GoodSeed Farm > Onion Plants Yield Huge Sweet Onions

Onion Plants Yield Huge Sweet Onions

Onion transplants, not onion sets, grow the biggest sweet onions. We’ve been getting rave reviews from gardeners who’ve tried them since we started offering them in our store several years ago. Each year we sell more. Onion plants come in bunches of about 60-70 plants, each the size of a pencil. They’re already growing and have had the tops trimmed, so they take off like crazy as soon as you plant them. Starting with onion transplants gives you a “head start”, insuring you’ll get the biggest, fattest onions within the growing season.

      Onion plants are frost proof. For the fattest onions at harvest time, onion plants should be set out at least 4 weeks prior to the date of the last frost. That means right now. The earlier the onion is planted, the more time the onion has to grow a bigger top and therefore larger onions.  Spacing about five inches apart, one bunch should give you a 25-foot row. To plant, first mark your row with a dribble of 10-10-10 fertilizer and loosen the soil with a cultivator, mixing the fertilizer as you go. Place each plant on your index finger and press the onion into the soil about two inches, then pull up slightly (so the roots will point downwards) and firm the soil around the plant.

      Everyone asks us for Vidalia onions, but it’s important to get the right variety for your area. Vidalia (Granax) onions do so much better in Georgia than they do here. Hybrid Candy or Hybrid Superstar are better sweet white onions for the Ohio Valley, every bit as sweet and tasty as Vidalia. Walla-Walla is our favorite sweet yellow onion, growing to softball size. Red Candy Apple is a terrific sweet red onion for this area, and keeps better than most sweet onions. Onion bulbs start growing when a specific day length and temperature is reached, so these varieties actually produce better here than Vidalia onions.

      Live onion plants should be planted as soon as possible. If you can’t plant right away, spread the plants out in a cool, dry area. If they begin to dry out don’t be alarmed, the onion is a member of the lily family and will live for approximately three weeks off the bulb. The plants will sprout new roots as soon as you get them into the soil.

      Temperature fluctuation may cause onions to send up flower stalks. Onions are biennials, meaning they normally take 2 years to go from seed to seed. If an onion plant is exposed to alternating cold and warm temperatures, the onion bulbs prematurely flower or bolt. The onion thinks it has completed two growth cycles or years of growth in its biennial life cycle so it finalizes the cycle by blooming. Flowering can be controlled by planting the right variety at the right time. Use only transplants that are pencil-sized or smaller in diameter when planting in early spring.

      Onions need fertilizer three or four times before harvest. Use 10-10-10, sprinkling the fertilizer around the base of the plants (fertilizer dust can scorch the foliage). Super-phosphate and bone meal are good for onions too. Fertilize when plants reach 6 inches, and again every 3 or 4 weeks.