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The aroma of garlic is in great demand in the kitchen. Because it enriches the taste of many dishes, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. But one or the other connoisseur is bothered by the intense scent. You could switch to the milder snake garlic, which makes a more modest appearance with the flavorings. Grown in the garden, it even looks good. With its meandering flower stalk and numerous small bulbs. This is how it is grown.

snake garlic

The snake garlic, also known as Rockenbolle, impresses with its unusual growth habit. Because the brood tuber grows above ground on a ringed flower stalk. We show you how to grow snake garlic yourself.

location and soil

The snake garlic, bot. Allium sativum var. Ophioscorodon, loves the sun and the warmth that comes with it. That's why you shouldn't plant it in a shady spot. Partial shade should also be avoided if possible, but is just tolerable if necessary for high-yield cultivation. The soil should be loose and therefore well drained so that no moisture can accumulate. Soil with a high proportion of clay should therefore be mixed with sand before planting. A slightly elevated pH value of 6.5 to 7 has proven to be ideal.


Perhaps you already have a bulb of this variety on hand, which is often referred to as Italian garlic. New bulbs can develop from the individual garlic cloves in the bed. Traditionally, however, this garlic is propagated by the small bulbs that appear at the top of the twisting stalk instead of a flower. These bulbs are also ideal for planting snake garlic in your own garden for the first time. Rockenbolle or Rocambole - two other common names for this type of garlic - are offered cheaply on the Internet. And they may also be on the shelves of some garden centers.

planting time

Planting rocambole in the garden soil is usually done in the fall. It is perennial and hardy, so it can spend the winter outdoors. However, if the location of your plot is very rough, you can alternatively plant it in the spring. However, this will result in smaller tubers, since the late planting time shortens the time for tuber formation by months. Or they simply leave it in the bed for another year until harvest.

  • Use cloves or spring onions
  • from mid-September to mid-October
  • Spring planting is also possible in rough locations
  • then from March to April in frost-free soil

tip: In rough locations or on particularly icy days, it is helpful to cover the garlic that has already sprouted with twigs of spruce to protect it from the cold.

Growing Snake Garlic: Instructions

You can plant Allium sativum var. Ophioscorodon in rows or tuffs, depending on the situation in the bed. Rockenbolle can even be planted between flowers. The snake garlic contributes to the beauty of the bed with its grouped bulbs. Here are the important key data for planting:

  • Point your toes upwards with pointed ends
  • about 4-5 cm deep into the ground
  • Spring onions should stick out of the ground
  • ideal row spacing is 20 to 25 cm
  • Maintain a distance of 10 to 15 cm within the row
  • Information applies to autumn and spring planting

The small bulbs can first be placed tightly in a pot and later, when they have grown larger, planted out in the garden.

Good neighbors

Snake garlic also has its favorite neighbors among the other plants in the garden. A neighborhood is even often in favor of the other plant, which benefits from the smell of garlic. In this way, it is spared from some pests and fungal diseases. Since Rocambole takes up little space in width, it can easily be inserted between other plants. In general, nightshade, lily and rose plants are welcome in the immediate vicinity. These plant varieties are particularly suitable:

  • strawberries
  • salads
  • cucumbers
  • chard

On the other hand, Rockenbolle forms an unfavorable association with peas and beans.


The snake garlic bed should be kept weed-free. In spring, loosen the soil with a rake. This should be done at least twice, preferably more often. Be careful not to injure the tubers. Rocambole also like it when the base is covered with a layer of straw.


Dry, well-drained soil is ideal for snake garlic to keep the bulb from rotting. However, since it cannot draw on plentiful water supplies from such soil when required, it must be watered occasionally. Water only during the growing season and only when hot, dry weather prevails. But then moderately and without wetting the green leaves with water.


Before you grow the snake garlic, you should enrich the bed with compost. It already has the required nutrients for the snake garlic at the start of growth. Two to three liters of compost should be sufficient per square meter of bed area. In spring, when the Rockenbolle starts to grow vigorously, it can also be supported with a natural fertilizer. The proven nettle manure is also good for this plant. It can be used 1-2 times by the end of May.

diseases and pests

Garlic plants are hardy, but not entirely immune to diseases and pests. Wetness plays a crucial role here. It promotes rot and fungal diseases such as garlic rust. The focus must be on prevention by choosing a well-drained soil when growing the garlic and watering sparingly during the growing season only when needed. Severely affected plants must be uprooted and disposed of. This also applies in the event that gall midge larvae are up to mischief.


Harvest unripe garlic

As soon as the snake garlic drives out its green, you can enjoy its taste. Because the elongated leaves also carry the garlic aroma. Harvest the leaves fresh from the plant as needed. Harvest only some of the leaves so that the snake garlic can continue to grow. You can also use a whole unripe garlic plant for cooking. Although the tuber is small and not yet as intense in taste, it is definitely edible and tasty.

Instructions for the main harvest

By summer the tubers have reached a respectable size. You can then harvest them. But first we have to wait until the leaves begin to wither. This is usually the case in July or August.

  1. Wait until about 2/3 of the leaves have turned yellow or wilted before harvesting.
  2. Carefully uncover the garlic bulbs and then pull them out of the ground.
  3. Carefully free them from adhering remains of earth.
  4. Hang them up, together with the leaves and the spring onions, in a dry and airy place so that they continue to dry and the taste continues to ripen.
  5. Cut off the useless leaves from the dried garlic bulbs. The onions can also be loosened now.

retention and use

Both garlic cloves and spring onions can be eaten. They taste good raw, boiled or fried. The area of application is the same as normal garlic, but the aroma is milder. It should only be steamed gently, as searing it too hot will make it bitter.

Depending on how many tubers you have harvested from the garden, the question of storage could arise. Compared to other types of garlic, however, snake garlic is not considered to be storable for long. So use it up as soon as possible. In the meantime, it should be stored in an airy, dry and cool place. The refrigerator is too damp to store it.

tip: Larger quantities of snake garlic can also be preserved by pickling.


Allium sativum var. Ophioscorodon does not flower or seed. That is why you cannot grow this type of garlic by seed. For this, each plant forms many breeding bulbs at the top of the stalk. A new garlic plant will develop from each individual bulb after planting. The garlic bulb also offers a lot of propagation material with its cloves.

Only if you are growing Rockenbolle for the first time do you need cloves or bulbs as a starting point for vegetative propagation. After the first crop, you can easily keep getting new seeds for the coming season. Until it is put into the ground in autumn, it should be stored in a dry, airy, cool and dark place.

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