The Ultimate Guide to Growing Green Onions From Seed!

Tray of bunching onions under grow lights in my basement
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Last Updated on 3 months by Michelle

Growing green onions from seed is an important topic. While it may seem like a small, inexpensive vegetable that’s better to just buy from the grocery store, I assure you that mastering the simple art of growing green onions from seed is going to open up new worlds in gardening. Let’s find out more in this ultimate guide to growing green onions from seed.

Why Choose Green Onions?

When it comes to selecting vegetables for your garden, green onions are a standout choice, offering a blend of practicality and culinary versatility.

One of the best reasons to grow green onions is their distinctive flavor.

These onions bring a mild yet distinct onion taste that enhances a variety of dishes, from the simplicity of baked potatoes to the complexity of Asian stir-fries.

They stand-in for bulb onions when you don’t have them around, which makes them the most useful pinch hitter in my garden!

Their tender stems and flavorful green leaves can be used both as a primary ingredient and as a garnish, making them a staple in kitchens worldwide.

An order for a customer, including bunching onions, garlic scapes, and new potatoes.

Another significant advantage of green onions is their adaptability to a range of temperatures.

They are remarkably resilient, thriving in both the cooler temperatures of early spring and the heat of summer. This quality makes them a reliable crop for gardeners in diverse climates and extends their growing season.

Additionally, green onions are known for their shallow root systems. This characteristic is particularly beneficial for those with limited gardening space or who prefer container gardening.

They can flourish in a variety of settings, from spacious garden beds to small pots on a balcony. Their shallow roots also make them easier to care for, as they don’t require deep soil to grow successfully.

Understanding Green Onion Varieties

Navigating the world of onions can be a bit confusing, especially when terms like green onions, spring onions, and bunching onions are often used interchangeably.

They are essentially variations of the same vegetable, each with its unique characteristics.

Green onions, also known as scallions, are young onions harvested before they fully mature.

They have a slender white base that hasn’t developed into a bulb and are known for their long, green, edible tops.

Spring onions are very similar but are allowed to grow slightly longer. They have a more pronounced bulb compared to green onions, offering a slightly stronger flavor.

Bunching onions, on the other hand, are a type of green onion that doesn’t form bulbs at all and instead grows in clusters, making them ideal for continuous harvesting.

One of the key benefits of growing green onions from seed is their quick growth cycle. They sprout rapidly and can be harvested in a relatively short period, making them a rewarding choice for gardeners eager to see quick results. Their small size is also advantageous, as it allows for efficient use of space. You can fit green onions in between larger plants so Whether you’re working with a large garden bed or a small container, green onions fit in seamlessly.

Moreover, bunching onions are notable for their ability to hold well in the field. They can be left in the ground until needed, ensuring a fresh supply over an extended period. This characteristic not only reduces waste but also provides the convenience of having fresh onions at your fingertips whenever your recipes call for them.

Seed Selection and Preparation

Choosing the right seeds is a crucial step in growing green onions successfully. When selecting green onion seeds, look for those labeled as heirloom or open pollinated varieties from reputable suppliers. These seeds are more likely to produce healthy, vigorous plants. It’s also beneficial to choose seeds suited to your local climate, as some varieties perform better in certain conditions than others.

 

My Go-To Green Onion Varieties

You’ll have a great experience with these green onion varieties. Even if you’re new to growing green onions from seed, these companies have excellent germination and customer service, so you’ll have a successful harvest with only the most basic understanding of green onion growing.

 

Performer Bunching Onions-Hoss Tools Performer Bunching Onions-Hoss Tools
  • Great performer in hot weather
  • 70 days to maturity


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Unique, Hard-to-Find
Mini Purplette Bunching Onions: High Mowing Seeds Mini Purplette Bunching Onions: High Mowing Seeds
  • Quick-growing, harvest early for purple scallions, leave to maturity for beautiful mini-pearl onions
  • When growing for pearl onions, grow at 40 degrees latitude for best results
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Warrior Bunching Onion- Hoss Tools Warrior Bunching Onion- Hoss Tools
  • Fast-growing and hold well in the field
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Fast Growing
Parade Bunching Onions- High Mowing Seeds Parade Bunching Onions- High Mowing Seeds
  • The Parade Bunching Onion is a strong performer in my garden
  • Fast to mature, holds in the field for a long time after maturity
  • Shallow root system makes them a great option for container gardens
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Red Baron Bunching Onions- High Mowing Seeds Red Baron Bunching Onions- High Mowing Seeds
  • Deep red color, sweeter flavor than green bunching onions
  • Open pollinated, so save seeds for future crops
  • It's recommended to plant these 5-7 seedlings per cell & to succession plant
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Grow Up to 1.5" Wide
Tokyo Long White Bunching Onions- Botanical Interests Tokyo Long White Bunching Onions- Botanical Interests
  • Tokyo Long White can be harvested small or you can wait until they get much larger
  • Can grow up to 1.5" wide and holds well in the garden until that time
  • 65 days till maturity
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Understanding the difference between green onion seeds and bulb onion seeds is essential. Green onion seeds, used for growing scallions or bunching onions, are intended to produce plants that are harvested before the bulb fully forms.

These varieties are selected for their flavorful stems and leaves rather than their bulbs. In contrast, bulb onion seeds are bred to develop a large, rounded bulb and are typically harvested later in the season when the bulb has fully formed. The flavor profile of bulb onions is usually more intense, and they are often used for storage.

Preparing your green onion seeds for planting involves ensuring they are sown at the right time. For most regions, planting in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked is ideal. However, in warmer climates, planting in the fall for a winter harvest can also be successful. Before planting, make sure the soil is loose, well-draining, and rich in organic matter to provide the best start for your seedlings.

An open flat tray of green onions in the garden.

Planting Green Onion Seeds

Planting green onion seeds is a straightforward process that can yield a bountiful harvest with the right care. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Soil Preparation

Begin by choosing a sunny spot in your garden as green onions thrive in full sun. Prepare the soil by loosening it to a depth of about 2-3 inches and enriching it with well-rotted manure or compost. This step ensures good drainage and provides essential nutrients for the onions.

Sowing the Seeds in the Seed Starting Tray

Green onion seeds are best transplanted in the garden from seed starting trays. Eight to 12 weeks before you want to plant these out, start them in seed starting trays. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep in the soil. You can sprinkle a few seeds together in each cell so that you have a bunch to plant out together that will grow together. After the seedlings have grown for 2-3 months, it’s time to plant them out into the soil you prepared in step 1.

Spacing

Proper spacing is crucial for the development of green onions. Space the small groups of seedlings about 6 inch apart from each other within each row. Rows should be spaced about 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for easy cultivation and airflow between the plants.

Watering

After planting, water the area gently but thoroughly to settle the soil around the seeds. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Green onions require regular watering, especially during dry spells, to develop their tender and flavorful stalks.

Mulching

To help retain moisture and suppress weeds, apply a thin layer of organic mulch around the seedlings. This step is particularly beneficial during the warmer months.

Ongoing Care

Keep the area around the green onions weed-free and continue to water regularly. Green onions have shallow roots, so it’s important to avoid deep cultivation that might disturb them. Until they are established, they are easily disturbed.

Caring for Green Onion Seedlings

Green onion seedlings can make it through many types of weather scenarios. Green onions are great in hot weather and they are cold hardy, which means they can be grown almost all year. As a matter of fact, here in my zone 8A garden, I grow green onions from seed year round. My customers love them and they buy them whenever I have them available.

Tray of bunching onions under grow lights in my basement

In terms of water needs, they aren’t excessive. They do benefit from a good basic organic fertilizer, though, because they are somewhat heavy feeders.

Growing Green Onions in Pots

Container gardening is a fantastic option for growing green onions, especially if you’re limited on space or prefer the convenience of portable gardening. Here’s a guide to help you grow green onions in pots:

Choosing the Right Container

Select a pot that is at least 6-8 inches deep and has good drainage holes. Green onions don’t require a lot of root space, so the width of the pot can be adjusted based on how many plants you want to grow. For a small batch, a pot that’s 8-10 inches in diameter is sufficient.

 

Selecting Potting Mix

Use a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining yet retains moisture. Avoid using garden soil as it may not provide the right texture or nutrients needed for container-grown green onions.

Rows of onions growing in the garden.

Planting the Seeds

Sow the green onion seeds directly into the pot. Plant them about 1/4 inch deep and cover lightly with soil. If you’re planting multiple seeds, space them about an inch apart. This spacing allows each onion enough room to grow without overcrowding.

Watering

Consistent moisture is key. Water the soil whenever it feels dry an inch below the surface. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. A watering can with a gentle sprinkle is ideal for container plants.

Sunlight and Placement

Place the pot in a location where it will receive at least six hours of sunlight daily. Green onions love the sun, and adequate light is crucial for their growth. The great thing about growing in pots is that

Feeding

Feed your green onions with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to ensure they get the necessary nutrients.

Agrothrive is my favorite water-soluble organic fertilizer and it performs very well here.

My Pick for Liquid Organic Fertilizer
AgroThrive All Purpose Organic Liquid Fertilizer - 3-3-2 NPK (32 oz) AgroThrive All Purpose Organic Liquid Fertilizer - 3-3-2 NPK (32 oz)
  • Won't clog drip irrigation systems
  • Plants love this gentle all-purpose organic fertilizer
  • Can be diluted to be used for seedling fertilizer
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Harvesting

Green onions grown in pots can be harvested in the same way as those grown in the ground. Gently pull them out when they reach the desired size.

Growing green onions in pots is a rewarding experience that yields fresh flavors right from your balcony or patio. With the right care, you’ll enjoy a steady supply of green onions throughout the growing season.

 

Common Challenges and Solutions

Growing green onions, like any gardening endeavor, comes with its set of challenges, particularly pests and diseases. However, with the right knowledge and approach, these issues can be effectively managed.

Onion Maggots

One of the most common pests affecting green onions are onion maggots. These pests can damage the roots, causing the plants to become weak or die. To prevent infestation, practice crop rotation and avoid planting onions in the same spot year after year. Using row covers can also be effective in keeping flies from laying eggs near the plants. If you prefer organic methods, applying diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants can deter maggots.

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew, a fungal disease, appears as white, fluffy growth on the leaves and can stunt the growth of your green onions. To prevent this, ensure good air circulation around the plants and avoid overhead watering, which can create a moist environment conducive to mildew. Planting disease-resistant varieties and removing any affected plants immediately can also help in controlling the spread.

Scallions in the garden waiting to be picked.

General Prevention Tips

Keeping your garden clean and free of debris, practicing proper crop rotation, and ensuring adequate spacing for air circulation are crucial steps in preventing pests and diseases. Additionally, healthy soil contributes to stronger plants that are more resistant to issues.

Harvesting and Storing Green Onions

Harvesting green onions at the right time and storing them properly are key to enjoying their fresh taste for as long as possible. Here’s how to do it:

When to Harvest

Green onions are usually ready to harvest 6-8 weeks after planting. The ideal time to harvest green onions is when the stalks are about 6 to 8 inches tall and the white bulb is half an inch in diameter. However, they can be harvested at any size depending on your preference.

 

Bunching Onions in the Garden

How to Harvest

To harvest a green onion, gently loosen the soil around the base with a small garden trowel or your fingers. Grasp the base of the green onion and pull straight up. If the soil is hard, water lightly to moisten the soil and make pulling easier.

Immediate Use

If you plan to use the green onions immediately, simply wash them and they’re ready to be used in your favorite dishes.

An order for a customer, including bunching onions, garlic scapes, and new potatoes.

Storing for Short Term

For short-term storage, place the green onions in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. They should last for about a week.

Long-Term Storage

For longer storage, you can use an air-conditioned basement, which provides a cool and dry environment. Trim the roots and remove any damaged leaves. Wrap the green onions in a slightly damp paper towel and place them in a perforated plastic bag before storing them in the basement. This method can extend their freshness for several weeks.

Regrowing

Remember, you can also regrow green onions. Place the white bulbs with roots in a glass jar with water and set them in a sunny spot. Change the water every few days, and soon you’ll see new growth. Regrowing

By following these harvesting and storage tips, you can maximize the shelf life of your green onions and enjoy their fresh flavor for longer.

Using Green Onions in Cooking

Green onions are a versatile ingredient that can elevate the flavor of many dishes. Here are some personal favorite ways to incorporate them into meals.

Garnishing

One of the simplest yet most effective uses of green onions is as a garnish. Their fresh, mild flavor and vibrant color make them perfect for topping off dishes. Sprinkle chopped green onions over baked potatoes, soups, or salads for an instant flavor boost and a pop of color.

Stir-Fries

Green onions are a staple in stir-fry recipes. They add a subtle onion flavor without overpowering other ingredients. Try adding them in the last few minutes of cooking to retain their crunch and color.

Omelets and Scrambles

Finely chopped green onions can be a delightful addition to breakfast dishes like omelets and scrambled eggs. They pair wonderfully with cheese, mushrooms, and bell peppers.

Sauces and Dips

Blend green onions into sauces and dips for a fresh, oniony zing. They work particularly well in creamy dips, salsa, and Asian-inspired sauces.

Grilled or Roasted

For a different take, try grilling or roasting whole green onions. This method caramelizes their natural sugars, bringing out a sweet and smoky flavor.

Personal Favorite Way to Use Green Onions: Chili!

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Conclusion

Starting a garden with green onions is fun and rewarding, whether you’re new to gardening or have lots of experience. It’s easy to plant and take care of them, and picking them when they’re ready is exciting. Green onions make gardening a great adventure.

In this post, we talked about everything you need to know to grow green onions. We looked at the different types you can grow, how to plant them, take care of them, and when to pick them.

We also talked about problems you might have and how to solve them. Plus, we shared some yummy ways to use green onions in your food.

I hope you feel ready to start growing green onions now. You can grow them in pots on a porch or in a garden. Growing green onions is easy and fun, and they make your food taste even better. Enjoy your gardening and cooking!

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