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Home / Crop

How to propagate onion seeds in the nursery

Propagated onion seedbeds.

In a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2014, only 50% of the red onions consumed in Kenya are imported from Tanzania.

The report made the local farmers employ better ways of increasing yields harvested from their onion farms. One of the employed activities was onion seed propagation.

Onion seed propagation is a process of planting onion seeds in your nursery and later transplanting them to the land. In a bid to acquire the best results, sow the onion seed in the nursery under a mulch cover. Mulch cover allows natural fertilization.

Speaking to Farmers TV, Christine Murungi a Senior Product Promotion Officer at Simlaw seeds guides farmers on how to propagate onion seeds in the nursery.


Prepare raised beds in the nursery, the beds should be one metre wide. Raised seedbeds should help to reduce the possibility of the seeds being washed away by rain.

“The seed bed’s width should be one metre and the length should be as long as you wish,” Christine said.

For good germination and stand establishment, the seedbed soil should be finely textured.

“Let the soil be very fine. Pour your seed along the line, not very deep, but an inch deep,” she adds.


Well decomposed compost and additional rock phosphate should be added in the soil.

“Onion being a bulb crop, it does not require a lot of manure. If you put a lot of manure that is not well composed, it will rot.” Christine emphasized.


The first 10 days upon sowing are very critical. A farmer should work tooth and nail to ensure that the seedbed is irrigated thoroughly.

You can irrigate using a sprinkler, a hosepipe or a watering can. The best time to irrigate is in the morning and not during the heat of the day. This is to avoid water loss through evaporation caused by the heat of the sun. Amount of water required per day is about five to seven litres. 

Mulch cover can be removed after the seedlings started sprouting.


Wait until the seedlings are at the height of 15 centimetres and when the base is thick as a pencil. Seed burying should not be done more than one inch under the soil. Avoid putting the soil back around the seedling to create space for the emerging bulb.

Watering should be observed as sweeter onions result from more water. When the weather is dry, increase the level of watering.



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