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!



    • Nancy says

      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! :)

  1. crafty cousin Trish says

    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 :)

    • Carli says

      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!

  2. Julie says

    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 says

      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?

    • Carli says

      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!

  3. HW says

    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.

  4. says

    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 says

      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!

      • says

        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.

    • Carli says

      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.

  5. GinaB says

    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 says

      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.

  6. Beth says

    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 says

      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!

  7. Alva says

    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 says

      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!

  8. Angela says

    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 says

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

  9. Angela says


    • Carli says

      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….;-/

  10. Katie says

    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 says

      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. 😉

  11. Rayleen says

    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.

  12. says

    Hi! So I tried this after seeing my mom have success with it but I read some comments on a Huff Post article that the taste isn’t the same. So far, mine are growing great (not enough to eat so I haven’t tried them yet) but I was wondering whether you felt there was any difference in the taste?

    • Carli says

      Hmm, I haven’t noticed them tasting different. They may get a little bit stronger but if you ask me, they still taste the same. 😉

  13. says

    Beautiful idea! I tried it and it is so much fun to grow food on your own! Also- super easy and adds fresh color to the kitchen. Thank you for sharing! ❤

  14. Betty says

    I have re-grown green onions in water & I’m currently regrowing Romaine Lettuce -1st time so not sure how it will come out but is now currently about 5″ high. Of course, I am also using Organic produce which I feel may be helping these to grow better.


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