How to grow the best onions in the south


Well, it is November, and down here in the south that means it is onion planting time.  Onions are one of my favorite crops to grow, and they are extremely easy to grow. Also, I can plant two or three times the desired amount and continually harvest them at different stages. That's my kind of crop.  I prefer to get my onions in the ground before Thanksgiving. Here in the south the bulbs are allowed to overwinter and are harvested in the spring.  

Area Specific Varieties

If you planted onions and they did not perform well first make sure you planted the right variety for your region. Onions are photosensitive- meaning a specific amount of daylight is necessary for onions to from bulbs. There are three varieties of onions: Long day, short day and day neutral.

Long Day

14 to 15 hours of daylight to bulb

Prefer colder temperatures Zones 1- 6

Plant in winter to early spring

Short Day

10 hours of daylight to bulb

Preferred variety for the south

Need milder winter temperatures Zones 7-12

Plant in fall

Harvest in spring

Day Neutral

Form bulbs regardless of photoperiod

Prefer warmer temperatures Ideal for Zones 5-6

In south plant in fall harvest in spring

Plant in winter

Harvest in spring

Where to plant

Plant onions in fertile, well-drained soil.  Remove all rocks and large sticks from the planting site. Work/Till the ground to a depth of 8”-10”.  Place in a bed that receives full sunlight.


Onions can be grown from seed with some proper care and are the most cost-effective.  Plant seeds ¼” deep. Place every 1 inch. Thin plants to one every 2 or 3 “ after plants have reached 6” tall.

Most people prefer to use transplants. Bury the roots ¾” deep in the soil.  Do not plant deeper than 1”.  



A balanced, organic fertilizer is all onions need.  After planting, apply ½ cup per every 10’ row every 2- 3 weeks. Or before planting mix in 2.5 lbs of balanced organic fertilizer for every 100 square foot of garden space.  Stop fertilizing when bulbs begin to form.


The ability to harvest onions at various stages is the reason onions are a staple in my garden.

Harvest green onions when they are around the size of a number 2 pencil.  

To form bulbs, allow the plants to grow large.  Whenever the main stem begins to lean over and touch the ground, the onions are ready to harvest.  Remove them from the field and allow them to dry in the sun for a day or two before removing the main stem from the bulb.   



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