Texas Growing Zones
In a big state like Texas, there are major variations in growing zones. The panhandle is Zone 6, while the zone numbers and temperature increase through Zones 7, 8 and 9 to Zone 10 in the far south of the state. Zone 6 and 7 gardeners can usually grow good garlic by following the standard planting and management strategies. Those in Zones 8, 9 and 10 should vernalize cloves.
Choose the Right Varieties
Softneck garlics are generally easier to grow in Texas gardens. Hardnecks really demand some winter cold for proper growth and development. Creole garlics are a group that originated in Spain and tolerate warmer growing conditions. Ajo Rojo and Creole Red are good options. Other possible varieties include Lorz Italian, Thermadrone, Georgian Crystal, Susanville and Parvin. If you want hardnecks, plan on vernalizing.
How to Vernalize Garlic
Vernalization mimics a period of winter chill that promotes better growth. To vernalize:
- Line a shallow tray with paper towels and a single layer of garlic.
- Avoid storing cloves in plastic bags – there’s too much moisture and they may rot.
- Leave the garlic in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks in Zones 8/9 and 10 to 12 weeks in Zone 10.
Soil Issues in Texas
Like growing zones, soils vary in Texas. Most are well-drained and neutral to slightly alkaline, but some are high in salts. Test your soil to confirm what amendments it needs for best garlic production. You may need to add lime, for example. In all cases, add plenty of organic matter to increase humus and promote good drainage. Aged manure, well-rotted leaf mold, wood chips and compost add important nutrients.
Planting Garlic in Texas
In all areas of Texas, garlic will do better if fall-planted. This allows for cooler temperatures and a long semi-dormant period in which the roots develop well. Planting more shallowly in moist soil helps keep cloves cool. In some desert areas, gardeners plant on top of the ground and mulch with straw. Although garlic prefers full sun, afternoon shade in very hot areas may be best.
Growing Garlic in Texas
Raised beds might be the best choice in many areas of Texas, as good drainage is critical. However, raised beds also warm up more quickly in spring, which can force the plants to mature early. Ensure adequate soil moisture, which helps cool the soil. A mulch of light material like straw, which reflects light and heat, can also be helpful.