We’ve curated a list of 17 of the best onion varieties to grow in your garden. But before we look at it, I wanted to offer some reassurance.
You really can’t go wrong! Any onion harvest can perk up your home menu.
And once you’ve sampled the subtle or pungent flavors and freshness of homegrown varieties, you may never return to store-bought onions. They’re just that good.
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The range you can grow is both impressive and convenient for the home cook.
You may prefer scallions, for example – Allium fistulosum. These types have rounded stalks with hollow green tops and they never form bulbs.
They are harvested in spring or fall as a green onion harvest.
There are also delightful fresh types, like ‘Walla Walla,’ that form bulbs but have soft necks. They are mild and crunchy, and intended to be eaten within a few weeks of pulling.
And don’t overlook storage types! While they tend to take at least 120 days to reach a harvestable stage when you grow them from seed, different varieties of these bulbing onions can be cured to last for months in winter storage.
Any of the bulbing types – fresh or storage types – can also be grown and harvested as green onions when they’re immature and haven’t yet formed bulbs in the spring.
Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best varieties in each of these categories. Here’s the lineup:
17 of the Best Garden Onion Varieties
First, a quick recap of what’s required for growing onions in different areas:
It’s possible to grow A. fistulosum – aka scallions or bunching types – as perennials in Zones 4 to 9 and as annuals elsewhere.
But fresh or storage types – A. cepa varieties – form bulbs in response to light, and certain types only grow well in areas with a certain day length.
While gardeners have to mainly consider temperature-driven USDA Hardiness Zones when selecting other vegetables for their area, with onions you also have to look at the number of hours of light you receive per day based on your latitude as well.
These are the three day-length designations:
- Short-day varieties are best suited for growing at latitudes of 25 to 35° and will form bulbs when the day length is 10 to 12 hours. They also require the milder weather of USDA Hardiness Zones 7 and warmer to grow to maturity.
- Intermediate-day, also called “day neutral,” are ordinarily sweet and will usually form bulbs in any growing zone. But they do best in latitudes ranging from 32 to 42° and Zones 5 to 6. They start bulbing when they receive 12 to 14 hours of daylight.
- Long-day types do best at latitudes of 37 to 47° and start forming bulbs when day length is 14 to 16 hours. They are ordinarily grown by northern gardeners, those in Zone 6 or lower.
If you have your heart set on growing bulbing types – and honestly, who wouldn’t? – be sure to buy the proper type of sets, starts, or seeds for your area.
Here are 17 top choices to add oniony goodness to the garden:
Bunching Onions and Scallions
If you like the idea of perennial alliums that grow quickly to a harvestable size in spring and then spread to form clusters – or bunches – these scallions and bunching onion varieties have you covered. Or should I say, they’ll cover your veggie patch after a few seasons?
It’s also possible to grow these as annuals and pull the whole harvest at once. Check out our guide to growing scallions for more tips.
You can plant a long row of them in a traditional vegetable patch, grow a dozen in a container, or tuck a few around other spring vegetables to maximize a small-space garden.
Here are three of the best options:
1. Evergreen White Nebuka
These fast-growing scallions produce bunches of long, slim, tender stalks with hollow green blades at the top.
They grow five to nine inches long and are ready to pull from the soil any time from 65 to 120 days, making them well-suited for spring or fall planting.
Find ‘Evergreen White Nebuka’ seeds in packets and bulk from Eden Brothers.
If you’re a big fan of takeout and ramen, this Japanese heirloom has a mild, sweet texture and can serve as a gateway onion for those just starting to cook with fresh homegrown produce.
The plants are easy to care for and spread readily if you can grow them as perennials. You may want to start the seeds indoors in areas with a short season.
‘Heshiko’ is tasty even if you just chop it to top your favorite Asian takeout.
Or eat the harvest tossed in stir-fries, minced to garnish ramen or miso soup, or fresh from the garden on a crudites platter.
It grows 12 to 14 inches tall with white stalks that develop an increasingly pungent flavor if you leave them in the ground beyond 60 days.
‘Heshiko’ seeds are available from Eden Brothers in packets and in bulk.
‘Parade’ features robust, slim white stalks with deep green tops, and a mild flavor.
It’s a vigorous grower, suitable for cultivation in both warm and cool climates. Expect an abundant harvest of 12- to 16-inch scallions after just 65 days.
Find packets of 1500 seeds available at Burpee.
4. Tokyo Long White
A favorite bunching variety,‘Tokyo Long White’ offers long white stalks with sturdy blue-green tops.
They’re resistant to hot weather and reasonably cold tolerant as well, making them perfect for planting in a variety of climates.
You’ll find they take 65 to 100 days to reach maturity, depending on where you’re located and when you plant.
Get your seeds now from True Leaf Market.
Bulbing types bred to eat fresh will take longer to mature than bunching varieties, though you may want to harvest some or all of these cultivars of A. cepa when they’re immature and eat them as spring onions.
Typically, fresh onions are sweeter than storage cultivars and provide a pleasant, mild flavor to recipes ranging from fried, breaded appetizers to homemade jam.
Growing a big crop? Plan to share these with the neighbors before they go bad, or make a few batches of soup for the freezer.
Our sister site, Foodal, has a no-fail recipe for Instant Pot French onion soup for you to try.
5. Ailsa Craig
What a tasty legacy! These globe-shaped, white-fleshed and golden-skinned bulbs are named after the island of Ailsa off the coast of Scotland. They were introduced by the gardener to the Marquis of Ailsa, David Murray, in 1887.
Och, they are large, averaging two pounds. Perhaps giant onion rings could feature on the menu? Or a big pot of jam?
Also known as ‘Kelsae Sweet Giant,’ ‘Ailsa Craig’ produces shorter stalks than other varieties, so it can be stored for a few weeks longer than other fresh types.
This long-day variety will be ready to pull from the garden about 110 days from sowing.
Find ‘Ailsa Craig’ in 200-seed packets available from David’s Garden Seeds via Amazon.
6. Italian Torpedo
Direct hit! This distinctive fresh variety has tall green leaves and forms bulbs with pinkish-red skins and an elongated shape.
It spans the categories of long day and day neutral.
The sweet, tender flesh of ‘Italian Torpedo’ is a natural addition to Italian fare from fresh tomato sauce to roasted Mediterranean vegetables to pizza, and the variety comes from Tropea in Italy.
‘Italian Torpedo’ takes about 110 days to reach maturity, and mature bulbs will last at least a month after harvest.
Or, pull them after about 50 days, once you see the stalks begin to bulge a bit, and eat them like pretty pink spring onions.
Packets of 300 ‘Italian Torpedo’ seeds are available from Burpee.
7. Red Burgundy
This short-day globe type takes about 100 days to mature after sowing. It is best enjoyed in the weeks after harvest. Its three- to four-inch bulbs are white with red rings and dark red skins.
If the name makes you think of Burgundy wine, that’s appropriate since this onion is perfect in beef Burgundy or any number of other stews, soups, or stir-fries.
The color is also pretty made into a quick pickle, tossed in fresh salads, or chopped as a taco topping.
‘Red Burgundy’ is an heirloom that offers good resistance against pink root disease.
Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
8. Utah Yellow Sweet Spanish
How sweet it is! Sure, ‘Utah Yellow Sweet Spanish’ is an onion, but its flesh adds an almost apple-like sweetness to stews, stir-fries, and – if you’re feeling indulgent – dips or onion rings.
This long-day cultivar produces huge bulbs in about 115 days that will stay fresh for a few weeks after harvest.
Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
9. Walla Walla
Hurrah for ‘Walla Walla!’ Hailing from Washington State, this popular long-day variety produces vegetables that weigh up to two pounds each!
Extremely sweet and very mild, they have a higher water content than some varieties. They may be cured but they don’t typically have a very extensive shelf life.
Whether fresh or cured, refrigerator storage is best. Chopped freezer storage is another excellent option for this variety if you have a bumper crop.
Bulbs will reach full maturity in about 90 days.
10. White Grano
Big, sweet onions come in short-day varieties, too. ‘White Grano’ produces large, white, spherical bulbs in about 100 days.
Rings of the soft, mild flesh are tasty on burgers, or chop one up to add to chili or meatloaf and the kitchen will smell heavenly.
‘White Grano’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
11. White Sweet Spanish
A compact white type, these are perfect for fresh summer salads and lend a sweet and subtle flavor to any recipe that calls for chopped onion.
Also known as ‘Late White,’ grow this cultivar in combination with an earlier variety to have a continual fresh harvest.
This long-day fresh type requires about 110 days to reach maturity.
Like all long-day types, ‘White Sweet Spanish’ is best suited to northern gardens in USDA hardiness Zones 6 or lower.
But southern gardeners can still enjoy growing this variety as an annual. It won’t bulb, but a springtime harvest of the green onions is delicious.
‘Sweet Spanish White’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
Growing storage types is a slightly different proposition.
They are delicious and economical since you can often harvest pounds of them in the fall, cure them properly, and have a good long storage season for a supply that will last throughout the winter.
They tend to take a long time to mature, up to six months, and more time to dry adequately after that.
It’s a good idea to plant seeds indoors or transplant sets to get a jump on the season.
If you’re not a big fan of a strong onion flavor, be aware that even homegrown storage types can be fairly pungent.
If you’re seeking the longest life for the onions you grow, these varieties are ideal:
Unlike the typical Halloween or Easter type, this ‘Candy’ is a keeper.
An intermediate or day-neutral variety, ‘Candy’ reliably produces three- to four-inch bulbs with light yellow flesh and thin, paper-like skin.
These have a mild bite to them but they’re pleasantly crisp and tangy. They will reach maturity after 85 days and are delicious either fresh or cured and taken from storage.
Purchase ‘Candy’ seeds in packets or in bulk from True Leaf Market.
Burpee will also ship a 125-set bundle of ‘Candy’ in the proper growing season for your area.
13. Crystal White Wax
Can you see a pickling onion in your future?
A short-day variety, ‘Crystal White Wax’ forms small, roundish to oblong-shaped bulbs perfect for pickling. They mature in about 95 days, which is early for most storage varieties.
With a mild, sweet flavor, you can expect these to produce larger bulbs in the south or tiny pearls in the north. Gardeners in warmer climes who wish to enjoy a pearl-sized harvest can just pick them earlier.
Packets and bulk seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
Known for producing uniform, firm, yellow-fleshed bulbs with straw-colored skins, hybrid ‘Patterson’ bulbs are renowned as the longest-storing variety to grow in your garden.
It’s a long-day variety, producing three- to four-inch bulbs that are crunchy and mildly pungent, and they’re ready to harvest and cure about 104 days from sowing.
With proper curing, these will remain fresh in cool storage for up to a year.
You can purchase 125-start bundles of ‘Patterson’ from Burpee.
15. Red Creole
You don’t have to live in Louisiana to grow this four-inch, spicy, purple-fleshed onion, but you do need grow them in a short-day location.
It’s well-suited to southern climates and southern cooking, too – use it chopped in casseroles or simmered in Creole or Cajun dishes.
‘Red Creole’ takes 110 days to mature before harvest and curing. Expect it to last in storage for six or seven months.
Seeds are available in various package sizes from True Leaf Market.
16. Ruby Red
‘Ruby Red’ is an heirloom cultivar that produces firm, medium-sized bulbs with deep purple skins.
It was introduced to market in 1964 by Asgrow Seed Company, and being a long-day variety is popular with northern gardeners.
It takes 120 days to mature, and after curing, bulbs will last up to six months in storage.
You can find seeds available in a variety of packet sizes from Eden Brothers.
17. Yellow Granex
These may look like ordinary yellow onions like you might find at the supermarket, but they are popular with home gardeners for a reason. Several reasons, actually.
Hybrid ‘Yellow Granex’ is resistant to pink root rot, producing three- to four-inch yellow bulbs with a flattened shape, and among storage types, they are considered the sweetest.
The harvest window for this short-day variety is 110 to 160 days.
They taste great fresh, but they’re extra delicious when you cure and store them so you can have sweet, mild onions all winter.
Buy packets of 100 ‘Yellow Granex’ seeds from San Diego Seed Company via Gardener’s Supply.
Grow to Love All the Onions
Once you select the best onion for your area and to suit your personal preferences, you’ll be on your way to growing one of the tastiest, most useful vegetable crops for home gardeners.
With a little love and patience and proper fertilization and maintenance, you can grow a high-yielding crop to eat fresh in the spring and summer or store to enjoy through fall and winter.
Nothing is better than eating food you took the time to nurture, grow, and harvest. Now get out there! Happy planting.
What are your favorite cultivars? Have any questions? Share with us in the comments below!
And for more oniony goodness, check out these guides next: