How to Grow Onions at Home

Onions need nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer in order to grow well. It’s recommended to place a good layer of compost before planting, whether you’re planting in a pot or in a garden. You should also stop watering the onions 20 days before harvest.
How to Grow Onions at Home

Last update: 19 October, 2018

There’s no doubt that onions are indispensable in the kitchen. They spice up our meals and are used in countless dishes and recipes. They also have many properties which are beneficial for our health. Learn how to grow onions at home in the following article!

Technical data regarding the cultivation of onions

People have cultivated onions for centuries. They’re very versatile and beneficial for our body. You can plant them either in the garden or in a pot, as long as you fulfill certain conditions:

  • Plant them directly in the soil. 
  • The planting seasons are spring, summer, and winter (not fall).
  • The time of growth is four months from planting until harvesting.
  • If you want to plant them in pots, they must contain at least three liters (3 quarts) of water and have a minimum depth of 20 centimeters (7.8 inches).
  • If you’re planting onions in the garden, the distance between each plant must be 15 cm (6 inches) and 40 cm between rows (15.7 inches).
  • Regarding the type of soil, it’s important to know that onions need nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer in order to grow well. They like soil with peat, silt, and some sand. They don’t like soil that’s too sandy or has clay.
  • Onions absorb potassium and phosphorus from the soil, but not nitrogen. Therefore, it’s advisable to put down a good layer of compost before planting. It doesn’t matter whether you plant them in a pot or in the garden.
  • Onions prefer sunny places, especially during the weeks the bulbs form.

  • Throughout their life cycle, onions need very little water, with the exception of their vegetative state (before the bulb forms). You should stop watering them 20 days before harvesting.
  • You can harvest the onions when the tops of the leaves become yellow, twist, and break. This is when the onion is mature. To lift the bulbs, use a hand rake or fork to avoid damaging their skin. Then, leave them half-buried for a few days. After that, remove them from the pot or garden and let them dry in the sun for two weeks.
  • It’s essential to keep the onions weed-free and avoid sudden changes in humidity.
  • The ideal temperature for onions during bulb growth is between 15 and 25°C (60 and 78°F). It grows well with other plants such as strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. You shouldn’t plant them with legumes.

Here are the three seasons of onion planting:

  • At the end of the summer: If planted in rows, separate each plant from the others. If planted in pots, scatter the seeds. Cover the seeds with 1.5 cm (0.5 inches) of compost and press down slightly.
  • During winter: In regions where winters are usually very strong and snowy, first grow seedlings (small plants) and leave them in the greenhouse, indoor patio, or inside the house. This way, you’ll have small onions ready to be transplanted in the spring. Then, place them in dry soil and in rows about the size of the seedlings.
  • During spring: You should only grow onions at home in the spring if the following summer will be wet and cool or if you have no place to store the onions. You should place each plant 10 cm (4 inches) apart when they reach a height of 10 cm (4 inches). Spring is the best time to plant bulbs instead of seeds. Make holes every 15 cm (6 inches) in a row. Place a bulb in each hole, cover it, and press down firmly.
Onions and garlic.

How to grow onions at home in pots

If you don’t have space at home to make a garden, you can experiment planting in pots on the balcony, terrace or patio. It’s easier than you think! You don’t have to take any gardening classes or become a farmer overnight. You just need to prepare the soil well, condition the location, and choose the pots.

The first thing to do is buy good organic soil to put inside the pots. You can buy it from a nursery (if so, choose whichever is blackest because it has the most fertilizer). On the other hand, you should never use artificial fertilizers. Although they’ll make the plant grow faster, they’re harmful to your health.

If the soil is dry, “cakey”, or is very light in color, you can mix it with a manure-enriched soil. Let the nutrients seep for two weeks before planting.

A large onion.

The pots should be at least 20 cm (8 inches) deep and 30 cm (12 inches) wide. If you’re going to grow onions at home by planting seeds, you should also leave 15 cm (6 inches) between each hole. This is because when they grow, they need more space. If you’re using seedlings, it’s best to prepare them beforehand and put them inside the pot when they’re 10 cm high (4 inches).

During the first two months, you should water them every other day and leave them in a sunny place. You can easily grow them after four months. Every day, check how the plant is growing, what it needs, or what it doesn’t need. You can experiment to become an expert and grow onions at home!

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