Growing onions

I would love some tips or advice for growing onions. I've tried several times but only get very small bulbs. I've tried different locations, different soils, but still they don't get very big. What's the secret?


  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    First , you are not alone! After several years of gardening, I finally this year was able to get in a harvest of good looking onions. We did start with both sets and started plants - both did well, but we found the ones we planted out earliest in the garden grew the biggest bulbs. Start with good, fertile, well draining soil. We plant garlic and shallots as well in the fall, so when we started to see the green from those plants poking through in the spring, we began planting out our onions too - this was much earlier than we usually did, but it seems to be a good guide. Next, you want to just settle the bottoms of the plants or the bulbs in the soil. For the sets, at least half or more of the bulb should still be sticking out above the ground, and for the plant starts, just bury the roots and a very small portion of the bottom - burying either too deep will result in more of a green onion with little or no bulb. You may need to keep poking the onions back in if they pop out of their planting spots until the roots start to establish, but then they should be good. Onion roots are shallow, so make sure they get enough water (which is why good drainage is a must since they do not like to sit in the wet). Cover bare soil between with a light mulch to deter weeds since they do not like competition and clip any flower stalks that may try to form. Let them grow until the tops fall over before pulling and drying or using. One final note, onions come in three types, short day, long day, and I think indeterminate(?) - make sure you are planting the right variety for your location since they grow and produce based on hours of sunlight. Good luck and stick with it!

  • pamelamackenzie
    pamelamackenzie Posts: 143 ✭✭✭

    I tried onions for 3 years, with so far the best results being the first year I planted them. Planted really late in 2nd year. This past year planted early but several cold spells made many go to seed. Still had plenty of the small onions to eat. I like growing multiplying onions also. They are supposed to be small so I feel successful with those despite them being smaller than the small bulb onions. I also remind myself that small bulb onions are very handy so you can chop and use entire onion with no leftovers.

    RICHARD Posts: 22 ✭✭✭

    I tend to grow green onions, because they are cut and cut again. Great for salads and dips. I grow two different kinds of garlic (purple hardneck and soft neck.. I find the hardneck are milder in taste, and larger too. I'll try starting a few sets next year and keep everyone posted.

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    chimboodle04, thanks for the tips. I may have planted them a little too deep. I'll check the type as well. You gave me some great tips!

    pamelamackenzie, I have tried different planting times too, but not seeing a big difference in results. I like the idea of the multiplying onions! As well as green onions suggested by RICHARD.

    I usually can grow almost anything with reasonable success, but this onion thing is a puzzle.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I started onions today. Candy and Walla Walla. Tomorrow I will start my red varieties.

    I used to start them later and they never amounted to any size. When I volunteered in the community greenhouse they started them in late january in my area. (Last frost date may 15 - more like May 30.)

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    There's a great article by Tasha Greer over on the blog specifically about growing onions. Might be worth a look to see if there are any additional tips you could use?

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    I've not done well with onions so far. Chives, on the other hand, were weeds in my garden for several years. Need to get them and some green onions going this year. I believe it was someone on this forum who suggested I try walking onions, which sounds like a great idea. I hope that I have a great garlic yield again this year like I did last year. I have been growing hard neck as I have heard that they do better in a cooler climate (even though I am Zone 8 I'm pretty far north).

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 937 ✭✭✭✭

    This is the best advice! I will try these ideas this season for sure!

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 These are excellent suggestions for growing onions.

    It's been a while since I've tried growing onions but I have several white and red varieties I'm intending to grow this year.

    So thank you for sharing. Hopefully, I'll have a better success rate with this advice. 😊

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    I will put this advice to use. My onions seemed like they just disappeared last year after i planted them😐