If you’re looking to grow onions in your garden, you’ve come to the right place! Growing onions is a great way to add a versatile ingredient to your cooking while enjoying the satisfaction of growing your own produce. In this article, we’ll cover tips for planting and harvesting onions, including the different types of onions to grow, how to plant onions, growing conditions, onion care, and harvesting onions.

What are the Different Types of Onions to Grow?

Before planting onions, it’s important to understand the different varieties available. The three main types of onions are short-day onions, long-day onions, and day-neutral onions.

Short-day onions

Short-day onions, as the name implies, require less sunlight to form bulbs. They are best grown in regions with mild winter climates, such as the southern United States, and are typically used for sweet onions. Examples of short-day onions include Vidalia, Maui, and Texas sweet onions.

Long-day onions

Long-day onions require more sunlight to form bulbs and are best grown in regions with cool climates. They are typically used for pungent onions. Examples of long-day onions include the Yellow Globe and the Spanish onion.

Day-neutral onions

Day-neutral onions, also known as intermediate-day onions, are a newer variety that can grow in a wider range of climates. They require less sunlight than long-day onions and more than short-day onions, making them a good choice for many gardeners. Examples of day-neutral onions include Walla Walla and Candy.

How to Plant Onions?

Onions can be planted from seed, sets, or sprouted onions. Here’s how to plant each type:

From seed

Onions started from seed need to be sown indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last expected frost date in your region. Fill a seedling tray with potting soil and plant the onion seeds about half an inch deep. Keep the soil moist and warm, and when the onions start to sprout, thin them out to one per cell.

From sets

Onion sets are small onion bulbs that have already started growing. They are easy to plant, making them a popular choice for many gardeners. Simply dig a small hole and place the onion set, pointy side up, in the hole. Cover with soil and water regularly.

From sprouted onions

To plant a sprouted onion, remove the onion bottom and peel off the dry skin. Plant the onion in soil, about an inch deep, and water often until it starts to sprout.

What are the Growing Conditions for Onions?

Onions need a few specific growing conditions to thrive:

Soil requirements

Onions grow best in loose, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider adding organic matter to improve water drainage.

Watering needs

Onions require regular watering, about 1 to 1.5 inches per week. Water them deeply, but do not let the soil become waterlogged.

Temperature and sunlight

Onions prefer cooler temperatures and do best in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They also require at least 12 to 14 hours of daylight, making them a great option for summer gardens.

How to Care for Onions?

Like any garden plant, onions require some care to grow successfully. Here are some tips:


Onions benefit from a monthly dose of nitrogen fertilizer while growing. Avoid feeding them with high-nitrogen fertilizers close to harvest time, as this can delay bulb formation.

Weed control

Keep the area around your onion plants free of weeds, which can compete with the onions for moisture and nutrients.

Protecting from pests and diseases

Common pests for onion plants include onion maggots, thrips, and cutworms. To prevent pest damage, keep your garden area clean and free of debris, and rotate your crops annually. Diseases such as downy mildew and onion rust can also affect your onion plants, so keep an eye out for yellowing or wilting leaves and treat accordingly.

When and How to Harvest Onions?

Determining if onions are ready for harvest

To determine if your onions are ready for harvest, look for signs that the onion tops have fallen over and dried out. At this point, you can harvest them by gently pulling them out of the ground.

Harvesting onions and drying them

After harvesting your onions, hang them upside down in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated space to dry. This step helps to cure the onions, which means they’ll store longer.

Storing onions for later use

Store your onions in a cool, dry, and dark space, such as a root cellar or pantry. Avoid storing them with other vegetables, as onions can release gases that will accelerate spoilage.


Onions are an easy-to-grow vegetable that can add flavor to your cooking while providing the satisfaction of growing your own food. By understanding the different varieties available, the proper planting techniques, and the ideal growing conditions, you can enjoy fresh onions from your garden. With a little bit of care and attention, you’ll be harvesting onions that will add to your recipes for months to come.

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