Tons of garlic (Allium sativum) end up in German kitchens. A few years ago, it was only available as an imported product, but the “witch onion” is finding its way into the local fields and increasingly into the vegetable beds. It is easy to care for, but when you grow it yourself, the question often arises as to when is the best time to harvest and whether garlic is edible despite flowering? The answers can be found below.

Flowering garlic edible?

First, to answer the question, is flowering garlic edible? While many types of vegetables produce bitter substances when they bloom, which in some cases can even be toxic to humans and animals, there is no such concern with flowering garlic – so the answer is: yes, garlic is edible despite the flowering.

Tip: The flowers of the Allium ramosum (fragrant garlic) have a scent reminiscent of lilies. Positioned in the living room, the flowers support a pleasant, soothing room climate.


There are countless varieties of garlic, of around 200 known varieties worldwide, only 80 are specifically cultivated and just over 40 are known in Germany. Whether the Allium sativum flowers depends on the variety. The harvest time also decides, especially with annual specimens, whether hobby gardeners have to worry about edible tubers during or after flowering. Since most of the garlic varieties that are common here do not flower until June/July, the question does not arise if they are early varieties that are harvested in early June. This is different for the summer and winter varieties, because here the tubers are usually ready for harvest after or during flowering. Two-year-old garlic varieties have a higher flowering potential.


In the course of development, the stalks of the garlic plants grew tall. Special features and properties are as follows:

  • Form at a height of 80 to 100 centimeters
  • Grow a few inches below the end of the stem
  • Initially, false umbels form
  • Small so-called brood onions are formed from pseudo umbels
  • Similar to garlic bulbs, but significantly smaller
  • Bud formation often remains (flowers do not open)
  • If flowers develop, the “skin” of the onions will burst
  • Flower color: white, yellow or in shades of pink, violet
  • Predominantly sterile flowers (not suitable for propagation)

spring onions

The bulbs form the basis for flowering and can be used for propagation. As they develop, the upper stem area above them dries up and the small nuptial bulb increases in circumference/size only slightly. Their “cloves” are rounded and sized closer to larger seeds than a mature clove of garlic. They are theoretically edible at this stage, but at that point in time they have little in common with the “real” garlic in terms of taste. If you want to propagate your Allium sativum, cut off the flower with the bulb and plant it in the ground like a normal garlic or tulip bulb.


Although there are no official studies/research that the formation of the bulbs and buds has a negative impact on the growth and taste of the growing tuber in the soil, some empirical values ​​say otherwise. From a logical point of view, the Allium sativum, like any other plant, needs a higher supply of nutrients in the area of ​​​​brood bulbs and flower formation, which is why the actual tuber could receive fewer substances.Experienced hobby vegetable growers justify that the harvests contain smaller garlic, which sometimes also offers less flavor intensity. Some speak of noticeable yield losses. For this reason, many of them advise preventing the flowering period by cutting off or cleaning out the brood bulbs/flowers in order to be able to offer the “main bulb” optimal growing conditions.

cutting or trimming

When choosing whether to cut or trim, it is relevant whether propagation is desired or not. If a propagation is to take place, one waits until the buds or flowers appear, which are then cleaned out. If no value is placed on propagation by means of brood onions, it is cut off. That is how it goes:

cut off

  • Time: as soon as the first bulges form on the upper stem (depending on the weather in May/June)
  • Cut start: a few centimeters below the curve
  • Cut at an angle to allow moisture to drain

clean up

All bud and/or flower heads are continuously removed.

Tip: The flowers are not only suitable for decorative purposes, but are also edible. They give dishes a mildly spicy note with a slight hint of garlic.

Toxic Harvesting

It is now known that garlic can be eaten without hesitation despite its flowering. However, this does not apply to garlic bulbs that have sprouted. This can be recognized by a green, elongated “stalk” which extends upwards from a toe and tapers to a point. The tip is often slightly yellowish in color. This germ provides bitter substances in the garlic, which can cause symptoms of poisoning. These usually manifest themselves in stomach and intestinal problems. With increasing germ development, the garlic also becomes more inedible.

Perfect harvest time

In principle, garlic that was planted in autumn can be harvested earlier. The harvest time here is mainly in June. The exception is propagation with spring onions, because these usually only produce garlic that is ready for harvest in the second year. Those who planted in spring can usually harvest from August. That is, the Allium sativum usually matures over the flowering period.

Recognize optimal maturity

  • Wilting of the foliage in the last third of the plant
  • Yellowing of the leaves in the lower part of the plant
  • Garlic grows easily out of the ground

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