4 Ways To Grow Spring Onions Without Soil

One of the biggest hangups for people getting started into gardening is that they don’t have any soil. Whether you live in an apartment without a yard, or just don’t have extra space in your garden, you can easily grow spring onions without any dirt at all. Let’s look at how to grow spring onions without soil.

Spring onions can be grown very easily without soil from either green onions or from onion bulbs. Green onions can be placed in a bowl of water and will quickly regrow. Bulb onions can also be placed in water, in an egg carton, or in a bed of wet moss. Whichever method you choose, they will soon grow new tops that can be harvested for your dinner.

“Spring onions” is a very loose term that means different things to different people. In another article, we discuss this confusion in more detail, but for now, we will assume that spring onions are the fresh green tops of an onion. In this article, we are going to look at 4 different ways to grow spring onions. And we won’t use any soil.

How To Grow Spring Onions Without Soil

Most plants need two important resources to grow: soil and water. The soil stores nutrients for the plant to eat and acts as a reservoir for water. The water is necessary for plant life. In many cases, it is possible to skip the soil and grow a plant directly in water, at least for the early stages of its development.

You can easily grow spring onions without soil using either green onions or large onion bulbs. You can use onions from your own garden, or onions that you bought at the grocery store. Here are 4 ways to easily grow spring onions without soil.

  1. Green onions in a glass of water
  2. Onions in a glass of water
  3. Onions in an egg carton
  4. Onions in wet moss

1. Green Onions In A Glass Of Water

You will need:
1. Green onion (or scallion)
2. Small glass
3. Water
Green onions growing in water by Joy
Image by Joy

This is by far the most sustainable and easiest way to grow spring onions without any soil. This method is sustainable because you can eat most of the green onion and use the leftovers to grow more.

To grow a spring onion, you will be using the bottom white end of the green onion, so choose a green onion that has a good amount of roots still attached. Some stores trim off the roots so finding a good one in a supermarket might take some looking.

Cut the bottom 3cm or so (about 1inch) off your green onions, and stand the little piece in a small glass with the roots down. (Now you can eat the green tops in your favorite recipe). Fill the glass with water so most of the onion cutting is submerged, and place the glass in a warm sunny location, such as a window sill. Change the water every couple of days or whenever you need to keep it fresh.

In a few days, the cutting will start to regrow. When it is big enough to eat, cut off the greens and enjoy. Leave the root base in the water to grow again and again. You can usually regrow the same root about 4 times before you want to add it to the compost and start again.

2. Onions In A Glass Of Water

You will need:
1. Bulb onion
2. Small glass
3. Three Toothpicks
4. Water
Spring onion Image by monicore from Pixabay
Image by monicore from Pixabay

A bulb onion placed in water will also grow delicious spring onions.

You can use yellow, white, red, or any other variety you desire. The bulbs can be any size as long as they are good, healthy onions without mold or rotten spots. Each bulb will usually grow between 1 and 5 spring onions depending on how many growth points, or buds, it has inside. To see how many buds it has, you can slice off the top of the bulb and you will see the outer layers encircling the buds in the centre. Each bud should sprout one spring onion.

To get started, peel off any dry and brown peels that are loose. Then stick 3 toothpicks equidistant from each other around the middle of the onion. Place the onion inside the glass so the toothpicks rest on the rim and the onion bulb is suspended over the glass with the roots pointing down. The root side of an onion is generally flat and has brown hairy roots on it.

Skip the toothpicks

If the onion and the glass are about the same size, you can skip the toothpicks and rest the bulb on the rim of the glass.

Fill the glass with water so about the bottom 1/3 of the onion is submerged. Place the glass in a warm and sunny place. In a few days, the roots will start developing in the water and your spring onions will start growing out the top.

When the greens are a good size, cut them off and enjoy and the onion will grow more. As with the green onion method above, you can usually harvest the greens about 4 times before you might want to grow another onion.

Using an onion bottom

You don’t have to use the whole onion. This method also works with just the bottom 3cm of the onion. While this allows you to eat the rest of the bulb, you might not be able to regrow the spring onions as many times as if you used the whole onion.

3. Onions In An Egg Carton

You will need:
1. Bulb onion
2. Shallow tray
3. Cardboard egg carton
4. Water

This method is similar to growing spring onions in the previous method, except you put the bulbs in an egg carton instead of a glass.

Prepare the bulbs as mentioned above, but don’t stick in the toothpicks. Place the egg carton inside the shallow-sided tray, and stand the onions in the egg carton with the roots down. Fill the tray with water until the onions are partially submerged. Place the tray in a window sill or other warm location with plenty of sunlight, and you will soon have fresh spring onions to enjoy.

Here is a video that shows how to grow with the egg carton method, and also shows how to grow spring onions in moss which we will discuss next.

Egg carton Image by Nikkole Lulu from Pixabay
Image by Nikkole Lulu from Pixabay

4. Onions In Wet Moss

You will need:
1. Bulb onion
2. Shallow tray
3. Moss
4. Water

Start with good quality, healthy onion bulbs that are free from mold and soft spots. Peel off any outer layers that are dry and loose.

Take a tray with sides and put a layer of moss in the bottom of the tray. Nestle the onion in the moss with the roots down, and fill the tray with water so the bottom 1/3 of the onion is under water. The onion bulb will send out roots into the moss and your spring onions will grow out the top. Cut off the spring onions when they are the desired size and allow more to grow.

Self-Sufficiency Without Soil

Self-sufficiency is about providing for yourself and your family, and should not be limited to a traditional garden. Growing spring onions without soil is a great way to make the most of the resources that are readily available. It is even better that this unconventional garden upcycles scraps and keeps on giving.