Growing Onions

How to Grow Onions: freshly harvested

Freshly harvested onions

Growing onions is simple: If you can poke a hole into the ground, you can grow an onion from a little plant. Many of our onion varieties are sold as little seedlings in bare-root bundles rather than as plants in biodegradable pots; each plant will start growing within days after you plant. If you can’t plant your onions right away, remove their bindings and place them in a bucket with 2 inches of moist soil in the bottom. Keep them in a cool, bright place but out of direct sun until you are ready to plant. A sunny basement is ideal.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Red onion transplants are easy to plant and grow.

Uniform and easy to grow, onion plants will get off to a fast start. Separate before planting.

Most gardeners want sweet onions, and the sweetness of an onion is determined by both nature and nurture. For the mildest onions, start with a variety known to produce sweet, mild-flavored bulbs such as Texas Sweet (at southern latitudes) or Walla Walla (at northern latitudes). Get the plants off to a strong start by mixing an organic or timed-release fertilizer into the soil before your plant your onions. This fertilization technique, called “banding,” places nutrients right where young onion roots will find them. They will use up the nutrient supply as they grow. This is good because later, as onions form under lean conditions, they tend to taste sweeter.

Growing onions requires abundant sun and good drainage, and they grow best when the soil pH ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Raised beds or raised rows made by mounding up soil are ideal, especially if your soil is heavy clay. Mix a 2-inch layer of compost into the soil before placing an organic or timed-release fertilizer into planting furrows, following label rates. Set plants 1 inch deep, so that their roots are well covered with soil but the top of the plant’s neck is not buried too deeply. You don’t want the part of the neck where the leaves grow away from the clear sheath to collect soil or water down between the young leaves, or they can rot. Space plants 6 inches apart in furrows 12 inches apart. Plants will appreciate a starter solution of liquid fertilizer after planting.

Onions planted in raised beds have optimal growing conditions.

Onions can be grown in raised beds, which offer superior drainage.

Onions roots are shallow and not very efficient at taking up moisture, so they need a steady supply of water to grow without interruption. Although they actually recover well from drought and start growing again when watered, it is best to keep the soil consistently moist until the bulbs enlarge.

You may mulch with a light layer of weed-free and herbicide-free grass clippings or another fine mulch. Onions naturally push toward the surface as they form bulbs, and it’s best if the tops of the bulbs are allowed to bask in dry sun. Remove mulch that might keep the expanding bulbs excessively moist.

Seedlings that are about the diameter of a pencil produce the biggest, most beautiful bulbs, so some gardeners sort seedlings by size before planting. Plant the largest ones together only 2 inches apart to start enjoying as green onions in just two or three weeks. Very small seedlings set at close spacing can serve as a second crop of scallions. Use the pencil-sized plants to grow full-sized onions that will produce extra-juicy slices.


Create mounded rows for planting onions.

These young onions are growing on a mounded row.

As onions leaves expand, they may be found by tiny black onion thrips, which suck sap from onion leaves. These are hard to see because they hide down in the folds and neck of the leaves. Also be on the lookout for aphids. Finally, weak plants that slowly wilt may be infested with onion root maggots, the larvae of a common fly.

Harvest and Storage

Pull onions before they form bulbs to use as scallions.

Plant extra if you want to harvest some early (before they form bulbs) to use as scallions.

How to Grow Onions: mature onion bulb pushing out of ground

As onions mature, the bulbs begin to push out of the ground. Leave them exposed.

You can harvest young onions just a few weeks after planting if you want to use them as “spring onions” or scallions. There is no perfect size, just pull when they are big enough to suit you.

For full-sized bulbs, let onions grow and mature. They are ready to harvest when the bulbs are big and the tops begin to turn yellow and fall over. Pull them up, shake off the soil, and lay them out to cure with the tops still attached. Any warm, airy location is a good place to do this; you can even sling them over a fence as long as they aren’t rained upon. Bulbs must stay dry and have good air circulation. As the onions cure, the roots will shrivel and the necks above the bulbs will slowly dry – a natural process that helps to seal the top of the bulb, making the onions less likely to rot. After 7 to 10 days, clip off the tops of the onions and the roots with pruning shears, remove as much dry dirt as possible without taking off the papery outer skins, and store your onions in a cool place. Very sweet, juicy onions store best in the refrigerator.

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Which onion will make my eyes water less, white or yellow onion?

Even though white onions have a milder flavor than yellow, the sulfur content is still high. So expect to tear up just the same with both. Refrigerating an onion to make it cold before you cut it helps keep the fumes down.

Which onions are sweeter? Yellow or white?

White onions are notably sweeter than yellow. Walla Walla and Granex types are the sweetest type available.

How often should onions have water?

The soil should feel slightly moist when you poke your finger in at a depth of 1 inch. Be careful not to over-water onions or they can rot.

How do you judge the quality of an onion?

Good-quality onions are firm and free of blemishes and mold. The skin is dry and has an even color. They should also be near the full size characteristic to the variety that you grow.

Where should onions be stored?

Onions should be stored in a dry, dark, well-ventilated place. They should also be separated from each other so as not to touch. Do not store onions in the refrigerator.



I bought a starter of walla walla onions. This may sound stupid, but do I separate each individual root to plant them???

Danielle Carroll

Hi Joanna,
Yes you do, separate the bundles into the individual onion plant. Like the picture above – the onions would be separated into 3 individual plants. Get to Gardening! – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Traci Stewart

I’m wanting to grow onions and live in Mid Tennessee. Our weather is crazy. We get cold weather and sometimes a little snow up until early April, but it gets really hot by June. When should I plant them?

Danielle Carroll

Hello Traci,
This is the guide to planting cool season vegetables in your area from the University of Tennesee Cooperative Extension. It has planting dates for most vegetables that are planted in your area. I know what you mean about the crazy weather. We are a month behind this year in our garden (spring never wanted to SPRING)! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants


Hi Kelly,
I bought leeks and beets this year along with peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, string beans, and strawberries. I am making a raised flower bed and was planning to plant the leeks and beets around the border of the flower bed. I was wondering if leeks or beets do not grow well around other plants or is it okay to plant them around the border.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Ashley,
Sounds like you have yourself a plan! Check out this companion planting guide from Cornell Univeristy extension. Let us know how your garden prospers, Danielle, Bonnie Plants


Can I trim the green tops off of my growing onions and use them or is it best I wait until the onion is fully developed?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Alison,
No harm in snipping just the very tops, but the green foliage provides the energy for the onions bulbs so pick sparingly! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants


I live in North Texas. My spring onions are about ready to harvest. Can I plant more now that will be ready for harvest in the summer?

Danielle Carroll

Hello Lynn,
The Texas summers would be a bit much for the cool season onions 🙁 Maybe you can plant more next winter for storage! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants


Last November I found a small onion (golf ball size) that had begun to sprout. On a whim, I planted it in my flowerbed. It’s been growing ever since and is doing quite well, although it now has two flower stalks. My question is, since I don’t need it for food, if I leave it in the ground will it continue to grow or come back year after year? If it’s just going to rot I won’t waste it, but if it’ll come back next season I’ll leave it.

Danielle Carroll

Hello Darrin,
When you see the tops start to die back, the onion is ready for harvest. If you leave it in the ground after the leaves die bak, it is possible that the onion will rot in the ground. I would harvest and enjoy the onion! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants


I live in Maryland near Washington dc I’m planting red onions . it is 4-21-2013 I am also planting red ,yellow, green ,orange bell peppers along with cucumbers , jalapenos , tomato . I have prefertilzed the soil 3 weeks ago . Have made furowes for the onions . do you think that I’m planting to early for any of the vegetables I have . thank you . jimibgood

Danielle Carroll

You are planting a lot of warm weather veggies so be sure the chance of frosts and freezes are gone. This is the planting guide for veggies in Maryland from the Extension system. It has the planting dates for most home garden veggies in your area! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Aiya Bowman

I grow chives, garlic, and onions in my garden. They’re some of the few plants that grow well in our Arizona heat. The only problem I have growing them is that my cats love them. They both like to eat the leaves and roll around in it. I have a bit of catnip in another area of my garden I planted for them but they completely ignore it. Is there another plant I can grow that will make my plants ignore my onions? Either one that makes them go even more crazy than catnip should that I can plant away from my garden or one that cats hate that I can plant around my onions. I tried putting bamboo sticks around my plants to keep my cats away but they just broke them and did more damage to my plants.

Aiya Bowman

I mean make my cats ignore my onions, not my plants ignore them.


I have read that cats do not like the smell of orange peel!

Danielle Carroll

Hello Aiya,
Kitties usually go crazy over catnip! I know some who place rocks in their containers to keep the cats at bay, you may try something sharp or hard on the ground that might deter them from your chives. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants


I planted onions last year that didn’t seem to do anything. I forgot about them and left my garden alone all winter. Now the onions have sprouted; but I’m ready to plant the rest of my garden. I need to add fresh soil to give the new plants food, but do I raise the onions or put new soil on top? Or should I leave them alone? Help! I’d like to plant soon. Thanks!

Danielle Carroll

Hi Jennie,
If you need the space for your Spring / Summer garden, you can harvest the onions and use as green onions. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants


Hello, I’m Dominic.
I live in Chicago, Illinois and I started growing my onions from sets last year in June. Throughout the summer, the sets produced vast amounts of green onions but the bulbs seldom changed or matured. I left in them in the ground throughout the winter and had checked on them last weekend (April 6th 2013). They had started producing green onions again but when I checked the bulbs, they still haven’t matured. What may be the problem?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Dominic,
What types of onions did you plant? Onions sets are typically categorized as short day or long day onions- bulb formation starts when the correct day length initiates bulbing. Hot, humid summers often limit the formation of huge, storage onions. And if the planting is late, bulbing may not happen at all. Read more about growing onions in your region from the Illinois Extension System. I usually have better results with onions transplants.
–Danielle Bonnie Plants


I have some onions growing right now, stuttgarter and texas sweet. The texas sweet are still small and they dont have that many leaves but are just beging to form bulbs. will the end up being small bulbs because they dont have that many leaves? Also the stuttgarter onions look like large green onions with no bulb formation at all is this because i planted the wrong type? Im in arizona the phoenix area.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Danielle,
How long have the onions been planted? Texas Sweet can take upwards of 100 days before it is ready for harvest. You will often see the onions leaf out for a while when they start growing…they need those green tops for energy. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants


The onions have been in the ground since early November. I used composted steer manure as an amendment and mulch.

Danielle Carroll

This is detailed information on growing onions in Arizona from the Arizona Extension System. Short day onions are usually ready for harvest in late spring – when the tops have fallen over. Some factors that influence bulb production – temperatures, competition with weeds, and poor top growth. Be careful not to overfeed which will produce lush tops and small bottoms.

Mary Beth

Hi Ben,
One onion seedling or set will produce one large bulb. Let us know how it grows! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Anne Marie

hello. i just purchased a bonnie “georgia sweet” onion set. i live real close to the mason dixon line (if temperature matters when growing these little buggers) and i wish to attempt to grow them in a clay pot on the deck. the ones i have are about as wide as a pencil. how deep and how far apart to plant? i read the above info and would assume it might be similar spacing for pot as in ground? thanks:-)

Danielle Carroll

Hi Anne Marie,
You are correct – use the same plant spacing in the pot – onions do not like to be crowded. Make sure your pot is wide enough and deep enough to successfully grow onions (at least 8 – 10 inches deep) unless you are growing for green onions.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Steve Wilt

Hello We live in York, Pennsylvania and the stores are just now offering onion sets. What is the recommended time to plant
onion sets for our area. We will be planting Texas supersweet and Georgia sweet. thank you.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Steve,
Take a look at this veggie publication from Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension. It has planting dates for all the commonly grown vegetables in your area. You are right on time 🙂
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants


I live in the Texas Pandlehandle. When can I safely plant carrots, radish, beets and green onions. I will use raised beds in full sun.

Danielle Carroll

Hello Kristine,
I think you will find this handy. It is the planting dates for most of the commonly grown veggies in Texas from your state extension system…spring and fall. Happy Planting!
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants



I live in North Texas. This is my first year of gardening. I got some onion bulbs from Walmart. I doesn’t say the variety name but, it is red onions. Is it ok to plant them now in raised bed in Zone 8b. Btw, it doesn’t have any tops or roots in it.


Danielle Carroll

Hi Nikki,
Yes, you can plant them now. This is a planting chart for North Texas from Texas Agrilife Extension. When panting bulbs, they will not have tops or roots prior to planting.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants


I’m looking to store my onions in cold storage (my garage – no temp control!) for the winter. Which varieties do you recommend? I also am unclear as to when I should plant. The onions must be harvested during the colder months of late October/November in order to store well throughout the winter. I am on the panhandle of West Virginia, zone 6b.

Danielle Carroll

Hello Debbie,
Onions are planted in your area in the early Spring. For a list of those recommended in your are, see this publication from your Cooperative Exetnsion System. This publication also goes over how to properly cure your onions so they can be stored for winter. Be aware that onions will not store well if the temperature goes below freezing. Bonnie Plants has varieties for your area such as the White Sweet Spanish Onion and the Yellow Sweet Spanish onions.
-Danielle, Bonnie Pllants


Hi I was wondering if I should put a small hoop house over my onions. I live in fairbanks, Alaska. I noticed that my onions are small and don’t typically get many stems, usually just 2-4. Also, is weeding crucial with onions? We get a lot of horsetail in our beds. It is extremely difficult to keep up with. Maybe I’ll find the time this year to line the bed and put new soil in, but it is a lot of work! Thank you!

Danielle Carroll

Hello Lacey,
You are correct, weeding is crucial for growing most vegetables. Weeds can rob the plants of soil moisture and fertilizer that was meant for the plants. It is a good idea to mulch the garden to help keep the weeds from germinating. This is a planting chart from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension. This publication has planting dates for the commonly grown vegetables there. The cool season vegetables thrive
in Alaska, it is the warm season vegetables that need protection – and a hoop house is a great way to protect.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants


I bought some sweet onions last fall (not bulbs but the ones that look more like a bunch of scallions). I don’t remember the variety but live in south TX so I assume from previous comments that they’re TX Sweet… I planted 5 in the ground and 3 into a container spaced as recommended in early-mid October 2012. The plants in containers are seemingly very healthy, happy & full with long green leafs and the plants in the ground are also healthy as well but not nearly as happy (I already know the soil there needs to be amended). I have pulled a few of the onions, two from the ground and one from the container & none of them are growing bulbs yet – the root base still resembles that of a healthy fat scallion. All of the plants receive lots of sunlight & water and I have fertilized all the plants at least once since the planting. Although I think they’re pretty to look at my husband would rather be eating them on burgers. Any tips on why these never grew bulbs?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Jen,
Sounds like your onions are not finished growing. Harvest onions when the tops start to yellow and fall over. You can read here for more harvesting tips. Just click on the harvest and storage tab.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Richard,
Onion varieties will vary a little bit with their cold tolerance. According to Texas A and M Agrilife Extension, they can tolerate temperatures in the low 20’s. Since you like to grow onions, have you tried leeks?
Happy Gardening,


I live in northwest tennessee how early in spring can onion sprouts be planted

Danielle Carroll

Hi Chris,
This is the guide to spring planted cool season vegetables by the University of Tennessee Cooperative Extension. You will find the planting dates to most cool season vegetables grown in your area. This is the guide to warm season vegetables and planting dates in Tennessee.
Happy Gardening,

Danny English

My onions bulb I plant from sets but thay do not get any size buy havest time. Can I pick then let then dry replant then next year to grow biger That might get a inch. I use miraclegrow and compost ect. I live westen nc why is this? THANK DANNY

Mary Beth

You might be fighting a losing battle with the wrong varieties for your region. Choosing a long-day or short-day onion will do the trick. Read this explanation in “Which Onion is Right for You?” and figure out what’s best for your garden. GOOD LUCK! Don’t give up. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Danny English

Thank Marry Beth for your ancsur my wife like bite size any ways on onion thank agine Danny English happy gardening


We are in N. East Texas, bought a bunch of these onions and don’t really know when I should plant them. Could you let me know if Feb. is to early for them, or should I wait .until later in the season. Thanks

Mary Beth

Hi Alan,
You’re a bit warmer and different timing applies. To hear it straight from your local Aggie Extension, click here. Jan – Feb is prime time for planting onion transplants, unless you start from seed in the fall. Good luck! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Terri Reynolds

My Dad lives in New Mexico and would like to start his garden early, so he wishes to order from you because he said that you have the best plants. Can he order from you online or does he need to call you and order them?Plesae get back to me soon.Thank you.

Mary Beth

Hi Terri,
Thanks for your kind words. Please tell your dad that the love is mutual. 🙂 Availability varies by region and by plants (onions vs tomatoes). The best thing to do is to use this ZIP code locator to see what stores carry our plants in your area and call to find out what each has in stock, or when they are expecting new arrivals. We do not sell online at this time. I hope that helps. Please keep us posted! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants


We planted 4 Bonnie varieties in January 2012. All grew quite well except the Sweet Red variety. The bulbs barely formed and most were kind of hollow inside, or not very full. They all had good tops (lots of leaves) like you would expect. Other varieties in the bed did just fine. What happened to the red onions?

Mary Beth

Hi Sharki,
Our expert in Cooperative Extension suggests this: Sweet Red Onions are short-day onions. Short-day onions will start making bulbs much earlier in the year when there are only 10 to 12 hours of daylight. Overcast skies and cool temperatures during the growing season will delay bulb formation.

The outcome could be caused by bacterial soft rot. Bacterial Soft Rot usually starts at the neck of the bulb but, unlike Neck Rot, progresses down one or more scales. An offensive sulfurous odor is given off by the rotting bulb. Did you see/smell anything like this? Care of handling helps prevent the rot from occurring. The organism causing Bacterial Soft Rot enters through a wound and moist conditions encourage its growth. The Onion Maggot, both adult and larva, is an important factor in causing wounds for the infection to enter the bulb. The insect also carries the bacteria from plant to plant.
Let us know if this sounds like what you saw in the crop, or if you have photos to share, you can send them to Ask An Expert. Typically the number of leaves = a layer of onion skin and your full tops should have shown full bulbs. Thanks for writing.
~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Mark Christensen

Do I have to harvest my onions when they are ready or can I just leave them in the ground and harvest them as I need them? I have a problem with store bought onions molding and rotting before I can use them so I was wondering If they would keep in the ground better than in my pantry?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Mark, Yes, it’s best to harvest your onions instead of leaving them in the ground where they also can rot. Here are a few tips for storing onions. Don’t leave harvested onions out in the sun. Instead, bring them inside and don’t wash them. Let them cool down to indoor temperature a bit before putting them in your fridge. Also, don’t place onions and potatoes in the same drawer. Taking those steps might help extend their storage time, or you could just cook them! Find onion recipes on our In the Kitchen page. Happy harvesting! Kelly, Bonnie Plants


I live in NW Oregon and have read that my favorite Walla Walla Sweets are started in the Fall in NE Oregon and Washington. I grow spring plants with moderate success and was wondering if I should try a fall planting for mature bulbs in the Spring. I know left and missed onions tend to go to seed in the Spring. Any suggestions? Thanks.


Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Dennis,

This article from Washington State University lists good crops for fall gardens in your area. Onions are included. It recommends planting in July (seed or sets) or August (seedlings) and overwintering plants for spring harvest. I hope this info helps you grow a great fall garden!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

jon johnson

is it too late to plant a second crop of onions, i live in zone 5 will they be big enough to harvest by the time it is ready to frost.

Mary Beth

Hi Jon,
Your instincts are correct; it’s too late for the onions to form a bulb by that time. But you can plant them to harvest as green onions or “spring” onions. Happy gardening, Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants


Hello, I hope you may be able to answer a question for me. Last year I purchased and planted Bonnie onions, the tag on the bundle just said ” Onion Plants” , there was no variety named. The tag said they were grown in Union Springs, AL. They were white onions, grew nicely and a few left in ground went to seed this year and I saved the seed. The bar code no. was: 7 15339 09040 9 Can you tell me what kind of onions these were? I would like to get this variety again. Thanks-

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Wendy,

These onions were either the White Sweet Spanish or Texas Sweet variety. We label onions on the boxes but not necessarily on the tags, as you’ve found out. If you live in the South, it was more than likely the Texas Sweet, as White Sweet Spanish is a long-day type best grown in the North, though it’s also grown as a fall onion in the South. I hope this helps. We’re glad you enjoyed growing Bonnie onions!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Dennis Szarka

I know I’m starting a little late but we live in New Mexico and I have made a raised garden. It is now the 16th of july and I wanted to know if I can still plant onions and other below ground vegitables to harvest in October and November. Also what are the best onions to start this late?

Priscilla Bell


I’m new to gardening in northern climates. I’m at roughly 43 degrees north. I’ve never planted onions before so bought some at the local hardware store when I was buying my other plants. All of which are Bonnie plants except for the onions. They came in a little mesh bag and had 100 hard white little balls. I planted three rows of them on May 19 and as I’m reading more I am realizing that that was WAY too late in the season. I’ve got amazing green onions coming up out of the ground filled with flavor, but really tiny “pearl” bulbs. It’s not even been 2 months, is there hope to get large onions to store this season or no?

Also, can I plant these in the fall like tulips? Or will the frost over the winter kill them? Onions are a new and exciting tasty addition to my gardening and just want to make sure I’m getting the best I can.

Thank you!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Priscilla,

Onions can be grown a few different ways, including from onions sets or from onions transplants, which is what we sell. Onions should be planted in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. (Gardeners in warmer areas can grow a fall crop of onions, but I think spring planting is your best bet at 43 north.) Since you’re in the far north, it’s possible that May was the earliest you could plant, so it sounds like you planted right on time. The fact that you have green onions growing is a good sign, as many gardeners who start with onions sets (as you did) often have problems with sets rotting in the soil and not ever sprouting. I think you need to just keep waiting and letting your onions form larger bulbs underground, as it can take 90-100 days for onions to form mature bulbs. You can still harvest the small green onions if you want, but if it’s large bulbs you’re after, leave the plants in the ground and wait until the tops turn yellow and flop over to pull them. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Meredith H

We planted onion sets for the first time this year. Can we trim off the tops to use as green onions in recipes? Will the onion below still grow? Thanks!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Meredith,

Green onions aren’t just the tops, but the whole onion harvested when young and small. You can harvest your young onions, bulb and all, to use as green onions, but don’t just harvest the tops as that’s where the plant gathers energy from the sun to transfer to the growing bulb below. Many gardeners plant onions close together and then harvest every other one when when small to use as green onions, leaving the other half in the ground to grow full-size bulbs. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Greg Felice

Planted white onions from shoots at a Lowes store. They are sprouting up, and are about a foot high. They are drooping and are laying on the ground, some are straight up. Do I cut the tops? Or leave them alone? Planted them in early May. I live in upstate ny, Syracuse area.

Mary Beth

Hi Greg,
It sounds like typical onion behavior to me, without seeing a photo. Onion tops do splay after they get tall. However, if they are all fallen over and turning brown, it is a sign that they are almost ready to harvest. You should have bulbs at the base of expected size, unless they were planted too late to allow time to properly form. Sounds like you are doing everything right. Do not cut the tops until after harvesting and curing. You can harvest “green onions” like those you see in the produce section bundled together, if you want to use them like scallions. Let us know how it grows!
Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants


We bought and planted a starter pack of bonnie onions a little over a month ago. The Onions have been growing, but we failed to separate them before planting. They are growing in groups of three or four per group. Our question is would it be okay to dig up, separate them and replant them this far down the road? or would they just die? or fail to produce?

Mary Beth

Hi Rick,
You are right; they should be planted as separate seedlings. You can grow them close together if you intend to harvest them young as green onions (think bundled scallions you see in the grocery produce section). The easiest thing at this point is to try it two ways and see what is successful. For half of your crop, try thinning the bunches so that there is one every 6″ and simply use the young thinnings in your recipes as green onions. For the other half, try carefully digging them up and re-planting properly spaced at 6″ apart. They may be just fine! Let us know how it grows.
Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants


I have had my onions in the ground for a long period of time I don’t even have one shoot yet. How long does it take to grow them enough to eat them?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi William,

Did you use our Bonnie onion transplants or did you plant from onion sets? It sounds like you started from sets since you don’t see shoots. You can read this article from the University of Illinois Extension for more information. I can’t tell you exactly how long your plants should take to mature since I don’t know what variety you planted or your climate, but for comparison, our Georgia Sweet yellow onions mature in about 100 days. However, if you’ve had onion sets in the ground a long time and they haven’t sprouted, they may have rotted or been duds. Sorry about your onions but I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Thomas Basile

Igrow the sweet variety of your onions every year. the georgia sweets and walla/wallas They are always sweet and mild, but not this year very strong and very tangy. What happened ?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Thomas,

This was a challenging year for growing onions, with unseasonably warm temps in January and February and a warm spring across the country. Onions are a cool-season crop and need those cooler temps for best flavor. So you likely have the weather to blame for your tangy onions.

You can still use this year’s onions, though! Tangy onions are good for cooked onion dishes. Try the Onion & Parsley Dip recipe on our website (courtesy of P. Allen Smith). Also, for future onion plantings, you can increase water to increase sweetness. Keep soil consistently moist. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants


first time planting walla walla onions and they have been in the ground for approximately 2 weeks or better. Sad news is they are not sprouting at all. Have they not been planted long enough or would this be considered a lost crop of onions?

Coy Hulin

I purchased your onion plants this year from ALCO the day they arrived ,planted them next day,They were very spindly with 5 or 6 inch tops. Texas sweet and Walla walla, I cut the topsback to about 2-3 inches.As soon as they started to grow good the tops fell over.many of them sprouted seed shoot right away.After the little tops dried up ,yesterday in fact,
Idug them ,the largest was golfball size and smaller,Funny but the seed shoots came from the bottom ofthe onion next to the root.Don’t know what you have there,but I know they were not very good plants. Planted February 28 the earlyist
recommened dat for this area.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Coy,

Sorry your onions didn’t produce better this year! As you know, if the plant tops fall over and seed shoots sprout, the plants are finished growing. This spring was a pretty challenging one for onions. Across the country, gardeners saw constant fluctuations in weather patterns and unseasonably warm temperatures in January and February. As with other plants, the stress of weather can cause onions to go to seed earlier than normal, and it sounds like that’s what happened with your plants. I hope you can harvest and use your onions as small or spring onions, and we’ll all hope for better onion seasons this fall and next spring.

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Fred Meyer

I have a question. I plant onions evry year in my garden. The tops grow 12-18” high and flower. Someone told me that I should smach the tops down when they get tall so growth will concentrate in the bulb. I have never done this. Nature usually manages to do this for me with strong winds or rain. If I should be doing this when is the correct time to do this and what is the recommended method to do this. Thank you.

Kelly Smith

Hi Fred,

Do your onions actually send up a flower stalk every year? Or just grow tall tops? Onions typically don’t flower the first year they’re in the ground unless they experience a lot of temperature fluctuation. If they do flower, you should harvest the bulbs soon. If they’re just putting up tops, we typically just say to let nature take its course, as you’re doing. Let the tops flop over naturally and then start your harvest. Read more in the Harvest & Storage tab above. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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