How to Grow Red Onion Sets Successfully
Red onions (Allium cepa) are easy and tasty to grow but are often ignored by gardeners due to their bitter taste. However, they have a number of benefits for your garden, which makes them ideal for a beginner's or amateur gardener's plants. Many varieties can be used both as a substitute for onions in sauces or soups, and as a natural weed killer.
Red onions grow best in well-drained, loose sandy soil. Sow the seeds indoors about 8 to 12 inches ahead of the frost date for optimal growth. Plant at the rate of once per square foot; the more frequent the better. In spring, pull seeds from the plant with a pair of shears, remembering that red onion seeds lose their flavor when exposed to air.
Red onions are widely adaptive, which means they can handle sudden temperature fluctuations, changing soil types, drought and some pests. They are fairly simple species to keep healthy. Most require a light to medium pruning, and the timing of each pruning event can determine when the plant flowers. A well-timed frost will help suppress weed growth in the late summer. Prune to increase the size of blooms in the short day red Creole.
The Red onion plants have red, fleshy leaves that grow up to three feet high and darken to purple with the age of the plant. The flowers rise only a few inches off the ground, while the roots develop deep into the ground. The short day variety flower in pink, and the long-day variety flower in orange. The production of red onions is high during the spring after the frost, producing small, single flower heads. Harvest red onions at their peak growth in the late summer or early fall.
The Red Oranges is easy plants to cultivate, and they make an ideal crop for beginning gardeners because they do not require a great deal of fertilizer. The Red onion plants should be planted in fertile soil, with some sand added to the bedding to ensure good drainage. The plants can tolerate some shade, but the soil should be rich in nutrients and well drained. Mulch should be used around the plants to preserve moisture.
Plant two sets of about four plants each, allowing each set to grow to about four inches apart. Set the plants on peat moss at the base of each set of plants, cover the moss with dirt and water well. The bulbs will need to be transplanted directly into the peat moss, and make sure to cover the bulb completely with dirt when you place it in the hole. Do not over crowd the plants, as they will need room to grow. Cover the bulbs completely with dirt when you remove them from the pots.
Keeping the Red Onions in wet conditions for any length of time is unhealthy for the plant and can cause it to die. The plant will actually reward you with leafy, beautiful flowers if you water it properly and allow it to get the sunlight it needs. Red onion plants grow quickly and have a great deal of blooming flowers, but they do not like being crowded. Keep the plants healthy by providing them with enough space, and keep in mind that you only need to water the bulbs about once every two weeks or so.
When you transplant your Red Onions from their containers into their new home, keep in mind that you want the roots to be about a half to an inch long. Keep your fingers away from the bulb until it starts to settle in, about six to eight weeks after you pluck the bulb. Once it is about half way through its first set of leaves, and has started to change colors, remove it from the pot and place it in a plastic bag. Make sure that the container is tightly sealed and that you don't get any water in it. Once it starts to settle, it will take another two to three weeks before it is ready for transplanting outdoors.