Why are my Onions Drooping?

Onions that droop are a signal that they are ready to be harvested. When onions are ready for harvest, the leaves will become flaccid as they are no longer taking in nutrients. The onion is done growing and should be harvested.

Sometimes, onion plants will droop when the onion bulb is still relatively small in size. So here are some tips for growing larger onions in your garden.

Long Day vs. Short Day Onions

Onions can be divided into two different categories: long day onions and short day onions. When it comes to growing larger onions, choosing the right onion for your zone is crucial.

Long day onions require 14-16 hours of sunlight everyday and can grow anywhere above the 32° latitude line. Short day onions require 10-12 hours of sunlight and can be grown anywhere below the 32° latitude line. Planting a long day onion in a short day zone or vice versa will prevent the onion bulb from forming. Therefore, you must determine whether your onion seeds or sets are long day or short day onions prior to planting if you expect to harvest a large onion bulb from your garden.

Intermediate Day Onions

There is also a third category of onions called “intermediate day onions” Intermediate day onions typically grow between the 32° and 42° latitude lines. While intermediate day onions do bulb, they don’t get as large as a long or short day onion would if grown in the right zone.

Onion Seeds vs. Onion Sets

Starting your onions from seeds will almost always produce larger onions. This is because onions are biannual plants. When you plant an onion set, it is in its second year of growing. This means that it will spend a significant portion of energy in growing a flower to produce seeds rather than focusing on growing a larger bulb. In fact, an onion plant that goes to flower can reduce that size of its onion bulb by up to 25%.

The Best Fertilizer for Onions

When selecting a fertilizer for your onions, look for a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Nitrogen allows for more leaf growth which in turn will take in more sunlight energy that will help develop a larger onion bulb.

A great example of a good nitrogen based fertilizer is blood meal. Blood meal contains around 13 to 15% nitrogen and is widely known as the best non-synthetic nitrogen based fertilizer. I personally use blood meal in my backyard garden and I have had huge success with my garden every season I use it.