Growing Spring Onion

If you love tasty, versatile vegetables that only need minimal space and effort, then spring onions are an excellent choice!

Spring onions (also called scallions, bunching onions and salad onions) are from the same family as common globe onions but instead of having the large bulb at the base, spring onions have slender white stems with green strappy leaves on the top. They can be grown throughout most of the year. The bulb that form can be either white or red, depending on the variety.

Sowing spring onions

 Spring onions are easy to grow from seed and will grow in any fertile, well-drained soil, in full sun. For a continual harvest of spring onions in summer, sow at three-week intervals from March to August. To grow spring onions over winter, sow in September and harvest in spring.

  • Using a stick, the tip of a trowel or the corner of a rake head, draw shallow channels (known as drills) in the ground, 0.5cm (1/4in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart. 
  • Sow the spring onion seeds thinly in the drills and cover over with soil. Cover the ground with fleece to stop birds pulling up the young seedlings as they appear.
  • Sow new seeds every three weeks for a continual supply through summer.  

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Growing spring onions in pots

You can grow spring onions in just about any container, pot or box. The root system is quite shallow, and the plants do not take up too much room. To grow spring onions in pots, choose a container with good drainage holes and fill it with good potting compost. Scatter the seeds over the surface and cover with 1.5cm (1/2in) of compost. Water just enough to moisten the compost.

Fertilizer spring onions

Like most onions, spring onions only grow shallow roots, so most soil fertility must be in the top 3 to 6 inches of soil for the plants to access it. Any 1-2-2 ratio fertilizer works well, such as a 5-10-10 blend, which contains 5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus and 10 percent potassium. Adding 1 pound of this fertilizer to every 50 square feet of green onion bed, then working it into the top 6 inches of soil before planting, makes the nutrients available to young green onions as soon as they sprout.

Harvesting spring onions

Spring onions are usually ready to harvest eight weeks after sowing, when the plants are around 15cm (6in) tall and the bulbs are still small, less than 2.5cm (1in) across. Pull the plants up by hand as you need them, using a hand fork or trowel to help.

Varieties of spring onions

Spring onions can be white or red. Think of the Berletta pickled onion, the spring onion Red Ninja or the 'normal' spring onion White Lisbon. 

Buying spring onion seeds

The prices of the spring onion seeds vary between € 1.99 to € 2.59 (organic spring onion seeds).

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How to Regrow Green Onions

Did you know you can encourage the root ends to regrow new green onions? All you need is a starter bunch of green onions, a jar, and fresh water.

  • Slice off the ends of the bulbs, leaving roots attached.
  • Stand the bulbs root-end down in a small jar. Add enough water to cover the roots, but leave the top edges above water.
  • Set on a windowsill and keep the roots moist. After a few days, green shoots will emerge from the tops of the bulbs. After that, they'll grow very quickly.
  • Keep the roots submerged and change water at least once a week.
  • When the shoots are four or five inches long, you can plant them in the ground or a pot filled with good quality potting soil. Repotting is important because if you just keep the root ends in the jar, they will produce green shoots for a while but the plant will weaken eventually and stop producing.

Health benefits of spring onions

Spring onions contain vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, vitamin C to strengthen the immune system and vitamin K to promote faster wound healing. The onions also provide calcium to protect bones and teeth, potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, antioxidants to reduce inflammation, and other nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, and copper.

Spring onions are useful for adding a marked onion note to dishes, particularly when used raw!

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