Onions (Allium cepa) are not only versatile vegetables that add zest to your recipes; they are also excellent container plants. Whether you are planting onion bulbs in containers or a vegetable garden, the same types of soil and climate conditions are necessary. Follow these tips to grow onions in containers in your home or on your patio.
– Selection of Onion Varieties
Growth Differences in Onion Varieties
Long onions mature in 90 to 110 days. Day-neutral onions mature in 110 days in the South. Short-day onions mature in 110 days in cooler climates. Pearl onions, or cocktail onions, mature in about 60-70 days. Green onions ripen faster; they mature in 65 to 75 days.
The growing period of time will depend on the density of the plant, variety, temperature, planting period, and photoperiod.
Types of Onion
• Seeds, sets, and transplants. Onions can be grown from seeds, sets (young, small dormant bulbs that grew the previous year), or transplants. Growing onions from seed can take up to five months. You will find seed for many varieties or cultivars of onions. It is easier to plant sets than seeds or transplants. Sets ripen in as little as two months and are less susceptible to disease. But, crop selection is limited to sets. (Avoid onion sets with bulbs larger than a dime – they are likely to wilt.) Transplants are small seedlings that look like scallions. Transplants require about two months to reach maturity.
• Bulb onions or bunching. Choose bulb or bunching onions depending on your intended use. Bulb onions can range from small pearl onions to very large Spanish varieties. Autumn has white, yellow or red bulbs. Round onions – also known as scallions or green onions – are cultivated for their slender, green stems. They are harvested before bulbs fully form.
Long and short days
Onions require a long growing season, so place your seed orders early to get a head start. On a cold winter’s night, it’s great fun to browse through those seed catalogs piling up next to the couch and pick out some new varieties.
When choosing seeds, be sure to order varieties suited to your climate and zone. Onion types differ in the length of daylight and the temperature required to form a bulb. Short-term varieties are ideal for the South, where they grow through the cool fall and winter months. They are encouraged to bulb by the 12 hours of sunlight that comes when the warm, early summer weather returns.
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