Allium sativum
Common Name: cultivated garlic
Type: Bulb
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Native Range: Asia
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Pinkish-white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut

Culture

Grow in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. In the St. Louis area, bulblets (cloves) are best planted in fall but need the protection of a good winter mulch (e.g., straw). In very cold winters, the bulblets may not survive. Bulblets may also be planted in early spring. Fall plantings generally produce larger bulbs for harvest. Plant bulblets 2” deep and 6" apart with the pointed end up in rows 1-2' apart. Harvest in late summer after most of the leaves have turned yellow-brown and begin to fall over. Dry bulbs for several days before storing in a cool, dry location.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Allium sativum, commonly called garlic, is a bulbous perennial of the onion family. It is native to the Mediterranean area. Foliage consists of aromatic, linear, flattened, grass-like green leaves. In some varieties, a central scape topped by an umbel of pinkish-white flowers rises from each clump of leaves to 18” tall in summer. Garlic is typically grown as an annual in herb and vegetable gardens for its segmented bulbs which are commonly used in cooking.

Garlic comes in two varieties: hardneck (designated as Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) and softneck (designated as Allium sativum var. sativum). Hardneck varieties typically produce a flower stalk, with flowers giving way to a seed cap. Each bulb typically contains 4-10 cloves (bulb is smaller but cloves are larger than those of softneck). Hardneck varieties come in three different types: Rocambole, Poreclain and Purple Stripe. By contrast, softneck garlic plants typically do not produce a flower stalk. They produce bulbs with smaller but more numerous cloves than hardneck garlic plants. Each bulb typically contains 12-20 cloves. Softneck plants are also braidable (bulbs can be braided together into attractive chains by weaving the soft grass-like tops together). Softneck garlic varieties are the ones most often commonly sold in supermarkets because they typically have a much longer shelf life than hardnecks. Softneck varieties come in two different types: Silverskin and Artichoke.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for garlic.

Specific epithet means cultivated.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root/bulb rot may occur in wet, poorly-drained soils. Potential insect pests include nematodes, thrips, bulb mites, onion maggots and wireworms.

Garden Uses

Garlic is usually planted as an annual in herb gardens and vegetable gardens.