6 Varieties of Hardneck Garlic

A pile of purple hardneck garlic
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Hardneck garlic plants are varieties that have long flowering stems, called "scapes," which need to be cut off the plant to preserve the development of the bulbs. But the scapes can be used in cooking, much the way that green onions are used, and many people find the mature cloves of hardneck garlic to be more flavorful than softneck garlic. Hardneck garlic plants comprise one species variation of the Allium satvium species; they are classified as A. satvium var. ophioscorodon. All modern garlics are derived from parent species native to middle Asia, but the most popular varieties are associated with—and often named for—the regions where they were developed and made popular.

It's possible to plant garlic in the spring, but in most regions it is better plant it in the fall, just before frost. When it is planted in the fall, most gardeners find that the bulbs are larger and more full of flavor. 

Each variety of hardneck has its own strength—some are exceptionally tasty, and others store well. Whatever you're looking for, one—or all—of these garlic varieties should meet your needs. Here are six good varieties of hardneck garlic to consider.

Gardening Tip

Garlic plants require nitrogen so make sure to fertilize them if you see leaves turning yellow. Water the garlic every three to five days from mid-May to June, when they are actively bulbing. Most types of garlic take about 90 days of active growth before they are ready to harvest.

    • 01 of 06

      Carpathian (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon 'Carpathian')

      'Carpathian' is very flavorful, rather spicy heirloom variety of garlic, of the type often classified as Rocambole garlic. It has medium-sized bulbs with eight or nine cloves. It grows well in cold-weather regions. It has thin husks and doesn't store particularly well, but it is a good garlic for pickling.

      Native Area: Carpathian mountains of Poland

      USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

      Height: 12–18 inches

      Sun Exposure: Full sun

      • 02 of 06

        Spanish Roja (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon 'Spanish Roja')

        'Spanish Roja' is a spicy, full-flavored heirloom variety that produces huge bulbs.This productive variety has large foliage that is a very dark green; the papery bulb wrappers have purple and brown colors in them. This is a good cold-weather garlic, but it does not do well in warm-winter climates. It is a slow-maturing garlic, requiring 240 days from fall planting.

        Native Area: Developed in Pacific Northwest, likely from parent species from Greece

        USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

        Height: 18–24 inches

        Sun Exposure: Full sun

      • 03 of 06

        German Extra-Hardy (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon 'German Extra-Hardy')

        'German Extra-Hardy' has an excellent, relatively mild taste for a hardneck garlic. It is one of the best-storing hardneck varieties, and will store well for up to ten months. The other husk is pure white, but the skins on the inner cloves are red. There are typically four to seven cloves per bulb. 'German Extra-Hardy' is one of the most popular of subcategory known as porcelain garlic, named for the satiny sheen of the skin. It is a spicier garlic than those in the Rocambole group.

        Native Area: Northern Germany

        USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

        Height: 24–30 inches

        Sun Exposure: Full sun

      • 04 of 06

        Georgian Crystal (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon 'Georgian Crystal')

        'Georgian Crystal' garlic has a nice mild flavor, even raw, with a buttery flavor when cooked. The bulbs are large, with 4 to 6 cloves per bulb, and store well for a hardneck variety. This is another porcelain garlic, with translucent white skin.

        Native Area: Mountainous regions in the Republic of Georgia

        USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

        Height: 24–36 inches

        Sun Exposure: Full sun

        Continue to 5 of 6 below.
      • 05 of 06

        Siberian (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon 'Siberian')

        'Siberian' is a mild heirloom garlic that does well even in the coldest climates. It is said to be one of the most healthful of garlics. The large bulbs include five to nine cloves. It has a subtle taste when cooked, but is spicier when eaten raw

        Native Area: Eastern Europe and Russia

        USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

        Height: 18–24 inches

        Sun Exposure: Full sun

      • 06 of 06

        Chesnock Red (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon 'Chesnock Red')

        'Chesnok Red' is a gourmet garlic with an award-winning taste that is more oniony than garlicky. It is excellent in baking and roasting. The bulbs are of medium size, with reddish-purple skins. There are eight to 20 thin cloves per bulb. This garlic is in a class known as purple-stripe garlics.

        Native Area: Republic of Georgia

        USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

        Height: 18–24 inches

        Sun Exposure: Full sun

      Garlic has a long history as a medicinal plant, a reputation substantiated by modern science. There are 17 different healthful amino acids found in garlic, and several other health-promoting compounds, including allicin, known to be effective against the common cold and other pathogens. Studies have suggested that very high doses of garlic can be effective in lowering high blood pressure and possibly decreasing cholesterol levels.