We love growing garlic and we hope that that sharing the knowledge we have from years of growing (and eating!) helps you enjoy the garlic growing experience just as much as we do!

There are 9 distinct types or categories of garlic in 2 main classes: Softneck & Hardneck. Garlic is a Lily family vegetable that is grown for its swollen bulbs. It was domesticated from a biennial lily bulbing plant in central Eurasia. One of the 9 types is Elephant Garlic which is botanically considered a Leek! So for our purposes we'll look at the 8 types commonly (or uncommonly as the case may be) planted in the USA.


Softneck types include: Artichoke and Silverskin varieties.

Soft neck Garlics are best for braiding, generally store longer and have a milder flavor. Once dried down, their stalks are pliable and can be braided which enhances storage as there is not cut open entry for fungus and garlic mites. Soft necks do NOT produce scapes. Most people consider soft neck garlic easier to grow and more forgiving. 

Artichoke types: These are the classic softneck varieties planted and sold most commonly. Artichoke strains are generally the most productive and easy to grow of all garlic varieties, they have multiple layers of cloves with as many as twenty large plump cloves in a single bulb. Artichoke strains can be grown successfully in almost any climate. Approximately 65 cloves per pound and will store about 10 months.  We offer Siskiyou Purple as an excellent example of this type.  

Silverskin types: These are the most common varieties sold in super markets mostly on account of the clean white bulb wrappers and exceptional storage capabilities.  They are a softneck type and produce numerous rows of small cloves (12-20/bulb.)  They are also our latest garlic to harvest every season. Approximately 70 cloves per pound and store about 10-12 months. We offer Chilean Silverskin as a fine example of this type.


Hardneck types include: Asiatic, Creole, Glazed, Porcelain, Purple Stripe, Rocambole and Turban.

These are more "primitive" types that produce a false flower stalk (aka scape). Growing Hardneck garlic requires a bit more focus upon proper fertility, weed control and watering to achieve large bulbs.  However, you are rewarded with easy to peel, beautiful and more richly flavored garlic than softneck types.

For scapes, we typically will break the scape off when it begins to form a solid corkscrew which is typically sometime in May.  If left on the plant to grow, they will eventually straighten out and “flower”, but this takes energy from the developing bulb and the thought is that breaking them off makes for larger bulbs.

In rare instances, hardneck garlic can produce true flowers and seeds, but it is difficult to grow garlic this way and would take 2 years to grow it into a normal sized bulb. Plus…they are delicious to use as “green” garlic. Our favorite recipe is to coat garlic scapes with olive oil and salt and grill them as you would asparagus. 

Asiatic types: As they are more adapted to more northern climates than ours here in SW Oregon we do not grow, nor offer any of these hardneck varieties.  Also their short storage life of less than 4 months means that they have more limited appeal and use.

Creole types: Creoles are soft necks with many small cloves related to the Silverskins have excellent flavor, great for raw use. They also have magnificent bright pink red clove wrappers and store exceptionally well. Approximately 80 cloves per pound and store about 10-12 months.
Porcelain types: These are our favorites to grow and use here on our family farm.  They are a hard neck type with large 4-6 large, easy to peel cloves.  They only have about 40 cloves per pound so you need much more seed than other types to plant the same area.  Well adapted to northern, colder climates but also perform well with our periodically warm late springs here in Oregon.  Porcelain types produce scapes in late spring. Approximately 40 cloves per pound and store about 6 months.  We offer both German White and Music as fine specimens of this type.

Purple Stripe types: These are the most beautiful and full flavored garlics thst you can grow because of their colorful striping on the bulbs and brilliant red to mahogany clove wrappers.  This hard neck type usually wins the best baked garlic in taste offs. Contain 8-12 cloves per bulbs and produce scapes in late spring. Approximately 60 cloves per pound and store about 4-6 months. We offer 3 varieties of this type: Chesnok Red, Siberian and Persian Star

Rocambole types: This hard neck type is renowned for their complex and full flavor, often referred to as "true garlic flavor."  We have found that they do not size up well with our warm springs here in Oregon and are better adapted to more northern climates so we do not offer any varieties at this time.  Approximately 60 cloves per pound and store about 4-6 months.

Turban types:  These are originally from SE Asia and are weak bolting harnecks meaning that they will make scapes in northern climates but not in warmer, southern latitudes.  They are attractive with flattened purple blotched bulbs that mature up to a month before any other garlics.  Approximately 60 cloves per pound and store about 4 months.  We offer Chinese Pink as a fine specimen of this type.

Garlic Varieties & Tips 

Don Tipping of Siskiyou Seeds explains some of the key attributes of the main garlic types and varieties. Siskiyou Seeds is a great source for high quality organic garlic planting stock.


Chilean Silverskin - Silverskin type / Softneck - This is a gorgeous, long storing Silverskin type with brilliant white bulb wrappers and white/pink clove wrappers.  Can easily attain a large size with good garden culture and ample fertility. 2-3" in diameter average. Multiple rows of cloves.  This is typically the most common type of garlic seen and sold in stores.  Soft necks and long storage ability make this an exceptional variety for making garlic braids. 10- 20 cloves per bulb

Siskiyou Purple – Artichoke type - We have been growing, selecting and perfecting this beautiful softneck variety for the over 20 years.  This strain originated as 2 similar varieties: Lorz Italian & Applegate Red.  After years of sorting it emerged as something new and unique, deserving a new name!  This strain is from the Artichoke subgroup of garlic, which possess the general characteristics of a soft flexible neck, purple tint/blush to the outer wrappers and clove wrappers.  Whereas some artichoke types can have up to 30 cloves, our strain usually has 8-15 cloves per bulb.  This means less small inner cloves that are more difficult to deal with in the kitchen!  Of all of our varieties, this is the easiest to grow to large size.  It can attain a diameter of 3 1/2 inches! Flavor:  Full bodied and milder than the hardnecks. Siskiyou Purple will easily keep until April or May in a cool dark garage or shed. Cloves per pound: 45 - or about 5 or 6 heads/pound.

Chinese Pink – Turban Type - Turban type falls somewhere between softneck and hardneck garlic. Some people refer to it as a bolting softneck. As it only sometimes grows scapes like a hardneck type does, however it does not have the tough inner core that other hardneck varieties do. It has 8-10 cloves per bulb. Comparable to the variety "Uzbekistan".  Amazingly this variety matures a full 4-6 weeks ahead of our other garlics, finishing out in mid-May to June 1st, whereas our other garlics are ready closer to July4th.  This is a welcome harvest to compliment the palette of fresh food available that time of year.  Its flavor is mild and smooth and mellow enough to use in any dish.  Bulb wrappers are white and conceal pink clove wrappers.

Chesnock Red - Purple Stripe Type - "Red Garlic" in Russian, Chesnock is an excellent producing, brilliant garlic. Long, crescent-shaped purple-hued cloves are covered by richly colored purple-striped bulb wrappers that glow with sparkles of golden glaze. Outstanding, uniquely spicy flavor raw. Holds flavor well when baked. Quite easy to peel.  Moderately long storing garlic, typically lasting through February.  8-12 cloves per bulb. 

Garlic, German White - Porcelain hardneck type - Bulbs are satin white over pink clove wrappers.  Most bulbs will have only 4-6 cloves, saving time in the kitchen.  Flavor is rich and bold with just the right amount of spiciness. Stores fairly well for a hardneck, lasting until March or April in simple cool storage.  Another bonus of this variety is that it produces scapes.  It is such a joy to use in the kitchen that it's worth the extra effort.  It is capable of growing to 3.5" in diameter with 5-8 large cloves per bulb.  Among the best for roasting! Flavor: Pleasant strong & sweet flavor with some heat that intensifies after some storage.

Garlic, Music - Porcelain hardneck type.  Many bulbs will have only 4-6 cloves, saving time in the kitchen.  Stores fairly well for a hardneck, lasting about 9 months - or until March or April in simple cool storage.  Another bonus of this variety is that it produces scapes.   It is remarkably productive and very rewarding to grow.  It is capable of growing to huge size (3.5" in diameter) with 5-8 large cloves per bulb. Among the best for roasting!  Flavor: Pleasant strong & sweet flavor with some heat that intensifies after some storage. 

Garlic, Persian Star- Purple Stripe type - This wonderful mid-season purple stripe hardneck type is among the most beautiful garlics we have ever grown with its smooth white bulb wrappers and stunning purple streaks and hints or bronze and mahogany.  It was originally sourced by John Swenson at a bazaar in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.  Flavor is milder than Chesnok Red to which it is closely related.  Flavor is full without a heat to its spiciness and lends itself well to baking and roasting.  Being a purple stripe type it is a hardneck with a single circle of cloves around a central woody stem.  Storage is reasonably good and lasts until February or so in our experience.

Pyong Yang – Asiatic Type - Asiatic garlic is an early-harvested type of garlic and has up to 12 cloves per bulb. They usually store for up to five months only.  Asiatic garlic tends to be very strong and hot, particularly if you eat it raw.  Bulbs are tall with a pretty purple blushed outer wrapper and bronze red clove wrappers.  Can attain a medium-large size (2-3”) when grown with good fertility.  Cloves are elongated and quite easy to peel.  Produces nice thick scapes in late spring that have a nice corkscrew curl to them. Bulbs have 8-10 cloves.


Garlic Growing and Harvesting Tips:



Garlic is usually planted in the Fall in temperate locales where winter temperature remain above zero degrees farienhiet. In colder climates such as the North Eastern U.S. it is planted in the spring, however larger bulb size is more difficult to obtain with spring planting. We typically plant garlic in the month of October. This enables the plant to grow a healthy root system and some tops in the fall before slowing way down for winter and resuming growth once temperatures warm in February and March. Some hardneck varieties will wait to make any top growth until January & February, but rest assured they are busily making roots. If in doubt, you can dig up some cloves to gauge their progress.

Soil Preparation: Like most Alliums, Garlic is an inefficient feeder. This means that if you want your garlic to size up nicely, you should have supplied adequate to abundant fertility in the form of compost, well balanced organic nitrogen fertilizer. A good approach is to cover crop your garlic area with buckwheat cover crop prior to planting and till this green manure crop into the soil 2-3 weeks before planting.

Spacing: Garlic does not make a very large plant, but it does take some space to make a nice big plant. We usually space garlic 3-4 rows per 4 foot wide bed with 8-10 inches between plants. Planted closer together and you may sacrifice bulb size and make weeding more difficult.

Planting techniques: Break up the bulb into individual cloves, taking care to try and disturb the clove wrappers as little as possible. Hardneck types tend to lose some wrappers in the process of breaking them up; this is normal. Garlic should be planted within a few weeks of braking up cloves to avoid the cloves drying out. Place cloves into the soil as deep as they are long. This usually means planting to a depth where 1-2” of soil covers the tops of the clove. If planted too shallow, the action of frost heave can push garlic right out of the ground. Planted too deeply, garlic can rot in wet soils.

Cultural Techniques: As the saying goes, “you can grow weeds or garlic, but you can’t grow both.” I find this to be true, however mellow spring weeds such as chick- weed, veronica speedwell and spring cress do little to impeed growth and provide a nice living mulch if you chose to garden more on the wild permaculture side of life. Otherwise keep your garlic patch well weeded.

Pre-Harvest – Stop watering about 10 days pre-harvest (for us this is about summer solstice, anticipating a July 4th harvest)

Harvest: Harvest your garlic when the leaves begin to yellow and dry down. We usually use the number of remaining green leaves as a gauge to determine the right time to harvest. I want to see a minimum of 5-6 green leaves left as each leave equates
to one bulb wrapper, so you can imagine that after cleaning each bulb you’ll want to have some wrappers left for optimal storage ability.

Diseases:  There are a number of diseases that can effect garlic.  Some are seed borne, such as White Rot.  We test all our stock here at Siskiyou Seeds with the Oregon State University lab.  If you have doubts here is a link to some photos and pics from the OSU Plant Pathology Lab.: