Onion Varieties - What's the Difference?

yellow onion variety

There are lots of different onion varieties available to the backyard vegetable gardener. These varieties can be divided into four main categories - white onions, yellow onions, red onions and bunching onions, which have no bulb and are used exclusively as scallions. The varieties vary in sweetness levels, size and shape. Today, some seed companies offer "variety packs" with 3-4 different onions in one bundle or seed packet. This is a great way to try different onion varieties without spending a bunch of money.

Here is a list of some common onion varieties, along with bulb descriptions, etc...

White Onions - these varieties are usually white on the outside and inside, tend to be the mildest of all onion varieties, can be used raw or cooked

White Onions
  • Snow White Hybrid - this long day variety produces round onions that weigh about 1 pound each, very mild taste, ready in about 90 days from seed, also make good green onions

  • White White - this long day variety produces round onions inside and out, thin skins, very mild taste, matures in 85 days from sets, stores well

  • White Granex - this is a short day variety, ideal for warmer climates, produces medium to large onion that are white inside and out, this early producer is ready in 80 days from seed

Yellow Onions - these varieties are usually the sweetest, with gold skin on the outside and off-white or light yellow flesh on the inside, usually the best varieties for cooking

Yellow Onions
  • Candy Hybrid - this long day variety of onion is super sweet and mild, bulbs are somewhat flattened with tight skin, stores well

  • Walla Walla Sweet - this long day variety features a sweet and mild taste, golden yellow skin, round bulbs, not good for storing long term

  • Granex Yellow Hybrid - this short day variety is very sweet and very mild, this is the main variety grown in Vidalia, Georgia, an area known for producing extra sweet onions, features flattened bulbs with light yellow skin, bulbs average 3/4 pound, ready in 160 days from seed

  • Texas Supersweet - this short day variety is sweet enough to eat raw, very large bulbs feature light yellow skin and have been known to reach softball size

  • Sweet and Early Hybrid - this variety of onion grows well in most climates, mild and sweet flavor, slightly flattened bulbs feature a golden orange skin and off-white flesh, ready in 90 days from seed

  • Yellow Ebenezer - this long day variety features somewhat flattened bulbs with golden skin and light yellow flesh, bulbs average 1 pound, pungent flavor, stores moderately well

  • Savannah Sweet - this short day variety features golden yellow skin, extra sweet flesh is off white, bulbs average 1 pound, stores well, ready in 160 days from seed

  • Sweet Spanish Hybrid - this long day variety features light yellow skin and flesh, stores very well, sweet and mild flavor, bulbs reach 1 pound, ready in 110 days from seed

  • Texas Grano - this short day onion variety is ready in 170 days from seed, light yellow skin and mild flesh, bulbs average 1 pound, very sweet flavor, stores well, very good heat and drought tolerance

Red Onions - these onion varieties are traditionally eaten raw on sandwiches or in salads, typically have red skin and red and white flesh, very crisp, don't typically store very well

Red Onions
  • Giant Red Hamburger - this short day variety features dark red skin and white flesh with red ribbons throughout, mild with crisp texture, ready in 95 days from seed

  • Salad Red - this short day variety is ready in 85 days, features small oblong bulbs that average 2 inches, purple skin and white flesh, sweet and crispy, good for salads

  • Red Delicious - this long day variety features large red bulbs, sweet and crispy white flesh with red ribbons, bulbs average 1 pound, ready 105 days from seed

Bunching Onions - these onion varieties never form a bulb and are used for scallions or green onions, typically don't store well

Green Onions
  • Evergreen Long White - this bunching onion variety features long and thin stalks, ready in 60 days for small scallions or wait 120 days for large plants, white bottoms and bright green tops, classic green onion taste, also available in a certified organic variety

  • Parade - this variety features a mild taste, very straight plants have long white roots, classic green onion appearance

  • White Lisbon - this variety produces a bright white scallion with bright green tops, very crisp and mild flavor, ready in 60 days for smaller scallions and 120 days for larger stalks

Red Onion Slices

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Click here to learn about fertilizing and watering onions

Click here to learn about harvesting onions

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