Love them or loathe them, green onions pack a powerful flavor punch. They are very easy to grow in your own garden so the only mystery left to solve is just when to plant them.
When to plant green onions: Green onions are a biennial plant. If you leave the bulbs in the ground and only harvest the green shoots, you can have new growth every other year. Plant green onions in early spring. You can either directly sow the seeds two weeks before the last frost date or you can start them indoors eight weeks before the first frost date. Green onions have shallow roots so you want to be careful with moving them. They need soil that is well-fertilized, especially with nitrogen. Once the bulbs are the size of a pencil and the green shoots are 12 to 18 inches tall, you can harvest them. Cut the greens off above the ground but keep the bulbs in the ground. This way you will get a continuous harvest throughout late spring and early summer.
Planting Green Onions in Different Climates
Green onions need a cooler spring followed by warmer temperatures to grow. While you may be able to try green onions in a tropical climate, they will not be perennials and instead need to be treated as an annual.
Green onions may be ok in a dry climate. The issue is that they need moist soil so you will have to be punctual about watering.
A temperate climate is great for growing green onions. The mild winter and spring temperatures mean you can start the onions in your garden a bit earlier in the spring.
You can definitely grow green onions in a continental climate. However, you will definitely have to start the seeds indoors as the long, cold winters will shorten the growing season.
Even though green onions can overwinter in the ground, a polar climate will not have enough sunlight or warmth for them to properly grow.
A bit of Terminology
As most people become aware as they get older, different people have different names for the same thing. Obviously, this can become a bit confusing.
Green onions are also known as scallions. While they are technically a bit different, they are often treated the same.
Basically, green onions are types of onions that are picked before they are fully mature. However, this young taste is so similar to scallions that the care and harvest are the same.
It’s important to note that green onions are not the same as spring onions. While green onions have a very tiny bulb at their end, spring onions have much larger bulbs and a more distinct taste.
Furthermore, chives, while they look similar, are completely different from green onions.
Choosing Green Onions Seeds
There are many varieties of green onions you can choose from.
This variety has a mild flavor and is a great bunching onion. It does not form bulbs and grows fairly quickly.
This is a great variety if you want to eat the green tips of onions but also pickle the bulbs. The white part is a lot larger than other varieties.
With hollow leaves, this is a great variety to plant. It is an heirloom variety that was first introduced from Portugal to North America in the 1700s.
How to Plant Green Onions Seeds
In order to get a jump on the growing season, many gardeners prefer to start their seedlings indoors. This will allow you to start them out in a warm environment and then you can have green onions ready a lot earlier in the year.
Plant your seeds about eight weeks before the last frost date. For many people, this is sometime in March.
The soil you plant your seedlings in should be kept moist but not water-logged. Place them near a window that isn’t drafty and your seedlings will pop up in 10 to 14 days.
Once it is warmer out, you can then transplant the seeds. This should be done about two weeks before the last frost date.
Thin the seedlings as you plant them so that they are 2 inches apart.
If you don’t get around to sowing seeds early, you can still direct sow them into your garden. However, this should be after the last frost date and the temperature should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Plant your seeds about ¼ of an inch deep. The seeds are tiny so do your best to keep them in rows.
If you want, you can plant the seeds close together. Then, once they start to grow you can thin them so there are 2 inches between each plant.
Planting with others
A huge benefit of green onions is that their natural odor will deter pests. It is a great idea to plant green onions with other crops.
While many gardeners stick to rows of the same plant, you might want to be adventurous and plant your green onions among other crops, as a natural defense against pests.
Green onions do best in full sun. You want there to be at least six hours of sunlight where you plant them.
The only thing to consider is if you live in a very warm area. Then, your onions will do best in partial shade as this will prevent the hot temperatures from wilting the onions in the afternoon.
How to Water Green Onions
Green onions prefer a moist soil so you will have to really monitor their conditions, especially in the summer. While you will plant in the spring, there might not be enough rainfall and you will have to water by hand.
Try to water in the morning. Not only will this allow the plant to absorb the most amount of water, but it will also keep the plant’s foliage from becoming too wet and becoming moldy.
Drip irrigation is the best for green onions. It will allow a more continuous intake of water which will keep the soil moister than large bursts of watering.
Try to plant your green onions in soil that is properly aerated. They have shallow roots and need to be able to move through the soil with ease.
Dig up your garden before planting and add compost for a boost of nutrients. You can add a bit of sand in order to make the soil less dense.
How to Grow Green Onions
Green onions need a decent amount of fertilizer. While you should always start your planting season out with some compost, you can then add fertilizer throughout the year.
Aim to add a liquid fertilizer every four to six weeks. This will allow the nutrients to go into the soil and it won’t clump on the top of the ground.
Fertilizer that has slightly more nitrogen than phosphorous or potassium is recommended for green onions.
As we mentioned earlier, green onions are pretty good at repelling pests. However, you should still be on the lookout for some unwanted insects.
Aphids can be common with green onions. If you see them, blast the plant with water to get rid of them.
Green onions can also attract slugs. If this occurs, you can actually place shallow cups of beer, which the slugs will then drown themselves in.
Green onions do not take long before they are ready for harvest. You want the white bulb to be about the size of a pencil.
As for the length of the entire onion, the green part should be 12 to 18 inches long.
At the beginning of the growing season, it’s best to cut the green onions just above the soil. This way there is a chance the bulb will keep growing and produce more greens.
If you want to eat the white bulb, you can do so but then the plant will be gone from the ground.
How long do green onions take to grow?
Green onions take about 60 to 80 days before you can harvest them. If you start them off inside, they will be ready by late spring.
If you simply cut the onions off from the bulbs, the whole plant will continue to grow. You can get quite a few harvests in one season.
Most green onions are biennial plants. This means they will grow every two years.
This is a great plant if you want to have a perennial vegetable garden. If you’re an organized planner, plant one crop of green onions, leave the bulbs in the ground, and then the next year plant another crop.
The two different crops will alternate their readiness and you will have a continual supply of green onions.
Green onions are an excellent addition to many dishes. This plant is a biennial, meaning it will stay alive in the ground and pop up every two years. Plant your green onions in the spring for late spring to early summer harvest.