Garlic originated in central Asia where there are long cold winters and damp cool springs. However, there are plenty of varieties that can thrive in a myriad of climate conditions across North America. In the Northeastern areas of North America (interior of the continent, extending to the East Coast), plant hardneck varieties because they will thrive with the cold winters, producing many large heads of garlic.
Varieties of Porcelain garlic are the hardiest, therefore we recommend planting a type of Porcelain to novice growers in cold climates. In areas similar to Vancouver, down the coast to San Francisco and the Bay Area, most varieties of garlic will do well with our mild winters. Try planting both hardneck and softneck varieties and see which ones you prefer.
An important thing to note is that Rocambole hardneck garlic is sensitive to being overwatered, so you will need very well-draining soil if you’re trying to grow some in our wet winter climate. If you’re located south of the Bay Area along the coast and into lower central U.S., with warmer winters and hot summers, you’ll want to plant softneck garlic for the largest harvest. You’ll also have to plant these varieties later in the fall than other climates (from late October to early December).
Hardneck garlic is very hardy, however, so you can also plant it in areas with warmer climates; but you’ll have to expect a smaller harvest. If you want to try planting hardneck varieties, check out this link with information on a technique called vernalization, in which you can chill the garlic bulbs in the refrigerator prior to planting to simulate winter conditions, and potentially get a larger harvest.