How to Grow Onions — Extra Tips for Growing Onions

Happiness is... knowing how to grow onions so you end up with happy onions instead of disappointments... no crying allowed!

This page is full of extra tips on how to grow onions. For detailed growing instructions, shoot over to Growing Onions. 


how to grow onions

How strong do you want your onions?

An onion is an onion is an onion, right? Yes, but like 101 flavours of ice-cream, they all taste different. Same with onions...'s not only the variety, but also the onions' growing conditions that matter.

You can experiment, because onion growers differ somewhat in their opinions, but generally speaking the pungency of onions is increased:

  • When higher temperatures are experienced in the "bulbing' stage.
  • When the soil is kept barely damp rather than moist.
  • When onions are kept longer in storage — they become a lot more pungent.

how to grow onions – onion seedlings trimmed

When transplanting onion seedlings

If you are growing onions from seedlings or transplants, give the roots and tops a bit of a haircut before transplanting into the ground.

This trimming encourages strong new growth which will result in robust bulbs when mature. 

onion-bulb split – how to grow onions

Knowing how to grow prize winning onions

Commercial onion growers consider split or double onion bulbs undesirable and discount them.

A certain percentage of onions will be delinquents, but to know how to grow onions that win admiration, first choose a desirable variety and be fussy on the growing environment, such as:

  • Most big onions like plenty of space, except for the Sweet Spanish variety which prefer to be slightly crowded otherwise they may double or split if given too much space.
  • Well fertilized onions might produce a high yield, but also increase the ration of double or split onions.
  • When buying onion sets or growing your own, keep them small because the larger they are, they more doubles or splits will be produced.
  • When transplanting sets or seedlings, consider what you want...

    The deeper they are planted, at say 75mm (3"), the longer and narrower the bulbs will be, and also the more likely they will double or split.
    Shallow planting at about 38mm (1.5") will produce shorter, squat bulbs.

onion-sprouting-when-stored– how to grow onions

Stored onions growing again?

One day you're checking your stored onions and notice new green shoots. Shoot! You need to stop this because it will soften and spoil the onions.

No problem, simply light a flame, either a lighter, large match, gas cooker or similar and pass the roots of any shooting onions slowly through the flame... about 2-3 seconds should do.

This doesn't hurt the onions or impart any taste, but it shocks them into dormancy again. 

The last few tips are not about how to grow onions... rather, they are about how to use the mighty onion.

onions help clear air of viruses

Better than chemical air sprays

During the great plague of Europe, a most unhappy time, savvy households hung onion halves in their homes to absorb and kill the airborne germs.

As well as eating onions, this is a natural way you can help guard against infectious flu bugs.

Onions absorb odours too, so put a cut onion out to get rid of stale smoke, paint fumes, and other household sniffies. 

onions help bee stings

Stings and things

Stings hurt, and bees are often the stingers. If you are suddenly the stingee — ouch — scrape out the sting if it's a bee, then dash to the nearest onion, slice it and rub on the sting. You'll find the pain is alleviated because the raw onion juice counters the irritant of the sting. 

stuffed onions for health

Onion sensitivity... burp!

A few unlucky people re-act to onions and sometimes all plants of the onion family.

They can often tolerate cooked onions, but raw will give them nasty symptoms, usually stating with, excuse me... burp, or constricted respiratory symptoms.

Useful replacements in meals are:

  • Fennel bulbs can be used as a substitute, they are mildly sweet, and if you gently stir-fry them they almost taste as good as caramelised onions.
  • Another replacement to give an onion flavour to foods is asafetida (also called asafoetida or hing), a popular spice in India.

how to cut onions without tears

How to chop onions without crying

Onions have large cells and when they are cut or damaged, sulphur compounds escape. These form into a gas that diffuses into the air and can irritate mucus membranes and sensitive eye parts.

Don't cry, but try these tricks to stop tears from chopping onions:

1. The colder an onion is before cutting, the slower the release of volatile chemicals. Chilling onions works best, but watch you don't ruin the onions.

2. Cutting onions underwater or holding under a running cold tap delays the airborne gas from becoming airborne. At least make sure the onions are wet before you cut into them.

3. Nothing beats a good sharp knife to make kitchen life easier. Even more so when cutting onions because you do less damage to the cells. 

scissors to cut green onions – how to grow onions

Using onions as scallions or spring onions

Speaking of cutting onions, you can snip off some of the succulent green leaves to use as spring onions in your salads or stir-frys. In fact you can even grow ordinary kitchen onions as spring onions and harvest them before bulbing, or use when the bulbs are still small and tender and mild flavoured.

If you do sneak a few green leaves from your onion crop, take no more than 1/3 of them and leave at least 2.5cm (½") of each leaf at the bottom. That way your onions won't cry and will go on to be mature adults. 

onions make you healthy and strong–how to grow onions

Onion's benefits for health and strength

The Chinese, know how to grow onions and are the largest producers of the 100 billion pounds of onions grown worldwide each year.

Many populations of Asia have handed down the knowledge of onion's preventative and curative health properties, particularly when it comes to anti-cancer benefits.

It's not only onions, other Allium species such as, garlic, leeks, shallots and scallions all are used in culinary dishes and preparations for their medicinal assets.

Research shows that Shallots come tops for antioxidants and yellow garden varieties of onions have the most flavonoids and phenols.

So now you know how to grow onions, don't hold back on making them an indispensable part of your life. 

group of onions-tips on how to grow onions

Growing Onions Main page with essential onion growing information.

Onion Pests and Diseases Worthwhile checking this out.

List of Vegetables More vegetables.