Grow an onion.


I’m sure this has happened to you before. You buy too many onions because they’re on sale; you end up not using all of them and they sit for a while. Then, like magic, they start to sprout. While you can still eat sprouting onions, the flavor isn’t as sharp since the energy (sugar) is being used to grow the leaves. So what can you do with it besides composting?

Plant it!

Spring is in sight – and thank goodness because I’ve been antsy. I want to get out there in the garden but it’s still a bit too cold. That’s why I thought to plant my sprouting onion bulb and watch it grow indoors.

An onion won’t grow mini-me baby onions like a potato. They grow from seed. But an onion flowers! And the white flower is beautiful, looking similar to a Globemaster, as they’re in the genus Allium*.  You’ve seen Globemasters before. They have a long 3-5 foot skinny stem and a large, usually purple globe shaped flower. The appearance is unconventional. The plant looks like it belongs on the set of a Star Trek Original Series episode.

Onions are exceedingly hardy and there are several ways to plant an onion indoors**.  The onion can be sprouting already or you can use young onions or discarded onion roots of any kind: yellow, red, pearl, or green scallions!  Consider planting several kinds for an interesting arrangement.

Growing onions indoors – 3 ways:

  1. Set a whole onion in a clear glass bowl or cup with about an inch of the onion root (flat bottom side) in water. Set in a sunny location. I mention to use a clear bowl because it’s really neat to see and watch the roots grow.

  2. Don’t discard onion roots after using the bulb for cooking. Take the 1 inch root end and plant it in a pot at least six inches deep.

  3. For the already sprouting onion, plant the bulb in at least a 6 inch deep pot leaving the  tip of the sprout side exposed.

For all methods, water weekly or when dry and set in a sunny location. Onions need 6-7 hours of sun a day to flower. Expect your onion to start growing in about two weeks. It will flower shortly after.

*Leeks, garlic, and chives also belong to the  genus Allium.

**Consider planting onions in your garden outside, now before it warms up.  Onions are often overlooked as a garden ornamental but they’re stunning, deer resistant and easy to grow. Best of all, you can pick them up at the supermarket for cheap.