How to Grow Garlic Without Soil - Backyard Boss
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How to Grow Garlic Without Soil

Garlic is a century-old superfood that you can maintain, grow, and harvest indoors. There are many reasons to grow garlic, but what if you don’t have the space for a traditional garden or don’t want to work with soil? Try growing garlic without soil!

Growing garlic in water is easy! With a clove, a clear jar, and water, you can grow garlic greens year-round! Learn how to grow garlic in water and use hydroponics to see what works best for you.

Growing Garlic Greens in Water

growing garlic
Image credits: Valerie Everett via Creative Commons

Growing garlic in water requires less maintenance than growing it outdoors in the soil. When you grow it indoors in water, you don’t have to worry about the soil type, weather conditions, soil amendments, weeds, or pests.

Note: This method is only good for growing garlic greens year-round.

You’ll need:

  • A newly sprouted garlic clove
  • Glass jar with clean water
  • Toothpicks (Optional)
  • Kitchen scissors


1. Pick a Newly Sprouted Garlic Clove

Garlic bulb with the cloves beginning to sprout
Image credits: Ri Butov via Pixabay

Look for garlic cloves that have small, green sprouts on the top. If you can’t find any in your pantry, ask a friend, check out a farmer’s market, or visit your local store.

2. Find a Glass Jar

a clear glass jar
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Use a clear glass jar to see the bulb’s progress easily. Clear jars will also help you know when the water needs cleaning or if your bulb needs readjustment. If you can’t find glass jars, experiment with glass cups, tall shot glasses, or drinking glasses. Add clean water to the jar.

3. Place Your Garlic Sprout

Growing garlic in a container
Image credits: Dean Howe Photography via Shutterstock

Place the garlic clove on the jar’s opening with the green sprout facing upward. If the jar’s opening is too big, stick three to four toothpicks around the clove to help it balance on the jar. Ensure the water you added touches only the bottom of your garlic clove. Too much water can cause rot.

4. Wait and Maintain

regrow garlic from scraps
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Place your garlic jar on a window sill that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight, but keep a close eye on the garlic greens. If they turn yellow, brown, or wilt, move the jar to a shady spot for a couple of days.

If the water becomes murky or clouded, change it. Remove the garlic, place it on a dry surface, clean the jar, place the garlic back on, and refill with clean water.

5. Harvest Them

A plate of peak green growing garlic sprout.
Image credits: jinhui via Shutterstock

When your garlic greens are at least 3 inches tall, they’re ready for harvest. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip only a third of the sprouts at a time. This will encourage the garlic to continue sprouting. If you cut too much, the garlic will stop growing.

Growing Garlic Using Hydroponics

hydroponic systems
Image credits: J Wynia via Creative Commons

Hydroponics is a way to grow plants without soil by using water-based mineral nutrient solutions. It brings many benefits, including higher yield, continuous production, and lower water usage. There are seven types of hydroponic systems:

  1. Wick System – This system needs a growing medium.
  2. Deep Water Culture System (DWC) – This system doesn’t need a growing medium.
  3. Nutrient Film Technique System (NFT) – This system doesn’t need a growing medium.
  4. Ebb and Flow System – This system needs a growing medium.
  5. Drip System – This system needs a growing medium.
  6. Aeroponics – This system doesn’t need a growing medium.
  7. Aquaponics – This system doesn’t need a growing medium.

If you don’t want to grow garlic in soil, you can experiment with growing them using the Deep Water Culture system since it doesn’t require a growing medium. You can even try the Wick System, but it requires a growing medium that consists of perlite, vermiculite, and coco coir.

DIY a Simple DWC System to Grow Garlic

hydroponic reservoir
Image credits: J Wynia via Creative Commons

To DIY a simple DWC system, you’ll need the following tools and items:

Setting Up the DWC to Grow Garlic:

  1. Clean the gallon you want to use with mild soap and plenty of water.
  2. Disinfect and sanitize it, as this will be your plant’s water reservoir.
  3. Using a sharp knife, box cutter, or utility tool, cut out holes on your gallon lid for the netted pots to fit inside. The holes need to be smaller than your netted pot’s outer rim, so they don’t fall in.
  4. Set up your air pump by attaching the air hose to the pot and connecting the device to the power source.
  5. The other end of the air hose should be connected to the airstone, but only after threading the hose through the netted pot.
  6. Soak the expandable clay for 24 hours. Meanwhile, add water and liquid nutrient, and fix the netted pots on the lid.
  7. Check the reservoir’s pH levels and ensure they’re between 5.5 and 6.5 and EC levels are 0.11 gallons per acre.
  8. Add the soaked expandable clay to the netted pots.
  9. Make a dent in the center and place a garlic clove with the green sprout facing up.
  10. Ensure the water level is touching the bottom of your garlic clove.
  11. Connect the air pump and grow lights (if you don’t have access to natural light) to the surge protector.
  12. Connect the surge protector directly to the timer and connect the timer to a power outlet. If you don’t want to use a timer, connect the surge protector directly to a power outlet.

Tips to Remember

Cooking pickled garlic step by step, step 2 - soaking garlic cloves in water, top view, selective focus
Image credits: A. Zhuravleva via Shutterstock

It’s important to test EC levels right after adding liquid nutrients and then every two weeks when you clean the reservoir to prevent contamination. The ideal EC level for garlic is 0.11 gallons per acre (gal/ac).

Place your DWC in a place that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight. When changing the water, clean the reservoir, air hose, air stones, and other components with mild soap before putting them all back together.

Let the bottom of the garlic clove touch the nutrient-rich water. After two weeks, decrease the water by 2 inches so there’s space between the clove and the water to prevent rot. In a traditional garden, you’d harvest garlic seven to eight months after planting them, but when it comes to hydroponics, maturation is accelerated.

By using a clear gallon for your reservoir, you’ll be able to see your garlic’s progress, and without digging them up, you can judge when they’re ready for harvest. After harvesting garlic, cure them for at least a week or until the leaves turn brown.

Hail Hydro!

Growing garlic is a rewarding experience but, at the same time, challenging. With hydroponic gardening, trial and error is key to success. If your garlic doesn’t grow as expected, change or add lighting and liquid nutrient, and continue to test the water. Eventually, you’ll ‘clove‘ it!

Leave your experiences, thoughts, and questions in the comment section! And share with friends and family who might find this helpful.

Happy gardening!