This Instructable outlines how to grow fresh onion plants from discarded onion bottoms that would otherwise be thrown in the trash.  You can theoretically create an endless supply of onions without ever having to buy bulbs or seeds, and if you're as big of an onion lover in the kitchen as I am, you'll have a full bed of onions in no time.

3 Week Update:
New roots have formed on the example onion used in this Instructable, and the starts of leaves are forming which can be seen by the two distinct rises at the top of the onion.  This onion will more than likely form two plants just like fully formed example on this Intro page.

4 Week Update:
New leaves are forming above the soil, and it's clear that this plant will be able to be divided.  It has now gone through a hard freeze in its pot sitting on a growing table.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
  • Onion
  • Clean Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Starter Pot with Potting Soil (optional)


I've been doing this for a while now. The onion's new growth will always be from the center area of the onion, so you can peel away most of the old grow before you put it into the soil. I also plant the tops of pineapples. Just pull green part off and tear back the bottom half inch of leaves to expose more of the stalk and then stick it in about a half an inch of water for a couple of days. When the roots have grown out to where they could start utilizing the soil, put them in the soil. They are extremely unfussy. I grow them successfully in medium sized containers and I don't even have to water them. I also grow cumin, fenugreek and mustard from my spice cabinet. I have a three year old avocado tree that I grew from an avocado pit. I grow store bought ginger and turmeric as well. Also shallots, celery and of course onions. I'm in an apartment and the plants are all outdoors (except I just brought in my celery, thanks to advice below) and no one complains. The key to success is the quality of the soil. You have to have container mix if you plant in containers, not "top soil". Gardening is soooo rewarding.
Thanks so much for this information. I am dying to try container gardening, and it encourages me that you are doing it successfully here in Florida. I've hesitated to try because of how awful our soil is and I've been unsure where to even buy good soil for container gardening.
Home Depot. <br> <br>Unfortunately I live in an apartment and have to keep the plants close to the house where they don't get enough sun. :(
I'm in a house and thankfully have space in both sun and shade but my problem is I don't know enough about gardening to know what grows best in which setting. My mama could grow anything, but she's been gone 8 years now and I have a black thumb. :(
Perhaps you should find a nursery in your area and tell them what you want to do and then take their advice, Maybe start with one or two plants until you get the hang of it.<br><br>With containers, the way you know when it is time to water (if it hasn't rained) is to put your finger into the dirt about an inch down. It should feel damp there. If it feels bone dry or almost bone dry then it needs water. Otherwise, don't because you'll over-water it.<br><br>
<p>In my place, light is also an issue. I re-grow a lot of veggies with an inexpensive gooseneck lamp. Much to my surprise, bunches of basil and cilantro in glasses of water have rooted and grown into vibrant plants</p><p>in organic potting soil.</p>
<p>Great! Well be sure and use the new compact fluorescent bulbs because they are actually the same light value as sunlight, unlike the incandescents, and they are a lot cheaper and environmentally friendly to operate.</p>
<p>Never buy or use compact fluorescent bulbs - for any purpose. The science is very clear and voluminous. They damage health and the environment through their entire life-cycle, from manufacture through usage and discard. During usage, they produce unheathy transients in wiring, also referred to as &quot;dirty electricity&quot;. They also produce high levels of unhealthful 60 (0r 50, in EU) Hz fields, relative to same-wattage incandescent bulbs. Their light is digital, like a strobe, which is disruptive to brain function and to the corresponding functions in plants. By contrast the light of incandescents is rather constant, closely approximating the signal of natural sunlight. Compact fluorescents do not last as long as most incandescents, needing more frequent replacement; and they expose humans, animals and plants to toxic mercury vapors when broken. Although their combined energy usage is often less than that of incandescents, their dysfunction is more frequent. Don't fall for the compact bulb industry's green-masking! There is NOTHING green about toxic, hazardous compact fluorescent bulbs!</p>
<p> I am not a big fan of CFL's now that LED bulbs have come down in price, but you are making some significantly incorrect claims. </p><p>1.) Incandescents are far, far from the 'signal of natural sunlight'. Just because they are simple doesn't mean they are close to full-spectrum. Anyone who grows (or tries to grow) plants with incandescent bulbs is misinformed.</p><p>2.) &quot;Dirty electricity&quot;--This sounds like a misuse of the term 'dirty'. As far as I know, dirty electricity refers to inconsistent frequency (i.e. variation from 60.000 Hz) in the mains power. This is caused at the generating station, not caused by use of electricity. AC electricity has a frequency of 60 hz whether its going through a hair dryer, a CFL, or an incandescent bulb. </p><p>3.) You claim that CFL's disrupt brain function. Hmmm. OK, even if that is true (and I am skeptical of your 'voluminous science'), what exactly do you mean by the &quot;corresponding [brain] function in plants&quot;? Plants don't have brain functions. They have chlorophyl, which carries out photosynthesis when a photon strikes it. Whether those photons arrive in a steady stream or a pulsed fashion doesn't seem to matter. </p>
<p>When the ballast of a florescent tube is failing they create a strobe affect and this may be what Ryan is talking about. I have read about the problems caused by this.</p>
<p>Higher wisdom copied and pasted: <a href="http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/3673203/cfls-no-good" rel="nofollow"> http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/3673203/c...</a>. </p>
<p>totally agree with the craziness of having these bulbs forced on us. Nothing good having these mercury filled things in our houses. Can't even buy the old bulbs anymore. </p>
<p>You're right, I've never liked fluorescent lights in offices - hadn't heard of 'dirty electricity'... Found they brought on headaches and just felt generally unwell and there's a hotel near us is lit up with blue lighting from the outside, gives me a headache after just seconds while walking past at night, I wonder what that's about - is it safe?</p>
Amen on the CFLs! I hate those things!!!!!
<p>This is SO CORRECT!!!!</p>
No, they don't. CFL's provide horrible light for plants. I added a couple to an earlier indoor setup to add white light so I could see color better...half my plants died. When I ran them through the spec, I found WAY to much high energy UV, which was what fried the plants. Aquarium bulbs, man...we've been growing plants indoors under water for forever.
<p>You can absolutely grow under CFLs, it's just a bit of a struggle to find CFLs powerful enough to get a high enough lumen output within your space - and it ends up not being worth it in the end. I've grown with CFLs before successfully - but I absolutely had better grows once I switched to HPS.</p>
<p>My hardware store has indoor planting CFL's. I made a planting bar with with four lights by simply screwing porcelain surface mounted sockets to a 1x4 with about eight inches of space between them. I then wired them in series and added an extension cord to one end. The board is suspended by a chain at each end and hung from hooks to allow easy adjustment. This is essential because you want to maximise the light getting to the plants without heat damaging the foliage. I was successful in raising many starts with this apparatus that cost very little and was made in a slow afternoon. I understand that LED's may now be found with the proper color balance for grow lighting. These would be definitely worth the expense. When the plants reach about three inches it is time to transplant to encourage healthy rooting. This is at least true with tomatoes.</p>
<p>Yep. Fluorescents just aren't that powerful--and that (along with toxicity issues) is their main drawback. </p>
<p>I'm no expert here, but I believe that CFL's and &quot;standard&quot; (i.e. tube) flourescents are essentially the same, in terms of their flicker and mercury content. A CFL is basically just the helical version of the tube, with a built-in ballast and standard screw-in socket. People have been growing plants under flourescent lights for a very, very long time with excellent results. I think something else killed half your plants (and besides--why would only half of your plants die if it was UV that killed them?). </p>
Actually, not all CFL's are created equal. I'll try to put this as much in k-12 science as I can. You have mercury vapor and argon, xenon, krypton, or neon being super-excited by an electric arc into a plasma. That means electrons are jumping up and dropping down levels in their outer shells. Every time an electron drops down, a photon is emitted in the x-ray range. The x-ray flies off and hits the phosphors on the outer wall of the tube, causing it to emit EMR in the light spectrum. Depending on which phosphor is hit and the frequency of the x-ray, a different frequency of light is thrown off. Different CFL's have different phosphors, and even different numbers of types of phosphors. Looking at them through a spectrum analyzer (the CD/cardboard box spectrum analyzer here in instructables is good enough to see the difference) shows that some CFL's put off as little as four spectral lines while others put off so many, it loins almost like a continuous spectrum. The same is true, by the way, about florescent tubes. Grow lights and planted aquarium bulbs have phosphors designed to throw off light specifically in the PAR range (photosynthetic activity radiation). <br><br>As to why the UV spectrum killed half my plants and not all of them, well different plants are sensitive to different frequencies of light. I was growing a bunch of different things in my aquaponic rig. It's near impossible to kill a philodendron. Lettuce doesn't care about the higher energy UV's as much either, but they burned the crap out of my habenero and some of my flowers. When I stopped turning on my CFL's in my overhead lamp and just ran my grow lights, the burning stopped. As far as other issues causing the problem, it's possible, but the system had been running stably for quite some time and my sensor rig and datalogger showed no other changes. I monitor PH, nutrient levels, temperature, humidity, and several other variables as part of the automation I built for the unit... Arduinos and cubbie boards allow for wonderful things, these days and I'm a year away from an engineering BS, so I DO know a little bit about what I'm doing.
<p>I understand how electron transitions cause X-ray emission (and subsequent emission of photons from the excited phosphor), but your explanation is true both for 'compact-type' and 'tube type'. I never claimed that &quot;all CFL's are created equal&quot;. I said that a CFL and a tube-type fluorescent are fundamentally the same. You claimed that &quot;CFL's provide horrible light for plants&quot;, which is an overly-general statement and there are countless successful grows happening under CFL's (as well as tube-style fluorescents). Sure--there is going to be a lot of variation on the spectrum based on which elements and phosphors are used, and this variation *might* be responsible for your die-off--though most CFL's are not designed to put out large amounts of UV. That would obviously be a major safety issue.</p><p> But there are a whole lot of reasons that (wouldn't show up on your data-logger) that plants die (or appear 'burnt'), and I'm guessing engineering doesn't focus a whole lot on the biotic factors (i.e. diseases/pests/etc.) affecting Philodendron growth! </p><p>At the end of the day, CFL's and fluorescents--like all lighting options--have certain advantages and disadvantages, and are (or, were...) a great fit for certain situations. It does seem that with the drop in price of LED fixtures, the CFL/fluorescent days are coming to an end! (YAY! nobody likes mercury compounds in their home)</p>
<p>Thank you, W.E., for your thoughtful response.</p><p>I don't use CFLs anymore because they contain mercury.Last year I discovered halogen light bulbs (the same size and shape as incandescents) at &quot;Kmart&quot; (in the U.S.) which were less expensive, nontoxic, and almost as energy efficient as CFLs. The information about callousing veggies (letting them dry for 24 hours) has dramatically improved my results in re-growing veggie stems and roots. Thank you, everyone.</p>
<p>The problem with other types of bulbs is their heat and light output per watt. As well as having improper K values.</p>
Spices don't typically need much light, but if you look up a few posts, I told a couple other people what aquarium bulbs to buy to provide enough light to grow anything indoors. I even know a few medicinal marijuana users who are using my bulb mix very successfully, even with picky strains. Personally, I just grow flowers and vegetables, but I'm about to get orange and lemon trees...maybe an avocado...and I live in a small one bedroom apartment.<br>
I will do that. Thanks so much for the info! :)
I am in North East Texas &amp; just bought a greenhouse. I too have a BLACK THUMB! I am hoping to learn a lot &amp; successfully grow onions, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, broccoli &amp; herbs.
I just did a garden for the first time this year... I got pallets.. Put weed barrier on the bigger side payed it down on the yard and filled it up with soil...(found on Pinterest) then I planted seeds in March and now I have a full pledge garden... If it goes well this year I will do a garden in the ground next year.. My husband wants to make sure I take care of this one first.. I now bought a small green house and am learning to keep my garden going all year long... Thanks to the Internet, Us With black thumbs can grow anything...good luck and don't get discouraged
<p>gardening can be so rewarding yet very challenging even to the green thumbers :) try starting with something that is easy to grow like lettuces or spinach, I'm in Australia, we are a very dry country, so I use our lawn clippings to mulch my gardens, &amp; I grow most things that we eat, including fruits :)</p>
<p>get sum of these </p><p>http://www.ebay.com/itm/281651969169?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&amp;ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT</p>
Home Depot...yes. While you're there, pick up a couple 4 ft. 2-bulb T5HO ceiling fixtures, wire them to an old 3-prong extension cord, and order the following flourescent tubes from Amazon or your local pet/aquarium store- 2 Wavepoint Ultra Growth Waves, 1 Wavepoint Super Blue 460, and 1 Wavepoint Coral Wave. A timer is nice, too if you don't want a 24 hr. light cycle. Now, you can grow anything you can find a container big enough for any time of year in the comfort of your living room.
I have found that in South Florida, with a paucity of sunlight, that these are the easiest to grow:<br><br>* pineapple<br>* sweet potatoes<br>* ginger<br>* avocado trees<br>* turmeric<br>* chives<br>* basil<br>* aloe vera<br><br>If you want to go with instant success, go with them. No fuss.<br><br>One word about Rosemary... Do not overwater!!<br><br>
<p>Hey Wounded Ego: Can u tell me how to grow &quot;Ginger&quot;. I also live in South Florida, Boca Raton to be exact and grow just about everything. Now all u do, but some,like Pineapple, Potatoes(year Round),Basil,Aloe, its wild and bother some..If u ever want some let me know! I make great organic soil with all left over food scraps, and coffee grounds,etc.. Would like to get in touch and see ur garden...name is jack.</p>
I realize this is an old post I'm replying to, but I also live in an apartment and my management complains bitterly about anything that's not small flowers in decorative pots (so no brown clay pots). What I have done is set up an aquaponic system in my apartment. T5HO flourescent aquarium bulbs can be mixed to provide an optimal spectrum. I'm running 8 four-foot tubes in fixtures I bought from Home Depot. Lowes only has t8s as of yet. I'm running Wavepoint tubes-4 Ultra Growth Waves, 2 Super Blue 460's and 2 Coral Waves. I'm at about 400 w and cannot grow anything that doesn't like full sunlight unless I keep half of them turned off...but why? That means four fluorescents at 200 w should do you for most plants. Anyway, if you are interested, it really expands the number of plants you can have. What I'm growing in my living room is twice what I could have grown on my porch. I could share build instructions of you would like.
<p>Ridiculus innit? My plant's just make me happy for no good reason. I have a little mango tree that sprouted in the compost pile that makes me smile every time I see it. </p>
<p>This is fantastic to know - I have been doing this for a while with celery but never thought of trying an onion</p>
How is it done with cellery? And is it only the rooty part or also the top?
<p>Nice! I'm gonna try this today! I'll add some photos if I'm able to make something grow!!</p>
<p>I have questions.... What is the right potting soil? How long does this process take? Direct sun or indirect sun? What time of year? Cold or heat tolerant? I live in Las Vegas and plan to shade them most of the day because it gets soooooooo hot, will that work? Will they grow in this heat? How much water? Fertilizer? Thank you so much! </p>
<p>You need a good quality potting mix from your nursery/garden supplies. It will contain the required fertilizers and nutrients. Eventually, these will need topping up. The 'el cheapo' mixes don't contain all the good stuff but they also don't absorb water well. Your nursery people can advise you as to which plants require which nutrients. Because of the very hot conditions, it is not advisable to use terracotta pots as they dry out quickly. If you're really insecure about watering, I suggest purchasing a moisture measuring thingy at the nursery or garden supplies outlet. I paid about $12AUD for this thing and it's very useful for pots. (It will be cheaper in the U.S.) It will show how deep the moisture is. I have seen friends grow great veg. in fish bins. They are only about 30cm deep x 70cm long approx. and 45cm in width. I suppose each would hold a 50litre bag of mix. You are a long way from the coast but there are similar sized storage containers on the market and you just need to drill holes. Don't forget to mulch, especially if pots are in sun and wind. Good luck.</p>
Thank you very much! I didn't know about the terra cotta pot thing. I thought they were the better ones! I will get the moisture thingy and some good soil! I really appreciate your input.
<p>Wow! I really love this website. I just googled it and found this. There are some very knowledgeable and kind people here. God bless everyone of you! I am a fair gardener, I don't have hardly anyplace to put a garden. My landlady said I could put a garden out back, but I need help as we have heavy clay soil which I can't dig. Looking forward to reading more posts. Btw, my best field is outdoor trees, shrubs, flowers, and wildflowers. I worked at a 100 acre tree ranch for years. </p>
<p>I also have heavy clay soil, and have given up using it in favor of raised beds. I got started by using the Grow Box from Garden Patch (agardenpatch.com), then graduated to building my own raised beds. I'm really proud of my garden, and get all my summer tomatoes, pepper, string beans, broccoli, onions, beets, carrots, and lettuces each year. It's a lot of work this time of year, but well worth it. Wish you luck!</p>
<p>+1 for raised beds</p>
<p>I have made raised garden beds using mudguards from big trucks.(Have a truckie friend with access to these.) Tie 2 together with gal. wire as that on clotheslines. Securing the wire on the inner side of course and then lining with 1.8m weed mat (optional I suppose, depending on size of holes or damage to guards.) Initially, I half or one- third filled the beds with grass clippings or other garden waste or some rubble/detritus, then some fairly decent soil. Before any sowing happened, I added cow /sheep/whatever manure and compost. The underlying clippings etc. will break down but then each season there is new space for more manure and compost. Around plants, I mulch with pea straw. In the past couple of years, the sugar cane mulch is being chopped too coarsely resulting in some larger pieces not readily breaking down and I find them mouldy below the surface. Sugar cane is ok around larger plants on the ground. 2nd. or 3rd. cut lucerne hay is an excellent mulch on the ground. Where I live in a rural town (South Eastern Aust.,) the raised beds prevent rabbits, and to some extent - snails, getting stuck into everything. Very little snail bait is required in the beds and the blue tongues (lizards) are not affected by it's use.</p>
<p>lovely idea, thanks!:)</p>
<p>lovely idea, thanks!:)</p>
<p>All that stuff about CFL's is rubbish.</p>
<p>been doing that. works great. can be done with other stuff as well.</p>

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