How to Plant Garlic Bulbils — 9 Comments

  1. I’ve been growing the Red Russian for a couple of years now and enjoy all the discussion.
    Dealt BC Can is a great place to grow but.. fall planting has to be deep or crops are up very early. I’m expecting to plant seedlets 4-6″ deep in nov/2017. Bye for now.

    • Now this is interesting… You plant seedlets 4-6 inches deep in November?? It must help your delicate seedlings get through your winters better. Hmmm, I am thinking maybe I should experiment with deeper planting here, too, and perhaps start them a bit later than I usually do. Thanks for the tips, Pete! It is always fun to hear about how others grow their garlic, and especially when starting from bulbils.

  2. If you’re talking about those highly water resistant bulbils that grow on the outside of the globes, peal both shells off them and plant them in autumn/fall. They’ll all come up!!!

    • I think you are referring to the little nuggets on the Elephant garlic (which is actually a kind of leek). The post refers to the ones that grow at the tip of the shoots on hardneck varieties. But you are absolutely right! Those little nuts on the outside of elephant garlic bulbs will form new plants. I once planted a bunch of them, only I didn’t peel them – I just put them in the ground. Well, nothing happened, and I later forgot about it. The spot was not in the main garden, and I basically neglected it. Three years later – guess what – elephant garlic sprouting up amongst the weeds & grasses in the harshest conditions! I had since quit growing the elephants and was so glad to have it back again! Good advice to peel them before planting. Much better (and quicker) results. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hi,
    Did you grow on the Elephant ‘garlic’ bulbils you mentioned the same way ,as I have a large number from a Elephant garlic crop, which I
    would like to use. Or did you do anything different to the method you’ve described?

    • Hi Jeff – I basically used the same method – planting relatively shallowly in a protected place so I could keep an eye on them. I planted both the little seedlets on the scape (yes! this works!) and ALSO those hard, nut-like corms that grow on the sides of the bulbs (also good!). The corms are a little trickier. You can soak them overnight (or longer), nick the hard shell, or rub the corm on sandpaper to help them germinate more easily. Soaking, nicking, & then soaking some more is good. One year, I put a bunch in the ground without doing anything (about 1″ down or so, as I remember, since they are fairly large) – and nothing happened. Ok, no great loss, I thought – I have more. And then THREE YEARS LATER, much to my surprise, some came up! So Mother Nature will eventually soften that shell for you, but without a little help, it takes more time (depending on your soil & water conditions, of course! I think these were in a relatively dry place.) Good luck!

  4. Also, I’ve been able to save some of my varieties that I thought I had lost through planting the little bulbils. So that has been good, too. The tubs at least helped me to keep better track of them.

  5. So.. how did the bulbils planting work out? From all that I have been reading, it seems that it takes two years to get a good crop if planting bulbs or three years if doing the bulbils. Is this the case in your experience?


    • Not necessarily – the bulbils vary a LOT in size, from the size of a grain of rice on up. The tiniest ones take at least 2 years – and sometimes 3. But my Juan de Fuca Wonder bulbils produced 2″ bulbs the very first year! Granted, that’s still small compared with the larger clove-planted bulbs, but I was pretty amazed at how well they did!

      The challenge for me has been in keeping track of the little bulbils (that look like blades of grass). There was a bunch that I forgot about completely – wrote them off for dead & gone – and then lo & behold, they came back the following spring! The ground made a good storage spot, and I suppose that is what they would naturally do if left to their own devices without our “assistance”!

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