Instructables

Grow Onions from Discarded Onion Bottoms

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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.
rsii9610 hours 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?

women_tips2 months ago

Great post!thanks for sharing

AngryRedhead (author)  women_tips2 months ago

Glad you like it! :)

blonde12 months 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?

WoundedEgo11 months 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.

I will do that. Thanks so much for the info! :)
jonathanago5 months ago
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)  josiemcdoo9251 year 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=)
kvmidd22051 year 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.
astraley1 year 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.
AngryRedhead (author)  astraley1 year ago
There's some variability with how much flesh/meat you leave on the onion to give it some energy to produce roots and leaves, and there's some variability with how old the onion was.  Stuff like that.



Glad you got some success though!  And hope you had fun!
I definitely did/am. The onions themselves (the ones that actually took root) are still very small, but have green bits on them. I love watching plants get larger over time, and hope these little guys can handle being out in the garden when i transfer them from the pot later. Have a wonderful day and thank you for the quick response :)
SinAmos2 years ago
I've been doing this for a long time, but I can't believe you made an instructable on this.
I found it very useful - sometimes the simplest things are the ones which are overlooked. I've been growing onions for years and it never occurred to me that you could do this.
Was that insulting?
numian4 years ago
I have never tried this with onions before but have done it with many fruits & vegetable that have seeds.  Produce is so expensive I just couldn't accept  not using the seeds.  Not that seeds are expensive I guess it's just principle. Some seeds I've tried to grow from store bought produce are listed below:
Yellow & red Peppers-Let them dry in a glass or ceramic bowl on a windowsill before planting.
Cantalope-easy to germinate, just plant the seeds as they are removed from the fruit, no need to clean.  Spead them out because it seemed every one sprouts! They need lots of room to grow
Potatoes-easy
cucumbers- Let them dry first need to climb easy to grow
Mango & avocado- More difficult-use the small round HAAS avacados not much luck with Mangos
Watermelon-Easy to grow except the "seedless" variety:-)

I save seeds also.  After they've dried keep in plactic ziplock snack bags. I put the date  and what they are and store them in a drawer.  Toss them out after 2 years, not worth the time, just save more!
Has anyone tried to grow pomegranite seeds?
Pomegranite seeds are designed, like tomato or kiwi, to go through the digestive system before becoming capable of being grown.  I think that you could simulate such a thing by soaking them in vinegar. 
 You can achieve the same affect of the digestive system by letting the fruit or vegetable to rot and ferment.  Then remove seeds, rinse and dry........we have been doing this for years.  Do remember though unless organic many fruits and vegetables are altered so as not to reproduce.......finances for the producers I imagine.  Good luck.
lunus lianalw4 years ago
The inability for some produce to re-produce (haha, I made a funny) isn't completely intentional.  If any of you remember 7th grade biology, two different species /can/ reproduce, but that offspring cannot reproduce.  Hybrids, by definition are sterile (unless some other kind of sciencey magic has been played).

And of course, hybridization is done to marry desireable traits from seperate species such as toughness, quality and quantity of fruit, and other factors for ease of handling and quality of final product.  For example, machine farming of tomatoes was made possible by engineering a tougher tomato.
 To quote Steve10m, quite not true.

First, it is exceedingly rare that two different species will have any offspring at all. Second, the two individuals being mated in these cases of hybridization are not different species anyway, they are simply different varieties of the same species. Such hybrids are NOT sterile. Almost ALL store bought fruit will have viable seeds. The issue is not that hybrids can not have offspring. The issue is that hybrids can not reproduce, by which I mean they will not likely create offspring with the same traits as the parents. This is in contrast to heirloom varieties, where the traits are stable across generations.

Think in terms of people. Take two individuals whose families have been blonde for generations and let them have offspring. Those offspring will also be blonde. Contrast that to two blonde individuals whose families have varied hair colour. Their offspring will likely include numerous brown-haired children.

The same is true of hybrids. If two heirlooms are crossed so as to produce larger, more colourful, disease resistant fruit, there is no guarantee that the fruit of ITS offspring will have any of these traits.

 

And since it came up, the creation of "seedless" varieties involves the cross breeding of varieties which contain "self-incompatibility" genes, which prevent them from crossing with varieties different from themselves. Such plants, however, display a large degree of "parthenocarpy," the ability to generate fruit without fertilization. As such they have fruit, but no seeds, as the eggs never get fertilized by pollen.

(removed by author or community request)
 Sorry, but you are just flat out incorrect. On the first point, the existence of the mule (or the liger, the tion, or any of the other cross species hybrids) in NO way invalidates my statement. To wit:
"it is exceedingly rare that two different species will have any offspring at all."

What part of this statement are you claiming is the opposite of true? Are you claiming that cross species hybrids are common? You would be gravely mistaken.
More importantly, EVERY thing I said about the generation of seedless fruit is 100% accurate. Please detail exactly what you are claiming is "quite the opposite" of true.
If you are claiming that plant hybrids are sterile, I can GUARANTEE you that you are wrong. First, I grow plants from hybrid seed all the time; so do lots of people. Second, again, hybrid crosses are NOT from different species, they are varieties of the SAME species. Thus your horse/donkey/mule analogy is entirely off base.


FTR, my field of study is microbiology and neuroscience.
 Wow you guys....if debating is what you are looking for maybe a different forum would be better.  The idea of this sounding board is to create a place for people to ask questions and share their alterations of the ideas not to be critical and debate every issue posted.  Possibly, it doesn't come up when you are writing your post but on mine there is a little box that reads;"We have a "be nice" comment policy. Please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site."  Just asking you to quit peeing in our cornflakes, please.


You are so brilliant! There is nothing I can possibly say to you that will come close to expressing my extreme admeration of you!!!
I admere you too.
As no one is doing that….
Personally, I would never do such a thing.  Bizarre images running through my head.  I suspect that if you grew an onion from the seeds or base of a hybrid, they would come out either as exact clones of the parent, or of one of the grandparents.
But-! im going to restrain myself from joining the debate :) nice instructable! I'm going to try (and probly fail) growing some onions!
You are so brilliant! There is nothing I can possibly say to you that will come close to expressing my extreme admeration of you!!!
If an onion grows in the forest, and a liger eats it, did it really grow?
IG-88 lunus4 years ago
 So basically what you are saying is that "hybrid" store bought fruit will grow and make more fruit but just not llike the "parent" plant, correct? 
DIY-Guy lianalw3 years ago
"...unless organic, many fruits and vegetables are altered so as not to reproduce"
Reproduction of seed versus 'organic':
The use of organic growing technique has no direct relation to the viability of  hybrid, or non-hybrid seeds. Non-hybrid seeds are also known as heirloom seeds, open-pollinated, or heritage seeds. Hybrid seeds can be grown with organic methods and they will still not breed true. The use of organic growing methods, or not, has almost no effect upon fertility of the seed. Could there be non-organic produce in markets containing seeds which will reproduce? Certainly, just as organically grown hybridized produce could show up in a farmers market. But the chance of finding reproduceable heritage seed vegetables is much higher in the farmers markets with organic crops. It is a growing philosophy among small farmers.

Remember, viability is related to fertility or the ability of sprout, and the concept of reproduceability is related to the idea of "breeding true" and getting the same characteristics in the following generations of plants.
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