Home » Gardening » Onions: A Growing Guide

Onions are one of the most essential and tasty ingredients you can cook with. Experiment with raw onions in salads, put them in bread, toss them into soups (you can’t go wrong with a French onion recipe), or use them in casseroles. Onions also offer a number of health benefits: they can boost your immune system, regulate your blood sugar levels, and even help keep your cholesterol under control.

Together with their medicinal properties and their ability to add flavor to all types of food, they are also fairly easy to grow as they can be stowed away in free corners and along the edges of garden beds. If you’re curious about how to integrate them into your own garden, here’s a helpful introduction to growing onions:

Onions: A Growing Guide
Onions: A Growing Guide

Onion types:

Onions come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The size of the white, yellow or red onions ranges from small pickled onions to large Spanish varieties. They can be spherical, top or spindle-shaped.

Most species can be grown young like spring onions, but there is also a perennial type of bundle called Allium fistulosum This is practically disease and insect proof and produces superior spring onions.

Each onion of the multiplier or the potato onion (A. cepa Aggregate group) multiplies into an onion cluster. So every time you harvest, you have to transplant onions to ensure continuous supply.

The Egyptian or pointed bulb (A. cepa Proliferum group) forms an onion cluster at the end of a long stem, with a second cluster often forming over the first. It also has an underground light bulb that is often too spicy to eat.

Other delicious plants are chives (A. schoenoprasum), Garlic cloves (A. tuberosum) and shallots (A. cepa Aggregate group). Learn more about garlic cultivation here.

different types of onions
different types of onions
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SvetlanaisGetty Images

How to plant onions:

You can grow bulbs from transplants, sets or seeds. You can buy transplants that are seedlings that started in the current growing season and were sold in bunches, in nurseries, or by mail. They usually form good onions for a short period of time (65 days or less), but are subject to disease. The selection of varieties is somewhat limited.

Sets are unripe onions that were grown last year and offer the least variety of varieties. They are the easiest to plant, the earliest to harvest, and the least susceptible to disease. However, sets are also more prone to screwing (sending a flower stem earlier) than seedlings or grafts.

When you plant onion sets, the sets may only be identified as white, red, or yellow, and not as the variety name. Most growers prefer white sets for spring onions. When buying sets, pay attention to lamps with a diameter of 1/2-inch, as these are the least likely to slip.

Growing onions from seeds offers the great advantage of a large selection of varieties. The challenge with starting seeds is that the ripening of your harvest takes up to four months. Gardeners in cold winter areas must use their onion seedlings indoors.

Always check the day length or the recommended widths of a variety before buying, as the day length affects how and when onions form onions. Short day onions like the “red hamburger” form onions as soon as the days are 10 to 12 hours long. They are only suitable for southern latitudes. Long day types like ‘Sweet Sandwich’ and ‘Southport Red Globe’ require 13 to 16 hours of summer light to form onions. You are the type that grows in northern latitudes.

Bulbs like cool weather at the beginning of their growth, so plant them in spring – except in mild winter areas where onions are grown as autumn or winter crops. Generally onions grow up in cold weather and form onions in warmer weather.

Plant onion seeds four to six weeks before the last average frost – or earlier indoors or in a cold setting. If indoor seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, harden them by exposing them to night temperatures above freezing.

Sow seeds thickly in rows about 1/2 inch deep outdoors. You can try mixing in radish seeds to mark the rows planted and as a trap fruit to lure root maggots away from the onions. Thin seedlings 1 inch apart and back in 6 weeks to 6 inches apart.

For transplants or sets, use a dibble to drill plant holes 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. Use the closer distance if you want to harvest some young plants as spring onions. Open a 2 inch deep furrow for sets and place the pointed end of the set 4 to 6 inches apart. Then fill in the furrow. A pound of sets plants a row about 50 feet long.

Bulb garden label
Bulb garden label
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Halfpoint pictures Getty Images

Tips for growing onions:

The practices that you follow depend on the specific culture you are growing. In general, onions grow best when you weed them well. Use a sharp pickaxe to cut off intruders. Raising or digging up weeds can damage the flat roots of the onions. Once the soil warms up, place a mulch around and between the plants to discourage weeds and keep moisture in the soil.

Dry conditions cause the onions to split. So water them if necessary to provide at least 1 inch of water each week. Keep in mind that transplants require more water than sets. Onions cannot compete well with weeds, so it is important to direct the water directly to the onion roots.

If you have prepared your soil well, no fertilization should be required. Always be relaxed nitrogenthat can produce lavish tops at the expense of light bulbs. New growth from the middle stops when the bulbs form.

Egyptian onions, chives, and shallots require slightly different cultivation than normal onions. Here are some guidelines for growing these onion relatives:

Egyptian onions

Plant Egyptian onions throughout the country in the fall; Harvest some as green onions or onions in the spring. In high summer or autumn, miniature onions form on the tip of the stem, on which most bulbs form flowers. Choose these tiny onions when the tips start to wither and dry. Use them fresh or store them in the freezer.


Plant chives and garlic chives in rich soil in early spring. They tolerate partial shade and prefer full sun. Seeds germinate very slowly, so most breeders prefer clump compartments that you can harvest after two months. Place the clumps, each of which should contain about six onions 8 inches apart.

Cut off the grassy, ​​hollow tips frequently to keep production going. The pom-pom-like lavender flowers are very attractive, but always remove the used flowers to reduce the likelihood of rampant self-sowing. Dig, divide and replant every three years. Transplant into containers and move indoors for winter harvests. Chives are frozen almost as well as fresh.


Shallots, a favorite of French chefs, have a teal stem that is used at a young age. In addition, it has a gray, angular onion with a mild taste, which is related to the propagating onion and is used like a garlic with a mild taste. Shallots can tolerate all but the most acidic soils, but dig deep because the plants put down 8-inch-long roots of food. However, they have no side roots, so they’re only 2 to 3 inches apart.

Multiplication of shallots by dividing clusters of onions. Each clove in turn produces four to eight new onions. Plant them 1 inch deep in February or March, barely covering the top of the carnation. Keep the soil weed-free and slightly damp, but do not fertilize. Pull the ground away from the onions in early summer. Harvest shallots as spring onions at any time. Cutting off the tips near the ground leads to new tips, and such a harvest actually increases onion production. The onions ripen in about five months. Pull and store like onions.

The right way to water onions:

To water onions efficiently, extend the watering hoses along the row near the plants. Or open a small trench between the rows and fill it with water. This keeps the roots supplied while most of the soil surface remains dry, which inhibits weed seed germination.

In this video you will learn how to plant onions.

Points to note:

You can generally expect a disease and insect free harvest. One possible pest is onion maggots: 1/3-inch-long white, legless larvae that move in a row from one onion to the next and dig up to feed on the stems. To reduce the likelihood of significant damage, sprinkle onions in the garden. (This transplant can also benefit other garden plants. Many allium species protect pests such as aphids, Japanese beetles and carrot flies from roses, lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips and members of the cabbage family.) prevent them from laying their eggs on the bottom of the plants.

Hardly visible onion thrips tend to attack in hot, dry weather in July or August. They produce deformed plants with silver spots on the leaves. Thrips hibernate in weeds, so reduce pest populations by keeping the garden clean. Try spreading a reflective mulch like aluminum foil between the rows to confuse the thrips. If you spot the problem early on, you can spray plants with it Beauveria bassiana or Spinosad to fight thrips. As a last resort, use neem to control severe infestation.

A disease called fire causes the leaves around the neck to swell or harden, which eventually burst and spill powdery black spores over the plant. Downy mildew, a purple mold, occurs in midsummer in warm, humid weather. Onions are also subject to a pink root, which causes the roots to take on different colors and then shrink, and a neck rot, which causes the tissue to form a hard, black crust. All these problems are caused by fungi in the soil and can be avoided by rotating plants and by incorporating humus into the onion bed to ensure good drainage.

Notes on the onion harvest:

As soon as the top of the onion turns yellow, bend it horizontally with the back of a rake. This prevents the juice from flowing to the stems and redirects the energy of the plant into the ripening of the onion. About a day later, when the tips turn brown, pull or dig the onions on a sunny day and let them dry in the sun. Place the tips of one row over another’s bulbs to avoid tanning.

When the outer skins are completely dry, wipe off any dirt and remove the tops – unless you intend to braid them. Store cool and dry; Hang braided onions or those that are stored in mesh bags in an airy place. Such dried onions are stable for around four months to a year.

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