Where to store onion sets before planting in spring

I once believed that storing onion sets in winter should not present difficulties or problems for a gardener. However, life taught me a lesson and already in the third year of growing this crop, the entire harvested crop, after a couple of months of storage, was infected with rot.

After this incident, I studied in detail all the rules and regulations for the preparation and storage of seed material, so in the future I saved myself from such problems. If you decide to grow onion sets yourself and store them at home, then I recommend listening to my advice, which will help you avoid mistakes in the future.

Preparing onion sets for storage

There are a large number of onion varieties, but many people mistakenly consider onion sets to be a separate species - in fact, the set is a vegetable that has not gone through all the stages of its development. To obtain onion sets, seeds are planted on the plot quite often, which leads to the appearance of thickened seedlings. As a result, at the end of the season, you get an onion set, which, after subsequent planting in the new season, gives a good harvest of large onions.

Onion sets are usually harvested in late August - early September. A sure sign for harvesting is yellowing of the onion tops. After the end of the harvest, the onions must be carefully sorted and sorted: for winter storage, you should select whole specimens that do not have any rot, because otherwise even one rotten onion can spoil the entire batch of onions.

Proper drying of the bulbs is also one of the keys to good preservation of the sets: for drying, the onions can be placed directly under the open sky, but in cloudy weather, drying can be done under a canopy or in a well-ventilated room.

Important: onion sets ready for storage must have dry husks that make a characteristic rustling sound when touched.

Onion sets can vary in size:

  • fine fraction - from 15 mm and more;
  • average fraction - about 25 mm;
  • large fraction - 35-40 mm.

Sewing of a large fraction is best suited for the subsequent production of green feathers - large bulbs produce very powerful shoots, while sowing of a small and medium fraction gives an excellent harvest of large bulbs.

It is best to use wood or plastic boxes, mesh bags, containers and open trays, but it is also possible to store seedlings simply in bulk.

Storage containers must have grates or holes - this will allow the bulbs to be better ventilated. If onions are stored in bulk, the layer height should be no more than 25 cm.

Ways and places

How to store onion sets? To properly store onions, use the following containers:

  • Wooden boxes and trays;
  • Plastic containers;
  • Various nets and bags;
  • Women's nylon tights.

If you have an attic, you can store onion sets there. For this purpose, special sides are made, and the bulbs are poured inside. The height of the sides should not exceed 20 cm. Otherwise, the onions will begin to deteriorate and will not be preserved until spring. In addition, there should be a good flow of fresh air in the room.

How are onion sets stored before planting? To prevent the seed from germinating prematurely, it must be stored in a dark, dry and cool room. But you can’t go wrong with the temperature: if the temperature is very low, the seedlings may die and will not sprout after planting in the spring. If you have a private house, the ideal storage location is the underground or basement. There the temperature never drops below zero, and there is low humidity.

Onion harvest

You can also preserve the bulbs using your grandmother’s method: using women’s nylon stockings or tights. To do this, the seedlings are folded into them, tied and hung in any apartment until the spring sowing season. In this case, it is necessary to periodically sort through the folded onions and throw away those that have begun to deteriorate or become soaked. The main condition for proper storage is drying of the bulbs and constant ventilation of the seed.

To prevent the seeds from spoiling before April, you need to choose the right onion varieties. Not all bulbs can survive the winter. For example, yellow onions are well suited for long-term storage. Red and white onions germinate much faster and may not survive until spring. In addition, it is necessary to correctly determine the time of harvest. Usually this is the end of July. If harvesting is delayed, the onion may sprout again, then it will no longer have the strength to germinate until spring.

The seedlings are selected immediately after harvesting and cleared from the soil. Bulbs with feathers that have appeared need to be dried and allowed to ripen. This may take 10 to 15 days. After this, the dried arrows are removed, and the bulbs themselves continue to dry for another 3-4 days.

To avoid the appearance of powdery mildew, the onions are dried near the radiator, the temperature should be around 30 ° C. Next, the bulbs are sorted, the spoiled ones are thrown out and sorted. The smallest specimens should be planted in the fall. Such bulbs can produce a nice large bulb by summer.

How to save onion sets until spring? Onion sets are stored in boxes, nets, containers, bags, trays and in bulk.

Boxes, containers, bags and trays for storing seedlings must have a lattice structure, slots, and holes.

Bags are stored exclusively in open form. Onion nets are used for hanging storage.

Bulk storage involves placing the sets in a layer 15-20 cm thick on shelves in the cellar or attic. The main condition for successful storage of onions is a constant supply of air.


This method involves storing onions at home (apartment). It helps out those gardeners who do not have their own cellar.

According to the method, onions are stored in boxes (containers, bags) at home in a dark, cool place.

The air humidity should not be high, otherwise the onions will begin to rot. You should not organize a place to store seedlings near a water source.


Storing onions in a cellar (basement) is called the cold method. It significantly increases the chances of preserving onions all winter. After preparing and drying, the onions are placed in the cellar in any convenient container and stored there until planting.

Sometimes onion sets are planted right before winter. Its resistance to cold allows it to break through and emerge with the onset of the first spring warmth. If the winter is snowy, the chances of success of this method of storing onion sets in the ground increase several times.

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This option is good because the onions do not need to be kept in any room all winter. It lands in the ground and survives the cold there. This kind of freezing of onions is an effective storage method.

Storage methods

Cold storage

Bulbs are stored at a temperature of -2 -3 degrees. When storing onion sets in this way, it is very important to monitor the level of humidity in the room, because a high level of moisture in the air can lead to damage to the entire harvested crop. Experts recommend warming up the bulbs at a temperature of about 30-34 degrees before placing seed material for winter storage.

2 weeks before planting the seedlings, the procedure can be repeated. If it is not possible to store onion sets at home, then you can do this outside the house: to do this, pour a layer of sawdust into a plastic container, after which the bulbs are laid out in it, which must again be sprinkled on top with a thick layer of sawdust.

The container with the bulbs is placed in a prepared hole, the depth of which should be 30 cm greater than the container itself. The container with the seed material is filled with soil - for the storage location it is necessary to choose areas that are not subject to flooding by melt water and precipitation.

Warm storage

The method is perfect for novice gardeners who are faced with storing onion sets for the first time in winter. Good ventilation and low humidity in the room are mandatory conditions for storage. The room temperature should be about 20 degrees, and temperature changes should be excluded, as this can lead to germination of the bulbs.

Combined method

It combines the previous storage methods - until the onset of sub-zero temperatures, onion sets are stored at home, after which the temperature must be gradually reduced to 0 degrees. Under these conditions, the bulbs can be stored until spring, with the arrival of which the seed material must again be transferred to a warm room and stored at a temperature of 25-30 degrees for a week, after which the temperature can be lowered to 20 degrees.

What and how affects the winter storage of onion sets

The safety of seed bulbs is influenced by many factors:

  1. The duration of storage initially depends on the type of onion
    . Seed material with a yellow-golden color is stored better than white or red varieties.
  2. Harvest time.
    As harvesting delays, plants grow a root system and prepare for wintering in the ground. This disrupts the biological rhythm of plants and significantly impairs the keeping quality of the bulbs. Rainy weather also negatively affects the duration of storage, so it is advisable to harvest the sets in dry weather.
  3. L bulbs are conventionally divided
    into the first (1.2–2.2 cm), second (2.3–3.3 cm) and third (larger than 3 cm) fractions, as well as non-standard seeds - up to 1.2 cm. Small seed material, such as non-standard, does not shoot, but very often dries out during storage. Bulbs larger than 3 cm are prone to shoots. Therefore, the highest quality planting material is the first and second fractions.
  4. To improve the wintering of onion sets, you need to properly prepare them
    (we’ll talk about the methods a little later), and also sort them by size and leave the seeds of the first and second fractions for planting. Small onions can be used for greenery by planting them in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. Large bulbs can be used for food or also used for forcing.
  5. Periodically (2 times a month), onion sets must be checked
    for the presence of mold, mildew or rotten bulbs. Spoiled seed material must be removed so as not to lose all the bulbs.

The quality and duration of storage of onion seed largely depends on its preparation, which consists of the following stages:

  1. Timely harvesting has already been discussed
    . A sign that the vegetable is ready to begin harvesting can be considered the yellowing of the tops and their bending to the ground. Typically, the harvest period is in August, but it all depends on the variety, since the ripening period for different varieties lasts from 90 to 120 days.
  2. The next stage is sorting the bulbs.
    First, damaged or rotten onion sets are discarded, and then sorted into fractions.
  3. Drying the seeds is necessary in a well-ventilated area at a temperature of +25...+32°C.
    You can also do this outside, preferably under a canopy, which will protect the onions from precipitation and scorching sun rays. Drying in the sun is possible, but care must be taken that the rays do not cause burns or greening of the bulbs. The sets need to be stirred periodically. If you use a mesh for drying, which will ensure uniform ventilation, then you don’t have to turn the onions so often. The drying process lasts from 4 to 7 days. The readiness of the product is determined by hand: if the palm easily slides between the bulbs, then drying can be completed.
  4. The penultimate stage is warming up
    . To do this, place the onions in an oven heated to +40°C and, turning it off periodically (so that the onions do not crack), leave for 1–2 hours.
  5. The last stage is cooling
    . At a temperature of about +20°C, the seeds should be kept for about 3 days.

At the end of the preparatory activities, the onion sets can be sent for storage.

Seeds grown for planting can be stored in different ways. Let's look at the possible options in more detail.

Warm way

With this storage method, onions are kept in a pantry, room, mezzanine or other place with appropriate conditions:

  1. The temperature must be maintained at +18…+25°C.
  2. To prevent onions from germinating, humidity should not exceed 50 to 70%.
  3. It is necessary to ensure good ventilation; therefore, containers for wintering onion sets need to be loose. Nets, stockings, boxes, boxes with cells or lattice holes are suitable for this purpose.
  4. The layer of onions in the container should not exceed 20 cm.
  5. Changes in humidity and temperature should be avoided. These indicators must be stable, which will ensure quality storage.

You cannot use bags to store onion sets - they are airtight and can cause rapid rotting.


If you have a basement or shed, cold storage is a good option.

The savings location must also meet a number of requirements:

  1. Constant temperature is maintained at a level from –3°C to 0°C.
  2. Humidity does not exceed 80%;
  3. Just as with warm storage, you need to avoid fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Such jumps not only affect the quality of planting material, but can also provoke onions to shoot in the future.

Another option for the cold storage method is the refrigerator. If you have a large refrigerator, this option will be an alternative to the cellar. Onions should be packed in a linen bag, mesh or nylon tights and placed on the coldest shelf of the refrigerator. With this storage method, maintaining a constant temperature and humidity will not be difficult, and bulb losses will be minimal. An interesting method for wintering planting onions is the use of sawdust.

This method consists of several stages:

  1. Place a layer of sawdust approximately 10 cm thick at the bottom of the bucket.
  2. Pour the bulbs onto the sawdust, but not to the very top - leave about 15 cm.
  3. Fill the bucket with sawdust, leaving about 5 cm to the edge of the bucket, and close the lid. This creates an air gap above the sawdust.
  4. Dig a hole and place a bucket of onions in it.
  5. Cover with soil on top. The layer of soil above the bucket must be at least 20 cm.
  6. In the spring, after the soil has thawed, the container must be removed.

The advantage of this method is that the bulbs remain juicy and fresh.

When using the cold storage method, onions must be planted no later than 10–12 days after extraction, since a change in temperature will cause them to spoil.
This option combines the above methods. Many gardeners preserve onion sets by alternating temperatures.

But this method does not imply sudden temperature changes, but systematic changes corresponding to the biological rhythms of the plant:

  • after drying, the onion sets are kept until the first frost at a temperature of +18...+20°C;
  • when frost sets in, the seed is sent to a room with a temperature of –3…–1°C;
  • In the spring, the onions are again placed in a warm place (about +24°C).

With any of the above methods, the seedlings need to be warmed up before planting. The heating temperature is about +35°C, and the duration is 3–5 days. This will stimulate the beginning of growth and help avoid the occurrence of diseases.

Even if you are a resident of a high-rise building, this does not mean that it is not possible for you to save onion sets before sowing. Storage methods in an apartment are no different from the above; the main thing is to provide the necessary conditions and allocate a suitable place.

During cold wintering, a suitable option would be to store the seed material in the refrigerator, and for the warm method, you can keep the onions in the pantry or on an insulated balcony. However, we should not forget that even at low temperatures (about 0°C), moisture is released during the respiration of the bulbs, so the packaging should be loose and ventilated.

The greatest danger when wintering seedlings is the occurrence of rot. To prevent this from happening, the seeds must be in a dry container. Periodically you need to inspect the planting material and discard the bulbs if damage is detected.

In order for the seed material to successfully overwinter and to obtain an excellent harvest from the sets, it is worth putting into practice the advice of experienced vegetable growers:

  1. To accelerate the ripening of seedlings, the beds are treated with a 0.2% sodium salt solution 14 days before harvesting. You can also dig up the bulbs with a pitchfork, which will damage the root system and speed up the death of the greenery.
  2. You can extend the shelf life if you stop watering 3 weeks before harvesting.
  3. The set should smell like dust. If after purchase the set has an onion smell, this indicates that the product was in a room with high humidity. This can cause rot in the future.
  4. Using chalk will improve the storage of onion sets. This substance will absorb excess moisture and prevent rotting and growth of the bulbs. For 10 kg of onions you need to take 200 g of chalk.
  5. Sevok, folded in old stockings, tights or pillowcases, is best hung on the wall for storage.
  6. Some vegetable growers prefer winter planting of onion sets. Having overwintered in the ground, especially if the winter is snowy, such onions sprout early and produce an early harvest. The big advantage of using this method is that you don't have to save the seeds. But this practice does not always pay off, so it is better to play it safe and not plant the entire set in the fall - leave some of the bulbs for spring sowing.

Did you know?
The largest leek was grown in 1983 by Hanky ​​Bishop from Great Britain; the vegetable weighed 4.34 kg.
And another resident of Foggy Albion in 1997 grew an onion weighing 7.03 kg. We tried to anticipate all possible questions that may arise when storing onion sets. From this article you learned at what temperature and humidity you should store seeded onions, whether you can save them in an apartment, and much more.

Gardeners who want to harvest a decent onion harvest should take care of planting material in advance and prepare onion sets. Sets are small bulbs that grow in the first year after sowing. You need to know how to store onion sets so that they do not rot, do not shoot, and remain in excellent condition until planting.

What to do if rot appears on the bulbs?

If all the rules for preparing seed material for storage are followed, and the level of humidity and temperature is observed during storage, and there is good ventilation in the room, then the possibility of diseases occurring in onions is practically reduced to zero.

However, sometimes a situation occurs when rot does appear on the bulbs: of course, if a similar situation occurs in you, then you should not panic, because the chance of saving the onions until the new season is quite large.

The appearance of infection and rot in onion sets occurs for the following reasons:

  • Bacterial rot - easily recognized by rotting dark scales when cutting the bulb. In some cases, the color of the affected scales may be brown and emit an unpleasant odor.
  • Silk rot - its development occurs over a long time and is caused by a fungus that gets on the bulb while still in the soil. Damage and softness of the bulb may indicate that it is affected by silk rot.
  • Fusarium - this disease leads to the death of the roots of the onion, while the vegetable has a soft and watery structure, and also has an unpleasant odor.

If the bulbs have a beautiful and good appearance, this does not mean that they do not contain harmful bacteria that cause rot.

If the bulbs are partially affected, then the layer of husk in the area where rot appears should be removed. In addition, the husk can be removed completely, because during storage it will reappear, after which the bulb will again become suitable for sowing.

Combined method

This method is based on a combination of cold and warm methods of storing seeded onions. At the same time, it is kept warm until the cold weather arrives. And as the temperature drops, they are placed in a cold place (up to 0°C) and left there for the whole winter.

When spring comes, the bulbs are moved to a warm place and kept for 4 - 5 days at a temperature of 26°C - 31°C. Then the storage temperature of onion sets should be reduced to 17°C - 25°C (room). In such conditions, the seed must be left until planting in open ground.

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As the name suggests, it is a combination of two methods: warm and cold. Before the onset of the cold period, the bulbs should be kept in a warm room. Further, when the temperature sets below zero outside, the temperature in the storage unit gradually drops to zero degrees, and this temperature regime is maintained throughout the winter period.

With the arrival of spring, the bulbs need to be warmed up. To do this, the room temperature is raised to 25 °C for 6 days. The environment is then cooled to 22°C. Under these conditions, the seed is stored until the bulbs are planted in the ground.

Interesting. Let's look at an example. I have an apartment with a balcony, I need to save the onion sets until spring. During the first storage period, boxes with onions are placed next to the door on the balcony. On average, the temperature there is from 4 to 9 °C. Onions should be stored here throughout the winter. With the onset of spring, the containers are transferred to the battery. The temperature should be maintained around 30 °C. In the case of this storage method, the likelihood of arrows appearing on the bulbs ahead of time is minimal.

If you decide to purchase planting material for cultivation in January, February or March, you can only guarantee that it can be stored in a warm, dry place, because The buyer does not know for certain how to store purchased onions. It should also be noted that the purchase must be made in a specialized store.

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