Green onions add a bright, tangy crunch to any dish. The taste is even better when you grow them yourself!
If you’re interested in growing some of these delicious onions in your garden this year, you’re in luck. Learning how to plant green onions is simple and this guide has everything you need to know to get started.
Soon you’ll be growing green onions and enjoying that fresh-from-the-garden taste.
What You Need to Grow Green Onions
Planting green onions isn’t complicated, but it starts with providing the right growing conditions. Thankfully, green onions aren’t too picky. Here’s what they need to grow.
A sunny location makes green onions thrive. Plant them in a corner of the garden that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. More is even better.
Green onions do best in rich, fertile soil. Amend your garden beds with an inch or two of compost before planting green onion seeds.
The soil pH should be around 6.0-7.0. A loose, loamy, or slightly sandy texture is best. Good drainage is important to help prevent root rot.
For container growing, choose a nutrient-rich, high-quality potting soil like Miracle-Gro.
Temperature and Weather
Like other onions, green onions grow best in cool weather. This makes them ideal for spring and fall gardens.
Growing green onions is possible in both dry and humid conditions, so you can grow them pretty much anywhere. In dry conditions just make sure they receive adequate moisture by watering regularly.
When to Plant Green Onions
Green onion seeds aren’t the easiest to germinate. Planting them at the right time makes a big difference!
Planting Green Onions in Spring
If you’re starting seeds indoors, plant green onion seeds 8-10 weeks before the last frost.
For direct sowing, wait until all danger of frost has passed. The soil temperature needs to be at least 45 degrees for green onion seeds to germinate, but warmer is better.
For fall gardens, direct-sow seeds in late summer as soon as temperatures start to ease. You can continue planting green onion seeds well into fall.
Since they grow quickly, green onions are easy to plant over and over again. Plus most varieties can handle a light frost. With continuous planting, you can keep harvesting and enjoying fresh green onions until winter arrives.
How to Plant Green Onions
Planting green onions can be done in a few different ways. Start them indoors, outdoors, or in a container. Here’s how to do each method.
Starting Green Onion Seeds Indoors
Indoor seed starting is a good way to get a headstart on the growing season. To start green onions indoors, all you need are a few simple tools.
Grab your container and fill it with the seed starting mix. Press the mix down gently and sprinkle green onion seeds on top. Add a little bit more seed starting mix over the seeds and water gently with a spray bottle.
Keep the seeds moist to encourage germination. Seedlings should emerge in 1-2 weeks. As soon as you see green sprouts, make sure the seedlings have access to light. Put them directly in front of a sunny window or use a grow light.
Move seedlings outdoors once the last frost has passed.
Loosen the soil where you’re going to plant and make sure it’s rich and fertile. If needed, add compost, leaf mold, or other organic matter to enrich the soil before planting green onion seeds.
Once the soil is ready, sow seeds ¼ inch deep. Keep the soil well watered while seeds are germinating. Once sprouts grow to reach 1-2 inches, thin them to two inches apart.
Planting Green Onions in Containers
Container planting makes it possible to grow green onions year-round. Containers can be moved depending on the weather; chasing the sun on cooler days or getting a bit of shade during hot weather. They can even be brought indoors.
To grow green onions in a container, choose a pot that’s at least six inches deep. Green onions have shallow roots so they don’t need a huge container.
Fill the pot with potting soil and press it down gently. Sprinkle seeds over the top, sowing them about ¼ inch deep. Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist as seeds are germinating.
Caring For Green Onions as They Grow
Once the seeds have germinated, green onions are easy to care for. Here’s what they need to grow.
These types of onions have shallow roots so they dry out faster than many other garden plants.
For the healthiest plants, water your green onions regularly to keep them from drying out.
Exactly how often you need to water depends on the weather. If you’re getting regular rain, you don’t need to water as often. In very hot or dry conditions, you’ll need to water daily and in some cases even twice a day.
A good rule of thumb is to water green onions whenever the top ½ inch of the soil is dry.
Green onions are hungry little plants. They’re heavy feeders that can quickly suck up nutrients in the soil. To keep them happy and healthy, additional fertilizer can be a big help.
Choose a nitrogen-rich fertilizer like Hoss Organic to encourage green growth.
Apply the first dose of fertilizer about three weeks after planting. Then continue fertilizing by adding another application every 2-3 weeks during the growing season.
How to Prevent Bolting
Once spring turns to summer, green onions slow down. As the weather heats up, they’ll eventually bolt. Long stems emerge with flowers. The flowers are edible and have a light scallion flavor, but once you see them the flavor of the green onions will start to decline. Soon after that the plants will die.
To enjoy your green onion plants longer, pluck the flowers off as soon as you see them start to emerge. Provide some shade during the hottest part of the day and keep the plants well watered.
How to Harvest Green Onions
Green onions can be harvested almost any time! Some people harvest very early and use them as microgreens. Others wait until the entire onion is fully developed and harvest the whole thing at once.
If you’re interested in just the green parts, you can snip those off any time, leaving the bulb in the ground. It will continue to produce more green growth.
To harvest the entire onion and get those spicy white parts, pull up the entire bulb when the diameter of the green onion is about the size of a pencil.
After harvesting, rinse green onions and allow them to dry on a paper towel.
Wrap the green onions in a fresh paper towel that’s very slightly damp. You don’t want it to be too wet or it could cause the onions to rot. Place the wrapped onions in a plastic storage bag and keep them in the fridge.
Where to Get Onion Seeds
You may also be able to find them in stores during the spring and summer months. Many stores carry seeds including hardware stores, garden centers, big box stores like Walmart and Target, and even dollar stores.
For the best selection, shop online or go to a garden center that carries a large stock of seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are green onions the same as scallions?
There’s some debate around this topic so it’s no surprise that people are often confused! The answer is: in most cases yes, but sometimes no. Clear as mud, right? Here’s why.
Scallions are flat onions that don’t develop a round bulb. Most green onions sold in grocery stores are scallions. So that makes the answer yes! These are the same thing.
The tricky part is that green onions may also be grown from regular onions, like yellow or red onions. When harvested very young, before the bulb develops, these types of onions look just like scallions. But they’re not actually scallions.
What about chives and spring onions?
These are both delicious, but neither of them are green onions.
Chives are similar in appearance and flavor but they’re much smaller than green onions. They’re typically considered an herb rather than a vegetable.
Spring onions are also very similar to green onions but with one major difference. The bulbs are bigger and rounder.
Can you regrow green onions?
Yes! Even after harvesting the bulb, you can still grow more green onions.
Cut the green stem off the onion leaving about an inch of white. Put the bulb in a shallow jar, roots down. Cover the bulb and roos with water, leaving the top exposed.
This works best if you have several bulbs together so they don’t fall over.
The green stems start to grow almost immediately. You’ll see the beginnings of new growth in just a few hours. After a few days, you can snip off a bit of the green to use in cooking.
Wrapping Up How to Plant Green Onions
Grocery stores just can’t match the fresh, rich flavor of homegrown vegetables. And since learning how to plant green onions is so simple, there’s no reason to go back to storebought!
For more on planting and growing onions, check out our Onions page. If you enjoy growing plants from seed, you won’t want to miss our Seed Starting blog post series where you’ll find tips, tricks, growing guides, and so much more to help you grow anything your heart desires!