The Garden

How to Grow Green Onions and Collect Your Own Seeds

I haven’t bought green onions from the store for 7 years . . .

because I haven’t needed to.

I grow green onions in my garden.

These are also known as green bunching onions. They don’t form a bulb.

I started with green onion sets from the store. Several green onions grow in a container, and they are tiny, like green hair growing from the ground. I purchased 2 six-pack containers of onions.

I carefully squeezed each one from the container and separated the plants, tucking each one into the ground with my bare hands, carefully putting the root in place and spacing each one a couple of inches (4 cm)  from the next one.

(I recommend doing this in the late evening to reduce the stress on the plants. Water them well after you have planted them).

Green Onions with scissors The Prudent Homemaker

In a few months they had grown big enough to start cutting from them. Rather than pulling the entire plant out from the ground, you can just cut the green parts. I like to cut “side” shoots from different onions, but you can also just snip all the way across the top and leave some in the ground.

The plant will regrow.

Green Onion Row The Prudent Homemaker

Since I cut side pieces and not the whole thing, the plant gets the opportunity, after growing in the garden for 11 months, to go to seed. It sends up a tougher shoot in the middle of the onion that looks like all the other parts, but it is thicker, and it has a little bud on it.

Green Onion Flower The Prudent Homemaker

The bud opens after a few days.

When it is fully open, it makes a beautiful flower. The bees love to come visit. They pollinate the flower, which means in a few more weeks, you’ll have seeds.

Green Onion Seeds The Prudent Homemaker

 

As the flowers die and dry out, you are left with many black seeds. Ignored but watered, they will fall to the ground and grow, making new green onions for you. You can also collect them to plant them where you would like (the seeds tend to fall a row width over from where you had them growing before as well as beneath the old plants). I cut the heads off several that were full of seeds and turning dry. I put them on a half-sheet pan and banged them on the pan a few times until the seeds fell out onto the pan. I’ll let the seed dry a bit more before storing them.

A little while after the onions are done dropping seeds, the entire plant will die. By that time, new plants are already growing under the old ones.

Onion Seeds The Prudent Homemaker

 

If you’re looking to start green onions and want to collect seeds like I do, you can start from seeds or plants. You can also grow green onions from grocery store onions! Just don’t use the white part and roots, and plant those in the ground. The onions will start regrowing fairly quickly.

Green onions can also be grown in a pot, if you don’t have a place to grow them in the ground. You can plant a pot full of thickly seeded green onions and snip from them as you need them. They can be grown in both full sun and partial shade.

They can be directly sown in the garden both spring and fall.

We get one or two frosts a year here and the onions do just fine in the winter (the coldest it gets here is 22ºF for a few days). If you live in a cooler climate, you may want to overwinter your green onions in a cold frame, under a cloche, in the house, or in a greenhouse to keep them growing into the next year.

Growing green onions without buying seeds every year is one of the ways I am fighting inflation. I can cut fresh green onions from my garden all year long. I have also found that these do better in the heat than bulb onions, so I am increasing the number of them in my garden this year by making sure to plant many of the seeds in some new places in the garden, including in the front yard.


Note: affiliate links

Burpee sells seeds for these. They are labeled “Bunching Onion, Evergreen Long White” and are $4.95 for 850 seeds. You may be able to find them locally in a smaller amount.  If not, they have a few deals going right now:

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The last time I saw a bunch of green onions at the store, the price was 50 cents! I can easily cut that many three times a week ($1.50 x 52 weeks = $78 saved). I am definitely coming out ahead by growing my own.

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29 Comments

  1. Yes pots for my veggies make a significant difference. The slugs do not seem to climb up the sides. My problem is in the strawberry bed which is an old “car bed” I bought it for my grandson. His mother wasn’t interested in it so I used it in the garden. My grandson loves it as a strawberry bed….it is just keeping those slugs away. That is where the pans of beer come in handy. 🙂

  2. I read the glass option thru ‘one hundred dollars a month’ blog. I tried and it works! But i dont use them enough. Do u use them as a substitute to white onions, brandy?Adriana

  3. Brandy-They do cost that much now. I live in a high COLA area, though. As you always say, we all have different prices and need to find and know our own “rock bottom” prices. All food is also taxed here, so saving on the cost of the list price of food actually saves more, as it saves paying the food tax too.Timothy Bean- I found that once they have extensive roots in the glass, I can stick them in a small plant pot with potting soil and they’ll stay alive “all season”, even indoors and without much, if any, natural light. They will then very slooooowly re-grow any parts that I cut. I don’t use a lot either, so a bunch or 2 can often last me a season.

  4. Brandy, I think you are very wise to look at the foods in WWII. Not only is it a good idea to have seasonings handy to feed your own family, but onions& garlic, as well as herbs, would be a good tradeable commodity in a food shortage due to any reason. For us, the major disaster threat is an earthquake, which could disrupt shipping for some time if a lot of roads were broken up. Plain beans & rice gets pretty boring after a while, & seasonings can do a lot to change up a meal & make it taste like something different for your family.

  5. I love having green onions in my garden. They winter beautifully in my raised garden bed. I still have most of the original plants and they keep sending up new blossoms and reseeding themselves. I also dry some of them and keep them in an old water bottle to use in soups and other recipes during the winter. Keeping them in an old water bottle allows me to shake out the amount I need directly into my dish.

  6. Adriana, I use them in some recipes instead of yellow onions.I don’t use them in all recipes in their place; I stocked up on yellow onions for .20 a pound in the fall. I dehydrated many of those onions to use later in the year, but I still have some that are fresh (from December). I use them in place of them in some recipes, or when I just want to add a few onions. In some recipes, they are the right onion to use, too. I grow chives too, and this year I am growing leeks again so that I can cut down on the need for yellow onions. (I chose an heirloom variety of leek so that I can collect seeds).

  7. Brandy, I can grow onions in our unheated greenhouse. Last year, DH moved it and then got sick and has not re-established it, so I was out of luck last winter and he is so covered up with projects he needs to complete, I am not holding my breath about the greenhouse, so I am finding other ways. I love Swiss chard, too! I’ve planted it outside in the spring, dug it up and replanted it in the greenhouse in the fall, and then moved it back outside for another season out of doors. I just kept cutting off the flower stalks so the strength would go into the leaves. It was amazing! I probably could have kept it up if I wanted to. I really like to incorporate the humble dandelion into our food. About 2 ounces has 538% of the Vitamin K that is suggested. I just love things (like your bunching onions) that sort of grow on their own. Foraging is fun. And I suppose it may become necessary at some point.

  8. I live in Montgomery AL and was wondering if I am behind the planting times for Swiss Chard and green onions. Both sound like a fine addition to my garden. I googled it but really couldn’t find a definitive answer.

  9. I agree with you, Peony. I live in a big city. I am a teacher in a high-achieving school district. Life is fast-pace. But I have tried to balance that by having a home that reflects simplicity and frugality. It is my haven. I love reading Brandy’s blog and she gives me so many ideas. She proves that happiness is not in what we spend or what we have. Thank you Brandy!

  10. loves2spin, are you aware that consuming 500 times the suggested value of Vit K could create problem with blood clots? Vit K shots are given to newborns after birth to make sure their levels are high enough to clot, so I would be careful about consuming “too much of a good thing”. Individuals who are on blood thinners also need to be careful about consuming Vit K, as it can inactivate the blood thinner.

  11. I live in the Mountain West. It is high elevation (around 6,000ft) & gets well below 0 in winter.Yet, the green onions I started from an inexpensive seed packet did great here last year. I trimmed them for dinners until fall (they never grew seed balls- I was cutting them constantly). The stumps turned dry in winter, but I didn’t dig them out.The same plants started growing again early this spring. Even though it is snowing here today, I have been harvesting green onions and spinach to add to dinners for over a month! I don’t use cold frames.Just wanted readers to know there are lots of climates where onions do well.

  12. Oh Brandy i love leeks! My family seems to enjoy them as well. I only first tried them in a potato/ leek gratin. Williams sonoma holds cooking classes for free and when i lived near one, my mother and i would go. They made that for a thanksgiving day dish. Been making it every yr since. Never use leeks otherwise. I did use some leftover leeks in a quiche and it came out quite good. SJ… Gonna def do that! Adriana.

  13. Funny that you mentioned the song download – I was just writing about making the swap from iTunes to Pandora. It’s so easy to go crazy with the downloads, which can get very expensive! I’m so glad you were able to get it for free – who new the library had music downloads?!This week I had a successful garage sale, brought all lunches to work, cooked frugally, and gave frugal gifts including several Mother’s Day bouquets from the garden.A full list of accomplishments here:http://simpleeasyfrugal.blogspot.com/2014/05/frugal-accomplishments_12.html

  14. I love onions in my cooking.. They are so versatile. Your mention of onion shortage in WWII reminded me of the show I watch and have mentioned, FOYLES WAR. There was a drawing for an onion, ONE onion, and everyone wanted to be the winner, after not having onions for years.

  15. Thanks for the info! I live in the Mountain West at 5300 ft and was wondering about how these would do here. I have a yard, but no sunny place to put pots inside over the winter.

  16. Shortly after you posted this article, my kind neighbour gifted me with a big handful of green onions, including the roots! I am excited to get them into the ground!

  17. i cut some heads from onions yesterday that i had planted seeds last year. will plant them when they dry out. still enjoy your blogs very much. i wanted to ask you , how you made apple cider vinegar?

  18. I planted these organic seeds in a couple of big pots and have some 4″‘s at least now of thin hairy bunches with black seeds it seems (They are hard) and attached at the ends of these.
    Just making sure that is normal?
    Are these hard black things seeds or something else?
    I am planting them in the ground 2mrw and want to make sure they are not something else.

  19. Yes, this is exactly what green onion seedlings look like! When they get a bit larger you can dig them a bit and plant them a bit more spread apart if you like (best to do that during the cooler evening hours to allow them the night to recuperate from the transplant).
    Yes, those hard black things are seeds!

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