How many leaves on my onions?

lat0403April 7, 2014

I've never kept track of how many leaves they should have at certain times.


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Leslie, I have never kept tract, I think there are a lot of things to consider, like weather, kind of plant, when planted and condition of the soil. Most of mine are 3 to 5 leaves now. I did not plant first rate plants, some were very small, some too large, but all in all, at this point they seem to be doing ok.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:37PM
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My onions, also, have 3-5 leaves. I lost all my tiny ones in the single-digit freeze a month ago. All the rest survived and are doing quite well.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Well, hold on and I'll run out to the garden and count leaves.....

Okay, I am back. Most of mine have 5-7 leaves, with there being more 6's and 7's than 5's.

It really isn't that they have to have a certain number of leaves at any given time, but in order to get really large onions, you want for them to have at least 13 leaves by the time they start bulbing up. Thirteen is supposed to be about the most leaves you'll see, but I am pretty sure I've had some with 14 or 15 in years that had ideal onion-growing weather. Each leaf equals one ring of flesh on the onion, so the more leaves you have, the more onion rings or layers of flesh you get. Also, to get maximum-sized onions, your leaves should be big, green and healthy. Wimpy leaves deliver wimpy onions. As the onions begin to bulb up, the carbohydrates in each leaf (I am not sure how to word this) basically transfer into the developing ring of flesh associated with that leaf. So, big leaves = big onions and smaller leaves = smaller onions.

You can get nice, big onions with only 11 or 12 leaves too, but if your onions only have about 9 leaves when they start sizing up then the best you can hope for is a nice, medium-sized onion. It still will be wonderfully fresh and delicious though.

The onions begin to bulb up based on environmental factors like the daylength and temperatures, so whatever number of leaves you have when bulbing is induced, that's how many rings of onion flesh you'll have.

At this time of the year, I am happy with my onions' growth if they have 5 leaves. By the end of April they need to have 10, particularly for the short day types, which usually start bulbing up in my garden sometime in May.

If you are interested in growing really large onions, they needs lot of nitrogen and lots of water. Most years I don't get enough rainfall to give me huge onions, and I'd rather not irrigate if I don't have to, so I am generally happy with onions in the medium to large but not necessarily huge size range.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:06PM
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Okay, thanks. I have a lot with six leaves but I have some that still only have three. I was worried about the small ones, but I guess they're alright.

Nothing in my garden gets lots of water so I guess I'll have to settle for medium to large onions, too.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:42AM
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Leslie, I dug through my last years pictures to try to find something to compare with. I had a good crop last year and from looking at the picture I expect to this year also.

The last year picture is where I was adding 4' to my garden to plant winter squash, but you can see the onions also.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 11:16AM
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