Free Onions for Life

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Sometimes in our weekly grocery menu folks will ask why they almost never see onions in our “purchased” groceries for the week. Well, I’ll tell you why, because if you buy onions just once, you can have free onions for the rest of your life, with very little effort. Here’s how we do it . . .
free-onions-for-life

The next time your purchase onions, Gently cut the root end off each onion (it doesn’t really matter what kind, purple, red, yellow, white, etc) as you use them. Place the root end that you just cut off and plant it in dirt, making sure that it is well watered. You’ll have the best results if you use a potting or container soil rather than “top soil”.

It will take root and sprout a new onion, which can be harvested when the stalk starts to yellow and lean a bit, about 90-120 days in all.

You can leave these in a window sill in your home for easy access year round. They do prefer lots of sun!

As you need an onion, simply cut one off right at the ground, leaving the intact root and another will sprout in its place. This technique also works great with Leeks as well.

free-onions-for-life

For scallions or spring onions you can place a few marbles or stones in the bottom of a mason jar and place the roots on top with just enough water covering the roots. They will take hold and re-sprout in just a few days time.

Other Vegetables that will “magically” regrow include:

  • Garlic Cloves
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Carrot Greens from discarded carrot Tops (which will seed, allowing you to plant more carrots!)
  • Lemongrass (from discarded roots)
  • Basil from cuttings, change the water every other day
  • Celery, from the cut, discarded bottom
  • Bok Choy, from the cut, discarded bottom

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / czany

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. FULL DISCLOSURE HERE
About Liss 4010 Articles
Melissa Burnell, known to her friends and fans as "Liss," grew up in Southern Maine, now residing in sunny South Carolina. As a busy Wife, Mother of two sons, an avid photographer, and self-employed entrepreneur, Liss understands the value of both time and money.

60 Comments

  1. question, will these make bulbs or just leaves? either way have to try this. already got pineapples and avocados growing this way.
    :lets-eat:

    • Question, will these make bulbs or just leaves? either way have to try this. already got pineapples and avocados growing this way.
      :lets-eat:

      How do you do pineapple?

      My children love pineapples. I can’t wait to start growing onions. We use a lot of them.

      I am so glad we found this site.

    • How long does it take to grow a new one?

      Onions, depending on type, take anywhere from 90-120 days to mature, so the first round of waiting may make you crazy, but then it should turn into a merry-go-round of sorts if you keep planting the entire time.

      I think you do the root part, not the stalk part from what I am gathering..

      you are correct. you plant the root end of the onion. it will sprout and produce an onion.

      Does it make your home smell like onions?

      no, it won’t make your house smell like onions.

      getting onions today but wondering what kind of soil to use?

      i have used potting soil, but i have also used plain ol’ dirt from my yard, too. why wouldn’t i? that’s what i’d use if i were planting my garden!

      How deep should the soil be? What kind of a planting tray or pot?

      You can plant them in pretty much anything. Depending on the type of onion, they should be planted around 1/2″ to 1″ deep for best results.

    • I tried this and found out you should plant all of these in a shallow amount of dirt. It only took about a week to sprout.from the onion root. The ones I placed in water with marbles just rotted.

      These things want to grow though and dirt is the way to go. Just keep moist.

      • I tried this and found out you should plant all of these in a shallow amount of dirt. It only took about a week to sprout.from the onion root. The ones I placed in water with marbles just rotted.

        These things want to grow though and dirt is the way to go. Just keep moist.

        I know that this was posted months ago but I wanted to let you know that if you put the onions in water (as mentioned in your post) and pour out the water and rinse the cup or whatever you have them in and refill it again with the onions actually in the water abs they will grow beautifully! Also there is not the obnoxious nasty stench of onion funk.

        It works with green onions and leaks for sure.

  2. very interesting! so the onion will grow green sprouts out of the top and regrow a full onion at the bottom? i am willing to try!

  3. i am definitely going to do this with the next batch of onions i use. i like growing my own veggies anyway, and now i can try the different types of onions and see how well they grow. thanks!

  4. i’m wondering about the onions you buy in the store, they don’t have a stalk attached? so can it still grow, by just cutting the top of the onion where the “stalk” used to be and burying it in soil?

    • I’m wondering about the onions you buy in the store, they don’t have a stalk attached? So can it still grow, by just cutting the top of the onion where the “stalk” used to be and burying it in soil?

      I think you do the root part, not the stalk part from what I am gathering..

  5. i’ve planted 3 of them so far, just waiting for them to grow. The only problem in PA is that is is cold and I don’t have much sun this time of year. But I’m going to get my aerogarden out and use the light from that to help them grow.

    I can’t wait!

  6. it doesn’t take long for them to grow. you can also do this with leeks, celery, ginger, mangos, lettuces and green onions. i have all the above growing.

    yay! homegrown!:cloud9:

    • it doesn’t take long for them to grow. you can also do this with leeks, celery, ginger, mangos, lettuces and green onions. I have all the above growing.

      yay! homegrown!:cloud9:

      Mangos?!?!?! How do you do that?

      I Love mangos 🙂

  7. we did a similar thing will some smaller potatoes last year. dug a hole and dropped them in the ground. within a few weeks the plants started blooming.

    when we saw flowers open up, we just loosened the soil to find potatoes underground. i wouldn’t do it with the larger potatoes but the small red ones worked great!

  8. genius! we use a ton of onions, and with a third adult joining the household this will be great. now to get a nice big pot for the porch!

  9. i run a church sponsored community garden. i can’t wait to show this article to some of our gardeners this spring. thanks.

  10. where are the answers to all the questions asked ?????? i have done this with carrots, romaine lettuce, potatoes, and cabbage which sprouted 5 heads on a single plant.

    • Do you have to plant one onion root for every onion plant? If they divide, does anyone know how long it takes?

      Yes, one onion root = one onion, generally. Onions can mutate and divide, just like flower bulbs, but it doesn’t happen as often with onions.

      Depending on the type of onion, it usually takes 90-120 days for an onion set (what the farmers grow, which is just a very small onion/root) to reach full maturity. This is for regular-type onions (yellow, white, red, etc.).

      How much of the onion bottom do you have to cut off? I did pineapple and you don;’t have to cut off very much for roots to form.

      you don’t cut off any more than you would normally when using the onion to cook.

      I tried this and found out you should plant all of these in a shallow amount of dirt. It only took about a week to sprout.from the onion root. The ones I placed in water with marbles just rotted.

      These things want to grow though and dirt is the way to go. Just keep moist.

      You seem to enjoy this concept. Don’t give up on the water & marbles technique.

      It does really work – you just have to make sure the onion is not laying in the water. Think of the roots as the turtle’s head – you barely dangle the food in front of the shell to get the turtle to poke his head out.

  11. ok i tried this!!

    i put 3 root bottoms of onions in a large 9×13 plastic glad box with approx 1.5 inches of potting mix I had around.

    Watered it every other day. Set it in a Sunny window. One of them after 2 weeks has green shoots out the top about 5 in high.

    Looks like one onion bottom is going to make 6 new onions.

    The other 2 haven’t come up. I can see where this is an ongoing process of harvest and replant, and will be a perpetual onion garden if you do it right.
    We have a sunroom porch and I’m going to get a couple long narrow trays and start them going.

    Pam

    • Woohoo! I saved the root end of 3 onions we used about 2 weeks ago. I planted them in a pot with my seed-starter mix.

      Today I probed around the soil and discovered that 2 have already sent out new roots, though nothing above the soil yet. The third onion just rotted. Two out of three isn’t bad.

      Thanks for the tip!

      When you are ready to harvest an onion, how do you go about it? do you pull up the onion, cut off the roots and replant, or do you cut it off in place?

    • Ok I tried this!!

      I put 3 root bottoms of onions in a large 9×13 plastic glad box with approx 1.5 inches of potting mix I had around.

      Watered it every other day. Set it in a Sunny window. One of them after 2 weeks has green shoots out the top about 5 in high.

      Looks like one onion bottom is going to make 6 new onions.

      The other 2 haven’t come up. I can see where this is an ongoing process of harvest and replant, and will be a perpetual onion garden if you do it right.
      We have a sunroom porch and I’m going to get a couple long narrow trays and start them going.

      Pam

      Do you cover the whole onion root?? and only 1.5inches of potting soil?? or do you add more as the onion is growing?

      I usually use onions about 2-3 inches in diameter, would I have to have at least that much soil for it to grow that large>>

  12. how much of the onion bottom do you have to cut off? i did pineapple and you don;’t have to cut off very much for roots to form.

  13. :party1: I love the idea and have already started a onion garden. Everytime I cut off the bottom I do it carefully and then take it out and bury it next to the others. I am so excited to see how long.

    And as I keep putting different ones in at different times. I should eventually have a onion ready when ever I need one. Thank you for this tip.

    :2cents:

  14. my husband loves onions and i can’t wait to stop buying them! trying this next time i buy onions. i think i’ll try the green onions in water too.

  15. i started sum scallions today in a pint mason jar. also that is a brilliant idea for the city living and you dont have a very big yard for a garden..

  16. this is such a funny post to me because i’ve been doing it so long it’s hard to think of anybody not growing their own onions. a couple of my onions are even a few years old – i just leave them be, wait until they flower and collect the seeds to grow again and again. the little baby onions that come about this way are always so sweet and tender!

    it also works beautifully with garlic – just burry a clove or two and voila – there they grow.

    just be careful if you’re planting outside with pets around – garlic and onions can be toxic for doggies 🙁

  17. it is a great idea, but has anyone tried it yet? or have experience with this? i tried planting some cuts in my garden after sprouting them but they didn’t make it.

  18. oh my, the things i’m finding here are genious! i use so many onions, i will definitely be trying this. :worthy:

  19. i am doing this with romaine. the kitchen window is a great place for it, i use an old glass bread pan (holds several) but any clean container will do. when you bring lettuce home from the store, cut it to use then leave about 2-3″ of stem or stub at the bottom.

    Place in about 1/2″ of water and voila! You will see it start to grow by the next day. I feed mine about a tbsp each of miracle grow (mixed with water as directed) about once a week when I feed garden.

    Change water almost every day or the bottom will get slimy. When it grows sufficient roots you can plant in soil or just leave in water. I like the clean, fresh crisp rich flavor of growing it in the water.

    Taste is fabulous! Harvest leaves from bottom when its big enough to suit you. Keep on harvesting that way and you’ll always have fresh romaine free as long as you take care of it.

    Happy harvesting!

  20. i’ve read that the same principle applies to celery. cut the bottom off and plant it so you always have free celery!

  21. I love the idea for the onion and will also try this with garlic too . Thank you for the great budget saver idea.

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