Keep your garden growing - see what to plant right now

Growing Onion

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
  S   T P P S   T      

(Best months for growing Onion in New Zealand - cool/mountain regions)

S = Plant undercover in seed trays T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings P = Sow seed

  • Easy to grow. Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 46°F and 86°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 2 - 4 inches apart
  • Harvest in 25-34 weeks. Allow onions to dry before storing.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Lemon Balm, Borage, Carrots, Beets, Silverbeet, Lettuce, Amaranth
  • Avoid growing close to: Peas, Beans
  • Red onion
  • Young brown onion

Onions come in a range of colours and shapes and sizes. Brown :- strong flavour and pungent. Usually good keepers for storage. White :- milder but still flavoursome. Keep fairly well. Red :- Mild, suitable to use raw in salads and sandwiches. The seedlings should be allowed to gain a bit of strength before planting out - usually 4 to 6 weeks will be enough. When they are big enough to handle, you can plant out. They start off looking like blades of grass.

They don't have to be in a greenhouse (though that would be ideal), any sheltered spot will do. The idea is to guard against rapid changes of temperature, especially at night.

Onions can be bought as young plants (sets or seedlings) from garden shops/nurseries to plant straight into garden beds. Choose your variety according to your climate and the time of year as some onions will grow better in the cooler months .

Onion bulbs should sit on the surface of the soil. Do not cover. They will take six to eight months to mature. Onions are ready when the tops start to dry and fall over. Pull them and leave to dry for a few days. Store in a cool, dry airy place. Use a net bag or make a string by weaving the tops together.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Onion

Brown onions roasted whole with other vegetables are delicious.
Red onions add colour to salads or stir-fry.

Your comments and tips

16 Jul 19, Donna (Australia - temperate climate)
I'm confused I Googled what fertilizer is required for onions and 1 search says onions don't want a lot of nitrogen and another search says onions are nitrogen hungry. ...so which is it?
17 Jul 19, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
It pays to have a think about what you are growing. All plants need some nitrogen. Now if you put a lot of N on the onions, don't you think you would have a big green plant above the onion bulb and probably little bulb. N produces leaf and plant structure. Now you are trying to grow an onion bulb so why would you go heavy with N. A little bit of common sense applies. Generally if you prepare your soil with compost manures etc and let it all rot in over 6-8 weeks with watering and digging it over, and maybe add a little general fert in the process then you would not have to fert the onions again. A general fert is sufficient to grow most things - look up and learn about crop rotation also.
24 Jun 19, Cassie (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
And make sure you plant varieties that cope with your particular climate. Many varieties dont cope well with heat and will bolt to seed
08 Jun 19, Ben Camenzuli (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
What is it that onions do not like as they grow ?? What is they like ? How to prevent onions going to seed ???
10 Jun 19, (Australia - tropical climate)
Too much N. Water them. Pick them before they seed.
24 May 19, Yvonne Hermann (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I bought a large bag of salad(red) onions but due to unfortunate circumstances didn’t get use a lot of them. I now have approx 70 shooting onions. Can I plant these and will they produce new onions? How long from planting to harvesting & is now the right season in Queensland? Thanks in advance Yvonne
18 Apr 19, SHIREEN WALTERS (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Can I plant spring onions and coriander now (middle April) ?
05 Mar 19, Carole (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
When is the best time to plant red onion seeds and what sort of fertilizer should I use do u use lime?
06 Mar 19, mike (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
Best time to plant - read the top of the page. Fertiliser - one with not a high N content. Lime - read up about using lime.
13 Feb 19, robert samuel walker (New Zealand - temperate climate)
when is the best time to put in red onion in christchurch
Showing 1 - 10 of 220 comments

Ask a question or post a comment or advice about Onion

Please provide your email address if you are hoping for a reply


All comments are reviewed before displaying on the site, so your posting will not appear immediately

Gardenate App

Put GardenGrow in your pocket. Get our app for iPhone, iPad or Android to add your own plants and record your plantings and harvests

Planting Reminders

Join 30,000+ gardeners who rely on GardenGrow. Subscribe to our free planting reminders email newsletter


Home | Vegetables and herbs to plant | Climate zones | About GardenGrow | Contact us | Privacy Policy

This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. GardenGrow is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
We cannot help if you are overrun by giant slugs.