Tips for Planting and Growing Onions Outdoors

A row of green-topped yellow onions, planted in a garden bed, sit in a row of dirt as they await harvesting.

Onions are the stalwarts of the vegetable garden, adding versatility to your pantry. Whether you're garnishing your favorite dish or elevating a culinary creation, onions provide the essential flavor base.

To harvest robust and flavorful onions from your own backyard, you'll need to grasp the essentials. In this guide, we’ll share valuable tips for planting and growing onions outdoors, ensuring that your gardening endeavors are successful.

Choose an Onion Variety To Suit Your Climate

Onions are photoperiodic plants, which means that daylight length triggers their bulb formation. Opt for an onion type that's harmonious with your local climate.

  • Short-day onions: Thriving in the South, these varieties require 10 to 12 hours of daylight to form bulbs. They boast a milder flavor and are perfect for those who appreciate a subtler taste.
  • Intermediate/neutral-day onions: Best suited for the central regions of the US, these onions need 12 to 14 hours of daylight. Look forward to harvesting sweet onions perfect for salads and sizzling on the grill.
  • Long-day onions: Flourishing in the northern climate, these varieties demand 14 to 16 hours of daylight and reward you with a robust, often potent flavor. Ideal for stews and stir-fries where their taste can shine.

Start Your Own Onion Plants

Growing your own seedlings is a great way to save money on your gardening expenses. Plus, you’ll have more control in choosing the variety you want. If you buy onion plants from a gardening store, you’ll have to choose from their limited selection. When it’s time to transplant them into the garden, seedlings will often begin growing faster than their store-bought counterparts.

Know When and How To Plant Onions

Early spring is traditionally the best time to plant onions, but you must tailor the timing to your specific climate for optimal results. Once you’ve decided on the right planting schedule, you can put them in the ground. Here are some pointers.

  • Elevation is key: Cultivate raised rows and integrate compost with your soil to lend your onions the height they need. Position your onion plants one inch deep, with a six-inch gap between each. Keep your rows spaced a foot apart for easy access and airflow.
  • Raised beds: These are a stellar choice for onions because they afford excellent drainage and nutrient-rich environments where your onions can thrive without hindrance.

Make Sure To Fertilize and Provide Adequate Water

Onions are shallow rooted, which means they need plenty of nutrients at the surface. Maintain moist soil to nurture them for the best results. Onions also require lots of nitrogen to start with, but you should taper off the fertilizer as they begin to form bulbs.

These tips for planting and growing onions outdoors will ensure you’ll get a bountiful harvest. To enjoy them for the longest time possible, make sure to store them properly in net produce bags for maximum airflow. At Globe Bag Company, we offer a range of produce packaging products, whether you’re selling at a farmers’ market or sharing your crop with friends.