Elephant garlic

I am looking for information and experience on elephant garlic. Last summer, someone gave me an elephant garlic bulb and said I should plant it and grow it like regular garlic. I planted it in the fall with my regular garlic. A couple of weeks ago, I cut off the scapes along with those of my regular garlic. This week, most of the leaves on this elephant garlic had turned brown and I dug it up, finding a large single clove/bulb on each. In addition, they were 1 to 3 small ‘bulblets’ adjacent to the large bulb or dangling down in the roots when they were pulled up. Also, under the outer skin of the large bulb, five of the six bulbs had what looked like a small lump or growth, which turned out to be another ‘bulblet ’ forming under the skin.
I don’t expect these large bulbs to be able to be stored for very long, as they only had a couple of layers of skin or “wrappers“. We enjoyed the flavor of the one we tried. In the articles I found on elephant garlic, I didn’t find any discussion on what to do with the small “bulb lets“. Can they be planted now? If so are they harvested in the fall and planted next spring? Are they left in the ground over the winter?

Those bulbils are a way to increase your stock very rapidly; they can detach when you dig the heads and will grow into a “round” single clove the first year and then a full head the next. Sometimes, planting a clove will also give a round, but more often I get heads of 3-4 large cloves. The wrappers on those small bulbils are quite very hard and I have tried nicking them, like one does a seed with a hard coat, to help get them into growth - I have no idea if others do that too. I generally plant single cloves in the Fall, like regular garlic, and harvest the following summer a few weeks after topping the blossom stalk, as you did (rather than relying on the bulbils as they take 2 or even 3 years to form a good head). The cloves store very well for me, and typically remain viable for over a year (so I have a back-up for rare years when I get a lot of rain and can lose a crop). Elephant garlic is very reliable for me here in SE PA and I find it easier to grow than regular garlic. Glad you are having fun with it!


Thanks for the reply!

Last fall, I planted individual cloves of this elephant garlic just like I did my regular garlic. I was surprised to get the large single bulbs when I harvested them. I will see how they dry and think about replanting them in the fall to get cloved bulbs next year.

I am going to try putting in these bulbils or corms in the fall, hopefully I will get a decent crop by a couple years.

For me growing garlic is simple, it’s hard to imagine elephant garlic being even easier!

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Thanks for this thread. I’ve been meaning to try elephant garlic for a few years and just couldn’t find any heads locally when it was time to plant last fall.

I’m mostly interested in growing them for the leaves for stir fry and I’ve also heard that if you plant the cloves close they’ll grow more like leaks, which I think they are actually more closely related to than regular garlic. They really can have a lot of uses, so hopefully, I’ll get some heads and get them growing this fall.

Has anyone used them for the leaves in stir fry, etc.?