The onion industry has long been thriving in Texas, contributing more than $134 millions yearly to the state’s economy.
With Texas being one of the leading onion producers, there is no doubt that farmers here know proper planting time influences the crop size.
For this reason, it is essential to sow seeds in the fall before the first frost to have massive onions by spring, and if you prefer planting sets, 4-6 weeks before the last freeze date is optimum.
To know more about when to plant onions in Texas, read on.
Table of Contents
The Best Time to Grow Onions in Texas
1. Sow onion seeds before the first frost.
- Variety to sow.
Before learning the best time to plant onions in Texas, you must first know which variety thrives well in the region for successful planting.
The main types of onions are:
- Short-day variety
- Long-day variety
- Intermediate-day variety
Aside from the intermediary type that thrives in any area, short-day onions are the best for Texas because they fit the day length of the region.
Long-day varieties will not bear any yields because of their lengthy daytime requirement, which Texas cannot provide. Only zone 3 to zone 6 summer days can accommodate this type.
For Texas, the common varieties for short-day are 1015 onions, Texas White Granex, and sweet onions like Grano 502.
- Seed planting in fall.
The ideal time for growing onions in Texas from seeds is 4-6 weeks before the average first frost for them to get established before going through winter dormancy. That is around fall.
Thus, if you live in Houston, sowing seeds around October 27 to November 10, 4 to 6 weeks before its first frost on December 8, is ideal.
Short-day varieties grow best in the fall onions growing season because they yield enormous crops when you plant them early.
2. Transplants and onion sets planting.
While planting onions in Texas from seeds starts in fall, transplanting seedlings and growing bulb sets are ideal in January through February.
This period is optimum for your Texas onion plants as it protects them from environmental stress that could lead to bolting (sprouting flower stalks to produce seeds instead of allowing the bulbs to mature first).
Therefore, the planting onion sets Texas rule is to grow them 4-6 weeks before the average last freeze for proper transplanting time.
In Zone 8 and other parts in Central Texas, you can start them around January 15-February 15.
In North Texas, you can grow them as late as February 12 because that is the 4th week before its last freezing date of March 12, while in East Texas, you can plant onions around February 1-15 because its frost ends around March 15.
However, if you live in San Antonio in South Texas, the freezing phase ends a little earlier, around March 2. Here, you can plant your onions as early as January 19 to February 2.
How to Plant?
Know how to grow onions from seeds, from bulbs (or sets), and transplants, by following the steps below:
Planting from seeds
- Prepare a container with 4 inches depth and drainage holes at the bottom.
- Fill the container with a seed starting mix instead of potting soil because it has no fungi, making it suitable for handling young onion’s delicate roots.
- Place the onion seeds on top and bury them with ⅛-inch of the same mixture.
- Set them in a dry tray or container and cover them to trap heat.
- Once you see sprouts, put them under grow lights to stimulate photosynthesis.
- Maintain the sapling’s length at about 3 inches for proper growth.
- Harden off before transplanting.
- Place them in a location where they can get 8 hours of sunlight and in rich soil.
- Flip the container and gently pull the seedlings out from it. Wiggle it a bit to remove them.
- Create a small hole in the ground and sow your seedlings with a 4-inch distance between them. Bury the lower part of the stem with a small amount of soil afterwards.
- Water the ground and keep it moist.
- Harvest the plants once their foliage drops. You can pick green onions once their leaves are as large as a pencil.
Planting onion sets
Onion sets are small, immature bulbs you can plant in the ground. They develop quicker than seeds and don’t require complicated care.
Follow these steps to grow them.
- Sow your onion sets in an area where they can get 6-8 hours of sunlight and on nitrogen-rich ground.
- Make markings for onions with a 4-inch distance between them.
- Sow the sets in a 1-inch deep hole only for proper bulb formation.
- Apply mulch at the center of the rows to keep them moist and suppress weed growth.
How long does it take Texas onions to grow?
Whether you plant red onions or white onions, as long as they’re a short-day or intermediate-day variety, they will take about 110 days to mature from planting to harvesting.
Can you plant onions in spring in Texas?
Yes. While some parts of the United States plant bulbs around late March or in April, in Texas, you can plant intermediary varieties around early February to early March of spring.
How do I get my onions to grow bigger?
Choosing the suitable variety for your place and planting them at the right time are just the basics.
Leaving a 4-inch distance between onions prevents them from competing with each other for sunlight, nutrients, and more, which can induce proper growth.
How many onions will one onion grow?
One sprouted onion can grow another three bulb plants as long as you keep their roots unharmed.
By separating the sprouts of the original bulb, you can use them to plant new sets.
It is clear that onions are susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures.
Improper sowing period leads to small bulb sizes, while planting the onion type unsuitable to your region will not give you any yields.
For this reason, growing short-day varieties at least four weeks before the ground freezes will allow you to reap many crops.
Follow this guide on when to plant onions in Texas, and you will harvest excellent bulbs you can use for plenty of recipes!