Growing Green Onions in water. Who knew?


Growing Green Onions in water aloneWho knew you could grow green onions in water alone? Until recently I had no idea. Apparently, you just place the onions into a jar of water and put into a sunny window, rinse and refill the jar with fresh water every few days. You’re able to use the tops as needed while keeping about 1 inch of the very bottom of the onion bulb intact to put back into the water. These bottoms will regrow their tops, which provides you with a never ending supply of green onions! Well, probably not never ending - certainly they won’t grow forever with lack of nutrient rich soil – or at least my husband doesn’t think so.

Growing Leek in water aloneI figured, if green onions grow in water alone, wouldn’t a leek do the same thing? I tried to research it but it appears that a leek needs good drainage as it is at risk for root rot. I’m determined to try it anyway. I’ll let you know if I’m successful. We use leeks in salads like crazy so the thought of a never ending supply of leeks makes me extremely giddy. ;-) This Tomato and Leek Salad is my absolute favorite salad recipe. It requires no dressing – just a little bit of olive oil – yet it is the most flavorful salad I’ve ever had. Delicious!





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  1. Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    That’s neat! Another thing I’ll have to save for when I have a house- None of my windows get any kind of sunlight.

    • Nancy
      Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      No just try it now! I live in a cold apartment in Alaska and I always close my windows in winter so it gets 0 sunlight, but my green onions grow plenty, even though they’re not even by the window!

      Why I have no idea. But I think you should try it! :)

  2. MacKenzie
    Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I would LOVE an endless supply of green onions!!! I am so trying this. Thanks for posting Carli :)

  3. crafty cousin Trish
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I love this idea…. I must try it and pass it on to my grandmother that uses green onions like they are going out of style :)

  4. Posted January 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    This is great! Do you think this would work with garlic?!?!? :D

    • Carli
      Posted January 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Hi Shannon, oh goodness – it would be amazing if it would work. I know you can grow garlic by putting it in soil. I’m really not sure about water. Heck, it’s worth a shot. We love garlic around here. If you get to it before I do, please let me know what results you get!

  5. Julie
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    If you eat rice and you wash your rice prior to cooking, you should use that water for the green onions. Most rice is enriched with nutrients (some even tell you not to wash the rice). So all those nutrients might help your plants.

    • Carli
      Posted January 8, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Hey Julie, thanks so much! I don’t think I’ve ever rinsed my rice, but I do rinse my dried beans. Would that be the same scenario?

  6. Julie
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Probably not. Unless they have been enriched.

  7. Ali
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Just wondering why mine is not working!! The ends keep drying up and some are wilting away.

    • Carli
      Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Hi Ali,
      I do have some drying/yellowing of the ends and a few wilty ones every now and then. Only some of them do this some of the time. When it does happen I snip off those ends and that seems to do the job. You could try starting anew by cutting off the root and white part of the onion and placing them back into fresh water. They should start growing back really quickly. Hopefully snipping them helps! Keep me up to date!

  8. HW
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    If there were a grand prize for best kitchen tip, this should surely win it! Thank you so much. I’ve done this to keep onions and some other herbs fresh, but I put them in the refrigerator. I’ve never tried growing them. I intend to now! This is so exciting! I can hardly wait to get started.

    • Carli
      Posted March 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Yay! Glad I could help, HW! It’s really fun and quite amazing how fast they grow. Enjoy!

  9. Posted March 31, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I tried this about a month ago and the roots became yucky. I changed the water out ever other day but it was just gross. I didn’t have enough onions to fit in the mason jar tight…does that matter? I was really disappointed that it didn’t work.

    • Carli
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Hi Tera,
      I haven’t had an issue with the roots. Were they rotting? Next time you have a bunch, try it again and change the water out daily to see if that helps. You may also try to rinse the roots under your faucet daily as well. Also, once you cut the onion root off, the non-root end has to stick out of the water. The whole thing cannot be submerged. This is what I’ve learned from experience when I accidentally had a few fall down into the water. Let me know if that’s successful!

      • Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Thanks Carli,
        I will try that. I had too much of the actual onion in the water I think. I will try again soon and will let you know. Love the site btw.

  10. Jane
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    So, how’d the leeks work out? Any luck?

    • Carli
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jane,
      I wasn’t real impressed with the growing of the leek. It works but the leek grows back SO slowly that it’s just not worth the effort.

  11. Jane
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    Good to know; too bad though. Thank you for the rapid response.

  12. GinaB
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m wondering if you see much growth of the white part of the onion? That’s the part that I like to use more than the dark green part.

    • Mom
      Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      Hi Gina! The white part of the onion becomes more white and thicker when it’s underground, I don’t think you’ll see much growth on that part, but will mainly just get more green tops in water on a windowsill.

  13. Heidi De Vuono
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    great tip, just not sure how much water to use? fill it up or just cover the white at the bottom?

    • Carli
      Posted January 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Hi Heidi, just enough water to keep the roots submerged is just fine!

  14. Beth
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    i had a issues using tap water….try filtered or distilled water.This is the case for all plants and sprouting. chlorine and fluoride are damaging to the plant and destroy natural microorganisms and life in the soil which are beneficial for a healthy plant

    • Carli
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks so much for your input, Beth! I didn’t have any problems with tap water but maybe you will help others that have! :-) Very interesting!

  15. Alva
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I just came across your site and may i say… i think you do a great job–lots of great info and very nicely presented.

    i just wanted to say that if the green onion trick doesn’t work, i think you could get leeks to grow a few more times not by submerging the roots in water, but by putting a small amount of water in a container, then some rocks/marbles/etc., then the leeks. avocado seeds and tulip bulbs can be started this way–the roots get water as needed, but the rocks (or whatever you choose to put there) keep the plant dry.

    also, i think your hubby is right about the need for nutrients… every time i try this, it grows back 2-3 more times, then they’re done. i have to try julie’s tip about using the water from rinsed rice! :)

    • Carli
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Very interesting, Alva! I’ve had great luck with the green onions but not with the leeks – or maybe I’m just too impatient because they grow much, much slower than the green onions. Are you saying to add rocks/marbles then fill the jar with water just to cover the rocks/marbles then add the plant? I assume that way just the roots have a small amount of water and the plant is not submerged in the water at all. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for your input! By the way, I’ve tried to sprout an avocado at least 20 times in my lifetime and I’ve never been successful. Ha!

  16. Angela
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Carli, I have had tons of avocados come up from the compost pile outside, then you can transplant them very carefully into a pot if you want , and overwinter them in the house on a windowsill . I have had some die on my windowsill too, but about 50 % have survived the winter . I think it all depends on how healthy the seed was to begin with …

    • Carli
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Angela, that is so neat! I’m jealous of your avocado success. I should try again now that I’m in a different climate.

  17. Angela
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:00 am | Permalink


    • Carli
      Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you, Angela. It works fabulously for me so I don’t know what could be going wrong….;-/

  18. Katie
    Posted August 8, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I started this in a mason jar for about a month and changed the water about 3 times. But I noticed tiny little worms at the bottom wiggling around eeew! What is that? Has anyone else had that happen?

    • Carli
      Posted August 8, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Oh Katie, YUCK! It definitely wasn’t little fibers of the roots, right? I typically change the water every other day or so. Mine always starts to smell of strong onions if I don’t. ;-)

  19. Rayleen
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    I just tried this out this year. So far i have had success. The first try wasn’t so well but they lasted longer then in the fridge, so i tried it again and have transferred them into a clear glass vase so i can tell when i need to change the water. Mine tends to grow green algae every now and then so i just rinse the roots and vase when this happens and snip all the old dried leaves. It then springs right back up and grows fast. I have had them for awhile now and the white part started getting bigger i was curious and took them out and they started splitting into 2 onions from one onion so its possible i can have twice as many! For those who are having a hard time I think if its too hot in your window sill to move them out of direct sunlight they will still grow. Mine get sun in the early afternoon then later in the day its sunny out but its not direct sunlight so they are still getting sun through out the day and this way it cant get too hot for them and i also use tap water and they are doing well.

4 Trackbacks

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