When to plant onion seeds?

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

I have some seeds for "Red Burgundy" onion. The packet says to sow in the garden from April to July. Can I start them indoors now and give them a head start?


-Vaughn

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

You can start them outdoors, now. Then transplant in April.

Brady, TX(Zone 8a)

Along the same lines, I have onion "bulbs" -- when to plant?

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

Texas and NC can both start bulbs outside. As for seeds, NC may be still a little ruskiy for sowing outdoors but now is the best time for sowing in starter trays or pots.

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Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

I don't know how cold it gets in NC, but here in Texas I plant my onion seeds outside in raised beds or pots, in Dec,& Jan. They come up very nicely. It gets down to 30 sometimes.

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks for the replies! This year in NC the weather has been rather up and down. We really even haven't had a real winter yet. We'll get a few days in the 70's with lows in the 50's, then we'll get a week where it don't get above 40 with lows in the 20's. If ya don't like the weather, give it a few minutes and it'll change lol

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Mary,you could plant those bulbs yesterday. Lol I have my planting chart down stairs, I'll get it tomorrow but they can definately go out now.

Brady, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks, 1lisa -- I've got a 'growing box' that I made and the soil depth is only about 7-8" deep. Do onions need more? If so, could I use 5-gal buckets that had tomatoes in them? I've told myself to give up on veggie growing if I have to ask such basic questions (and b/c my "crops" have been so meager), but then hope springs eternal, huh?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

That I dont know about the depth but I know this is the time for you to plant out.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

rwaterspf1 - I am in the same zone as you. I set my onion plants last Monday (12th). It is recommended that they be set in February, but when I have done this in the past, many of them died in the cold.

This year, they could have been set in February because the winter has been so warm.

I wish Mother Nature would make up her mind!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

"I have some seeds for "Red Burgundy" onion. The packet says to sow in the garden from April to July. Can I start them indoors now and give them a head start?"

Vaughn, you can start your seeds now. You could've started them earlier also, especially inside. Sow them now and expect to set them out in 4 to 8 weeks. When they come up and get some nice greenery to them trim the tops back to about one to two inches until transplanting time.

And since you are so close to me if you want some plants feel free to Dmail me and you can swing by and get some to put in your garden now, then set out your seeded ones in a month or two for an extra/staggered crop.

Shoe

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Horseshoe, I planted them inside in a 38 cell flat March 5. They aren't up yet but the packet said 8 to 14 days to germinate. My peppers and tomatoes are a big hit. I figured for a first time seed starter my germination rates would have been lower that 80%. Now if you need some hot pepper seedlings let me know lol. As far as the onions I got some sets coming for backup (grin)


Vaughn

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

TX_Gardener,

Did you get your onion bulbs planted? Just so you know, you should probably use those onions for green onions as they are growing. The small bulbs, known as "sets", are for the types of onion known as "long day". That means that they produce onion bulbs best in the north, where the daylight hours reach over 16 hours of sun per day. In the south, we have to use "short day" varieties to produce large onions. They start to bulb at shorter periods of daylight.

Here is an article about growing onions in Texas from the magazine, "Texas Gardner": One comment they make is about growing onions from sets. Avoid the bulbs and sets you see in catalogs as these are often the long day varieties and will surely disappoint you.

http://www.texasgardener.com/pastissues/novdec05/onions.html

The good news is that the sets are GREAT for growing green onions. That's what we always used when I was a kid in my family's garden. We planted them as little as 1 inch apart...you could plant a bunch in a large flower pot and keep it on the back porch by the kitchen. Fresh onions in a couple of seconds.

David

Brady, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh, David, don't make me admit those onion bulbs are still in the package! Of course, I blame part of it on not being sure where to plant, etc.,and then the 'frog strangler' interfered with most all things garden as it's definitely "too wet to plow" But now, with your wonderful info (added it to my bookmarks) here I'm gonna get er done!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

David, I didnt realize that the onion sets sold locally were "long days". Wonder why they sell those in the South? Great info. maybe Ill go back to growing onions.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

Lisa,

From what I can find, pretty much any of the small bulb onion sets are long days. The short day onions are normally available as the plants, in bundles. Long day onions can be plants, too, but normally with the bundles you get a name and can be sure to get the correct type for your geography. Of course, the easy thing is to order from somewhere like Dixondale where they clearly identify everything by cultivar and type. The small bulbs are great for growing green onions, anyway.

DR

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I am thoroughly confused...

Quoting:
From what I can find, pretty much any of the small bulb onion sets are long days. The short day onions are normally available as the plants, in bundles. Long day onions can be plants, too,


I order onions from Dixondale. They send me short day samplers. They come in little bundles that look like dried up little green onions. They call them "plants". How do I tell a "set" from a long day PLANT that's also in a "bundle?"

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

Linda,

Sets are the completely dried bulbs that have no tops. They are dormant and have no green. The transplants we get from Dixondale are not dormant, they are active plants, started from seed.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I have a little baggie of what looks like miniature brown onions. No "tops" just tiny bulbs. Are these what you're calling "sets?"

So, if I plant those "sets", I'll get green onion tops only, and not the large bulbing onions that I grow from the "Plants" I buy at Dixondale, correct?

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

Gymgirl,

Yes, and yes. : )

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

THANK YOU!!!!

So. If I plant my OWN onion seeds, and get those little green sprouts, would I be planting full size onions? I want to grow my own full size bulb onions from seeds. I understand it's very tricky, and the timing has to be right.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

Except...you still have to be sure the seeds are a short day cultivar.

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Can I add one thing to this great onion talk? If you want to sow onion seeds as dreaves pointed out sow short day varieties and do so October 15th, thus the 1015Y onion we all love here in Texas.

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

now I am confused. onion from seed and onion "plants" make big onions but onions from "sets" (just bulbs, no green) don't make a big onion?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Yep!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

These are onion sets. Only green onion tops will form.

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Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Sooo confused. We don't use many onions I'll just buy them. Lol

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

rwaters
"now I am confused. onion from seed and onion "plants" make big onions but onions from "sets" (just bulbs, no green) don't make a big onion?"

Not necessarily. There seem to be many factors several posters in this thread are neglecting to point out. David (dreaves) has it pretty much down pat and I'm grateful you've shared that info, David. Good going.

But the statement above is only true IF the sets being used are long day sets. You can grow sets from any type of onion (long day, short day, intermediate/day neutral). And along the same line, "onion from seed and onion plants" won't necessarily begat large onions (bulb) if they are not compatible in your area. In other words, this info needs to be more precise; remember there could be people from all onion zones reading this thread, not just the posters in Texas and NC, so to say they do (begat large onions) will also depend on the variety and/or cultivar.

rwaters, your Red Burgundy (mentioned above) will be just fine in our NC weather and day length as long as you get them sown quickly and get them up and going. When you first posted you were close to the limit for sowing but I bet if you followed thru w/it you'll be pleased with your harvest (as long as we don't endure the 100+ degrees we had last summer!)

Gymgirl, the sets you have...did they come with a variety name? Who knows, they may be short day onions and you just don't know it. And yes, many generic sets are of the Ebeneezer types (long day) and most are produced overseas (some are produced in Idaho, if I remember correctly) BUT depending on your source there is a chance they could be short day ones. a slim chance but who knows. Also...

... I tend to grow sets in the fall and let them winter over. They WILL grow large bulbs, if conditions are right, and do not tend to ONLY grow green onions (tops). But that is the ticket...proper planting time. Sets are best to set out in the fall, let them winter over, then as the days begin to lengthen the bulbing process kicks in. Plants (e.g. from Dixondale) can be set out in the late winter/early spring and will produce large bulbs (keeping in mind the variety and day-length type) because they've already gotten a head start on their growth. However, plants, as are sets, are just as susceptible to bolting dependent on weather extremes, temperature fluctuations, etc.

All in all, onions are one of the easiest and most low-maintenance crops you can have in your garden so just do it ( as they say)! *grin Grow some for the greens, grow some for the bulbs.

And then we can go on and talk about "bunching onions" and "non-bulbing" onions and ....

Shoe (too tired to go back and proof read for punctuation)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Still don't know if the feed store sells bundles or sets. Didn't even know there was a difference.

Brady, TX(Zone 8a)

What I see locally in the hardware store and WM look like "green onions" without tops and are usually tied in little bundles.

Then, WM sells those little bags of what they call "onion bulbs" with absolutely no indication of the variety. My bag says "packed by Dutch Valley Growers, Bourbonnais IL" and limited printed instructions says they'll grow green onions or "dry table onions."

Just more confusion b/c of different terms being used for the same thing?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

The ones I see at my feed store have green tops and are tied up like Bundles but are called Sets. How can onions be so confusing....?

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Tx gardener...the ones that are in bundles are plants. Hopefully those come with a name so you can choose (or find out) which variety and growth habit they have (day length). The "onion bulbs" are considered sets and if they say they grown table onions then those are most definitely long day onions grown for the greens.

Lisa, yes, a definite case of name-calling. *grin. Sets, bulbs, plants...sheesh. Those plants in bundles are most likely referred to as sets because nearly all veggie seedlings were once referred to as 'sets', mainly because you "set them out" as opposed to "sowing" them. Even tomato seedlings sold in 4 packs were referred to as sets for years, not plants.

Oh well... we all live on, eh?

shoe

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Great info here! One of my co-workers refers to the plants as "onion slips", same for cabbage seedlings "cabbage slips". Must be a Carolina thing lol

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Hehehe, yep, 'tis true, rwaters! :>) Yet another local term, "slips". Now I wonder where that came from?

So didja get your seeds planted?

Shoe (hoping all this rain watered your garden well!)

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Horseshoe, I planted my onion seeds on March 5. They are still very tiny though. I did get some "slips" *grin* last week that will go in the ground today as long as the weather holds out.

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Here is what Southern Exposure Seeds Exchange has to say about onions http://www.southernexposure.com/onions-seed-ezp-99.html

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Onion plants now out in the garden. Tomatoes, peppers, okra, and herbs got to go out for a couple hours. Back in under the lights with a fresh dose of liquid fish & kelp. Now have to keep the house cats away, they like the smell of liquid fish *grin*


-Vaughn

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Congrats on your onion planting Vaughn. They'll love all this rain we've gotten the past two days.

*grin I bet ya'll are enjoying the smell of the fish emulsion! Cats are you best friends tonight, eh? :>)

Shoe

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

K, 2 cents here- feed stores, wallyworlds, lowes n depot sell' bundles ' of whites, yells, reds, n 1015's - the word I don't remember seeing for all but the 1015's were granulars, I believe from previous years they were started down aroun Nogales, then shipped to growers in early spring. I have always wished they came more early since as soon as Thanksgiving nears I am ready to set the new slips out- because they are only a 'slip' of what they will be - as opposed to the bulbs ( sets- to be set into the ground) or seeds- chuckl, as my grandfather explained when I would ask my zillion questions. If you are accustomed to working with both, you can deal with long/short day varieties by accommodating their growin req'ments timewise. It was a great explanation You gave dreaves

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

My short day transplants (plants) are growing nicely. They were planted in early January. I should be harvesting in May. They are the photo on the left.

I also planted some sets (bulbs) for green onions a couple weeks ago. They are growing quickly, but day length here is too short even at midsummer to form large onions. They do make easy and quick green onions. They are on the right.

David

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