How to Grow White Onions

How to Grow White Onions
Gracie Owens
Gracie Owens she/her - Author at YardPrep October 01, 2023

White onions are a versatile and flavorful addition to any kitchen garden. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a beginner, growing white onions can be a rewarding experience. In this article, we will discuss the key steps and techniques to successfully grow white onions, from choosing the right variety to harvesting and storing them. We will also explore some delicious recipe ideas to make the most of your white onion harvest.

How to Grow White Onions

To grow white onions, start by choosing a sunny location with well-drained soil. Plant onion sets or seeds in early spring, spacing them 4-6 inches apart. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and provide regular fertilizer. Harvest the onions when the tops have dried and fallen over. Cure them in a warm, dry place for a few weeks before storing.

Choosing the Right White Onion Variety

When it comes to growing white onions, selecting the right variety is crucial. Factors to consider include the size of the onion, its flavor profile, and its storage capabilities. Popular white onion varieties include White Lisbon, Snow White, and Crystal Wax. Consider your climate and growing conditions when choosing a variety, as some may be more suitable for certain regions.

Soil Preparation

Before planting white onions, it is important to prepare the soil properly. White onions prefer well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Start by removing any weeds or debris from the planting area. Loosen the soil with a garden fork or tiller, and incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and drainage.

Planting White Onions

White onions can be grown from sets or seeds. Sets are small, immature onions that are easier to plant and have a higher success rate. To plant sets, simply push them gently into the soil, leaving the tip exposed. If you prefer to start from seeds, sow them directly into the prepared soil, following the packet instructions for spacing and depth. Water the newly planted onions thoroughly to help them establish their roots.

Watering and Irrigation

Proper watering is essential for the growth and development of white onions. They require consistent moisture, but not excessive watering. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist, especially during dry spells. Avoid overhead watering, as this can increase the risk of diseases. Instead, use a drip irrigation system or water at the base of the plants to deliver water directly to the roots.

Fertilizing White Onions

Fertilization is important for the optimal growth of white onions. Before planting, incorporate a balanced fertilizer into the soil according to the package instructions. Once the onions have sprouted, side-dress them with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every three to four weeks to promote healthy foliage and bulb development. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth and smaller bulbs.

Managing Weeds

Weeds can compete with white onions for nutrients and water, so it is important to keep the planting area weed-free. Regularly inspect the beds and remove any weeds by hand or with a hoe. Applying a layer of mulch around the onions can also help suppress weed growth and conserve soil moisture.

Pest and Disease Control

White onions can be susceptible to pests and diseases, but with proper management, these issues can be minimized. Common pests that may affect white onions include onion maggots, thrips, and onion flies. To control pests, use insecticidal soap or organic pest control methods. Diseases such as onion rot and downy mildew can be prevented by practicing crop rotation, providing adequate spacing between plants, and ensuring good air circulation.

Harvesting White Onions

White onions are ready for harvest when the tops begin to yellow and fall over. Gently lift the onions from the soil using a garden fork or trowel, being careful not to damage the bulbs. Allow the harvested onions to dry in a warm, well-ventilated area for a week or two before storing.

Storing White Onions

To store white onions, remove any excess soil and trim the tops to about an inch above the bulb. Choose a cool, dry location for storage, such as a basement or pantry. Avoid storing onions near potatoes or other fruits and vegetables that release ethylene gas, as this can cause onions to spoil. Properly stored white onions can last for several months.

White Onion Recipe Ideas

White onions are not only great for growing, but they also add a delicious flavor to many dishes. Here are a few recipe ideas to inspire you:

White Onion Soup

Warm up with a comforting bowl of homemade white onion soup. Sauté sliced white onions in butter until caramelized, then add vegetable broth and seasonings. Simmer until the flavors meld together, and serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a crusty bread on the side.

Caramelized White Onions

Caramelizing white onions brings out their natural sweetness and adds depth to any dish. Thinly slice the onions and cook them slowly in a pan with butter or olive oil, stirring occasionally, until they turn golden brown. Use caramelized white onions as a topping for burgers, pizzas, or sandwiches, or incorporate them into pasta dishes or quiches.

White Onion Salsa

For a refreshing twist on traditional salsa, try making a white onion salsa. Finely chop white onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro, and mix them together with lime juice and salt. Let the flavors meld together for a few hours in the refrigerator, and serve with tortilla chips or as a topping for grilled meats or fish.


Growing white onions can be a rewarding experience, and with the right techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest. Remember to choose the right variety, prepare the soil properly, and provide adequate water, fertilizer, and pest control. Once harvested, store your white onions properly to maintain their quality and freshness. And don't forget to try out some delicious recipes that feature white onions as a key ingredient. Happy growing and cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do white onions take to grow?

White onions typically take around 90 to 120 days to reach maturity. However, green onions can be harvested earlier, usually within 20 to 30 days after planting the seeds.

Can you grow a white onion from an onion?

Yes, you can grow white onions from an existing onion. Simply plant a whole onion bulb in well-draining soil, leaving the top exposed. With proper care and watering, the onion will develop roots and start growing into a new plant.

Are white onions hard to grow?

White onions are relatively easy to grow, making them a great choice for beginners. They require well-draining soil, regular watering, and full sun exposure. With proper care and attention, you can successfully grow white onions in your garden.

How do you grow white onion bulbs?

To grow white onion bulbs, start by planting onion sets or seeds in well-prepared soil. Space them about 4-6 inches apart and ensure they receive full sun. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Harvest the bulbs when the tops have dried and fallen over, and allow them to cure in a dry, well-ventilated area before storing them.

What are the best soil conditions for growing white onions?

White onions thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.5. Adding compost or well-rotted manure before planting can improve the soil's fertility and drainage, creating optimal conditions for white onion growth.

Do white onions need a lot of water?

While white onions require consistent moisture, they should not be overwatered. It is important to keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, to prevent rotting. Aim to provide about 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation, and adjust based on the weather conditions.

Can white onions be grown in containers?

Yes, white onions can be successfully grown in containers. Choose a container with a depth of at least 8 inches to accommodate the onion bulbs. Ensure the container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Use well-draining potting soil and place the container in a sunny location. Regular watering and fertilizing will help the onions thrive in the container.