Picture of Grow Onions from Discarded Onion Bottoms
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.
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Step 1: Materials

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

Step 2: Slice Off Onion Bottom

Picture of Slice Off Onion Bottom
Chop off the onion bottom with all the roots still intact.  The more of a bottom you leave on, the better.  Try for 1.5"-2" of attached "meat".

Allow to dry for a few hours to a couple days in a shaded, well-ventilated area to allow for callousing.

Note:  You might only need a few hours for callousing.  If the cut portions are dry to the touch and slightly shriveled, it very well might be calloused enough.

Note:  I'm skipping the dry time for this Instructable.

Step 3: Potting

Picture of Potting
Fill the starter pot 2/3 of the way full and compact.

Create an indentation in the center to cradle the onion bottom and allow for good soil contact.

Cover with 1-2" of soil.

Water as needed.

Note:  You can skip the starter pot if you can't be bothered and plant it directly in the ground.
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marlenaed3 days ago

I am new to this but I have a wonderful starter Onion. So here I am looking it up...

WoundedEgo1 year ago
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.

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.

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.

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

in organic potting soil.

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.

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.

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 "dirty electricity". 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!

Thank you, W.E., for your thoughtful response.

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 "Kmart" (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.

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.
I will do that. Thanks so much for the info! :)

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, & I grow most things that we eat, including fruits :)

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:

* pineapple
* sweet potatoes
* ginger
* avocado trees
* turmeric
* chives
* basil
* aloe vera

If you want to go with instant success, go with them. No fuss.

One word about Rosemary... Do not overwater!!

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.
Kweek WoundedEgo10 months ago

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.

Link shared in the Food Shelf Friday blog post, "Waste Not, Want Not: Regrowing Food from Kitchen Scraps"

rallekralle23 days ago

interesting, i might have to try this myself

mrhodes43901 month ago
I am a stay at home mom. And my daughter is almost 5 months old and i want to grow her her own organic veggies. What is the best veggie to start with

my onion plant

blonde11 year ago

@woundedEgo, I've tried soooo many times to grow a pineapple tree and never can get it to take. What kind of soil are you using? How often do you water yours?

Hi, where do you try planting? We've had lots of success with pineapple plants, just cutting off the tops and planting. However, they do NOT like the cold! Have you tried growing them on a patio or porch area in large pots?

So, are the sprout greens edible too? Such as when an older onion starts sprouting.

AngryRedhead (author)  leslie.wissing2 months ago

So far as I know! :)

CarolineC23 months ago

rsii9611 months ago

I have a couple of questions.. if an onion starts growing in your kitchen, do you just plant it, or cut off the bottom? Also, I eat alot of organic beets, they grow as well, how should they be planted, whole or by cutting the tops off?

gjmboulard rsii968 months ago

The top third of medium sized beets will grow beet greens, which are similar to red chard. The second growing season in a year-round garden they will go to seed, and you will have to re-plant. I live in mountains with -6 to -1 Celsius, (20-30 Fahrenheit) winters, and beets grow year round under CVC (soft version of PVC) half-circle hoops and row covers made from old sheets, curtains, tablecloths,etc. Bon appetit!

AngryRedhead (author)  rsii9611 months ago

You can just plant it, or you can carefully cut into it and separate the plants.

I had to look up beets, and like carrots, you can/should plant just the top third because beets like carrots will get old and woody. However, if you want to grow beets for the greens, you might want to plant the beet as a whole which should give it a head start on green production. I've not grown beets or carrots, so this is theoretical. Definitely run a search and go from there.

women_tips1 year ago

Great post!thanks for sharing

AngryRedhead (author)  women_tips1 year ago

Glad you like it! :)

how long does it take for the plant to start to grow. I've planted mine about a week ago and my garlic is growing like crazy and my celery began to grow and i buried it deeper and its popping out of the dirt. The Onion hasn't done anything yet.....
Tammy Lee1 year ago
I am going to be trying this for the first time. Hoping it will work out fine for me. I love trying out new things and I love gardening.
What about celery? Can you do the same thing with it as with the onions. I am excited to try the onion thingy.
AngryRedhead (author)  josiemcdoo9252 years ago
Sorry about the late reply!

I've heard tale that you can do the same celery, but here in Texas, it's kinda hard to grow celery. Consequently I haven't tried. If you run a Google search, you should be able to find the tales I speak of.
I live in South Carolina and alot of times its too hot so I grow them inside. Celery and bok choy do great in a sunny window.
Dont know if you have tried it yet, considering your comment was a few months ago, but if you havent...It is SO easy to grow celery, I am actually looking at my plant right now, and going to plant a new one soon, I literally cut off the bottom of my store bought celery and planted it, when I looked it up, it said cut off 2 inches from bottom, but I had already cut mine WAY down, I planted it anyways about a month and a half ago, its about 6 inches tall, growing in my kitchen window!! good luck=)
kvmidd22052 years ago
you can do this with lots of things. Melons lay on side, cut them in half scoop out fruit center, save seed. Refill rine with potting soil, plant seed. Will start sprouting. In spring carry outside and plant rine. Use two pallets lean tops together and tie. Train vines to go up your pallet trellis. When melons start forming support them with old shirt or for small melons recycle onion bags or stockings. Let your melons grow in a craddle. You can also start lemon and orange trees this way. Being an Herbivore I prefer to grow what I eat. Currently have tomatoes, spinach, kale, bok choy, celery, tendergreens along with herbs all growing in the house. Want to freak friends out. While talking to them reach over pic a leaf and eat it. My neighbor still asks me what the heck I'm doing when I reach down and eat a dandilion leaf. He totally flipped when I did it to a small thistle leaf.
astraley2 years ago
Thank you for posting this Instructable. I tried it out with a few different kinds of onions but results of 3 out of 5, definitely better than 0 out of 0.
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