How to Grow Onions in Florida: Complete Guide for a Successful Harvest

Growing onions in Florida might seem challenging due to the state’s unique climate, but it’s entirely possible with the right approach. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, understanding the specific needs of onions in Florida’s warm, humid environment will set you up for success.

You’ll need to consider factors like soil preparation, planting times, and the best onion varieties for the region. By tailoring your gardening practices to Florida’s conditions, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of crisp, flavorful onions right from your backyard. Ready to dig in? Let’s explore the essential steps to growing onions in the Sunshine State.

Key Takeaways

  • Optimal Planting Times: Grow onions in Florida during late fall and winter to avoid the warm, humid conditions that can lead to bolting and fungal diseases.
  • Soil Preparation: Ensure well-drained, sandy loam soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8. Adding compost or aged manure improves soil fertility, essential for healthy onion growth.
  • Suitable Onion Varieties: Short-day onions like Granex, Texas Grano 1015Y, and White Bermuda are best suited for Florida’s climate. Intermediate-day varieties can also thrive if planted under the right conditions.
  • Watering and Fertilizing: Consistent moisture is crucial, aiming for about 1 inch of water per week. Use balanced and nitrogen-rich fertilizers to support growth without promoting excessive foliage.
  • Pest and Disease Management: Practice crop rotation, use insecticidal soap or neem oil for pests like thrips, and ensure good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases.
  • Harvesting and Storing: Harvest onions when the tops turn yellow and fall over. Cure and store onions properly in a dry, ventilated space to prolong their shelf life.

Understanding Florida’s Climate and Soil for Onion Growing

Climate Factors Affecting Onion Growth

Florida’s warm, humid climate presents unique challenges for onion cultivation. Onions prefer cooler temperatures, typically between 55°F and 75°F. Temperature consistently above 75°F encourages bolting, leading to premature flowering instead of bulb formation. Grow onions in Florida during late fall and winter months to align with these preferred temperatures.

Humidity impacts disease prevalence in onions. High humidity promotes fungal diseases like downy mildew and purple blotch. Improving air circulation around plants and practicing proper spacing reduces risk. Choose disease-resistant varieties to mitigate losses.

Rainfall influences irrigation needs. Florida’s variable precipitation during the growing season necessitates efficient water management. Ensure soil stays consistently moist but not waterlogged. Utilize drip irrigation systems for precise water delivery.

Soil Requirements for Healthy Onions

Soil type significantly affects onion growth. Onions thrive in well-drained, sandy loam soils with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. This pH range maximizes nutrient availability and uptake. Conduct soil tests to determine pH and amend acidic soil with lime to reach optimal levels.

Soil fertility influences bulb development. Onions require rich, organic matter to support growth. Incorporate compost or aged manure into the soil before planting. Nitrogen is essential for onion growth; apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to meet nutritional needs.

Drainage impacts root health. Poorly drained soil leads to root rot and stunted growth. Raised beds improve drainage, reducing waterlogging risks. Ensure raised beds are at least 8 inches high for sufficient drainage.

Example of Suitable Onion Varieties for Florida

Florida friendly onion varieties include Granex, which adapts well to short-day conditions. Other options are Texas Grano 1015Y and White Bermuda. These varieties are known for their tolerance to Florida’s climate and soil conditions.


By tailoring your onion-growing practices to Florida’s unique climate and soil requirements, you set the stage for a successful harvest. Adapt the information provided to your specific garden setup, ensuring healthy, flavorful onions.

Choosing the Right Onion Varieties for Florida

Short-Day Onions

Short-day onions thrive in Florida’s climate. These varieties begin bulbing when daylight lasts 10-12 hours. It’s crucial to plant them between mid-September and January. Examples of short-day onions include Granex, Texas Grano 1015Y, and White Bermuda. Granex onions, popular for their sweetness, are adapted to the Southern U.S., while Texas Grano 1015Y offers a high yield and mild flavor. White Bermuda onions mature quickly, making them ideal for Florida winters. Ensure you choose disease-resistant varieties to combat Florida’s humidity and frequent rainfall.

Intermediate-Day Onions

Intermediate-day onions, although less common, can also grow in Florida if conditions are ideal. They start bulbing with 12-14 hours of daylight, which typically occurs from January to March. Varieties like Red Candy Apple, Candy, and Super Star are suitable options. Red Candy Apple onions provide a delightful red hue and a sweet taste. Candy onions balance sweetness and storage capability, while Super Star onions are notable for their large size and white color. Consider planting these in areas with well-drained soil and moderate water requirements to optimize growth.

Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Onions in Florida

Preparing the Soil

Ensure the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Test the soil pH level to confirm it falls between 6.0 and 6.8, as onions prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil. Add compost or aged manure to improve soil fertility, incorporating it well into the top 6 to 8 inches. Use raised beds if the native soil drains poorly, helping prevent waterlogging issues.

Planting and Spacing

Plant onions about 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart, allowing sufficient space for bulb development. For row planting, maintain rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Choose short-day or intermediate-day varieties like Granex or Red Candy Apple, as these grow well under Florida’s sunlight conditions. Plant short-day onions between mid-September and January. Intermediate-day varieties are best planted from January to March.

Watering and Fertilizing

Water onions consistently, aiming for 1 inch of water per week, adjusting for rainfall. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to minimize water contact with foliage, reducing disease risk. Apply balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at planting time. After four weeks, follow up with nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks, avoiding over-fertilization which can lead to excessive foliage at the expense of bulb size.

Pest and Disease Management

Monitor onions for pests like thrips and onion maggots. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil for thrips control. Rotate crops to discourage pests and diseases, avoiding planting onions or related crops in the same soil for at least two years. Keep foliage dry to prevent fungal issues; consider fungicides if necessary. Remove and destroy infected plants promptly to curb disease spread.

Harvesting and Storing Onions in Florida

When and How to Harvest

Harvest onions when the tops turn yellow and fall over which usually happens 100-120 days after planting. On a dry day, loosen the soil around the bulbs using a garden fork. Gently lift the bulbs without damaging them. Lay onions on the ground to dry for 2-3 days if weather permits. If rain threatens, move them to a dry, well-ventilated area. Check the tops; they should be dry before storing.

Tips for Storing Onions

Cure onions by placing them in a single layer on screens or hanging them in mesh bags in a warm, ventilated space for 2-4 weeks. Once cured, trim the tops to 1 inch and remove any dirt. Keep onions in a cool, dry place between 35-50°F with low humidity. Avoid storing onions in plastic bags to prevent moisture buildup. For varieties like Granex, which don’t store well long-term, use them within a few weeks.

Conclusion

Growing onions in Florida can be a rewarding experience with the right approach. By preparing your soil properly, following precise planting and watering techniques, and managing pests effectively, you’ll set yourself up for a successful harvest. Remember to cure and store your onions correctly to enjoy their flavor for as long as possible. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a bountiful onion crop in your Florida garden.

Growing onions in Florida can be rewarding with the right techniques and timing. The Gardener’s Basics guide emphasizes the importance of planting in well-drained soil and providing consistent watering. Additionally, the Old Farmer’s Almanac offers comprehensive tips on planting, fertilizing, and harvesting onions to ensure a bountiful crop.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to plant onions in Florida?

The best time to plant onions in Florida is during the cooler months, typically from October through February. This timing allows onions to grow during the mild, cool season, which is ideal for their development.

What type of soil is ideal for growing onions?

Onions thrive in well-drained, sandy loam soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Amending the soil with organic matter like compost can improve its structure and fertility, promoting healthy onion growth.

How often should I water my onion plants?

Onion plants need consistent moisture, but overwatering should be avoided. Water them deeply once or twice a week, ensuring the soil remains moist without becoming waterlogged.

What kind of fertilizers should I use for onions?

Use a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 (N-P-K) formula, to provide essential nutrients. Apply the fertilizer at planting and then side-dress twice during the growing season to support bulb development.

How can I manage pests in my onion garden?

To manage pests like thrips and onion maggots, use organic insecticides, practice crop rotation, and keep the garden clean of debris. Monitoring plants regularly can help catch infestations early.

When should I harvest my onions?

Harvest onions when their tops turn yellow and begin to fall over. This usually indicates that the bulbs have matured and are ready for harvesting.

How do I properly dry and store harvested onions?

After harvesting, cure the onions by laying them out in a dry, well-ventilated area for 2-4 weeks. Trim the tops, then store the onions in a cool, dry place in mesh bags or ventilated containers. Avoid using plastic bags, especially for varieties like Granex.

Can I grow onions in containers in Florida?

Yes, onions can be grown in containers as long as the containers are deep enough (at least 8 inches) and have good drainage. Use high-quality potting soil and ensure the containers are placed in a location that receives full sun.