Growing Spring Onions from Onion Stumps.
Is it worth it?

I like to do things just because I like to do them.  Can I go to the store and buy Maple Syrup?  Yes.  Of course I can.  I’m not an idiot  you  know.  Well, sometimes I am actually, but not in this particular instance.  The time I tried to teach myself taxidermy?  That’s more of an “idiot” instance.

The reason I do so many things myself is because I’m curious.  I like to do things on my own because I think it’s fun.  A lot of times it saves me money, occasionally it saves me time, but it always, always is entertaining.

The odd time I come across something that’s just too incredible to ignore.

This … is one such time.

A few weeks ago, The Art of Doing Stuff reader Kim Merry, emailed me asking if I’d heard of growing green onions from the green onion roots you cut off.  After sitting calmly to lower my blood pressure, and taking a good stiff drink to get rid of my trembling hands, I emailed Kim back.  NO!  NO I HAD NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING!!!

I thanked Kim for letting me know about this process and immediately started Googling.  From what I read it appeared as though myself and the crazy guy in town with bells on his shoes were the only ones not growing green onions from the onion stumps.

According to the Internet, to grow beautiful green onions all you have to do is stick the roots in water and watch em grow!  Overnight practically!

At this point in my research I was so excited I almost had to put in a piddle pad next to my computer.  It was *that* exciting.  Since I always think I’m out of green onions and therefore buy them every single time I’m at the grocery store, I had an entire crisper full of green onions to experiment with.

I did a bit more research and found you could do the same thing using soil.  Soil, being less exciting than growing something with just air and water only elevated me to a state of “Yay”.  As opposed to the near stroke-like condition I was in up until that point.

So I rolled up my sleeves (they were short sleeves so I looked kind of like the Fonz) and got to work.  Cutting onions, taking pictures and documenting the whole experiment for 3 weeks.  Here’s how it went.

The Great Great Onion Experiment

Grab a bunch of Green Onions


Chop off the roots, leaving a bit of the white part.  I left varying sizes of white from a tiny amount to a large amount.


Stick the roots in a jar of water.


Stick them on a sunny windowsill.  I had quite a struggle keeping the onions standing upright.  I had to use tweezers to get them in the jar and lean them against the side to stand up.  Then they fell down.


Plant a few green onion stumps in soil.  Just stick em in and leave them.

According to most sites these will turn into lush, green onions in a matter of days!


3 weeks pass.

Behold the Great Green Onion Experiment Results.


I ended up transferring the green onions in the jar into this contraption. After 4 days or so the green onions in the water rotted to a disgusting, putrid mess.

So I tried a glass filled with water with a glass flower frog to hold the onions on top.  This way the onions would stay upright and not too much of the base would get soaked.  Brilliant, right?  Didn’t work.  Clearly.

The green onions in the soil did much better.   The stumps actually produced green onions.  (just the green part .. the white part doesn’t grow)

However, having said that, for 3 weeks of watering etc., and a kind of mediocre result I’m gonna have to call this experiment a fail.


Although technically the technique works … for me … it just ain’t worth it.

It didn’t produce results worthy of a piddle pad.  Which is what I was hoping for.


Feel free to give it a shot.  But if after 3 weeks this is all I ended up with, I think I’ll continue to spend the $0.69 and buy my green onions.



So no more green onion growing for me.  I’ll leave the vegetable growing for the front yard.  Funny.  I guess it turns out the guy with bells on his shoes is smarter than he looks.

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  1. Lori jones says:

    Hi I was wondering where you went! Haven’t seen you posts in a long time! Glad to see that you have not gone, by the way

  2. Alyssa says:

    So I actually love to garden, and I’ve been growing green onions using just water for a while! I use a rather large piece of the white base and place it in a shallow jar with just enough water to cover the bottom. In just a few days I have at least 3 inches of green onion growing. 🤗

  3. Debbie says:

    I thought you might be interested to hear a different experience. I took home a giant bag of onion scraps from a commercial kitchen five years ago. I was going to turn it into compost. But as I was dumping them out into the pile, I noticed that there were hundreds of green onion stumps. So I tossed probably two hundred into a couple of tubs of soil I had on my patio. I placed the roots downwards and slightly pressed into the soil. I left them there and forgot about them. From those I harvested green onion tops for 5 years to chop and place into salads and top Thai food, and anywhere else I thought it would add flavor to a dish. I never watered them, they sometimes sat in the full sun and sometimes were in a shadier spot. They were literally the easiest things I’ve ever grown and continued to grow soft green tops as long as they were cut somewhat regularly. We finally moved out of that house, and now it sits empty. Those onions were abandoned and have finally grown into giant, stiff inedible stems which turned into round globes with seed. So they will actually have a second life as new green onions. For something I never put any effort into, what a great return.

  4. Kylie says:

    It does work, but use water instead of soil. Also this person cut them wayyyy to short. Cut only the green, stopping once you reach the white!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kylie. This person is me. :) The problem, like I explained in the post is the fact that for me the white part is the most important part of a green onion when cooking. They do grow in soil, it’s just that you don’t get to use/reuse the white part. ~ karen!

  5. Candice says:

    ** You need to leave about an inch and a half to regrow – About 5 times what you had. **

    <ome wprl great!

  6. Eden says:

    I Just had to comment on this! Because I too was as excited about the possibility of growing green onions in nothing but water. Just as excited as you, but my experience was completely different! I would like to comment that yes this does definitely work, I managed to get about 2-3 decent regrowths out of my spring onions. Now they have started to turn a little mushy, but I suspect that is really down to my neglect. From your images I can see where the issue is, the stems were cut too short. You need to cut just below the green, leave quite a nice portion of white I left maybe 1.5inches. I get the feeling the more white you leave the better the results and quicker the regrowth, and possibly the longer the onions will continue to re-grow for. Also make sure you remove any white layers that look mushy, and change the water daily. Finally don’t cover the stems in too much water. Here is my forage into regrowing spring onions. I will definitely try this again and after about 3 weeks of regrowing them I will now try plant the roots in soil and see if this works well. What I have noticed is that the onions get thinner and thinner each time they regrow, I have a theory that potting them after a few weeks will change this result. Try it again! It does work : )

  7. Ada Ardito says:

    I think the greens from garlic taste much better. Just stick a clove (pointy end up) in a cup with some potting soil and clip off the greens when you need them. They have a nice mild garlic flavor when you just want to add a little something to a dish. Great to sprinkle on just before serving as a fresh garnish.

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