What Is Elephant Garlic?

Did you know that Elephant Garlic is closely related to leeks? It has a couple of similarities and differences when compared to regular garlic. Similar to leeks in appearance it contains a tall flowering stalk with flat leaves but has a bulb that forms large garlic-like cloves. Much like onions, immature elephant garlic plants can be topped off or cut off in order for more of the energy to be focused on the bulbs. However, the flavor profile of elephant garlic is much more similar to regular garlic than leeks, with a milder flavor than garlic and can sometimes taste better when used raw. 

 It is one of the EASIEST and most fun crops to grow alongside our bulbing onions throughout the winter months and has very few pest issues. Elephant Garlic grows best in the southern states with mild winters, compared to hard and soft neck garlic varieties, which can be a challenge to grow in the south. Garlic grows best when the competition with weeds is reduced, you’ll want to keep weeds at a minimum with frequent sallow cultivation. When planting the cloves, you want to plant with the blunt end of the clove into the soil first, the tip of the clove should be slightly exposed to the soil. Elephant garlic is considered a biennial, which means it completes its life cycle in two growing seasons (Fall-planted, Spring/Summer – harvest). 

elephant garlic flowers

When Should You Plant Elephant Garlic?

Knowing when to plant your cloves based on your zone is extremely important. It will tolerate cold temperatures and will do best when overwintered. In warmer climates, it can also be planted in the late winter/early spring. However, the elephant garlic bulbs will not usually be as big when planting the elephant garlic cloves in the fall. Depending on your zone, traditionally you plant in October or November if you’re in the warmer climates. 

Like traditional garlic, elephant garlic overwinters in areas where winters are harsh; in areas of milder winter months, it grows frost-hardy leaves. If you are in milder climates, you can plant your elephant garlic from October to December, although you may want to plant them from September through November in the cooler climates, to give the elephant garlic time to develop healthier roots before the harsh winter months. 

Elephant Garlic Spacing

When choosing a spot to grow your garlic, full sun (6+ hours of direct sunlight most days)  is always recommended. They can grow in partial shade, but risk smaller bulb size. Divide the cloves, and plant each clove with the pointed end up (1 to 2 inches deep). You can gently add soil to the top of the cloves and water lightly. 

It can be successfully planted and grown in Root Pouch Grow Bags if you are limited on space. We recommend using a 15-gallon bag or larger. You can plant as many as 6 cloves in one 15-gallon grow bag. 

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing – 1-2 feet
Clove Spacing – 4 to 6 inches
Planting Depth – 1 to 2 inches

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing – 1-2 feet
Plant Spacing – 4 to 6  inches
Planting Depth – 1 to 2 inches

Elephant Garlic Soil & Irrigation Requirements

Soil Requirements

HOSS always recommends getting a soil sample to your local extension office several weeks before planting. Once you get your results, you will  need plenty of time to adjust your soil accordingly and make sure your plants are getting the best nutrients possible as soon as they hit the ground.
Click Here to find your local extension office.

Irrigation Requirements

The only thing you need to remember is DO NOT OVERWATER! If you “overwater”, you will end up with rotting bulbs! We like to water 1 inch per week and will typically let the soil dry between watering. Tip: Water your plants in the morning so the soil dries by nightfall to discourage fungal diseases. Stop watering when your garlic leaves start drying out, which is a good indication that harvesting time is getting close. 

Raised Bed & Container Elephant Garlic Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting
Test your soil at your local extension office.
1 Week Before Planting
After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.
2 Weeks After Planting
Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.
Every Week For 3 Consecutive Weeks
Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble -AND- Dr. Joe Growing Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench to 10 ft. of row.
Alternate Every 4th Week
-ONLY- 
Sidedress 1/2 cup of Hoss Premium Ammonium Sulfate to 10 ft. of row for in-ground planting. You can use Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble in growing in containers. Restart and repeat schedule at previous step.
30 Days Before Harvest
Discontinue fertilizing

In-Ground Elephant Garlic Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting
Test your soil at your local extension office.
1 Week Before Planting
After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.
2 Weeks After Planting
Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer per 20 ft. of row.
4 Weeks After Planting
Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.
Alternate Every 7 Days
Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium Ammonium Sulfate -AND- 1 cup of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.
30 Days Before Harvest
Discontinue fertilizing

Elephant Garlic Pest & Disease Protection

While elephant garlic can typically help neighboring plants deter certain pests and diseases, it could potentially have issues with Aphids.  Generally speaking, elephant garlic has relatively few issues with diseases and pests.

elephantgarlic

Bug Buster O + Ferti-Lome Hi-Yield

Garden Insect Spray + Liquid Cop

Treat every 7-10 days in rotation as needed.

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, And Storing Your Elephant Garlic

elephant-garlic

When Should You Harvest Elephant Garlic

   

It can normally take anywhere from 180 to 210 days to full maturity. When it comes time to harvest elephant garlic you are able to get a one-time harvest in the vegetable garden. Normally twice the size of a regular hard-neck or soft-neck garlic. Once the bulbs on the leaves begin to die back and bend over, that is a good key indication that the elephant garlic is ready to harvest in the vegetable garden. Before pulling your bulbs, take the time to loosen the soil around the plant. You can also use a digging fork when harvesting in-ground elephant garlic, but make sure you insert it away from the bulb. 

How To Store Elephant Garlic

After harvesting all of your elephant garlic from the garden, they should be stored away to cure in an area that is shaded and dry (ex. underneath a barn). To maintain the best storage life and flavor profile, elephant garlic should be kept in a cool area with no sunlight until ready to be used for cooking. Your garlic should not be refrigerated. 

It has a shorter storage life than traditional garlic so it should be used within a couple of weeks for optimal flavor. Along with storing away elephant garlic, you are able to save cloves for the next growing season in your garden. 

elephant-garlic

Grow Your Own Elephant Garlic!

Elephant Garlic Growing Tips & Tricks

Can You Use Elephant Garlic Scapes?

ABSOLUTELY! The scapes of elephant garlic are considered to be a particular culinary delicacy! A “scape” is a leafless flower stalk that comes directly from a root. Harvest them while they’re young, by doing this, your elephant garlic bulbs will take in all the nutrients that it was initially shared with the scape, and this will produce bigger bulbs!

What Are Elephant Garlic Corms?

The little bulblets on the bottom of your elephant garlic bulbs are called “Corms”. You can plant the corms just like you would plant the bigger elephant garlic cloves, it will just take a little longer for you to produce normal-sized elephant garlic bulbs (around 2-3 years). Fun Fact: you can harvest the corms and sautee them in olive oil with a little seasoning and you’re in for a treat! 

Is Elephant Garlic Good For You?

Garlic contains allicin, a sulfur compound with many health benefits: this ancient plant used for flavor, health, and medicine for over 5,000 years. Studies have shown that the properties of garlic can help lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and boost your immune system. It also contains antioxidants that may help people avoid Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

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