How To Plant Sprouting Onion [ Full Guide ]

Planting sprouting onions can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to grow fresh onions at home. By utilizing onions that have started to sprout, you can take advantage of their natural germination process to grow new onion plants. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to plant sprouting onions, from selecting the right onion variety to creating ideal growing conditions.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Sprouting Onion

To plant sprouting onions, start by selecting the right onion variety for sprouting. Prepare the materials for planting, including pots or a garden bed, soil, and compost. Soak the onion bulbs in water to encourage optimal growth. Finally, create ideal growing conditions by providing adequate sunlight, moisture, and nutrients.

Choosing The Right Onion Variety For Sprouting

When it comes to planting sprouting onions, it’s essential to select the right onion variety. While you can use any sprouting onion, certain varieties are better suited for sprouting and growing. Look for onions with firm, healthy sprouts emerging from the top. Common onion varieties ideal for sprouting include:

  • Yellow Onions: These onions are versatile and suitable for sprouting. They have a mild flavor and store well.
  • Red Onions: Red onions are known for their vibrant color and slightly sweet taste. They can also be used for sprouting and planting.

When selecting sprouting onions, ensure that the bulbs are firm and free from mold or rot. The sprouts emerging from the top should be green and healthy, indicating their readiness for planting.

Preparing Materials For Planting

Before planting sprouting onions, gather all the necessary materials for the planting process. You will need the following:

  • Onion Bulbs: Select firm, sprouting onion bulbs for planting.
  • Pots or Garden Bed: Decide whether you will be planting the onions in pots or a garden bed. If using pots, ensure they have drainage holes.
  • Soil and Compost: Use a well-draining potting mix or garden soil enriched with compost for planting.

Ensure that the pots or garden bed are clean and free from any debris or old roots. Proper preparation of materials is essential for providing a healthy environment for the sprouting onions to grow.

Soaking Onion Bulbs For Optimal Growth

Soaking the onion bulbs before planting can encourage optimal growth and vigor in the emerging sprouts. Follow these steps to soak the onion bulbs:

  1. Fill a Container: Choose a container large enough to accommodate the onion bulbs and fill it with room temperature water.

  2. Submerge the Onion Bulbs: Gently place the sprouting onion bulbs in the water, ensuring that the water covers the base of the bulbs where the roots emerge.

  3. Soaking Duration: Allow the onion bulbs to soak for approximately 1-2 hours. This helps hydrate the bulbs and provides a conducive environment for the sprouts to continue growing.

  4. Inspect for Readiness: After soaking, inspect the sprouts to ensure they appear plump and hydrated.

By soaking the onion bulbs, you can kickstart the growth process and provide the sprouts with the necessary moisture to thrive.

Creating Ideal Growing Conditions

Once the sprouting onions are prepared and the materials are in place, it’s time to create ideal growing conditions for optimal growth. Here’s how to ensure the best possible environment for your sprouting onions:

Selecting The Right Location

Whether planting in pots or a garden bed, it’s important to choose a suitable location for the sprouting onions. Look for a spot that receives ample sunlight, ideally 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If planting in pots, consider placing them in a sunny windowsill or a balcony with sufficient sunlight exposure.

Planting The Sprouting Onions

If using pots, fill them with the prepared soil and compost mixture, leaving enough space for the onion bulbs. Plant the sprouting onions with the tops of the bulbs just above the soil level. In a garden bed, ensure the soil is loose and well-draining before planting the sprouting onions.

Adequate Watering

Water the sprouting onions immediately after planting to help settle the soil and provide initial moisture. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Monitor the moisture levels regularly, especially during dry periods, and adjust the watering accordingly.


To promote healthy growth, consider applying a balanced fertilizer once the sprouting onions have established themselves. A general-purpose fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can help provide the necessary nutrients for robust growth.


Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around the sprouting onions can help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate the soil temperature. Mulching also provides a protective layer for the emerging roots and can contribute to overall plant health.

Providing Support

As the sprouting onions continue to grow, they may benefit from additional support to prevent bending or breaking. Consider using stakes or small supports to gently prop up the foliage, especially if the plants are grown in pots and may be susceptible to toppling over.

By creating ideal growing conditions, you can support the healthy development of the sprouting onions and ensure a successful growing season.

Planting sprouting onions is a simple and rewarding process that can yield fresh, homegrown onions. By selecting the right onion variety, preparing the materials, soaking the onion bulbs, and creating ideal growing conditions, you can set the stage for healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. Whether you choose to plant them in pots or a garden bed, providing the necessary care and attention will result in robust, flavorful onions that you can enjoy in your culinary endeavors. With this comprehensive guide, you now have the knowledge to confidently embark on the journey of planting sprouting onions and relishing the fruits of your labor.

Planting Onions In Containers Or In The Ground

Growing your own onions can be a rewarding experience, and one way to start is by planting sprouting onions. Planting sprouting onions not only saves you money but also allows you to enjoy the freshness and flavor of homegrown onions.

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Before you begin planting sprouting onions, you need to decide whether you want to plant them in containers or directly in the ground. Both methods have their advantages, so you can choose the one that suits your needs and available space.

Planting In Containers

Growing sprouting onions in containers is ideal for those with limited space or who want to have more control over the growing conditions. Here are the steps to plant sprouting onions in containers:

  1. Choosing a container: Select a container that is at least 10-12 inches deep and has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging. You can use pots, buckets, or even repurpose old containers.

  2. Soil preparation: Fill the container with high-quality potting soil or a well-draining soil mix. Onions prefer loose and fertile soil, so you may need to amend the soil with compost or organic matter to improve its nutrient content and drainage.

  3. Preparing the sprouting onions: Take the sprouting onions and carefully separate the individual bulbs. Ensure that each bulb has a small, white root attached to it. It is advisable to select sprouting onions with green shoots, as they indicate active growth.

  4. Planting the bulbs: Dig small holes in the container, spacing them approximately 4-6 inches apart. Place each bulb in the hole with the root side down and the shoot facing upward. Cover the bulbs with soil, leaving the tip of the sprouting onion exposed.

  5. Watering: After planting, water the container thoroughly until the soil is evenly moist. Ensure that excess water drains out from the bottom of the container.

  6. Placement and sunlight: Place the container in an area that receives full sunlight for at least 6-8 hours a day. Onions thrive in sunlit conditions.

Planting In The Ground

If you have ample garden space, planting sprouting onions directly in the ground can be a great option. Here are the steps to plant sprouting onions in the ground:

  1. Soil preparation: Choose a well-draining location in your garden that receives full sunlight. Onions prefer loose soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Remove any weeds or debris from the planting area.

  2. Soil amendment: If the soil in your garden is heavy or compacted, it is advisable to amend it with organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure, or peat moss. This will improve the soil structure and drainage.

  3. Preparing the sprouting onions: Separate the individual bulbs from the sprouting onion, ensuring each bulb has a small, white root attached. Choose onions with green shoots as an indication of active growth.

  4. Planting the bulbs: Dig small holes in the prepared soil, spacing them approximately 4-6 inches apart. Place each bulb in the hole with the root side down and the shoot facing upward. Gently cover the bulbs with soil, leaving the tip of the sprouting onion visible above the ground.

  5. Watering: After planting, water the ground thoroughly, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist. However, avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rotting or fungal diseases.

  6. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch such as straw or wood chips around the onion plants. This will help retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.

  7. Spacing and rows: Leave approximately 12-18 inches of space between rows to allow proper growth and airflow. Adequate spacing will also prevent the spread of diseases and discourage weed infestation.

Maintaining Proper Moisture Levels

Onions require consistent moisture but are susceptible to overwatering. Proper moisture levels are crucial for their growth and development. Here are some tips for maintaining optimal moisture levels:

  1. Watering frequency: Onions need 1-1.5 inches of water per week, including rainfall. Monitor the moisture level of the soil by sticking your finger about an inch into the ground. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. Avoid letting the soil become completely dry between watering sessions.

  2. Watering technique: Water the onions deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. Apply water directly to the soil rather than overhead to prevent foliar diseases. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are ideal for providing a slow and consistent water supply.

  3. Mulching: Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil and reduces the frequency of watering. Apply a layer of organic mulch around the onion plants, ensuring not to cover the tops of the bulbs. This will also prevent weed growth and regulate soil temperature.

  4. Avoid waterlogging: Ensure that the soil has proper drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to rotting and fungal diseases. If the soil becomes waterlogged due to heavy rainfall or overwatering, improve the drainage by amending the soil with organic matter or creating raised beds.

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Fertilizing And Nutrient Requirements

Providing adequate nutrients to your sprouting onions is important for their growth and bulb development. Here’s how you can ensure they receive the necessary nutrients:

  1. Soil testing: Conduct a soil test before planting to determine the nutrient composition and pH level of the soil. This will help you understand which nutrients may be deficient and guide you in selecting the appropriate fertilizers.

  2. Pre-plant fertilization: Prior to planting, incorporate well-balanced organic fertilizers, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil. This will enrich the soil with essential nutrients and improve its fertility.

  3. Nitrogen application: Onions require a steady supply of nitrogen for foliage growth. Apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers, such as blood meal or fish emulsion, every 3-4 weeks during the growing season. Follow the package instructions for proper application rates.

  4. Phosphorous and potassium: Onions also benefit from phosphorous and potassium for bulb development and overall plant health. Prior to planting, mix a balanced fertilizer with higher phosphorous and potassium content into the soil. Alternatively, you can top-dress the soil around the plants with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

  5. Avoid excessive fertilization: While providing nutrients is important, avoid over-fertilization, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of bulb formation. Follow the recommended rates and avoid applying fertilizers too close to the base of the plants, as it may cause root burn.

Dealing With Pests And Diseases

Like any other plant, onions are susceptible to pests and diseases. However, with proper care and preventive measures, you can minimize their impact. Here are some common pests and diseases that affect onions and how to deal with them:

Onion Pests

  1. Onion thrips: These small insects feed on onions, causing damage to foliage and spreading diseases. Control thrips by regularly inspecting plants and using insecticidal soaps or neem oil. Encourage natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings.

  2. Onion maggots: The larvae of onion flies, onion maggots, burrow into the onion bulbs and feed on them. Prevent infestation by placing floating row covers over young onion plants. Destroy any infested bulbs and practice crop rotation.

  3. Onion root maggots: These pests attack the roots of onion plants, leading to stunted growth and wilting. To control them, apply beneficial nematodes to the soil or use insecticidal soap according to package instructions.

Onion Diseases

  1. Fusarium basal rot: This fungal disease affects the base of onion plants, causing yellowing, wilting, and bulb rot. Rotate crops, practice good sanitation, and avoid overhead watering to prevent its spread. Remove and destroy infected plants.

  2. Downy mildew: A common fungal disease, downy mildew, causes yellow spots and fuzzy growth on onion leaves. Prevent the disease by ensuring proper airflow and avoiding excessive moisture on the foliage. Apply fungicides as a preventive measure.

  3. Botrytis leaf blight: Caused by the fungus Botrytis spp., this disease results in grayish-brown spots on onion leaves. Improve air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and promptly remove and destroy infected leaves.

  4. Pink root: Pink root is a fungal disease that affects onion roots, causing them to turn pink or reddish-brown. Practice crop rotation and plant resistant onion varieties to minimize its occurrence. Improve soil drainage and avoid overwatering.

Planting sprouting onions is a fantastic way to grow your own fresh and flavorful onions. Whether you choose to plant them in containers or in the ground, make sure to provide proper moisture, fertilize as needed, and take preventive measures against pests and diseases. With patience and care, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of your homegrown onions. Enjoy the satisfaction of incorporating them into delicious dishes, knowing that you grew them yourself.

Pruning And Thinning Of Onion Sprouts

Before we get started on the process of planting sprouting onions, it’s essential to understand what sprouting onions are and why they are different from regular onions. Sprouting onions are essentially onions that have started to grow green shoots from the bulb. These are often used in the early stages of growth, and they have a flavor that is different from fully grown onions.

Unlike regular onions used for cooking, sprouting onions are planted directly into the soil, not from bulbs – though you can occasionally propagate from an onion by planting the root end with the papery skin removed. While you can grow sprouting onions in a container, traditionally they are grown in a plot of well-drained soil.

After about a week of planting, the sprouting onions will start to show some growth. At this point, you should begin pruning and thinning them for better results. Pruning will help to focus nutrients and energy on the most promising sprouts. To prune your sprouting onions, use a clean pair of scissors to remove the weaker seedlings, leaving only the strongest.

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Thinning your onions involves removing some sprouts to give the others more room to grow. This process ensures that each sprout has enough space to develop into a mature onion bulb. Thinning is also critical in preventing overcrowding and associated fungi and bacterial pathogens that attack developing roots.

Another important aspect of onion growth is to water them regularly. The soil should remain slightly moist around the sprouts, so aim to water deeply once per week.

Harvesting And Storing Onion Sprouts

After about 90 days, your sprouting onions will be ready for harvesting. The greens will range in height from several inches to up to 2 feet. The longer leaves indicate more mature onion greens and larger bulbs. When you begin to harvest be sure to pull them gently to prevent uprooting the bulb.

After harvesting, you can store the sprouting onions by cutting off the top portion of the greens. You can then store them in a cool, dry place, like a cool pantry or cellar or refrigerator to extend the shelf life. You can also store them in a paper bag in your refrigerator’s vegetable compartment to keep them fresh for up to a month.

Creative Uses For Sprouted Onions In Cooking

One key reason onions remain a food staple is their versatility. Sprouted onions are no different. As a culinary ingredient, sprouted onions carry more nutrients and unique flavors than fully-grown onion bulbs. Here are just a few creative culinary uses for sprouted onions:

  1. As a garnish: Sprouting onions carry an aroma akin to leafy vegetables such as spring onions and chives, they can significantly enhance the appearance of meals as a garnish.

  2. As a salad ingredient: Chopped and mixed with greens, asparagus, diced bell pepper, tofu, nuts, and vinegar serve up an assortment of nutrients while adding a twist in the salad recipes.

  3. As a soup base: Having sprouted onions in the ingredient list of soups and stews gives meals a dense and crunchy feel and soaks up the soup stock with enhanced flavor.

  4. As a pizza topping: Combine this unique flavor with cheese and traditional pizza toppings to make an exceptional pizza pie.

  5. In stir fry dishes: Ideal for traditional Asian stir-fry dishes like chicken teriyaki, pepper steak, and fried rice, sprouting onions combine well with vegetables and meats to add take food to the next level.

Troubleshooting Common Problems With Sprouting Onions

While sprouting onions are generally easy to plant and maintain, there are a few common problems you may encounter.

  1. Poor soil: Sprouting onions require well-draining soil, as waterlogged soil may rot the growing bulbs or hinder the growth of shoots.

  2. OverWatering: Waterlogging soil may not be the only problem for sprouting onions; excess watering can lead to thin, watery shoots. In contrast, watering too little will result in dry, tough green leaves.

  3. Pests: Common pests that attack sprouting onions include aphids, onion thrips, and onion maggots.


Planting sprouting onions is relatively easy, and the rewards can be quite satisfying. With the right care and maintenance of the plants, you can have a constant supply of onions to use in your cooking. By pruning and thinning at the right time, harvesting, and storing properly, enjoying the unique flavors in your meals, you can experience this largely untapped culinary treasure with ease.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Sprouting Onions?

Springtime is the ideal time to plant sprouting onions. This is when the soil temperature is warm enough for them to grow.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Sprouting Onions?

It is important to have loose and well-draining soil for sprouting onions. First, remove any weeds and debris from the area. Then, till the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches and mix in some compost or fertilizer to provide nutrients for the onions.

Do I Need To Separate The Sprouts Before Planting?

No, it is not necessary to separate the sprouts before planting. You can plant them together, and they will grow into individual onion bulbs.

How Deep Should I Plant The Sprouting Onions?

You should plant the onion sprouts about 1 inch deep into the soil. This will provide enough moisture for the sprouts to grow without rotting.

How Often Should I Water The Sprouting Onions?

Onions require consistent moisture to grow, so it is recommended to water them at least 1 inch per week. However, if there is sufficient rainfall, watering once every week may be sufficient. Be sure to water deeply, allowing the water to reach the root zone.