Whatever ingredients might be inherent to a certain kind of cuisine, it is garlic that will make it good! This herb is not only a great flavoring agent, but it also has many health benefits.
Unfortunately, garlic can be quite finicky to grow for the uninitiated. They need just the right amount of sun, water, and nutrients in order to produce big, beautiful, flavorful bulbs.
So, how much sun does garlic need to grow?
Garlic needs between 6 and 8 hours of full sun a day for optimum growth. However, they can also tolerate partial sun, as long as they are getting at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, and can access nutrients in the soil. Partially shading garlic may be a good idea in very hot climates.
Garlic, like many bulb vegetables, is surprisingly fussy when it comes to optimum conditions, but unlike other veggies it is also fairly adaptable to different lighting conditions so long as its nutritional needs can be met in another way.
We’ll tell you all that you need to know about getting your garlic some sun just below.
Does Garlic Need Full Sun?
Yes, garlic generally grows best in full sun. Happily, it also happens to be tolerant of partial shade.
This means that if your garden does not get full sunlight each day, you can still grow garlic successfully so long as it is getting at least some direct sunlight.
How Many Hours of Sun Does Garlic Need?
Garlic will thrive when it gets abundant direct sunlight. For best results, aim for at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If you can provide more than that, up to eight hours or perhaps more, that is ideal.
However, four hours of sunlight a day is still the generally accepted minimum amount of direct sun that garlic needs in order to survive and produce bulbs.
Some cultivars want more sun than others, though: for example, ‘Inchelium Red’ garlic is thought to be more shade-tolerant than others.
Can Garlic Grow in Shade?
Garlic cannot grow fully shaded, or only through fleeting sunlight. It is shade tolerant, however, and can still produce a good crop even if it is grown in partial shade.
One of the benefits of growing garlic in the shade is that it is less likely to bolt, or go to seed.
This is because the cooler temperatures found in shaded areas slow down the growth of the plant, resulting in larger and more flavorful bulbs.
Additionally, garlic planted in the shade will stay moist for longer, which can be helpful during periods of drought.
Do take note that garlic grown in the shade will typically take longer to mature than those grown in full sun.
For this reason, gardeners planning to grow garlic in shady areas should choose a variety that matures quickly.
With a little care and attention, garlic can thrive even in the shadiest of gardens so long as they get at least four hours of sunlight.
Can Garlic Get Too Much Sun?
Generally not. So long as garlic is properly covered by soil and kept slightly moist, it will generally tolerate as much sun as it gets. But, if garlic is allowed to dry out then the sun can damage and even kill the plants.
When growing garlic in hot, sunny climates it is a good idea to mulch around the plants to help retain moisture in the soil. Additionally, planting garlic in raised beds can also help improve drainage and prevent the bulbs from rotting.
Do Different Varieties of Garlic Need More or Less Sun?
Some do. As with most plants and concerning some veggies in particular, various types of garlic have various light requirements, with some needing more and others needing less.
For example, hardneck garlic generally needs less sun than softneck garlic. This is because hardneck garlic grows best in cool climates while softneck garlic is more tolerant of heat.
Additionally, some cultivars have been specifically bred to be more shade-tolerant than others.
While garlic is typically associated with cooler climates, there are actually a number of heat-tolerant varieties that can thrive in warm weather.
For example, Red Creole garlic is a popular variety that originated in Spain (not Louisiana). This type of garlic is well-suited to hot and humid climates, and it has a robust flavor that is nonetheless perfect for use in Cajun cuisine.
Thai Purple garlic is another variety that can tolerate high temperatures. This type of garlic has a milder flavor than other varieties, as is Elephant garlic.
If you are unsure which type of garlic to choose for your garden, speak to your local nursery or gardening center for more advice.
What Happens if Garlic Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?
If garlic doesn’t get enough sun then it will take longer to grow and the bulbs will be smaller. Additionally, garlic that doesn’t get enough sun is more likely to bolt, or go to seed.
While some shade is beneficial for garlic (as it can help prevent bolting from heat stress), too much shade will result in subpar bulbs.
If you live in a particularly shady area then you may want to consider growing garlic in pots so that you can move them around to ensure they get enough sun, though this is a challenge unto itself.
Can You Grow Garlic in Indirect Sun?
Yes, you can grow garlic in indirect sun. Indirect sun is defined as sunlight that is not direct, such as light that is filtered through trees or diffused through a covering.
While garlic will grow in indirect sun, it will not grow as well as it would in direct sunlight. For this reason, gardeners growing garlic in shady areas should choose a variety that matures quickly.
Additionally, mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and prevent the bulbs from drying out and rotting.
You can also grow garlic indoors. However, it is important to note that garlic needs a minimum of four hours equivalent of direct sunlight, and it is tough to grow in pots.
If you are unable to provide your indoor plants with this much light, then you may want to consider using grow lights.
Transitioning Garlic from Indoors to Sunlight
If you have started your garlic plants indoors, then you will need to transition them to sunlight once they have sprouted.
This process is called hardening off, and it helps acclimate the plants to their new environment so that they can better withstand the stress of transplanting.
To harden off garlic, start by moving the plants outdoors for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend outside over the course of a week or two.
Once the plants are acclimated to being outside, you can then plant them in their permanent location in the garden.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.