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16 Common Garlic Plant Problems: How to Fix Them, Solutions, and Treatment

Growing your food is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be frustrating as plant diseases and pests are visible everywhere. While Garlic is natural pest protection and keeps wildlife away from your vegetable patch, it also has some growing problems of its own. Ironically, most of these problems relate to the growing conditions around plants.

Common Garlic Plant Problems
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When you have Garlic bending, flowering, or not making cloves as they should, you need to look carefully at how you take care of the plant and what kind of fertilizer you use. In some cases, you’ll have more than one reason for the sad condition of Garlic. Since Garlic is a stinking plant, it is easy to assume that it has no insects and diseases that attack it, but it is wrong. 

16 common Garlic plant problems

Small Garlic bulbs 


Avoid overcrowding and weeds

Like most vegetables, keep your Garlic bed weed regularly. You should mulch after planting with at least 1 inch of straw or leaves to help suppress the weeds. Garlic grows best with at least 3 inches of space between plants, with up to 5 inches recommended. Even when planted close to each other, Garlic plants will thrive, but below the surface, you can end up with undersized bulbs. 

Compacted soil and very deep planting can make smaller bulbs

The best soil for Garlic is sandy loam rich in organic matter (fertilizer). Since most gardeners don’t have ideal soil, either very sandy or very heavy. So, modifying their soil with compost is the easiest way to make Garlic more suitable for growing, as they both improve the soil structure and add nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to your Garlic bed.

Another reason for small Garlic bulbs is planting too deep; as you plant your Garlic, the more the soil pressure around the bulbs, making it difficult for them to grow. You should plant Garlic about 1 to 2 inches deep.

Garlic is planted too early or too late 

The planting time of Garlic depends on where you live, but around 3 to 6 weeks before the first frost date. For the best results, plant in the fall so you can harvest next summer. If you plant Garlic too early or too late, you will risk setting your Garlic back in the spring, which leads to the growth of the small bulb. 

In case you missed it: Soil Preparation for Garlic Plants: Best Soil Mix, pH, Compost, and Recipe

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Garlic requires consistent water to produce full-size bulbs

Garlic is tolerant of dry soil; large bulb grows when not passing through dry periods. While too much water can cause Garlic bulbs to rot, too little water will stress Garlic plants and reduce Garlic production.

Garlic harvesting after lower leaves dies 

It’s hard to know when to harvest Garlic, as it doesn’t look like most vegetables and is edible at any stage of development. As a general rule of thumb, you harvest Garlic because the plant has started dying before the whole plant dies. When 3 to 4 leaves below turn yellow, about half of the plant leaves, that’s when you want to harvest your Garlic. Otherwise, waiting until the whole plant dies back can reduce the shelf life of your Garlic bulbs and make them more prone to rot.

Garlic is flowering (bolting)

Garlic plants should not get flowers, as this means that the plant will focus on flowers and seeds instead of producing large cloves. But sometimes, flowery Garlic can be a blessing, especially if you are planting decorative Garlic varieties to produce flowers.

Solution – Often, this happens when the weather suddenly heats up that the Garlic plant will start to bloom. Before the flowers bloom, cut the scapes. Thus, the plant will continue to lead its resources to the development of cloves. Mulching around rows of Garlic to cool soil temperatures and prevent plants from going to seed early in the season.

However, the benefits of this solution are more and more limited. Because it is air temperature that stimulates the growth of the scapes, not how hot the soil is. Garlic will benefit from mulching until you let the mulch touch the stalks.

Garlic cloves are not forming

As a cold-weather plant, Garlic needs low temperatures to make cloves. This temperature should be below 10°C for -1°C consecutive nights. Another thing that Garlic needs to make cloves is time. Be patient and let the plant grow and mature at its slow pace. But sometimes, other factors prevent Garlic from making cloves. Insects like nematodes and onion thrips topped the list.

Solution – If you live in a hot zone, a variety of choices with a high tolerance for hot weather will ensure your Garlic will make cloves even if the temperature is not cool at night. If the weather becomes too severe without warning, consider growing Garlic in the containers and bringing it indoors to protect it. Nematodes suck leaf juice, making them yellow. They also affect bulbs and cause defects.

The best way to eliminate nematodes is to cover the soil with plastic sheets to make it solar and let the sun bake it for two weeks. As far as Onion thrips are concerned, you can tell with white spots on the leaves that you have a trip attack. Spray the plants with neem oil to kill Onion thrips. You will need more than one application to eliminate the pests.

Stunted growth

Another problem faced by gardeners is stunted growth. It can be in the form of stunted roots or damaged bulbs. 

Solution – One way to prevent this is to water Garlic thoroughly after planting. Then, add a thin layer of mulch to help discourage weeds until the ground freezes. During the growing period, you need to keep the weeds under control as they can adversely affect your crop growth. 

In case you missed it: Best Fertilizer for Garlic: Organic, Homemade, Liquid, Natural, NPK, and Compost Manure

Garlic Farming
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Dying plants

While it is easy to grow, Garlic needs a lot of patience. It matures after about 240 days, and although it is worth every second, a crisis can occur when plants start dying during this time. Whether it’s diseases, pests, or weather conditions affecting your Garlic, it’s essential to get to the root of this goal quickly to avoid losing your entire crop. Nematodes are microscopic worms that live in Garlic stems and bulbs.

These endoparasitic bugs are produced inside Garlic plants and eat portions of bulbs, stems, and leaves. Garlic black bugs are small insects that like to invite-only Garlic. They can be seen as black spots on Garlic plants. 

Solution – To eliminate nematodes, you need to get clean planting material. You can spray the insects with, insect spray to eliminate black bugs on Garlic plants. If you want to eliminate them once and for everyone, you must move your Garlic to another place in your garden and plant a different vegetable. Just make sure you make a choice that is outside the Allium family. Garlic pests appear almost overnight whenever they feel the plants that come under stress.

Soil deficiency

Lack of nutrient imbalance in soil, such as potassium, nitrogen, magnesium, and calcium, can significantly affect your Garlic plants. It can cause common problems like stunted growth, discoloration, or spots on leaves. It can also cause plants to wilt and die. 

Punky Bulb – Low soil pH can result in a severe condition known as a punky bulb. The disease causes the Garlic cloves to become loose and discolored. 

Solution – You should check the soil pH after applying soil amendments. 

Waxy breakdown – Another condition caused by soil problems is a waxy breakdown. It is a disease where Garlic cloves are transparent and rotten. It is high in Garlic which has been exposed to extremely high temperatures during growth, especially near the crop. 

Solution – Garlic becomes sticky or waxy to touch. Place the mulch above the soil to avoid this problem. In storage, poor ventilation and low oxygen also contribute to the development of this condition. 

Excessive side shoots – Too much nitrogen in the soil can result in excessive side shoots. 

Solution – It is important to check your soil to ensure the nutrients are balanced. An excellent prevention method is to balance your soil through compost since it is added and can throw things out of the whack.

Drooping Garlic plants

The first reason is that the plant is nearing harvest time. The leaves wilt and turn brown, then drop over the plant. This is your signal to be ready to harvest your cloves. Other reasons are drought, poor soil, pests, and lack of sunlight. 

In case you missed it: Garlic Planting Questions and Answers (FAQs)

Solution – Start by ensuring Garlic gets at least 6 hours of sunlight daily during spring and summer. Check the soil to see if it is too dry. The leaves bend due to drought. Give the plant enough water to moisten the soil. Check the soil and ensure it contains four important elements, nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Use plant food supplements to nurture the plant back to health. Wireworms cause leaves to bend. Cut a potato in half and bury half in the soil near the Garlic for a day or two. Potatoes attract wireworms, so when you dig Potatoes, you will clean the soil from these pests.



Rust usually appears only a month before the Garlic is about to be harvested. It appears as red pustules on leaves. Watering your Garlic using a drip system is less likely to have a problem, so no moisture is left on the leaves.

Solution – If it seems, you can often control and prevent it from spreading by spraying it with bicarbonate soda or potassium bi-carbonate spray. If it doesn’t work, try an organically certified copper spray, such as copper hydroxide. 

Mix a drop of vegetable oil and detergent into the 2 liters of water. Oil helps spray make a stick at the leaf; detergent spreads it further. Then add four teaspoons of bicarbonate soda. Stir well and spray on the leaves. It will prevent the leaf surface from spreading by making it more alkaline.

Fusarium root rot

The fusarium root rot is almost impossible to control once you have it. You can always tell the fusarium because of the smell of the bulb. 

Solution – Do not plant back in the affected soil for at least two years, and do not save the affected bulbs from replanting. If you are concerned that disease spores in your bulbs, tear the bulbs before planting and soak the cloves overnight in the potassium bicarbonate solution.

In case you missed it: Garlic Growing Tips, Tricks, Ideas, and Secrets

Garlic Harvest
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Botrytis neck rot

Botrytis neck rot causes major damage to Garlic plants. The water-soaked neck rot on the soil line in spring or early summer.

Solution – If you end up with the botrytis neck rot in your garden, you must remove diseased plants. In the future, ensure that air circulation between your plants is sufficient. You can also use preventive measures such as avoiding too much mulch and irrigation, but getting rid of the disease is almost impossible.

Downy mildew

Downy mildew is a common fungal disease that affects all kinds of plants, including Garlic. It causes yellow spots or long spots on the plant’s leaves, and you will eventually see a gray purple-colored fuzzy growth at the leaf surface. As time goes by, the leaf tips are gone.

Solution – Downy mildew is most common when the temperature is cool and the leaves are wet. Proper fungicides can take care of this disease. 

Purple blotch

Purple blotch is another common fungus that affects Garlic plants. Symptoms are small, water-soaked lesions on leaves or stalks. Over time, those lesions grow larger and turn brown or purple. 

Solution – Crop rotation is a way to prevent the growth of this fungal infection, as well as to ensure that the soil has proper drainage. Some fungicides control the disease, but you should rotate the fungicides you use for the best control.

White rot

White rot causes old leaves on your Garlic plants to turn yellow first. It also stops growth, and all leaves will die over time. You will get the fully white growth based on the bulb.

Solution – Unfortunately, fungicides are not always effective in treating white rot. Long-term crop rotation will help you, and you can use appropriate fungicides if available. Control usually relies on using cultural methods and effective gardening techniques.


Black aphids 

Aphids attack all the alliums, so if there are Chives, Leeks, or Onions growing in your garden, keep an eye on them and treat them as well. These aphids have a habit of hiding in overlapping leaf bases beyond the reach of predators. 

In case you missed it: Growing Garlic Hydroponically, Nutrients for Garlic Plants

Growing Garlic
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Solution – As soon as you see them, spray with a dilute soap solution to ensure it drips down to leave bases. Follow up with pest oil next week. If there is still a sign of the aphids, repeat it.

  • Soap spray for black aphids – Mix one tablespoon of vegetable oil-based soap with 1litre of water. Stir well and spray on the aphids to make sure it goes down into overlapping leaves. 
  • Oli Spray for black aphids -Mix a tablespoon of vegetable-based liquid soap with a cup of cooking oil. Shake and add two teaspoons to a cup of water, stir well again, and spray.

Bulb mites

Bulb mites stop the growth of plants and cause bulbs to rot in the ground or storage. Bulb mites are small, less than a millimeter in length; some say they look like small pearls on the legs.

Solution – Not only do bulb mites cause problems, but the damage they cause leaves plants open to secondary attacks by other pathogens. You can try to treat Garlic seed cloves with hot water before planting.


Two types of thrips will affect your Garlic plants: Onion thrips and Western flower thrips. Both these pests cause colorless, distorted tissue and scarring of the leaves. If the thrips cause a severe attack, you may see a silver appearance on your plant.

Solution – Leaving natural enemies in your garden is a way to control the thrips of your Garlic plants. Try leaving predatory mites, pirate bugs, or lacewings in your garden.


When growing Garlic, you can take a little preventive care that can go a long way in helping you avoid the most common challenges down the line. From the first clove, you plant, you need to take steps to prevent the onset of Garlic diseases and pests.

While Garlic is quite an easy process to grow, the truth is there is still a lot you or nature can do to mess up the way. You know the top challenges you face when growing Garlic and the different ways to solve each problem. The information in this article helps you deal with problems so that your Garlic plants can grow to the best of their ability.


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