Gardening for Life!

Become a Member


More on Garlic Varieties

Garlic isn't just garlic. The local grocery store usually just sells one variety.  But, there are many kinds of garlic differing in size, color, shape, taste, number of cloves per bulb, pungency and storability - altered over time by careful (or accidental) selection and changing growing conditions, such as soil fertility, rainfall, temperature, altitude, length and severity of winter, etc. as they spread across Asia and Europe. Apparently all of the hundreds of sub-varieties (separate cultivars) of garlic grown all over the world came from ten basic groups described here. The vast majority of the varieties in The Calgary Horticultural Society Garlic Exchange are hardnecks.

The three Purple Striped varieties are true hardneck garlic and the ancestor of all the other garlic types developed. They have vivid purple streaks on both bulb wrappers & clove skins, and tall slender crescent shaped cloves. They are also very flavorful. Most strains have more cloves per bulb than Rocambole. All 3 purple stripe types have a sweet rich flavor, and even make a great table centerpiece.  Some purple striped garlics also produce a large number of bulbils and are capable of producing true seed. 

[1]  Standard Purple Stripe generally have white outer bulb wrappers that become purple and vibrant in the inner layers. There are usually 8-12 tall pointy cloves per bulb. They store well and are easy to grow.



Other Information



Sturdy, tall plants mature 3-4 weeks earlier than mid-season varieties like Music.  Averages 6 cloves per bulb.


Early to mid

Teardrop-shaped bulbs with 6 to 10 cloves exhibiting hardy and smooth flavor (and a little bite when raw).


Early to mid

Six to eight cloves per bulb. Early maturing and great for roasting.

Persian Star


The clove covers with their distinctive long sharp points resemble an eight point star. Full flavored garlic with only a small bite to them.

French Breakfast                     Shatilli

[2]  Glazed Purple Stripe have dark green leaves with an upright growth habit.  Bulbs are large with 10 to 14 cloves per bulb. They are said to be tolerant of higher humidity in storage. These are the tall willowy garlics. Their leaves longer and thinner than the Marbled group. The inner bulb wrappers of Purple Glazers can be almost solid purple with purple clove colors. 



Other Information


Early to mid

The bulbs can get very large, 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.  A sweet warm rich flavor with a very pleasant aftertaste. Great for raw eating or roasting

Purple Glazer

Early to mid

Rich, lasting flavor, but not overly spicy. Excellent for roasting. Grows well in most climates.

[3]  Marbled Purple Stripe  have wide leaves and stout stalks. Squat cloves that are easy to peel and store well. The bulbs can get quite large and are often dappled with purple splotches. Hot and spicy flavour to this garlic.



Other Information



Flower stalks are sometimes red tinged.  Averages 4 cloves per bulb. Cloves are dark purple/brown. Longest storing of the marbled purple stripes. Hot (Russian physicians used this variety so often to treat respiratory problems that it earned the nickname "Russian penicillin").


Mid to late

Spicy flavor, originally from Poland, 7 or 8 plump red skinned cloves in a purple bulb wrapper.  Great one for seasoning soups and meats. 



Violet tinged cloves a fiery beginning and a mellow finish.



Large bulb and about 7 large cloves.  Flavour good, but not overpowering.

[4]  The Porcelain garlics generally have 4-6 large plump cloves per bulb. The bulb wrappers are usually satiny white with brownish clove skins. They are strong and flavourful, and good keepers. Porcelains are well adapted to colder climates. If the scapes are allowed to mature they produce hundreds of tiny bulbils that, if planted, can produce full sized garlic in about three years. 



Other Information



A good flavour with medium to strong taste.  Bulbs are easy to peel.  An all-round good garlic raw or cooked. 

German: (& German White)

Early to mid- season. 

Mild heat with robust flavour and large cloves.  Use as an all-round garlic, raw or cooked.  Long storing. Average of five large, moderately spicy cloves per bulb. Excels in colder climates.

Romanian (Red)


It is strong and pungent and hot with a long lasting bite and is very good for storage.  Averages 4 to 5 cloves per bulb.   

(Eureka) Music

Mid to later

a medium hot, true garlic flavor that will store 9 months to a year. High yielding and cold-tolerant. Six to eight cloves per bulb.

Armenian                   Fish Lake #3              Leningrad

Rosewood                   Yugoslavian               Zemo                           Armenian


[5]  Rocambole garlics are stocky plants with closely spaced leaves with outstanding flavor is brought out by cold winter temperatures. Easy to peel due to loose clove wrappers, so shorter storage life as they are likely to dry out. Tends to produce double cloves in a single clove wrapper.  Separate the doubles before planting in order to produce large bulbs.  Rocamboles do not tolerate overwatering. Some example subvarieties:



Other Information

French & French Red


Very mild in heat and has a mild flavour that is excellent in salads. 



Garlicky with nice lingering after taste.  Great rubbed on toasted bread and used in garlic butters, humus and pesto.  Add garlic at the end of cooking to preserve the flavour. 

Russian Red


Strong garlic flavor with warm sweet aftertaste.   Brought to British Columbia by Doukhobor immigrants from Russia in early 1900's.  Averages about 4 cloves per bulb.



Rich, complex character: creamy beginning then a surge of heat for a few moments.  7-8 cloves per bulb with slightly fewer doubles and triples than some Rocamboles

Ontario Purple Trillium


quite hot 8 to 12 cloves per bulb. 

Spanish Roja



Large flat cloves and beautiful copper skin that peels easily off this strong, hot, spicy and extremely popular

Hungarian           Carparthian            German Red        Eureka Allen      German Brown

German Brown     Killarney Red          Korean Purple      Whitecap            Ukranian   

The Calgary Horticultural Society Garlic Co-Operative also has a few weakly bolting varieties:

[6]  Asiatic varieties are characterized by their distinctive umbel, exceptionally long hollow beak when mature.The bulbils range from large to huge and in some varieties there may only be a few bulbils in a capsule. Asiatics do not require scape removal to produce large bulbs. Flavours range from mild to hot and spicy.

[7]  Turban varieties have a flattened turban shaped umbel with a short beak.  Turbans are one of the first to be ready for harvest, and have a short dormancy stage, so do not store for long periods. Sometimes the plants refuse to bolt and do not produce a scape. When scapes do grow, they are short and do not curl. Production is not harmed by leaving the scapes on. 

Much of the garlic in the grocery stores is softneck ([8]  Silverskin, [9]  Artichoke or [10] Creole) because it stores well. The Calgary Horticultural Society Garlic Co-Operative has few softneck. One is Kettle River Giant, an Artichoke garlic.


Hope you enjoyed this quick tour through garlic varieties. The information was pulled together from many internet sources. 

For more information about the Garlic Exchange, contact or call the Horticultural Society at 403-287-3469.