Growing Garlic Leaves Indoors, or What to Do With Sprouting Garlic?

garlic_leaves_I bet some of you also keep on finding old, last year’s sprouting garlic heads. Once they sprout, the taste becomes harsh and when the next – mushy – stage arrives, most of us usually throw them away. This year, I decided to do exactly what I have been doing for years with sprouting onion bulbs and simply planted a garlic head indoors. In barely one week I obtained 20 cm (about 8 in) of delicious, strongly scented fake garlic chives and at the same time saved my garlic from the bin. I didn’t even need to use my balcony! The small amount of light (we’ve been having an awful spring this year) was enough to make these green leaves grow at an impressive speed!

Though I have been treating this away sprouting onions almost for the pas four years, I’ve never had the idea to experiment with garlic. I’m glad I did because it’s such a rewarding and funny experience! The garlic leaves have a stronger scent and taste than garlic chives, but they can be used in a similar way or as a substitution of garlic.

Here is a quick reminder of what can be obtained if you plant a sprouting onion bulb:


TIP: You will probably have to throw the soil away once the experiment is over because garlic’s root grow at a speed even higher than the leaves and quickly the fill the whole potted space.

If you have a garden, obviously you don’t need to pot the garlic bulb!

I haven’t tried growing leaves from single garlic cloves yet. If you do, please let me know if it works.


Take a garlic head with sprouting cloves (don’t worry if some of them don’t sprout; they will sprout once they are potted) and plant it, covering about 2/3 of its height, in a pot filled with soil.

Place it in any room you prefer, as long as there is some light during the day.

Water it every day or every other day (depends on the soil and air dryness), keeping the soil moist and wait patiently until the garlic leaves/spring onions appear.

(I haven’t checked yet if a second generation of leaves would keep on growing…I’ll update this post if it does).





12 Replies to “Growing Garlic Leaves Indoors, or What to Do With Sprouting Garlic?”

  1. Need to get my garden gloves on and start planting more now that it’s spring! This is such a brilliant idea I always feel a twinge of pain throwing away sprouted onion or garlic, but am too dubious about the actual bulb now to cook with them– will try rooting them. Love how you called them “fake” garlic chives haha!

    1. Thank you so much, Shu! So glad to see you again here! These leaves are not as good as real garlic chives, but they are green, garlicky… so might come useful.

  2. This post could not have come at a better time! Recently, I bought some Chinese garlic (for a photoshoot with a budget) and they are now sprouting like crazy! I usually buy Ontario garlic or American, it’s a bit more expensive but it doesn’t sprout as quickly (the Chinese variety are already sprouting under their skins due to the fact that they are transported in large containers in ships. I usually cut out the sprout because it can be known to cause indigestion, but your idea here is so much better. I love that I can repurpose a sprouting garlic AND have some tasty seasoning on hand. Herbs purchased at the grocery store don’t last too long, even though I have tried every trick in the book, I have a small package of chives rotting away in the vegetable crisper in my fridge (I try to pull out the bad ones until they are no longer usable). These garlic sprouts can also be a beautiful addition to my compost broth.
    I have dried so many things on our radiations this spring (ginger, garlic, parsley, cilantro and Thai hot chili peppers and it’s all from your blog posts and creative suggestions.

    1. Dear Eva, thank you with all my heart for such kind words. I’m so happy to learn you have discovered a second use of radiators! (Talking about radiators, we’ve been having such an awful spring I dried garlic (to make powder) on radiators last week).
      I’m glad this planting idea might prove useful for you very soon. I’ve been doing this for years with onion and shallots, but somehow never thought of garlic… It’s better late than never! The leaves have a strong garlicky taste and aroma (stronger than garlic chives), but they are quite versatile. I’m sure you will find lots of ways to use them, cooked or raw.

  3. What a fun idea! I can do this too! It reminds me of my school years when we planted lentils in a yogurt cup on a cotton bed!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. We did it with a small variety of watercress too! (I still do it sometimes to sprout stubborn seeds).

  4. I forwarded this post to my husband who tried to plant garlic last year outside in our garden but… well, it didn’t work 🙁 I wonder if it would be better to allow them to begin sprouting green as you suggest (even somewhat) before planting. The other possibility is that we start it inside in a pot and then we transplant it outside (my plants seem to love the kitchen window ledge). I wonder though if the root system would become problematic underground (I’ll have to research that a bit more). In short, I love this idea and can imagine how delicious these garlic snips would be on just about everything! Thanks Sissi.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I have no idea how the roots behave outdoors, so you are right to check: one never knows; they might spread like mint! My garlic did produce quite a lot of roots, so beware! (Onions were even worse).
      I hope you will have more luck with growing garlic next time. Maybe the sprouted heads will be a good solution.

  5. What a smart idea!!! Of course, I’m very depressed because I just composted 3 garlic bulbs that had sprouted. I’m sure I’ll have it happen again and next I’ll plant them in a small planter I have right outside the back door. I love all of the ways you find to save food Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I don’t wish you this, but I’m sure your garlic will sprout on its own one day 😉 I hope you’ll like the experience with these garlicky leaves.

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