How to Grow Bunching Onions In Paperpots (Paper Chain Pots)

Growing Bunching Onions in Paperpots

Better germination!

No hand transplanting!

Less transplant shock!

Bunching onions (or full size onions) are one of the easiest crops to grow in paper chain pots. If you don’t get good results direct seeding onions, then consider starting them and transplanting them in paperchains; a process that will save you a lot of time over hand transplanting.

Bunching onions are a relatively easy crop to grow for most market gardeners.

Direct seeding them can be very successful in the right conditions, but sometimes conditions don’t allow you to direct seed onions effectively, so transplanting is a better option.

Transplanting onions the traditional way is a very time consuming task.   The seedlings are tiny and delicate and transplanting takes a long time.

The Paperpot Transplanter solves this problem.

It allows you to germinate seeds in a controlled environment then quickly and easily transplant them into the field 28 days later.

All without bending over and less transplant shock!

Three Trees Farm

The Specifications for Paperpot Bunching Onions

ROWS PER 100’ X 30” BED4
TRAYS PER 100’ X 30” BED 3
KWIK KLIK™ TOP PLATE Plate: Paperpot (264 holes) / Thickness: 3mm / Hole Diameter: 5mm
SEED PER 100’ X 30’ BED4,560 seeds (+/-) *Always round up when placing seed orders to ensure having enough
RECOMMENDED CULTIVARSGuardsman, Parade, Deep Purple
GERMINATION 72 hours at 78°F
DAYS TO TRANSPLANT 28 days (+/-) *time from seeding to transplanting in the field
DAYS TO MATURITY 70 days (+/-) *time from seeding to being ready for harvest
HARVEST WINDOW14 days (+/-) *time crop is at ideal stage for harvest after reaching maturity
TOTAL DAYS IN FIELD 56 days (+/-) *DTM + harvest window - days to transplant
HARVEST UNIT Bunch (10-12 green onions per bunch, 3-4” bottoms)
TARGET CROP YIELD 380 bunches per 100’ bed (+/-)
PRICE PER UNIT $2 *depending on local market pricing
REVENUE PER BED $760 *depending on local market pricing
SEEDINGKwik Klik™ Drop Seeder, Paperpot Germination Trays, Paper Chain Pots
TRANSPLANTINGPaperpot Transplanter
TILTHINGPower Harrow or Precision Depth Roller (With no tractor: Tither)
AERATIONMeadow Creature Broadfork
SHAPINGBed Preparation Rake
CULTIVATIONWheel Hoe w/ Bio-Disc Cultivator or collinear hoe

Suggested Tools for Paperpot Bunching Onions

Bed Preparation for Paperpot Transplanting

  • Broadfork the bed to aerate and loosen the soil.
  • Smooth and shape the bed with a bed preparation rake, removing any debris.
  • If the previous crop was fertilized, bunching onions will do fine without reapplication.
  • If not, here are the two options:
    • 1) Layer on 1” of compost, enough to mostly cover the native soil.
    • 2) Sprinkle on a combination of alfalfa meal and pelleted chicken manure.
  • If layering compost, do not tilth in hopes of smothering any surface weed seed.
  • If adding amendments, tilth the top 1-2” of soil to mix in amendments.
  • Irrigate for 10-14 days*, allowing any weed seed in top layer of soil to germinate.
  • Flame weed the bed when the cotyledons of the weed seeds have emerged.

Growing Bunching Onions in Paperpots

Seeding Bunching Onions in Paperpots

Prepare trays with 6” paper chain pots, and fill with potting mix. 

Install Paperpot bottom plate and specified top plate into Kwik Klik™ (KK) Drop Seeder. Pour seed onto the top plate and rotate until approximately 5-7 seeds fill each hole. 

Position the KK Drop Seeder over the tray, ensuring the holes are lined up with the cells, and click to drop the seeds. 

Water the trays, then place in germination chamber for 72 hours at 78°. 

Transfer the trays to greenhouse tables after germination. 

Keep onion tops trimmed to 4” tall, channeling more energy into root development.

Thoroughly water trays before heading to the field for transplanting.

Using the Paperpot Transplanter, plant the four rows of bunching onions.

Four rows on a 30″ bed: 7.5” between rows, 3.75” from the outer rows to the edge of the bed. 

Reference for instructional videos if needed.

Transplanting Bunching Onions with the Paperpot Transplanter


Water the beds thoroughly with overhead irrigation, or four rows of drip.

Overhead irrigation poses risk of downy mildew for bunching onions if ventilation is inadequate.

Dry conditions can lead to unpleasant flavor in bunching onions.

10-14 days after transplanting, cultivate using a Terrateck Wheel Hoe with the bio-disc cultivator attachment.

This tool provides a hilling effect while cultivating both on the row and in between rows in a single pass.

A long-handled collinear hoe is also an effective approach to cultivating, just not as fast.

Cultivation (Weeding)

Harvesting Bunching Onions

Bunching onions are ready for harvest when the white base of the onion is 3-4”.

Harvest in the kneeling position, bunching two plantings together with rubber bands, creating bunches with 10-12 onions each.

Harvest a planting within 14 days after reaching maturity to maintain optimum tenderness.

Dunk the bunches in cold water, then spray all sides of the roots with the high pressure Washdown Gun.

Avoid the green tops with the gun to prevent damage.

Transfer the washed bunches to totes, and store at 35° until taken to market.

Washing and Packing Bunching Onions

Overall Paper Chain Pots make bunching onions a much more farmer-friendly crop.

Time savings, ease of transplanting, and uniform planting distances are some of the reasons why bunching onions are one of the most popular market garden crops grown in paperpots.

Get started growing bunching onions on your farm using a Paperpot Transplanter and download the Growers Notes below.


If you have any questions, please reach out or 877.850.1555.