How to Grow Onions at Home


Authored by Jaipi Sixbear in Gardening 
Published on 11-10-2009

Growing onions at home is quite easy. Onions are a versatile food that can be used in a variety of dishes. You can grow onions indoors or out, although outdoors is best. Onions grown outdoors will come up year after year without re-planting. Onions can also be used as home grown pesticide for the garden. Here’s how to grow onions outdoors at home.

Seed or Set Options

You can grow onions at home from seed or from onion sets. Onion sets are available at greenhouses in the spring. These can be planted quite early in the spring garden. You can also sprout your own onion sets indoors in late winter for spring planting. Another option is to plant seeds directly into the garden in early spring.

Soil Requirements

To grow onions at home you will need loosely compacted rich soil. This is true whether you are planting onion seeds or sets. If your soil is dense and clay like, onions will not do as well. I suggest purchasing or making your own compost. Mix the compost half and half with potting soil. If sprouting seeds indoors use this mix in your peat pots.

Sprouting Seeds Indoors

To sew seeds indoors, use peat pots filled with the above mix. Transfer onion sets to larger pots or the garden when they mature. Plant two to three seeds ¼ inch deep in each pot. Place the pots on a tray and water by filling the tray. Watering from the top causes seedlings to burn. Place the tray in a sunny window. Water when soil is dry. They will be ready for planting when a six inch height is reached.

Preparing Garden Soil

Prepare the outdoor garden for onion sets or seeds by tilling soil to a depth of 12 inches. Scatter the compost and potting soil mix over the prepared area. Till the mix in until well blended. If the soil still seems dense, add more potting soil to the mix. This keeps the soil light and aerated so onion sets or seeds can take root. You may want to plant onions as a pesticide border when growing onions at home.

Preparing Pots for Indoor Growing

Prepare large pots for growing onions at home by filling them with the compost and potting soil mix. The pots should have holes for proper drainage and a dish under the pots to catch water. Choose a sunny location for pot placement. Onions need six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Poke holes about 2 inches apart with a pencil end to plant onion sets. The hole should be about 3 inches deep.

Planting Onion Sets

Place your index finger on the white portion of the onion sets. Push the set into the hole. The soil should give easily and be fairly loose. If the soil is too dense to push the onion set into, add potting soil to the mix. This same technique and spacing is used when planting onion sets outdoors. Water both well after planting. Let soil dry between watering to encourage root growth.

Planting Seed Outdoors

If you start to grow onions at home in the early spring seed can be used. Prepare your soil the same way as for the other techniques. Dig an inch deep trough to sew the seeds in. Placing two to three seeds per inch is the accepted spacing. As onions sprout, thin out the less hardy sprouts so onions are spaced about 2 inches apart. Water carefully until mature so seeds do not migrate.

Grow onions at home simply and easily. You can grow onions at home by seed or by set. It’s possible to grow onions at home indoors but growing outdoors is the preferred method. Growing from sets give a jump start on the growing season. Planting onions in a border around the garden helps repel pests. Water onions only when soil has dried to improve root growth.


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