Garden Design with Grocery Store Onions

By Published On: June 7th, 20242.2 min readCategories: Garden

Grocery store onions look good as garden plants

A closeup of an onion in flower

A yellow onion flower up close

My wife didn’t do any gardening when she was growing up. She didn’t even have houseplants.

But when she started dating me, she quickly learned that just about anything could become a garden, even if you didn’t have a yard. Shelves, countertops, windows, a balcony – all could become plant places.

After we got married and moved to our own house, she also learned that lots of produce from the grocery store could find new purpose in the garden. Rather than tossing potatoes that were growing eyes, or onions and garlic that were sprouting, she began stashing them in spots around the garden.

While I wasn’t always happy about potatoes sprouting in the rose garden, or aggressive beans using my tropical plants as climbing poles, I did rather like the onions.

When they’re in the growing phase, they’re compact, non-invasive and have green, leathery leaves that make a nice understory for annual flowers and the like. But it’s when they flower that they really shine.

Plain old grocery store yellow onions will grow leaves for the better part of the year and then put up a flower stalk that’s two or three feet tall. The flower head, which is actually lots of tiny flowers, looks like a big, puffy softball at the end of a stick.

Onions in flower

Yellow onions flowering

The ones currently blooming in my herb garden were planted last fall after they started to get mushy and sprout. Now they’re poking up above the sage and rosemary like big, white lollipops. Other varieties like Spanish (red) onions will produce pink to purple flowers.

They’ll stay in bloom for several weeks before the flower petals die back and the head gets ready to drop its seeds. When it does, I tie a paper lunch sack over it and catch the seeds in it, so we’ll have more onions to plant in late fall. Win win!

The onions poking up over the rosemary in the herb garden

So, the next time your onions (or garlic, scallions, or any of the other bulb produce at the store) get past their prime and start to sprout, rather than tossing them in the waste bin, go stick them in the garden.

They’ll provide you with foliage, flowers and food for next to nothing!

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About the Author

author avatar
Sage Osterfeld
I’m just a guy with nearly an acre of dirt, a nice little mid-century ranch house and a near-perfect climate. But in my mind I’m a landscaper survivalist craftsman chef naturalist with a barbeque the size of a VW and my own cable TV show. I like to write about the stuff I build, grow and see here at Sage's Acre.

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