How to grow spring onions… or rather, how to regrow spring onions, aka scallions, aka green onions in American. It’s easy, practically free, doesn’t need much space and is apartment-friendly.
Roughly 6 years ago, on a small sunny apartment balcony, I started regrowing the stubs of market-bought spring onions in a small pot. It was so simple and productive, I was surprised the shops do such a brisk trade in them.
The basic premise is this: Buy spring onions, use the bits you want to cook, pop the leftover roots into soil or water, wait about a week and, ta-da, new spring onions we have. Snip off the bits you want to use. Repeat.
Water or Soil?
Spring onions seem to do best in soil with lots of sun. They grow back time after time after time, one can plant lots of stubs in a small area, and they come back thick with nice dark green leaves.
However, lately, for lack of a sunny outdoor spot, I’ve been working out how to grow spring onions in jars of water on a windowsill in our apartment.
Water = quicker
- Super easy. All one needs is water and a jar
- Can be done indoors, hence more flexible – not as affected by the weather
- The spring onions grow super quick, at least initially
- The spring onions will only grow back a few times (4-5 in my experience)
- The leaves get skinnier with each regrowth
- The water should be changed out everyday to prevent nasties
Soil = better
- Minimal work – plant stubs with roots in a pot with drainage holes, leave in the sun
- Regrowth after regrowth after regrowth
- Strong green leaves
- Almost none… One needs soil, a plant pot and a sunny spot?
How to grow spring onions (easy and basically free)
Option A: Growing in water
Step 1. Buy spring onions with roots.
Choose spring onions that have some roots attached, say at least 1cm (or 0.5″). They’ll grow back faster, which means instant gratification and feelings of success. Feelings of success are very important when one is trying to learn how to cook good and do other stuff good.
Organic spring onions seem to do better than the regular variety (I’ve no idea why); the roots grow nicely unlike the regular roots, which get a weird gel-like substance on them. That said, I’ve found that the regular variety still works fine.
Step 2. Slice off the green parts (leaves); use these for whatever one is cooking, e.g. as a garnish. Leave at least 2cm (just under 1″) of the white part (bulb) attached to the roots. The spring onions grow back faster if more of the bulb is left intact.
Step 3. Place stubs in a clean jar small enough to hold them upright. Preferably one that’s clear, for easy viewing.
Step 4. Add enough water to cover the roots but not the whole stub. Place on a windowsill, preferably one with some sunlight.
Change the water most days so that nothing nasty-pasty joins the party.
Step 5. When enough leaves have grown back, snip off for use. The spring onions will keep growing. When they become too skinny or spent, toss into the compost.
Option B: Growing in soil
Step 1. Buy spring onions. As above, choose onions with some roots attached, say at least 1cm (or 0.5″). Organic, or otherwise? It doesn’t seem to matter.
Step 2. Slice off the green leaves, leaving at least 2cm (just under 1″) of the white bulb attached to the roots.
Step 3. Fill a plant pot that has drainage holes with soil. Poke a hole in the soil, pop in the spring onion stub, move the soil back into place so that the roots are buried but the white bulb sits above the soil. Repeat, leaving about 5cm (2 inches) between each stub. Water.
Step 4. Place the pot in a warm sunny spot and watch the magic happen. Water as needed – depending on the weather, watering could be needed less than once a week up to everyday (the Veggie Gardener says watering multiple times a day might be needed if it’s very hot. I would maybe try moving them into a slightly shadier spot if that was me). Snip off green leaves whenevs you wants them.
Non-option? Growing in water THEN soil
After growing this bundle of spring onions in water for a few weeks, they were almost spent. I planted them into potting soil to see if they’d revive. No go. I’m guessing at the causes and not sure which one was the kicker:
- The spring onions were already dying and were never going to come back to life
- I gave them transplant shock by moving them from the indoors straight outside without any hardening-off
- Their roots were too used to water and couldn’t hack living in soil (?) In the past, I’ve put stubs in water indoors for a few days, then plonked them straight into soil outdoors, and that worked fine. Maybe the length of time spent in water matters?
Any sage words of advice as to how to grow spring onions / green onions?
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