Garlic is one of the easiest plants you can grow - get it in the ground, and you can more or less set it and forget it!
But what if you don’t have the space outside to devote to a large plot of garden - or perhaps are sick of constantly watering, weeding, and fertilizing your spot? At least you’re able to keep all those neighborhood vampires away, right?
Just kidding, of course - but the struggle is real when it comes to finding the right spot for your plants. This is why so many people are learning how to grow hydroponic garlic.
Growing garlic hydroponically is a great way to have your cake and eat it, too. You’ll be able to save space, time, and effort by choosing this method for growing your plants.
It’s not tough to do, especially if you have the right equipment and know-how. We’ll explain everything you need to know about growing this plant in a soilless environment, and share our input on the best supplies & equipment you can invest in. Let’s start with some basic information.
Can You Grow Garlic Hydroponically?
If you want to start growing your own garlic, hydroponics is the way to go. Hydroponics is an efficient way for plants to grow without soil in water or nutrient solutions. This method uses less space and resources while still providing all the nutrients necessary for growth.
But is it even possible to grow this kind of plant in a hydroponic system? Absolutely.
As long as the plants have suitable lighting and substrate, you shouldn’t have any problem doing so.
Of course, you’ll also need to choose the right kind of system so that you’re easily able to give your plants what they need (we’ll tell you more on this below!).
Is Hydroponic Garlic Difficult To Grow?
While it can be tough to start growing at first, once you learn the ropes, you won’t have too much trouble.Success starts by making sure you have the necessary know-how.
You’ll also want to make sure you have the proper equipment and are growing the right variety of this plant for your needs.
So ultimately, it is not difficult to grow garlic hydroponically, but it does demand a certain level of patience. If you feel that you’re up for the task, read on!
Why Grow Hydroponic Garlic?
Garlic can be grown in a number of different ways, but many feel that hydroponics is the best way to go. It allows for plants to grow faster and more efficiently than any other method.
Plants are raised in their own nutrient-rich water instead of soil which makes them healthier and more resistant to disease. This constant fertilization leads to substantially higher yields than in soil, too.
All of these benefits extend to garlic, too. Growing hydroponically is a great way to get fresh produce year round.
It has many health benefits and can be used in almost any recipe. It's also an excellent source of nutrients, such as vitamin B6, potassium, selenium, manganese and vitamin C.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Hydroponic Garlic Hydroponically?
Growing garlic hydroponically is a fun and easy way to grow your own food. It is one of the easiest crops to grow, and takes about six months from start to finish.
Once you get going, though, you can continue replanting cloves from your existing bulbs for a crop that is more or less self-sustaining.
How To Grow Garlic Hydroponically - Step By Step
If you're ready to start growing your own plants, simply follow the steps below. We're going to explain how to start your crop, including the most important aspect - choosing the right hydroponic system. Then, we'll teach you how to care for your garlic and see it through to harvest!
What Type Of System Is Best For Growing Garlic Hydroponically?
Just about any kind of system will work for growing garlic - it mostly comes down to personal preference.
Some options to consider include DWC (deep water culture), ebb and flow, and drip.
DWC (Deep Water Culture)
DWC involves suspending plant roots directly in the hydroponic nutrient solution.
The solution is held in a reservoir, where the roots remain their entire life. You’ll need to include an air pump and airstone for oxygenation to the root zone.
The benefit of this kind of system is that there are few working parts, meaning less overall maintenance.
However, you do need to be careful about feeding your plants in this kind of system - it is very easy to over-or under-feed.
Ebb and Flow (Flood & Drain)
Ebb and flow is another option. In an ebb and flow system, also referred to as flood and drain, you’ll enjoy simple, easy operation.
In this kind of system, a water pump will transport nutrients into a flood table, slowly filling the table (and your plants’ roots) with nutrient solution about four to six times each day.
This flooding is controlled by a timer, making it a good choice for growers who want a more automated system.
You can customize an ebb and flow system to suit as few as one or two plants or more than 40 plants - whatever meets your needs.
A final option to consider is a drip system. Drip systems feed nutrient solution to the root zone via drippers, eliminating the need for constant flooding and draining.
It’s a good option for making your water and energy use more efficient - and it can prevent oversaturating your bulbs with water and nutrients.
No matter what kind of system you choose, it’s important that you find ways to keep the roots moist, but the bulbs themselves dry.
Although a drip system will make this somewhat easier, you can use any kind of hydroponic system to grow garlic provided that you pay attention to the planting depth.
Hydroponic Garlic Propagation - Seeds vs Clones
The easiest way to start growing your own plants is to do so from cloves. You can start from seed, but this is going to be a very time-intensive process.
Instead, you’ll simply separate a garlic bulb into individual cloves. Each clove is simply a segment of a full bulb that can be used to produce another bulb - this is known as cloning.
For indoor growing, softneck is the best. It doesn’t require a cold winter period to bloom, as hardneck garlic does.
Some good options to consider are ‘California Early,’ ‘California Softneck,’ ‘Inchelium Red,’ and ‘Silver White.’ That said, if you really want to use hardneck garlic, you can - it might just take a bit longer.
To start your cloves, begin by separating out the number of healthy cloves you want to plant. Gently break them away from the rest of the bulb.
Keep the paper husk on each clove before you plant in coco coir or perlite, placing the pointed end facing upward. Roots will sprout from the fatter end.When you plant, position your clove just below the surface.
Don’t leave the tip exposed but don’t completely bury the cloves, either. Dampen the cloves slightly. It should take around 60 days for the plants to emerge when the cloves are kept at temperatures of around 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once your plants have sprouted, you can transfer them to your hydroponic system. Space plants about four inches apart to give the bulbs room to develop.
Feeding Your Hydroponic Garlic Nutrients
Garlic does best when grown in a pH of around 6.0 to 6.5. You will likely need to change out your nutrient solution around once or twice per month.
A standard hydroponic fertilizer is all you need to be successful, typically one with a NPK ratio of around 3-1-2.
It is also okay if you use a nutrient solution that is slightly higher in nitrogen than that, as plant is a heavy feeder.
Caring For Hydroponically Grown Garlic
This plant grows best with around 10-12 hours of grow lighting daily, though six to eight hours will also suffice.
Like most plants, garlic does require periods of darkness, so don’t leave your grow lights on at all times.
Once established, it is quite hardy and can handle temperatures as low as 30 degrees and as high as 85 degrees, though more moderate temperatures will help the bulbs grow better.
Another benefit of growing this plant is that it is a natural pest repellent. So while growing in an indoor hydroponic environment will naturally reduce many of the common pest and disease problems, you don't have to worry about much to begin with, anyway.
You may have to keep an eye out for fungal diseases, like white rot, but if you’re able to keep the bulbs elevated slightly this should help.
How To Harvest your Hydroponic Garlic
Now the fun part - harvesting your bulbs! You can harvest your bulbs when more than 50% of the plant’s leaves have turned a brown or yellow color.
The tops may begin to tip over, too. Since you can see the cloves without having to do any digging, as you would in a soil-based garden, it’s much easier to see when harvest time is near.
The cloves will look large and supple! You can pull the bulbs up and hang them to dry & cure for about six weeks.
Do this in a shaded, well-ventilated area. You can save some of the best bulbs to replant and the rest will last for several months so that you can eat them later on in the year.
Final Thoughts On How To Grow Hydroponic Garlic
Growing garlic hydroponically is a great way to save space in your garden, and also control the nutrients that will be going into it.
It's not hard at all, but does require some extra equipment and knowledge. We gave you all the knowledge you needed in this article - now, on to the equipment!
You can find everything you need by shopping at Hydrobuilder. Our extensive hydroponics selection has all the gear you need, from grow lights to full hydroponic systems, to help you get started.