You might have heard from them before, maybe under different names. Green onions, scallions, spring onions, bunching onions. And although these are not really synonyms, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Long green onion leaves without any bulb.
Sweet and oniony, green onions are a staple in most kitchens, with their mild flavor and tender green stalks. This delightful crop is 100% edible, fast-growing, and takes up little space in your garden.
Continue reading to learn how to grow green onions and keep this undemanding and hardy plant in your garden all year round.
Green onions have a similar growing cycle to regular onions, except they never reach what is known as maturity. Instead, they continue to grow and can be harvested as needed. Here’s how it works:
- Growing stage – this is a perpetual stage since these crops don’t have an established “maturity.”
- Harvest/regrowth – green onions can be harvested several times, and they will regrow their green foliage a few times, as long as the “bulb” and roots are kept underground.
- Seed production
What Is the Best Way to Grow Green Onions?
If you’re wondering how do green onions grow, the best way is to plant them in raised beds in early spring, although they can be grown all year round. They can also be grown in water or containers.
They will grow from seed, but you can also purchase already developed seedlings for transplant and can even regrow from scraps. All these methods are easy to do, but green onions grown from seeds directly on the gardening bed tend to produce the best results.
How to Grow Green Onions Step-by-Step
This hardy crop can endure the negative temperatures of the cooler seasons but also the intense daylight of the warmer months. There are a few different ways how to plant green onions, and we’ll be sharing a guide for all of them so that you can grow your greenies without stress or worries. Here’s what you need to know:
You’ll need the following:
- Green onion scraps
- Glass jar or deep bowl
- Green onion seeds
Growing in Water
Growing green onions in water is a great way to reuse scraps and always have fresh stalks ready to use.
Prepare the scraps. Make sure they have at least 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of the bulb (the white part of the stem) and root system.
Place them in a glass container, preferably a jar or deep bowl. Make sure the roots are submerged, but there’s still a bit of stem out of water.
Find a spot where they can receive bright light, and it won’t take long until you see new green foliage growing.
You should change the water every few days; otherwise, your greens will stop growing. Make sure to use lukewarm or warm water to avoid shocking the roots.
As soon as the stalks are your desired size, you can cut them and use them as usual. You’ll be able to do this a few times before they stop regrowing.
Growing in Soil
You can also grow your green onions the old-fashioned way and sow them on a nice bed of soil.
Prepare the garden bed by removing any weeds and debris. Make sure to add compost and even a slow-release fertilizer if your soil is very poor.
Either in a garden bed or in a container, sow seeds ¼ inches (½ cm) apart, 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide, and ¼ inch (½ cm) deep. It’s okay if more than one seed falls into the same hole, you’ll need to thin them later.
You may choose to buy seedlings instead of sowing from scratch on your own. You may have also been growing your green onions in containers and want to move them to a garden bed. Either way, plant them about 2 inches (5 cm) apart and not too deep, just enough to make sure the entire root system is secured underground.
Water as frequently as needed in order to always have the soil slightly moist until the seedlings are fully established.
You have to thin them to at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart to make sure they have enough space to develop properly.
When they’ve grown to your liking, and you’re ready to harvest, you can either dig up the hole plant from the ground or you can cut leaves as needed.
Do Green Onions Grow Better in Soil or Water?
Although growing in water is a great alternative for beginners or for those who might not have garden space or enough space for containers, green onions will grow better in the soil. When planting green onions in soil under proper conditions, they will create fuller, thicker, and more flavorful foliage than those grown in water.
Nevertheless, both options are 100% viable and will produce a great amount of this tasty crop. You can even begin regrowing them in water and then transplant them into the soil.
Tips for Growing Green Onions
Besides the basics, here are some additional tips to make sure your crops are as successful as possible.
- Mulching can help extend your harvest into winter, as well as prevent weeds and retain moisture.
- Green onions can also grow in the shade but will grow slowly.
- Their seeds have a small viable life, so anything after two years will likely not have a high germination rate, and most seeds might not sprout.
- The ideal soil temperature for germination is around 75 ºF (24 ºC).
- No matter the stage of life or the part of the green onion you’re looking at, this plant is always and completely edible. Even the flowers. This means you can use the discarded thinnings and other overlooked parts without wasting anything.
How to Care for Your Green Onion Plant
During their growing stage, your green onion garden will need a bit of your care and attention, although they’re not too demanding.
- Grow them in full sun, so at least 6 to 8 hours of direct light every day.
- Use well-draining and fertile sandy soil.
- Mulch to retain moisture and prevent weeds from creating competition for food.
- Keep the soil consistently moist until they sprout, as this is a must for healthy and resistant mature green onions.
- Fertilize with a high nitrogen feed throughout the growing season.
Propagating Green Onions
Now that you’ve added green onions to your garden, this is what you can do to make sure you never run out again.
- Regrowing scraps is a great way to propagate green onions while reducing your food waste.
- You can let your green onions overwinter, even if the weather is not ideal. They’ll lose the foliage, but the bulb will regrow next season.
- Overwinter and letting your green onions sit in the soil for more than one year will also promote the growth of clumps, which can then be divided and used to grow more greens.
- Your green onions will eventually flower, and you can collect and save the seeds to sow for the next couple of years.
How Long Does It Take for Green Onions to Grow
Green onions will take about 1 to 2 weeks to begin sprouting, and you can begin to harvest them when they’re about 10 inches (25 cm) tall. They usually take between 50 to 60 days from seed to harvest, but you can enjoy them both before and after this period. Just keep in mind the longer they mature, the more pungent and less sweet they’ll be.
When growing in water, you’ll see green regrowing within the first 24 to 48 hours, and you can harvest as you need.
How Many Times Can You Regrow Green Onions?
Depending on the planting methods, your green onions will be able to be regrown and harvested about 3 to 5 times. Growing in the soil will allow you to regrow them a few more times than in water.
When to Harvest Green Onions?
Green onions will take about 30 to 60 days to be able to harvest, but you can do it earlier or later, as this plant doesn’t have a definitive maturity stage. It depends on the flavor you are after; the smaller, the sweeter, and the older, the more pungent.
When to Plant Green Onions?
When growing in soil, you can start as soon as the danger of heavy frosts is gone, all the way onto fall. When planting green onions in water, you can do this anytime, as long as you have a strong enough light source, as they need plenty of light to grow.
Where Do Green Onions Come From?
Many think green onions are just regular onions that haven’t developed yet, and although you can grow them like that, real green onions are Allium fistulosum and will never truly produce a bulb as they focus their energy on producing stalks.