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How to Cultivate and Harvest Bunching Onion

How to Cultivate and Harvest Bunching Onion

You won’t find the bunching onion starring in culinary magazines or headlining celebrity chef cookbooks. Instead, you’ll usually see it supporting the main dishes, quietly sitting in its corner, oblivious to its own charm and beauty.

It’s as if it’s saying, “I’m just here to add a dash of nuanced flavor to your salads, no need for the paparazzi.”

But make no mistake, these unassuming green stalks unleash a world of flavor that drums up the drama whenever they turn up. Stick around and let’s unveil the secrets of growing the bunching onion.

What are bunching onions?

What are bunching onions
Image by Food & Wine

A bunching onion is also known as a green onion, scallion, or spring onion. It’s known for its long, slender green stalks and mild onion-like taste. 

Bunching onions are in the same family as regular onions, garlic, and leeks. But they’re different because they don’t grow big bulbs underground. 

Instead, they make groups of small, long bulbs at the bottom of their stems. People like them because they’re easy to grow, can handle the cold, give a steady supply, have long hollow stems, taste mild, and can be used in many ways.

How to Grow Bunching Onions

How to Grow Bunching Onions
Image by AZ Animals

Some homeowners love to grow from seeds, while others prefer to get bulbs or sets for transplant. Either way, we’ve got both approaches covered!

How to Start from Seed

Ease of ActivityEasy ●○○○○
SpeedModerate (from seed germination to full growth)
Materials NeededBunching onion seeds, well-draining soil, containers or garden bed, water, sunlight

Grow bunching onions from seed easily. Just make sure to follow the instructions and you’ll be well on your way to grow, harvest, and enjoy them!

How to Start Bunching Onion from Seed
1. Get the seeds and use well-draining soil. 
2. Prepare well-draining soil in containers or a garden bed. 
3. Plant the seeds according to the recommended depth. 
4. Ensure the soil is kept consistently moist. 
5. Place the containers or sow the seeds in a location that receives adequate sunlight. 
6. Provide regular watering and proper sunlight.

Transplanting Bunching Onions

Expertise LevelBeginner to Intermediate ●●○○○
Estimate CostsLow (seeds) to Moderate (sets, soil amendments)
Tools and Materials NeededSeeds or sets, compost or organic matter, nitrogen-rich fertilizer, organic mulch, pest control methods, garden shears or scissors
Possible RisksOverwatering, pest infestations, excessive fertilization

Growing bunching onions is pretty easy and simple. While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do it, you’d benefit from learning how to cultivate them properly.

How to Grow Bunching Onions By Transplanting
1. Pick the right time.
Bunching onions can be grown year-round, but when to plant depends on your local weather. In cooler areas, you can plant in early spring or late summer for a fall harvest.
In warmer regions, go for fall planting for winter harvesting or early spring for a summer crop.

2. Select the ideal spot. 
Pick a sunny to partly shaded spot in your garden. Bunching onions like the sun but can handle some shade.
Make sure the soil drains well since onions don’t like sitting in wet soil. Raised beds or pots work if your soil doesn’t drain well.

3. Prepare the soil. 
Bunching onions prefer loose, well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter. Add compost or aged organic material to improve the soil.
Go for a slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of around 6.0 to 7.0.

4. Plant the bunching onions.
You can grow bunching onions from seeds or small bulbs called sets, depending on your preference. For seeds, plant them about a quarter of an inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows, with 12 inches between rows.
If you’re using sets, plant them 1 inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart, with the pointed end facing up.

5. Give each onion enough space. 
Thin out overcrowded seedlings, and you can use the extras in salads.

6. Keep the soil consistently moist but avoid waterlogging.
Water deeply when the topmost inch of soil starts to feel dry. A drip irrigation system can help maintain good and even moisture.

7. Fertilize as needed.
Use a balanced, nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks to encourage healthy green growth. Don’t overdo it as too much fertilizer can lead to excessive foliage and small bulbs.

8. Apply a good layer of mulch.
Add organic mulch like straw or compost to keep the soil moist, control weeds, and regulate temperature. 2 to 3 inches should be fine.

9. Monitor and treat.
Watch for pests like aphids or onion thrips and deal with them using organic methods if necessary. Regularly remove weeds that compete with your onions for nutrients and space.

10. Harvest when ready.
When your bunching onions reach the desired size, usually 8 to 12 inches tall, start harvesting the green tops. Use scissors or shears to cut them, leaving an inch or two above the soil for regrowth. 

Planter’s Tips

  • Pick a sunny spot with well-draining soil for bunching onions. 
  • Plant with enough space for air circulation. 
  • Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering. 
  • Use balanced fertilizer, not too much, for optimal growth. 
  • Harvest gradually for a continuous supply without stressing the plants.

Harvesting Bunching Onions

Harvesting Bunching Onions
Image by Gardener’s Path

Harvesting bunching onions is a reward in itself. Here, we’ll explore the harvest time as well as how to do it properly.

When should I harvest bunching onions?

Harvest bunching onions in 60 to 90 days, depending on type and conditions. Pick when bulbs are about an inch in diameter. 

Harvest earlier for milder, smaller onions or later for stronger, larger ones, based on preference.

How to Harvest Bunching Onions

Ease of ActivityEasy to Moderate ●●○○○
SpeedGradual (Harvesting and subsequent drying time)
Materials NeededGarden fork or trowel, shaded and well-ventilated area for drying, storage space in a cool, dry place

Harvesting bunching onions means differently for people. Some prefer to get the bulbs while others just want the leaves.

Whichever part you want to harvest, we’ve got both methods prepared.

How to Harvest Bunching Onions
1. Loosen soil around bulbs with a fork or trowel. 
2. When harvesting, lift onions carefully to avoid damage. 
3. For green onions, harvest leaves as needed without uprooting. 
4. Trim green tops, leaving an inch for culinary use.
5. For bulbs, use as needed for the kitchen.

Suggested Bunching Onion Varieties

Suggested Bunching Onion Varieties
Image by Inspire Uplift Blog

Now that you know what to look for, here are some interesting varieties that might pique your interest!



Image by San Diego Seed Company

Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 3 to 9
Climate and SeasonCold-hardy, best grown in cooler temperatures
Flavor ProfileMild and delicate flavor
Suggested Companion PlantsCarrots, lettuce, and beets

The Evergreen bunching onion is known for its toughness, making it great for cold climates. It has slender green stalks, ideal for salads and garnishes. 

White Lisbon

White Lisbon

Image by Lubeck Profiles

Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 3 to 9
Climate and SeasonAdaptable to various climates, best in moderate temperatures
Flavor ProfileMild and sweet flavor
Suggested Companion PlantsRadishes, spinach, and cilantro

White Lisbon is a popular bunching onion variety known for its crisp, white stems and mild, sweet flavor. Gardeners and cooks alike love it for salads, garnishes, and enhancing various dishes.

Ishikura Improved

Ishikura Improved
Image by Rupp Seeds
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 5 to 9
Climate and SeasonHeat-tolerant, ideal for warmer climates
Flavor ProfileExcellent flavor, prized in Asian cuisine
Suggested Companion PlantsCilantro, basil, and peppers

The Ishikura Improved bunching onion has long, slender green stalks. These look good and taste great, especially in Asian dishes. 

One of its notable traits is its ability to handle heat, which makes it a good choice for gardeners in warmer areas. It keeps producing fresh green onions even in hot weather. 


Image by Seedway
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 3 to 10
Climate and SeasonAdaptable to various climates
Flavor ProfileMild flavor
Suggested Companion PlantsTomatoes, peppers, and basil

The Feast bunching onion is known for its strong disease resistance and consistent growth. One standout feature of Feast onions is their mild flavor, perfect for salads, stir-fries, or garnishes.

Feast bunching onions adapt to different climates, making them versatile for various growing conditions, whether it’s cool and temperate or warm and sunny.


Image by Territorial Seed
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 4 to 9
Climate and SeasonSuitable for spring and fall planting
Flavor ProfileMild onion taste
Suggested Companion PlantsRadishes, spinach, and peas

Guardsman is a versatile type of bunching onion that gardeners like for its thick green stalks and mild onion flavor. One great thing about Guardsman is you can plant it in both spring and fall, which gives you flexibility in your gardening schedule.

Red Baron

Red Baron
Image by Gurney’s
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 3 to 9
Climate and SeasonAdaptable to various climates, grows best in cool weather
Flavor ProfileMild onion flavor with vibrant red stems
Suggested Companion PlantsSpinach, radishes, and chives

Red Baron bunching onions bring vibrant color to your garden with their deep red stems. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert gardener, this variety adds color and flavor to your outdoor space.

White Welsh

White Welsh
Image by Greta’s Family Gardens
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 4 to 9
Climate and SeasonAdaptable to various climates and seasons
Flavor ProfileMild and sweet flavor
Suggested Companion PlantsTomatoes, peppers, and basil

White Welsh bunching onions have long, white stems that look beautiful. The leaves are often used in various recipes, thanks to their mild and sweet flavor. 

Crimson Forest

Crimson Forest
Image by Etsy
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 3 to 9
Climate and SeasonAdaptable to various climates; grows well in spring and fall
Flavor ProfileMild and sweet flavor
Suggested Companion PlantsTomatoes, basil, and chives

The Crimson Forest bunching onion’s deep red color makes it stand out in gardens and containers. What’s nice about Crimson Forest is that it’s easy to grow, and perfect for both beginners and experienced gardeners. 

Tokyo Long White

Tokyo Long White
Image by
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 3 to 9
Climate and SeasonVersatile, thrives in various climates
Flavor ProfileMild and sweet flavor, a favorite in Asian cuisine
Suggested Companion PlantsRadishes, bok choy, and cilantro

Tokyo Long White bunching onions have long, slender stalks with a mild, sweet flavor, perfect for Asian dishes. Whether you love Asian cuisine or want to add flavor to your garden, Tokyo Long White bunching onions are a smart choice.


Image by Territorial Seed
Ease of GrowthEasy ●○○○○
USDA ZonesZones 3 to 10
Climate and SeasonAdaptable to various climates, thrives in moderate temperatures
Flavor ProfileStrong, distinct onion flavor
Suggested Companion PlantsTomatoes, peppers, and herbs

The Ramrod bunching onion variety grows upright with dark green stalks. It has a strong onion flavor that enhances many dishes that’s very well-loved by chefs and home cooks.

Managing Pests and Diseases for Bunching Onions

Managing Pests and Diseases for Bunching Onions
Image by Bayer Crop Science New Zealand

When it comes to pests and diseases, every homeowner should keep a close watch especially when growing plants for consumption. Here are some general tips to help you out when it comes to managing pests and diseases.

Bunching onions are usually resistant to pests but can face occasional issues. Common pests include aphids, allium leaf miners, and thrips. 

Prevention is key when it comes to these pests. We recommend going with strategies like well-timed planting and using row covers. 

Diseases like white rot, downy mildew, and botrytis leaf blight can affect weakened plants. Combat White Rot with crop rotation, avoid infected starts or seeds.

Manage downy mildew through crop rotation and well-draining soil, and control botrytis leaf blight by destroying infected plants and rotating crops.

Preserving Bunching Onions

Preserving Bunching Onions
Image by Simply Recipes

When it comes to preserving the goodness of your bunching onions, you’ve got several options. These include storing them in the refrigerator, drying them, freezing them, or dehydrating them into powder.

Make sure your bunching onions are clean before attempting to preserve them. Remove excess soil and trim off any damaged and discolored parts.

If your bunching onions have bulbs, separate them from the green stems. This allows for customized storage based on the specific needs of each part.

For refrigerator storage, bundle the cleaned and trimmed green stems and place them in a perforated plastic bag or wrap them in a damp paper towel. Store them in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer for short-term freshness, usually up to a week.

To dry the bulbs, air-dry the separated bulbs for a day to reduce moisture content. This step is crucial for preventing sprouting during storage.

Once dry, store the bulbs in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry. Alternatively, use a mesh bag in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness for an extended period.

For longer-term preservation, chop the green stems and freeze them in airtight containers or plastic bags. Freezing retains the fresh flavor, making them suitable for use in cooked dishes.

For a versatile seasoning option, dehydrate the green stems and blend them into a fine powder. Store the resulting onion powder in airtight containers for use in various recipes.

Planter’s Tips 

  • Regularly inspect stored bunching onions for spoilage. 
  • Use preserved greens and bulbs in your cooking for fresh onion flavor.

Bunching Onions Companion Plants

Bunching Onions Companion Plants
Image by Kellogg Garden Products

Bunching onions do well when planted with compatible companion plants as they help with pest control, nutrient absorption, and overall growth. Let’s look at some.

  • Marigolds are excellent companions, as their strong scent deters pests that may affect bunching onions. 
  • Carrots make a complementary pair, as their shallow roots don’t compete for space and nutrients with the deeper roots of bunching onions. 
  • Spinach, with its low-growing nature, serves as a suitable neighbor, providing shade to the onions and preventing excessive weed growth. 
  • Bunching onions also grow well with tomatoes, as they help repel aphids that can otherwise plague tomato plants. 
  • Interplanting with chamomile not only enhances the flavor of bunching onions but also acts as a natural deterrent for various pests. 
  • Lettuce, being a cool-season crop, shares a growth season with bunching onions, creating an aesthetically pleasing and harmonious garden bed. 
  • The inclusion of herbs like parsley and cilantro not only complements the flavors in culinary applications but also contributes to a diverse and thriving ecosystem in the garden.

Factors to Consider When Picking Bunching Onion Varieties

Factors to Consider When Picking Bunching Onion Varieties
Image by Nature & Garden

Bunching onions in a bundle.

While they’re very easy to grow and care for, you still need to think about which variety works best for you. 

Climate and Season

Different types of bunching onions thrive in different climates and seasons. Some are better for cool springs and falls, while others handle hot summers. 

For example, ‘Evergreen’ suits cooler places, while ‘White Lisbon’ does well in warmer regions. When picking your variety, think about your local growing conditions.

Bulb Size and Shape

Some have small, round bulbs, and others have longer ones. If you prefer bigger bulbs for cooking, choose a variety known for slightly larger bulbs.

Taste and Flavor

Bunching onions have a milder flavor than regular onions, but tastes vary slightly. Some are a tad sweeter, while others are more peppery. 

Disease Resistance

Check if your chosen variety is resistant to common onion pests and diseases, like thrips or white rot. Disease-resistant types make gardening easier.

Growth Habit

Some grow upright and sturdy, while others spread or clump. Knowing this will affect how you space and care for them.

Culinary Use

For garnishing or topping, size and shape don’t matter much. But for stir-fries or cooked dishes, you might want ones with thicker green tops.

Companion Planting

Some bunching onions can help keep pests away from other plants. They work well with various crops because of their pest-repelling properties.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Bunching Onions

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Bunching Onions
Image by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

When it comes to growing bunching onions, the simplicity of the whole process can lead us to think that we can just leave them alone and they’ll grow by themselves. Here, we list down the most common missteps that homeowners make when cultivating this aromatic bulb.

Not Preparing the Soil

Bad soil prep leads to small onions. You can resolve this by using well-draining, loose soil with organic matter, and checking the soil pH from time to time.


Planting too close stunts growth. Space them around 4 to 6 inches apart to encourage better bulb growth and development.

Poor Watering Practices

Inconsistent watering harms your bunching onions. Just keep the soil moist but not waterlogged with drip irrigation or soaker hoses, and you can heave a sigh of relief.

Fertilization Issues

When you skip fertilizing, you get small, bland onions. To get larger and plumper bulbs, use balanced, nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks. 

A warning though: don’t overdo it. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing for your bunching onions.

Not Weeding

Weeds compete with onions. Regularly weed and use mulch to prevent them from battling your bunching onions for water, sun, and nutrients.

Ignoring Pests and Diseases

Look for pests like aphids and thrips. Address pests and diseases promptly by using organic pest control. 

You can even go further in preventing pests and diseases by choosing resistant varieties of your bunching onions.

Untimely Harvesting

Harvesting at the right time goes a long way. You should start thinking about harvesting your bunching onions when the tops are 8 to 12 inches tall. 

Not Timing the Planting Properly

Plant according to your climate and local conditions. You can do this by checking available gardening resources online or visiting your local extension office for guidance.

Disregarding Crop Rotation

Don’t plant onions in the same spot each year as it can lead to soil depletion and increased pest and disease problems. Rotate to maintain soil nutrient health and reduce disease risk.

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