Onions are a fundamental part of Southern cuisine, adding piquancy and irresistible aromas to every dish they’re in. If you’re growing onions at home in Alabama, know that the best time for cultivating them is January 5 to March 15 and September 5 to October 15, though variations may apply depending on the region you’re in.
Discover more tips on when to plant onions in Alabama below.
Table of Contents
Best Time to Plant Onions in Alabama
1. In the spring from January to March
There are three options for growing onions: one can use seeds, sets, or transplants (also known as starts).
Seeds offer the widest range of cultivars but grow the slowest, while sets are bulbs that mature quicker (somewhat similar to transplants), though transplants have the upper hand if your gardening season is short.
Depending on the medium you have, pick from the recommendations below:
- Grow onion transplants and sets outdoors four weeks before the last frost. Make sure the ground is workable and a harsh freeze measuring 28℉ is unlikely.
- Although sets are preferable for spring gardening in Alabama, if you opt for seeds instead, start them indoors eight to ten weeks before the final frost.The seeds will be ready for transplanting six weeks after sowing, or two to four weeks before the last frost.
To know the optimal onion planting period for different hardiness zones in Alabama, check out the table below.
|Hardiness zone||Average last frost||Start sets and transplants||Sow seeds indoors||Transplant seedlings outside|
|Zone 7||April 15||March 18||February 5||March 18|
|Zone 8||March 15||February 16||January 5||February 16|
|Zone 9||February 28||January 31||December 20||January 31|
2. In the fall from September to October
Planting onions in fall is another excellent option if you can’t garden in the spring. Provided you sow them in a timely manner, these plants will overwinter and mature quickly once warm weather arrives.
Simply begin fall onion planting four to six weeks before the first frost if using starts and six to eight weeks before the same date when sowing seeds.
Because Alabama’s first frost ranges from October 30 to November 30, we have the gardening dates below:
- September 18 to October 19 for growing onion starts
- September 4 to October 5 for planting onion seeds
You can also check out recommendations for different parts of Alabama in the next section.
3. Calendar for growing onions in Alabama
- In central Alabama – January 15 to March 15; September 15 to October 15
- In north Alabama – January 25 to March 25; September 5 to October 5
- In south Alabama – January 5 to March 5; September 25 to October 25
If you’re planting onions for greens or scallions rather than bulbs, sow them in cold weather from October to February or as soon as the soil is diggable in spring.
Tips for Successful Onion Planting in Alabama
Of all onion varieties you can select from, short day onion are the best bet for Alabama because they’re suitable for hardiness zone 7 and higher. Other types, namely intermediate and long-day cultivars, adapt better to colder climates in zone 6 and lower.
Some onion varieties you can plant in the Cotton state are Granex 33, Grano 502, Grano 1015Y, and Savannah Sweet for big bulbs.
Aside from these, Evergreen Bunching and Beltsville Bunching will make for excellent scallions, though they are harvestable as bulbs as well.
Once you’ve got your onion sets, seeds, or transplants, follow the tips below to grow them.
- Select a location with six hours of full sun and a pH of 6 to Loosen the soil down to a depth of six inches and create rows that are twelve inches apart.
- Afterward, fertilize the soil with a balanced N-P-K formula if you can’t conduct a soil test.
- Sow seeds one inch apart at a depth of ½ inch, but note that you’ll need to thin the seedlings down three weeks later so that there are four inches between them.
- The same distance applies to transplants and sets, which require a shallower planting depth of ¼ inch and consistently damp soil to grow well.
- In practice, you should irrigate the ground with one to two inches of water per week for all types of onions, plus fertilize them twice after sowing—once with a balanced N-P-K formula when the shoots are six inches tall, and another time with a 15-0-15 plant food when it’s time to thin the seedlings down.
- If growing onions in containers, use potting soil and a 3-gallon receptacle with drain holes. Space the seeds and seedlings six inches apart so that they have room to spread.
We hope this article provided useful tips on when to plant onions in Alabama.
Whether you’re buying onion bulbs for fall planting or spring planting, look up the first and last frost dates to calculate your seeding time. Following this step, you’ll have no trouble producing a bumper crop of onions once summer and fall arrive.
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