Growing Potted Spring Onions from an Onion

My blog is about cooking and, generally, food preparation, not gardening, so I hesitated a lot before writing this post. On the other hand, isn’t growing edible plants a preliminary stage to the food preparation? Anyway, I couldn’t resist sharing this amusing experiment with you. It concerns food, it is effortless, easy, organic and it saves money, so I hope some of you might be interested.

I am sure some of you have already found sprouting onions in their pantry or kitchen. Even though I try to store onions in a cool, dark and dry place, this accident happens from time to time. Some of them are still edible, but some are all wilted and mushy and go straight to the bin. Two weeks ago I had an idea to experiment with a healthy, “normal” onion and see if I could encourage it to do what other onions do spontaneously. I planted a big yellow onion in a pot filled with soil. I watered it every day, waited, waited and have almost lost hope when finally, after ten days, beautiful spring onions started to grow at an impressive speed.

I suppose all the experimented gardeners will laugh at my discovery, ย but, as someone whose plant-growing activities are limited to balcony containers, I was really surprised. I would have never suspected a simple onion planted indoors would produce spring onions and so quickly. As soon as the onion started to sprout I obtained 7 x 10-12 cm leaves in hardly four days! It has also made me happy because, given the lack of space on my balcony, undemanding, indoors growing herbs are always welcome.ย If they behave like my chives, they will grow back very quickly too. In short, if you don’t have a garden, and not even a balcony, one ordinary onion can supply you with organic, fresh spring onions and spare you not only the money, but also grocery shopping efforts.


Take a big onion and plant it, covering 1/2 of its height, in a pot filled with soil.

Place it in any room you prefer, as long as there is some light during the day.

Water it every day, keeping the soil moist and wait patiently until the spring onions appear.

UPDATE: After three weeks I have already the third “generation” of leaves growing from the same onion bulb. I keep on cutting and it keeps on growing.


54 Replies to “Growing Potted Spring Onions from an Onion”

  1. Looks like a perfectly fine green onion specimen to me Sissi, what a great idea! I was just looking through my (flooded) herb garden today and found some mini carrots sprouting about – it’s such a great joy growing a little of your own food, isn’t it? Great work!

    1. Thank you so much, Martyna. You are lucky to have a real garden! You are right, even grown in a pot or in a balcony container, it’s always such a pleasure to have one’s own edible plants!

  2. That’s looks so healthy! I’ve tried doing this many times but failed. My onion went all mushy and rotted. And even when it doesn’t, and the sprouts grow nicely, they don’t grow very tall. After about 2″ they just turn skinny and brown at the tips. Over-watering, under-watering?

    1. Thank you, Ping. Have you planted the whole onion or just the half as I did? Somehow I thought it might rot and this is why only the lower half is covered with soil. I watered it every day and now that it started to grow, I do it whenever the soil gets dry. Try one day planting just the lower half. Good luck!

      1. Yeah, I did the half buried onion and when that failed, I tried just sitting it on the soil without burying it … nothing worked. ๐Ÿ™

        1. I’m so sorry… Then maybe you have watered too much indeed… I hope you manage it one day! I’m not very skilled with plants (I tried growing shiso three years in a row, tried even putting seeds in the fridge like one of kind bloggers advised and have never managed…), so I am sure you will grow spring onions it one day.

  3. This is great Sissi! I too lack a big garden to grow vegetables etc so this would come in so useful! I will have to give it a go and hope that it’ll turn out as nicely as yours. My fingers aren’t very green! hahaha

    1. Thank you, Sylvia. If you use spring onions as often as I do (in so many Asian dishes…), I would strongly recommend it! I was surprised how easy it was.

  4. I planted onions and garlic in pots on the flat roof of my garage, Sissi, and I can hardly wait to see some action there. I tried garlic in the garden last year, but it wasn’t great plus I was a bit hesitant as I am unsure of what the soil content would be in the city. This idea is wonderful, I can certainly see how it would be very useful for a snip-it here and there. I am glad you did post, after all.

    1. Thank you, Eva. Unfortunately I don’t live in a house but in a flat, so I don’t have a garage roof, but it sounds like an excellent space to plant vegetables or herbs!

  5. I see that you are as adventurous in gardening as you are in cooking Sissi. This is a great idea — and something that everyone could do very easily. I’ve missed dropping by your site….my mom has been staying with me the past few days and I’ve haven’t been able to get online.

    1. Thank you so much, Barb! I was scared at the beginning I would waste an onion, but then I decided it was worth it. No problem, I hope you have had wonderful time with your mum. I know how difficult it is to keep up with blogging and visiting when friends or family come.

    1. Thank you, MJ. It is obvious probably for many gardeners, but for me it was a bit like magic…

  6. Sissi, how fun is this experiment! I didn’t know green onions came from actual onions, because we grew ours from seeds last year, and the roots certainly didn’t look like onions. Are they the same thing?

    1. Thank you, Jeno. Actually green onions are very young onions with small white bulbs and sometimes it’s another variety with small bulbs too, but I have just discovered green onion leaves can be obtained from an old ordinary onion! The taste is the same, although I don’t have the small white bulb, but I cannot complain ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was much easier than growing from seeds or seedlings.

    1. Thank you so much, Reem. I hope your spring onions grow as quickly as mine does!

  7. I’m so glad you posted this Sissi! I absolutely agree that growing is a necessary prelude to eating (!) and love learning about different tips, tricks – especially simple ones ;-). At one time, a had a nice little garden going in our small backyard – a beautiful kiwi plant (if you can believe in Ontario) – hearty raspberries and an assortment of ground greens. Long story short, our doggie has left us with nothing but a lilac tree (and even that is in danger of her ravaging ways…) – all to say, I am very happy to have this recipe for my window ledge ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love this idea (and I do occasionally come across sprouting onions in my pantry – lol). Can’t wait to try this.

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I see that having a house and a garden is not enough to be able to grow fruit and vegetables! At least you have a lilac tree. Lilac smell is wonderful though. I would love to have one just in front of my windows. I hope you try this spring onion growing. (Mine have grown at least 2 cm since yesterday!).

        1. Hi, Kelly! It’s weird… In the meantime I have used some leaves, but when I was answering your comment it had grown about 2 cm. I suppose it will not grow so quickly all the time, but I’m having fun observing it.

        1. Hi, Angie. Thank you for letting me know. I cross my fingers and hope you will have lovely spring onions in about ten days!

  8. That’s an interesting experiment. I haven’t tried that. When I was younger we used to put cotton wool on a saucer, soak the wool in water then add beans and watch them sprout. When the shoots got to a certain size we would transplant them into soil – I loved doing this! xx

    1. Thank you, Charlie! We also did the same at school! Now I sometimes make sprouts still in the same way (but I eat them, without further planting). Thanks for reminding me I have to make some this year.

  9. I live in a tiny studio flat so the best i can do is a few pots of herbs. the basil is growing beautifully now that it’s more sunny(:

    good luck with spring onions, and please do keep updating us on how it goes! If ti works out, I might give it a go too(:

    1. Hi Shuhan, it does work of course! At least I have already added it to three dishes I think! and it still grows. I have cut up the four longest leaves and there are still four more growing. I would never get as many spring onions for the price of one onion. Usually 1 kg of onions costs as much as a small bunch of spring onions here. And of course there is a pleasure of growing it on my own ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thank you, Karen. It must sound ridiculous to such a great gardener like you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. I’m happy it reminds you the school days and hope your children will enjoy the experiment.

  10. Hi Sissi, you can do something similar with leeks – the ones which have a clump of roots on the bottom especially. It’s a fun project to do – we do it here sometimes – sometimes just for fun, sometimes we’ll yield results.

    1. Hi, Charles. Thanks for the idea although since I don’t use leek greens often, I suppose the green onions are more useful (I use them all the time).

  11. I love growing plants, especially the edibles one ๐Ÿ™‚
    I yet have to try onion…yours looks that is doing really good!
    Hope you are having a great week Sissi!

  12. Dear Sissi,

    This reminds me about a time when I went for an extended vacation and saw a few of my onions in the pantry sprouting spring onions like your photo. We call them shallots in Australia and I love them especially in chinese cooking. The taste different when diced into small rings or julienne finely and it makes an elegant “v” shape for garnishes.

    1. Very interesting… And how do you call shallots? (small oval onions). i’m sometimes completely lost in the different English languages spoken all around the world.

  13. I share your excitment… I love to watch my plants grow it always fascinates me. I did the same experiment a few months back, unfortunately my plants didnt survive the heavy rains (realy humid monsoon) so they dies after 2 weeks. I know my parents have troubel with may beetles when they plant theirs, so keep an eye out for insects!

    1. Such a pity! I hope you can plant them once more. I hate the way the weather can destroy plants. Even my humble balcony plants were in danger a week ago: there was a hailstorm and almost 1/2 cm diameter balls were falling on my small sprouting herbs. Luckily I was at home and took all the containers inside. I have never heard of may beetles. Maybe they don’t like balconies ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have however problems with some other insects. Thanks for the warning!

  14. Hi Sissi – inspired by this great post, I planted an onion yesterday as part of my mother’s day gardening adventure. I will keep my fingers crossed for it to sprout – such a gorgeous time of year – I am hopeful!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you Sissi.

    1. Thank you, Kelly for your comment. I couldn’t answer at once because I was away this weekend, but I’m so excited to learn you have started the onion experiment ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope it will be a good success (my onion is having a “second generation” of “leaves” now and keeps on growing!). I cross my fingers for yours!

  15. Sissi, I had to drop in to tell you what a wonderful success your method was!! In fact, I snapped a photo of my beautiful onion sprouts to share with you – I used them in our turkey burgers the other night (I wish I had snapped the photo before snipping the tall greens though ;-)). Anyway, I hope to get it up on my blog sometime this summer…(I am dreadfully behind in my posts… oh well, life is busy with little (big) ones ;-)).

    1. Kelly, thank you so much for dropping by and telling me this. I was worried it wouldn’t work. My onion produced three or four generations of greens before dying. (I had to throw away all the soil with the onion because it was completely invaded with onion roots).

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