If you love to cook, then you should grow onions at home. Their strong flavor makes them a favorite ingredient for various cuisines, from salads, soups, casseroles, and more!
The good news is that onions are among the easiest plants to grow at home. And unlike other veggies that you need to grow from seed, onions can be easily grown from cuttings or from a sprouted onion bulb. They are a great plant to tuck into the spare corners of your balcony or at the edges of your garden beds. With patience, time, and dedication, you should be able to grow your own onion plant at home.
Steps for Growing Onions at Home
In order to ensure the successful growth of your onion plant, it’s important to follow the proper steps involved in growing this vegetable at home. You can grow onions in many ways and there are several different varieties of onions that you can choose to grow. If you want to know how to grow onions at home in pots, then here are the steps to follow.
1. Pour a Well-draining Soil in a Pot
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When preparing the soil for onions, choose the well-draining variety. You can purchase a well-draining soil mix from your local plant nursery. Fill the pot to about half full. Keep the rest of the soil because you will fill the rest of it later after you have planted the onion.
If you would rather grow onions in your outdoor garden, make sure that the soil in your garden is well-draining. To be sure, test the soil before you begin planting. To test, dig a hole that’s about 12 inches and fill it with water. When the water starts draining in 5 – 15 minutes, then that means that the soil is well-draining. You can go ahead and start planting your onions.
2. Plant a Sprouted Onion Into the Soil
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There are different types of onions to grow at home and there are many ways to grow them. You can grow onions from cutting or use onion scraps. But the easiest way is to plant a sprouted onion. A sprouted onion is when a green leaf will start coming out of the top of an onion bulb. Aside from the fact that a sprouted onion is easy to grow, it will produce more onions in a single growing season.
Before planting, peel-off the papery outer skin of the onion bulb. Then use a knife to cut the layers of onions from the sprouts. Slice through the layers vertically and be very careful not to cut through the sprouts. Do the same for the other side. You can also use your hands to peel the layers individually if you don’t have a knife.
To plant, position the sprouted onion into the center of the pot, and fill it with the rest of the soil. The soil should be about 1 to 2 inches from the top of the pot. Place the newly planted onion plant outdoors or indoors, depending on your preference. Just make sure that it will receive an ample amount of sunlight.
3. Water Immediately After Planting
Water the new plant immediately after you have planted it. This way, the onion will be able to adapt to its new environment and the roots will start growing. Make sure you provide it with enough water, but not too much. The soil should only be damp, but not soaking wet. Otherwise, the plant will die.
4. Place the Plant Near a Window
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Onions need a lot of sunlight. So if you are growing onions at home indoors, place it near a window or in any area in your house where there’s plenty of light. Make sure that other plants will not shade it or block it from the sun.
When growing onions outdoors, choose a location in your garden with full sun. Make sure that the other plants in the garden will not block your onions.
How to Care for Onion Plants?
1. Apply Nitrogen Fertilizer into the Soil
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At the time of planting, consider adding some nitrogen fertilizer into the soil. When preparing the soil for onions, spray the fertilizer directly into the soil and mix it with your hands. The fertilizer will provide the soil with nutrients to help the plants to grow faster. You can purchase nitrogen-based fertilizer from your local nursery or a garden store. Refer to the label for instructions on the amount of fertilizer that you should spray into the soil.
2. Water the Plant Regularly
Water your plant every week. Onions require plenty of water for it to stay healthy and produce more onions. About an inch of water, each week should be enough, especially if you grow it outdoors where it receives rainwater. If you want it to produce sweeter onions, then water it more.
An onion plant will still appear healthy even if it’s gone dry so you should give it plenty of water during drought conditions.
3. Weed your Garden when Growing Onion Outdoors
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When growing onions outdoors, one of the most important onion growing tips to keep in mind is to weed it regularly. Onions can’t compete with invasive plants. They will steal the nutrients and water from your onion plants so it is best to remove them. Inspect your garden regularly and pull away any weeds.
Avoid using weed killers because these herbicides will not only kill the weeds but the garden plants as well, including the onions.
4. Check for Insects and Pests
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When inspecting your plants, check for insects and pests as well. If you see any of them, spray it with non-toxic insect repellent. The most common pests that attack onions are thrips. These are tiny insects about the size of a sewing needle. To remove them, use a dark piece of paper and rub the onion tops against it. If you see any thrips on the paper, apply insecticidal soap to kill them.
5. Protect the Plants from Maggots
One of the most common pests in onions is maggots. These are white and legless larvae that are about 1/3-inch long. They feed on the stems and will move from one plant to another. Therefore, when growing onion plants in the garden, it is best to scatter them to reduce the chances of extensive damage.
You can also seal your garden crops with mesh netting. Onion maggots tend to lay eggs at the base of the plant so the netting can help to prevent that. Another way to protect your onion plants from maggots is to keep the mulch away. These insects are easily attracted to decaying organic matter.
Onion Plant FAQs
Q1: What to feed Growing Onions?
A1: Onion plants are heavy feeders so they need constant nourishment in order to produce onion bulbs. Aside from mixing nitrogen fertilizer into the soil during planting, consider adding compost or manure to the soil.
Q2: How do I know when to Harvest Onions?
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A2: Ideally, onion plants are grown during early spring. That way, they will be ready for harvest in fall, once their tops start to die back. But there are some varieties of onions that are best planted in fall. Find out the variety of onions you plan on growing so you will know the ideal time for harvest.
Once the plant starts growing flowers, then that’s already a sign that your onions are ready for harvest. To harvest, loosen the soil then pull the plant gently.
Q3: How many Onions Grow from One Bulb?
A3: Only one onion can grow from a single bulb. The bulb that you have planted will only develop into a much bigger onion bulb. You’ll basically get only one onion from the onion plant you have planted. Therefore, if you want to harvest 10 onion bulbs, then you need to grow 10 onion plants as well.
Q4: What is the Best Fertilizer for Growing Onions?
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A4: A nitrogen-based fertilizer, either ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate, would be the best fertilizer to feed your onion plants. It should be applied at a rate of 1 cup for every 20 feet of row. The first application must be done within 3 weeks after the onion is planted then every 2 – 3 weeks.
Q5: Is Epsom Salt Good for Onions?
A5: Epsom salt is good for plants for various reasons. It provides magnesium, which helps build strong cell walls to the plants. Furthermore, magnesium helps the plant to use nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. Sulfur is an important compound that provides vegetables, including onions, its distinctive flavor. Although most garden soil has enough sulfur in them, magnesium deficiency is a common problem and this could affect the growth of your onion plants.
Anyone should be able to grow onions at home with no issues. These plants are easy to grow whether you choose to plant it indoors or outdoors. They will not demand a lot of your time and won’t give you that much trouble, unlike other vegetable plants. In fact, if you don’t have any experience in gardening, growing onions in your home would be a great start.
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