How To Grow Scallions In Water

A Brief History of Growing Scallions

The scallion has a rich history that dates back over 5,000 years to ancient Egypt. They grew wild in several different regions, and they claim the title as one of the earliest cultivated crops because they were easy to grow, lasted a long time, were easy to transport, and they thrive in different climates and soil types. Scallions and onions in general could help stave off dehydration, and you can dry them to preserve them. 

Scallions had an important role to play for food, but it was also popular in medicine, art, and mummification. They symbolized eternity in ancient Egyption culture, and it wasn’t uncommon for pharaohs to have onions placed in their eye sockets after they died. Today, the scallion is a popular vegetable throughout the world for its versatility. You’ll find people harvesting and growing green onions for restaurants and in home gardens all around the world. It is very easy to grow scallions.

You can buy scallions in small bunches at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Growing green onions is just as easy as buying them. 

Watering Your Scallions

Water is an essential part of growing green onions, and the soil can’t get too wet. If it does, your scallions can rot or become prone to decay. Ideally, the scallions will get at least one inch of rain every week. If they don’t, make a point to soak your scallion’s soil thoroughly one time every seven days. If you have sandy soil instead of rich potting soil, you’ll have to water at least twice a week because the water drains rapidly in the sandy soil. 

For sandy soil, an inch of water will get the soil wet down to 10 inches below the surface. If you have a more heavy clay-like soil, an inch of water will get the soil wet down six inches below the surface. You can use a trowel to see how far down your soil is wet. If it’s only wet two or three inches, keep watering it until it gets at least six inches down. 


Step 2. How big should the cuttings be when you regrow green onions

Measure from the base where the roots start, cut each sprig of green onions so you have 1″ to 2″ of stem attached to the roots. This will be plenty for the green onions to regrow.

Next put these cuttings with roots in water or plant them in soil. Let’s first look at the water growing method.

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Scallions vs. Garlic

The leaves of a garlic plant can sometimes be mistaken for scallions. They’re both tall, narrow, and green. However, a telltale difference is the garlic leaves will smell faintly like garlic while the scallion leaves will smell like onion. The garlic leaves are also typically thicker than scallion leaves. 

Propagating Scallions

Scallions are often propagated by division when they are grown as perennials. Spring is the best time to divide a mature plant. Here’s how:

  1. Simply dig up a clump, leaving the roots as intact as possible.
  2. Gently pull apart the roots to create two or more sections, depending on how large the plant is. 
  3. Replant each section in a suitable growing site, patting the soil around it and watering well.

How to Harvest Scallion Seeds

If you’d like to harvest your own seeds for planting next year:

  1. Allow some scallion plants to flower. Avoid cutting the stalks from a few of your scallions, until they form round, fluffy flowers at the tips.
  2. Chop the flowers off. After the flowers are mature, carefully snip off each flower and put them in a paper bag to dry.
  3. Dry for two weeks. During drying, the flowers will wilt and crisp, revealing the seeds inside.
  4. Shake the bag. Once the flowers are completely dry, all you need to do is shake the bag to get the seeds loose from the flowerheads—they’ll drop to the bottom of the bag and are ready for you to store until planting.

Planting Green Onions

Begin to sow seed indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost. Keep the seeds moist and they should emerge in 7 to 14 days. ​​If direct sowing seed, sow each seed ¼ inch deep when temperatures are at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A seedling heating mat can help with germination. Thin seedlings so they are 2 inches apart or leave them to separate later.

When the seedlings are ready to transplant, separate the seedlings. Begin to transplant 2 to 4 weeks before your last frost date in the spring, but if desired you can keep planting throughout the spring and summer season and into the fall. Space seedlings one to two inches apart, with rows spaced 6 inches apart. Consider interplanting with your other crops as green onions may help to repel pests from your garden. Be sure to irrigate regularly as onion plants have shallow roots. 

Plant traditional onion sets 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. Care for them like you would a transplanted green onion, but plant at least 2 inches apart to allow space for bulb growth. Remember, the green leaves can be used just like green onions are, but an Allium cepa will eventually form a larger onion bulb.

How to Plant Scallions From Seeds

Scallion seeds will germinate in soil that is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you’re sure that your soil will remain warm enough for the seeds (whether it’s early spring in your area or in a pot indoors), it’s time to plant:

  1. Prepare the planting site. Scallions can be planted in either a garden bed or in a pot indoors, but they do require at least six hours a day of full sun. Scallions aren’t heavy feeders, so don’t worry about fertilizer—the young onions can easily grow in well-draining soil with organic matter.
  2. Sow the seeds. Scallions can be planted relatively close together since they don’t require much horizontal growing room. Sow seeds one to two inches apart and only a quarter of an inch deep.
  3. Water. Scallions require routine watering to successfully grow. Keep the soil evenly moist as your seeds germinate.
  4. Thin. After your scallion seedlings are one to two inches tall, use shears to thin the seedlings so that there is one scallion every two inches. Thinning the seedlings gives the scallions more room to grow and prevents them from competing with nearby plants for nutrients.

Harvesting your Scallions

Once the plant reaches roughly 6″ tall it is ready to harvest. In this respect, you have two options. Firstly, you can pluck the entire plant, all of which is edible. This will however stop the plant from regrowing as the entire plant is used. This does however yield the bulb at the bottom of the plant which has its own unique flavor and is called for in some recipes.

You can also simply clip off the top couple inches of the plant, and leave the white bottom and root intact. The scallion will continue to grow after this, and can be re-harvested every couple of weeks. This is the best option for those looking for a continuous supply of the plant.

Even if you don’t plan on using it, keeping your plant trimmed is good for its health. Trimming it every couple of weeks encourages healthy growth.

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Soil Container

Like other onions, scallions have a fairly shallow root system and therefore require fairly moist soil. That said, you don’t want the soil soaking in water. Your best bet is to choose a nutrient rich, well draining potting soil. Then, add a few inches of small rocks or pebbles to the bottom of the container to promote good drainage.

Generally, using clay pots is going to be perfectly fine. These not only help to prevent over-watering, but are also very cheap and easy to obtain. A wide variety of other containers will also work fine. Scallions and green onions are quite hardy and will do well in a variety of containers if taken care of.

They can also be easily grown in a variety of container sizes. You want it to be at least 6” deep, and roughly the same width. Any container you do use should also have drainage holes to promote proper drainage. This gives you a lot of options in your location to plant them as well.

Comparing green onion cuttings grown in water vs soil

Regrowing green onions in water is super fast and

Regrowing green onions in water is super fast and easy. You can see the roots growing, and it is a fun projects for children, older kids, and really, everyone in the family.

The soil method takes slightly more time and more work, but the ability to plant in sun and soil full of nutrients will produce much bigger plants.

We like to jump start our scallion scraps in water

We like to jump start our scallion scraps in water, then plant them in soil after a couple of weeks. This way we get continuous harvests over a long period of time. 


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