How To Grow Green Onions

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Green onions have an almost unlimited amount of uses and are very easy to grow. Green onions can be grown from seed or as sets. I love green onions in soups, salads, on top of a nice steak, used as a baked potato topping, and many other ways.

Green onions are also referred to as bunching onions, and have a milder onion taste than storage onions.

They are actually immature onions that are harvested before the bulb matures. The green onion features a dark green stem (also called scallions) and a white bulb with roots. Both parts of the onion are edible.Evergreen Long White Green Onions

There are several different cultivars of green onion including, 'Evergreen Long White', 'Parade', and 'Red Baron' to name a few.

Planting Green Onions

Plant onion seed as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Onion seeds germinate in a wide range of soil temperature, between 65° F and 86° F.

Sow and cover seed with ½” of soil and keep moist. Seeds can be started indoors 6-8 weeks prior to planting. They can be set in the garden about 1-1½” apart. To plant onions sets, simply press sets into the soil about 2″ apart.

Onions benefit from full sun, a soil pH of 6.0-7.5 and a well drained soil with plenty of premium compost or well rotted manure added. Feed with a complete balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

Maintaining Green Onions

Once your green onions have sprouted become well established, they are pretty easy to maintain.

Green onions generally need about one inch of water per week. If green onions are grown in rows, or raised beds, soaker hoses can be used for irrigation. It’s also a good idea to mulch around the plants to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds.

The soil should be moist, but not soggy. A great way to check to see if your green onions need watering is the finger test.

Simply stick your finger in the soil down to the second knuckle near the green onion plan. If the soil feels moist there is no need to water. If the soil feels dry go ahead and water well.

Repeat the finger test once a week depending on how much rainfall you have received.

Green onions can also be grown successfully in containers. Soil in containers can dry out quickly during very hot summer temperatures, so you may need to water them up to three times per day if rainfall amounts are inadequate.

Allowing the soil to dry out too much can cause the onion bulbs to also dry out.

Also, make sure the container has good drainage holes. You want to avoid soggy soil in containers, too.

Getting the watering amounts down right may take some practice, but it’s not too difficult.

Harvesting Green Onions

Red Baron Green OnionsGreen onions are best picked when they are young and tender. Dig or pull them when the tops reach between 6-8″ tall and the bulb have begun to swell.

To use as dried bulbs, wait until the green tops have withered and browned, then stop watering. Most green onions are ready to harvest between 70-90 days.

When you are slicing or preparing a green onion, leave about 1″ above the root. This section can be re-planted into the soil. Place the root section about 1″ deep in the soil, root side down, and lightly cover the top with soil.

The root section will then re-sprout the green tops within a couple weeks. This process can be repeated several times with the same root section.

A great way to “recycle” your green onions! For more information on regrowing green onions, please read Regrow Your Green Onions For Maximum Use.

Pests & Diseases of Green Onions

Pests and diseases are rare for the home grown green onion, but they can become susceptible to maggots, thrips, and soilborne diseases. Use crop rotation to avoid these issues.

Recommended Reading

Onions, Leeks, & Garlic - A Handbook for GardenersIf you are interested in growing fabulous onions, then you should pick up a copy of Onions, Leeks, and Garlic: A Handbook for Gardeners. It is the definitive guide for growing all types of onions, garlic and leeks.

Your onions will grow bigger, faster, and taste better using the growing techniques outlined in this easy to follow book. I highly recommend it!

Try These Great Onions In Your Vegetable Garden

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  1. I’ve never grown green onions for the bulbs before. I usually use them for the greens. Great guide!

  2. Thank-you. I grew onions many years ago, but my memory is rusty. Are onions that were mentioned by name in your article as ‘green onion sets’ better than onion sets that don’t employ the title ‘green’.?

  3. My single set of green onion is about 2 inches tall, and leaning sideways. Right at the center of the tip (at the very top), it seems that it has turned black. Am I watering too much or too little? I give it a plastic bottle cap of water every two days, and more if I see it’s dried out. Thanks.

  4. catherine says:

    I planted green onions in pots from seed, they are about an inch now, but are in bunches, do i have to thin them out or will they grow just as they are? i spread the seed along the pot not spacing them when planted.

    • Hi Catherine – I would thin them out so that they are at least an inch or two apart. If they are too crowded they probably will not grow very much. If you give them just a little space they should be fine.

      • Tina Rosacker says:

        I have had success with thinning them out to less than 1/2 inch between. The bulbs are not that big and I am able to grow 1) I have limited space 2) I love ‘em. I read somewhere that they don’t even need to be thinned which is the reason they got the nickname ‘bunch onions’.

  5. Hello. Thank you for the great article. This is my first time growing green onions and the tips were helpful. Things were going pretty well with growth around 6 inches, until recently when I noticed the green tops acquiring rusty red blotches and gradually wilting. I live in a foggy climate. May I ask what you believe the problem is and how I might take better care of them. Thank you for your time and patience!

  6. Hi!

    I started growing green onions for the first time. And everything was going well. They were growing straight up for a couple of weeks, but then when they reached about 6″ in height, they started falling sideways, as though they were being weighted down. Are they not getting enough sun? Perhaps I need to transfer them to a bigger pot? They’re in a pot that’s about 6″deep right now, and about 6″ in diameter. Please help!


  7. Joel, I’m no expert on onions, but it sounds like they either have already finished bulbing (perhaps they’re the wrong day length), they’re frosted and like most cold-hardy veggies won’t perk up until they’re thawed, or they are out of water.

  8. Ed Frimel says:

    Will knocking green onion tops over encourage the bulb to grow or is it ok to leave them standing?

  9. What is the round bulb at the tip of mature onions?

  10. I planted green onions from seed on May 27th. They grew quickly with long green shoots, but the last few weeks, they no longer stand up straight. They are limp and laying flat in my raised garden bed. I have not had to water them in several weeks because of the rain we have been getting almost daily. The shoots are very thin, and don’t look very sturdy like the ones at the grocery store.

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