of the right length and hang it from a hook or nail.
  • Starting at one end of the loop, hold the two sides close together. Wind the stem of a bulb in a figure of eight pattern around these two side strings.
  • Take another bulb and, holding the two sides of the loop in place, wind the stem of this second bulb in a figure of eight pattern above the first.
  • Continue until all the garlic bulbs are attached to the twine.

When stored in optimal conditions, elephant garlic should keep for up to eight to ten months. In less ideal conditions, such as areas with high humidity, you should generally plan to use stored elephant garlic within three or four months.

Of course, you could also consider using elephant garlic to make a range of canning recipes or preserves.

How To Use Elephant Garlic

Whatever else you do with the elephant garlic that you harvest, you should be sure to try some roasted. Many agree that roasting elephant garlic is the very best way to enjoy it.

(Video) It's NOT To Late | Planting Elephant Garlic | Step By Step

Roasted Elephant Garlic

Elephant Garlic: How To Grow & Use It (6)

To roast elephant garlic simply:

  • Cut a whole bulb in half horizontally.
  • Arrange on a baking tray, drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Put the halves of the bulb back together and wrap loosely in foil.
  • Place in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200C.
  • Leave for 40 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of the bulb). Turn down the oven to 180 and continue to cook for a further 20-30 minutes for a more caramelized taste.
  • Remove from the oven and use in a wide range of different recipes. Spread it on bread, serve as a side for meats or barbecue dishes, or add it to a range of sauces, soups or stews.

Of course, there are also plenty of other ways to enjoy your elephant garlic.

Since the flavour is generally somewhat milder than regular garlic, even those who do not like too much of the pungent crop tend to enjoy it.

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FAQs

What is the best way to grow elephant garlic? ›

Elephant garlic likes full sun and moist conditions, though not waterlogging in winter. It won't tolerate overcrowding from other plants and needs to be planted at least 20cm away from any neighbour. Traditionally, you plant in October or November, though it can be planted right up to February if conditions allow.

How do you use elephant garlic? ›

Thanks to its whopping size, Elephant Garlic makes a dramatic centrepiece when roasted whole; separate the cloves after cooking and let diners squeeze out the garlic flesh themselves to enjoy the warm, unctuous paste within. Or try cutting the whole bulb into segments and bake in a hot oven, drizzled with olive oil.

How long does elephant garlic take to mature? ›

Garlic and elephant garlic will require 180 to 210 days to harvest maturity. Leek should have sufficient size and several leaves forming a solid pseudostem before harvest.

How do you grow and harvest elephant garlic? ›

Up plot successive cloves about six inches apart. After a few weeks the cloves will sprout like this

How often should you water elephant garlic? ›

Water the elephant garlic when first planted and regularly in the spring with 1 inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week. Water the plants in the morning so the soil dries by nightfall to discourage diseases. Stop watering when the garlic's leaves start drying out, which is an indication it's harvest time.

How long will elephant garlic last? ›

Store them in a cool spot and check regularly for signs of rotting bulbs, which can quickly spread to the whole crop. Your elephant garlic should last for eight to 10 months.

Can you eat elephant garlic leaves? ›

How to use elephant garlic leaves - YouTube

Can elephant garlic be used like regular garlic? ›

In short: Elephant garlic is not a substitute for true garlic. If you want milder garlic flavor, use less of the real stuff. Elephant garlic is big in stature but small in flavor. We'll stick with the regular kind.

What's the difference between elephant garlic and garlic? ›

You may be surprised to know that this giant-looking garlic bulb isn't really garlic at all. In fact, elephant garlic belongs to the same family as leeks and possesses a much milder flavor than traditional garlic. Fun fact: due to its large size elephant garlic generally contains just six cloves.

How do you harvest and cure elephant garlic? ›

Once you've harvested the bulbs, get them out of the direct sunlight right away. Brush off the soil, but don't wash the roots, since you'll need to cure them later. Depending on the ambient humidity, you'll need to cure your elephant garlic for 3-8 weeks in a cool, dark, dry place before storage.

Does elephant garlic take two years to grow? ›

Growing Elephant Garlic from Corms - YouTube

Can elephant garlic be grown in pots? ›

If you are short on space you can plant Elephant Garlic in containers as long as they are deep enough for the roots. Just fill your chosen container with a multi-purpose compost and plant the same distances as listed below.

How long does garlic take to grow? ›

Garlic has a long growing season. And by long, I mean lllllooooonnnggg. It takes about 8 to 9 months for a small planted garlic clove to develop into a ready-to-harvest head of garlic.

Is elephant garlic profitable? ›

Garlic sold from $2 to $2.50 per pound could generate estimated returns to land and management of $250 to $2,200 per acre, based on a 4,000-pound yield on plasticulture in 2019.

How do you grow garlic? ›

How To Grow Garlic - The Definitive Guide For Beginners - YouTube

How do you fertilize elephant garlic? ›

Fertilize elephant garlic every two weeks with a high nitrogen foliar feed (12-0-0 or 15-0-0 NPK) after foliage begins. As flowering heads fall over, stop fertilizing with high nitrogen feed, and apply some high phosphorus fertilizer in powder form. At this time, the plant's energy moves from leaf to bulb production.

Why is my elephant garlic leaves turning yellow? ›

The most common causes of yellowing garlic leaves are cold temperatures, disease, pests, poor plant care, lack of nutrients and soil problems.

Can I plant elephant garlic in March? ›

Elephant garlic

It needs a long, warm growing season to produce a good crop and is best planted in October. The cloves sometimes don't divide, producing just slightly larger single-clove (solo) bulbs. Early planting often reduces the occurrence of solo bulbs.

Is elephant garlic healthy? ›

Nutritional Value. Elephant garlic bulbs are an excellent source of vitamins E, C, and A. Similar to conventional garlic, Elephant garlic also contains allicin, which has been known for its antibacterial properties.

How many cloves are in a bulb of elephant garlic? ›

Elephant garlic produces large underground bulb that consists of usually 5 cloves. Bulb can be small like a golf ball, or it can reach 5 inches in diameter and one pound of weight. Bulb is covered with white, papery layer, while individual cloves have yellowish skin on the surface.

Can I plant elephant garlic from the grocery store? ›

Yes, store bought garlic bulbs can be used to grow garlic. In fact, growing garlic from the grocery store is a pretty handy way to go about growing your own fresh bulbs, especially if you have one in the pantry that has already begun to grow.

What part of the garlic plant can you eat? ›

You can eat the slim green leaves and the bud-like structure. You can also just pinch or bend off the stems. They should snap off easily. Rinse them and put them in a glass of water or in a zip top bag in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days.

How do you use elephant garlic stems? ›

There are many ways to use garlic scapes: slice thinly (about 1⁄4-inch pieces), sauté and incorporate into fried rice, omelets, stir-fries or soup. Enjoy them pickled, or use in batches of pesto. Batter in tempura and serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce.

Why is my elephant garlic green? ›

The colour is probably the result of a reaction between sulphur compounds and amino acids (building blocks of protein) that are naturally present in garlic. In certain cooking conditions, these compounds (assisted by enzymes) interact to produce new molecules that give a green tint to the garlic.

Can you freeze elephant garlic? ›

The answer is a resounding yes. Garlic is pretty versatile when it comes to freezing. You can freeze raw whole unpeeled bulbs, individual cloves (peeled or unpeeled), or chopped garlic. You can also cook or process garlic into various forms that make meal prep a breeze.

Is elephant garlic good to cook with? ›

Roasted garlic is larger and more mild than regular garlic. It's a delicious accompaniment to a fresh loaf of bread and is easy to tuck in the oven when roasting other meats and vegetables.

Can you eat elephant garlic corms? ›

Harvesting Garlic /Planting/ Elephant Garlic/ How to use Corms - YouTube

When should elephant garlic be harvested? ›

Going by the standard guidelines, elephant garlic is usually planted in early fall and ready to pick between May and July the following year. For fall-planted garlic, this time is enough to split into cloves. However, spring-planted elephant garlic can be harvested after 90 days but will most likely be a single bulb.

Can elephant garlic make black garlic? ›

Elephant Garlic provides a naturally milder flavour than many smaller garlic varieties, & we think it is perfect for making Noosa Black Garlic. Not only do our Noosa Black Garlic range of products taste amazing, Black Garlic is also renowned for it's health benefits.

Can you plant elephant garlic in the spring? ›

How to Plant Elephant Garlic Plus: Harvesting and Using ... - YouTube

How do you store elephant garlic to dry? ›

How to Save and Replant Elephant Garlic Year After Year - YouTube

What do you do when elephant garlic flowers? ›

Use elephant garlic as low-cost Giant Allium in your flower garden

How do you store elephant garlic cloves? ›

For long term storage, garlic should be kept at temps between 30 and 32 degrees F. (-1 to 0 C.) in well ventilated containers and will keep for six to eight months. If, however, the goal of storing garlic is strictly for planting, the bulbs should be stored at 50 degrees F.

How do you fertilize garlic? ›

Fertilize garlic in the early spring by side dressing or broadcasting with blood meal, pelleted chicken manure or a synthetic source of nitrogen. Just before the bulbs begin to swell in response to lengthening daylight (usually early May), fertilize lightly one more time.

When should I plant garlic? ›

Garlic is most often planted in the fall (between late September and November). In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic cloves 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost date, before the ground freezes.

Will garlic multiply? ›

Garlic, like potatoes, is multiplied by vegetative reproduction rather than by sexual reproduction (seeds). Individual garlic cloves are planted and they each produce a bulb in which the cloves all have the same genetic makeup as the original clove.

How deep do garlic beds need to be? ›

Garlic cloves grow best when planted 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) deep. The garden beds or containers should have at least 12 inches (30 cm) of soil. Always cover garlic with soil after planting.

How deep should garlic soil be? ›

Planting depth makes all the difference. At a minimum, sow each clove three inches deep and then be sure to spread six inches of mulch or more. If you're not planning to mulch, sow at least five inches deep.

How do you take care of a garlic plant? ›

Garlic needs about one inch of water each week, either by rain or hand watering, especially once the bulbs form. Water the garlic when the soil feels dry an inch beneath the surface. Let the water soak in 6 to 8 inches to encourage deep root growth.

Does garlic need a lot of water? ›

Too little water can stress plants, and too much water can cause bulb rot. In soil with ideal drainage, garlic requires between a half-inch and one inch of water per week. If it rains less than a half-inch in a week, make up the difference with supplemental watering. It is best to water deep, but infrequently.

Does garlic need full sun? ›

When choosing a suitable spot, keep in mind that garlic prefers a position in full sun with well-drained, light soil.

How often do you need to water garlic? ›

Water deeply once a week if rain has not fallen. Watering garlic is not necessary unless there is a drought, in which case water sparingly, as garlic hates wet soil. Reduce the watering gradually as the season warms up. The garlic needs a hot, dry summer to allow the bulbs to mature.

How can I make money with garlic? ›

In fact, garlic can produce an income of up to $10 per square foot, so even a small garlic patch can bring in thousands of dollars. One of the best ways to profit from a garlic crop is to “add value” by selling garlic products in addition to fresh bulbs.

How much can I make from an acre of garlic? ›

Gross return per acre: $100,000”“$162,000 (minus equipment, labor, soil prep, etc.)

What is the most profitable garlic? ›

Three of the most profitable types of garlic to grow include Elephant garlic, purple stripe and Rocambole.

What month is garlic ready to harvest? ›

In general, garlic is ready for harvesting when the lower leaves start to brown. The only way to be sure is to dig up a few bulbs to check their progress. If the cloves fill out the skins, it's time to pick the garlic. Harvesting typically occurs during the late spring to the mid-summer months.

Can garlic be grown in pots? ›

Growing garlic in containers provides that just-picked flavor for the strongest bulbs ever. You need one that is at least 6 inches (15 cm.) deep and has excellent drainage. The container also needs to be big enough to leave 6 inches (15 cm.)

Does elephant garlic take two years to grow? ›

Growing Elephant Garlic from Corms - YouTube

How deep should I plant my elephant garlic? ›

Break the bulb into individual cloves and plant them 4-6 inches deep, at least 12 inches apart. Weed regularly, because like most alliums, elephant garlic has shallow roots and can't handle much competition for resources.

Can you plant elephant garlic in pots? ›

If you are short on space you can plant Elephant Garlic in containers as long as they are deep enough for the roots. Just fill your chosen container with a multi-purpose compost and plant the same distances as listed below.

Can I plant elephant garlic from the grocery store? ›

Yes, store bought garlic bulbs can be used to grow garlic. In fact, growing garlic from the grocery store is a pretty handy way to go about growing your own fresh bulbs, especially if you have one in the pantry that has already begun to grow.

Why is my elephant garlic leaves turning yellow? ›

The most common causes of yellowing garlic leaves are cold temperatures, disease, pests, poor plant care, lack of nutrients and soil problems.

How do you fertilize elephant garlic? ›

Fertilize elephant garlic every two weeks with a high nitrogen foliar feed (12-0-0 or 15-0-0 NPK) after foliage begins. As flowering heads fall over, stop fertilizing with high nitrogen feed, and apply some high phosphorus fertilizer in powder form. At this time, the plant's energy moves from leaf to bulb production.

Is elephant garlic profitable? ›

Garlic sold from $2 to $2.50 per pound could generate estimated returns to land and management of $250 to $2,200 per acre, based on a 4,000-pound yield on plasticulture in 2019.

How do you know when elephant garlic is ready? ›

Harvest garlic when most of the leaves on have turned yellowish-brown and begin to flop over. Going by the standard guidelines, elephant garlic is usually planted in early fall and ready to pick between May and July the following year. For fall-planted garlic, this time is enough to split into cloves.

Can I plant elephant garlic in March? ›

Elephant garlic

It needs a long, warm growing season to produce a good crop and is best planted in October. The cloves sometimes don't divide, producing just slightly larger single-clove (solo) bulbs. Early planting often reduces the occurrence of solo bulbs.

Will garlic multiply? ›

Garlic, like potatoes, is multiplied by vegetative reproduction rather than by sexual reproduction (seeds). Individual garlic cloves are planted and they each produce a bulb in which the cloves all have the same genetic makeup as the original clove.

How deep do garlic beds need to be? ›

Garlic cloves grow best when planted 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) deep. The garden beds or containers should have at least 12 inches (30 cm) of soil. Always cover garlic with soil after planting.

Does elephant garlic produce seeds? ›

Elephant garlic produces pink flowers on top of the flowering stalk. Elephant garlic does not produce regular seed (like garlic). Cloves function like "seed" and they are used for the propagation of the plant.

What compost is best for garlic? ›

The best soil for growing seed garlic is sandy loam that is well-drained. If you your soil is clay and tends to have drainage problems, you can plant in raised rows, raised beds (at least 12 inches deep) or even large pots. It is best to get your soil amended with compost and fertilizer before planting.

What happens if you leave garlic in the ground? ›

When approximately 40% of the leaves have died back, it's time to harvest. If left in the ground too long, the over-mature bulbs can split open, leaving them susceptible to molds and dehydration.

Can you leave garlic in ground over winter? ›

When properly planted, garlic can withstand winter lows of -30°F. If planted too early, too much tender top growth happens before winter. If planted too late, there will be inadequate root growth before the winter, and a lower survival rate as well as smaller bulbs.

How often do you need to water garlic? ›

Garlic doesn't do well with competition—it needs all available nutrients! Water every 3 to 5 days during bulbing (mid-May through June). If May and June are very dry, irrigate to a depth of 2 feet every eight to 10 days. As mid-June approaches, taper off watering.

Videos

1. How to Grow Elephant Garlic | Bawang from Start to Finish - Clove To Harvesting The Crop So Easy
(Manila London)
2. Comparing Ordinary Garlic and Elephant Garlic - And How To Grow Them
(WAY OUT WEST with Sandra and Tim)
3. Watch this BEFORE you grow ELEPHANT GARLIC!!
(Sustainably Yours Homestead)
4. How to Grow Garlic | Simple Steps for HUGE Yields
(Huw Richards)
5. Harvesting Garlic /Planting/ Elephant Garlic/ How to use Corms
(Jon Hughes)
6. Growing and harvesting ELEPHANT GARLIC
(Hema’s Home & Garden in USA- Known & Unknown Facts)
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