When are green onions ready to pick?

How To Grow Green Onions

Green onions have an almost unlimited amount of uses and are very easy to grow. Green onions can be grown from seed or as sets. I love green onions in soups, salads, on top of a nice steak, used as a baked potato topping, and many other ways.

Green onions are also referred to as bunching onions, and have a milder onion taste than storage onions.

They are actually immature onions that are harvested before the bulb matures. The green onion features a dark green stem (also called scallions) and a white bulb with roots. Both parts of the onion are edible.

There are several different cultivars of green onion including, ‘Evergreen Long White‘, ‘Parade‘, and ‘Red Baron‘ to name a few.

Planting Green Onions

Plant onion seed as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Onion seeds germinate in a wide range of soil temperature, between 65° F and 86° F.

Sow and cover seed with ½” of soil and keep moist. Seeds can be started indoors 6-8 weeks prior to planting. They can be set in the garden about 1-1½” apart. To plant onions sets, simply press sets into the soil about 2″ apart.

Onions benefit from full sun, a soil pH of 6.0-7.5 and a well drained soil with plenty of premium compost or well rotted manure added. Feed with a complete balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

Maintaining Green Onions

Once your green onions have sprouted become well established, they are pretty easy to maintain.

Green onions generally need about one inch of water per week. If green onions are grown in rows, or raised beds, soaker hoses can be used for irrigation. It’s also a good idea to mulch around the plants to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds.

The soil should be moist, but not soggy. A great way to check to see if your green onions need watering is the finger test.

Simply stick your finger in the soil down to the second knuckle near the green onion plan. If the soil feels moist there is no need to water. If the soil feels dry go ahead and water well.

Repeat the finger test once a week depending on how much rainfall you have received.

Green onions can also be grown successfully in containers. Soil in containers can dry out quickly during very hot summer temperatures, so you may need to water them up to three times per day if rainfall amounts are inadequate.

Allowing the soil to dry out too much can cause the onion bulbs to also dry out.

Also, make sure the container has good drainage holes. You want to avoid soggy soil in containers, too.

Getting the watering amounts down right may take some practice, but it’s not too difficult.

Harvesting Green Onions

Green onions are best picked when they are young and tender. Dig or pull them when the tops reach between 6-8″ tall and the bulb have begun to swell.

To use as dried bulbs, wait until the green tops have withered and browned, then stop watering. Most green onions are ready to harvest between 70-90 days.

When you are slicing or preparing a green onion, leave about 1″ above the root. This section can be re-planted into the soil. Place the root section about 1″ deep in the soil, root side down, and lightly cover the top with soil.

The root section will then re-sprout the green tops within a couple weeks. This process can be repeated several times with the same root section.

A great way to “recycle” your green onions! For more information on regrowing green onions, please read Regrow Your Green Onions For Maximum Use.

Pests & Diseases of Green Onions

Pests and diseases are rare for the home grown green onion, but they can become susceptible to maggots, thrips, and soilborne diseases. Use crop rotation to avoid these issues.

Recommended Reading

If you are interested in growing fabulous onions, then you should pick up a copy of Onions, Leeks, and Garlic: A Handbook for Gardeners. It is the definitive guide for growing all types of onions, garlic and leeks.

Your onions will grow bigger, faster, and taste better using the growing techniques outlined in this easy to follow book. I highly recommend it!

Try These Great Onions In Your Vegetable Garden

Quick Guide to Growing Onions

  • Plant onions in early spring once the ground is workable. In-ground gardens and raised beds are both excellent options for growing onions.
  • Space onion plants 6 inches apart in rows that are 12 inches apart. Grow them in a sunny spot that has fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
  • Improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Onions aren’t great at taking up water, so it’s important to keep soil moist so their shallow roots can drink up. Water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry.
  • For best results, keep your growing onions fed with a continuous-release plant food.
  • Onions can be eaten at nearly any size so harvest when they’re the right size for your next culinary creation.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Most gardeners want sweet onions, and the sweetness of an onion is determined by both nature and nurture. For the mildest onions, start with a variety known to produce sweet, mild-flavored bulbs such as Texas Sweet (at southern latitudes) or Walla Walla (at northern latitudes). For great results, start with Bonnie Plants® onion slips, strong plants grown by a company that has been helping home gardeners for over a century.

Growing onions requires abundant sun and good drainage, and they grow best when the soil pH ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Raised beds or raised rows made by mounding up soil are ideal, especially if your soil is heavy clay. Fill raised beds with a soil designed to be just the right weight and texture for raised beds, such as organic Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil. For mounded rows, mix a 3-inch layer of compost or aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil into the top 6 inches of soil. Set plants 1 inch deep, so that their roots are well covered with soil but the top of the plant’s neck is not buried too deeply. You don’t want the part of the neck where the leaves grow away from the clear sheath to collect soil or water down between the young leaves, or they can rot. Space plants 6 inches apart in furrows 12 inches apart. Plants grow best when, in addition to being grown in top-quality soil, they’re fed with just the right plant food. To ensure growing onions get all the nutrition they need, feed regularly throughout the season with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Nutrition Granules, following label directions.

Onions roots are shallow and not very efficient at taking up moisture, so they need a steady supply of water to grow without interruption. Although they actually recover well from drought and start growing again when watered, it is best to keep the soil consistently moist until the bulbs enlarge.

You may mulch with a light layer of weed-free and herbicide-free grass clippings or another fine mulch. Onions naturally push toward the surface as they form bulbs, and it’s best if the tops of the bulbs are allowed to bask in dry sun. Remove mulch that might keep the expanding bulbs excessively moist.

Seedlings that are about the diameter of a pencil produce the biggest, most beautiful bulbs, so some gardeners sort seedlings by size before planting. Plant the largest ones together only 2 inches apart to start enjoying as green onions in just two or three weeks. Very small seedlings set at close spacing can serve as a second crop of scallions. Use the pencil-sized plants to grow full-sized onions that will produce extra-juicy slices.

Green onions have become one of my favorite garden plants because they are incredibly easy to grow and can be used in so many ways. I add them fresh, frozen, or dried to all kinds of things like salads, soups, eggs, casseroles, and meat marinades.

If you’re a gardener and you like onions, I highly encourage you to try growing green onions if you’re not already.

What are green onions?

Confused on what exactly green onions are? Don’t worry; I was, too, before I started growing and using them regularly. Green onions are basically just the leaves of onion plants. You’ve likely seen them at the store – the bunches of green stems with little white bulbs.

Green onions are also called scallions, bunching onions, or sometimes spring onions, depending on the type of onion and in what part of the world you live. They are a deliciously versatile option for all kinds of recipes, and easy to grow, harvest, and preserve.

Growing green onions

I never used to bother buying green onions more than once or twice a year when I needed them for a recipe. However, a few years ago my husband started regularly making an AMAZING oyster stew that uses green onions, requiring us to purchase them more frequently.

Have you heard of people regrowing green onions by placing them in a cup of water? Looking for an easy way to always have some on hand, I experimented and found that this method works for a while. It doesn’t take long for the bulbs to get mushy and smelly, though, even with frequent water changes.

A couple years ago I had a bunch of green onions sitting in water in my kitchen, starting to get gross, and decided to stick them out in the garden. I wasn’t expecting much from them, but I figured I’d give them a chance to grow before tossing them in the compost pile.

Green onions are the first to make an appearance in my garden every year

To my surprise, they not only grew back almost instantly, but they grew much larger and thicker than the skimpy stems we picked up at the store. They have continued to come back every year since then.

They are the first plant to arrive every spring, often peeking up through the snow, and the last to die off every fall, well after the first frost and snowfall. We live in a climate with crazy extremes in temperature and moisture, but the onions always thrive no matter what Mother Nature delivers.

Green onions after our first snow in the fall

To grow green onions, you can do like I did and plant the bulbs from store-bought green onions directly into your garden. Or you can buy bulbs from your local garden center or a seed catalog. Catalogs have a huge variety of onion bulbs, including bunching onion varieties, to suit your taste and climate.

These are definitely one of those adored plant-once-and-forget-it types of plants. They require no special care, as long as you pick a variety suitable for your climate. If they can grow in our unforgiving zone 4, they can grow just about anywhere!

Harvesting green onions

The great thing about green onions is they bring you a continuous crop all season long, and there’s really no trick to harvesting them. Once the stems pop up in the spring, simply pluck some leaves whenever you need some. They will continue to grow back through the first frost, up till winter really sets in.

With just a few plants in my garden, we get enough green onions to use all spring, summer, and fall, and more than enough to preserve to last through the winter, as well as plenty to give away.

The thick bunches of green onions in the photo below came from just a few of those little grocery store green onion bulbs I stuck in the dirt.

With a plant as prolific as green onions, it almost makes you feel guilty not saving some up for winter. Fortunately, they are incredibly easy to preserve by freezing or drying.

Whichever method you choose, start by washing your harvested onions and lay them out to mostly dry; they don’t need to be completely dried, just not dripping with water.

Next, chop them into rings to proceed with freezing or drying. Some people prefer to chop green onions into very thin rings, though I prefer them a little thicker. The thickness really doesn’t affect how well they preserve; it comes down to personal preference.

How to freeze green onions

Green onions do not require blanching before freezing, so they are perfect for when you’re short on time or just somewhat lazy (like me!). I love vegetables and herbs that can just be chopped up and frozen without the time and hassle of blanching.

There are two ways I store frozen green onions that work very well. The first way is to pack them into freezer containers, like the one below, and use them as needed. These little containers happen to hold the perfect amount for larger meals like soups and casseroles.

Another handy way to freeze and use green onions is to drop them into clean plastic or glass bottles and store the bottles in the freezer. Whenever you need them for cooking, simply shake some frozen onions out of the bottle. This method is great for when you only need small amounts at a time.

How to dry green onions

Drying green onions is just as simple as freezing; they dry quickly and store easily. I prefer to use a dehydrator for drying my onions, but they can also be air-dried or dried in the oven on low heat.

If you choose the dehydrator method, spread the onion pieces out on trays either with or without the tray liners (the ones included with most dehydrators for fruit leather). A few pieces will likely fall through the slats while drying if you don’t use the liners, which isn’t a big deal if your dehydrator is a top-drying model.

Onions dry fairly quickly, depending on the humidity in your area, so check them often once you start the dehydrator. Store dried onions in glass jars or in plastic bags. They will last for months (if not years) and can be used however you like them.

One last tip on drying onions – you might find the smell a little overpowering as they are drying. If the smell is too bothersome, you can set the dehydrator outdoors on a patio or in a garage till they’re finished.

As you can see, green onions are a wonderfully easy plant to keep in your garden that will provide you an amazing bounty. For me, they have become one of the few plants I consider absolute essentials in my garden every year. They are easy to grow, easy to preserve, and add delicious flavor to just about anything you’d add onions to.

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ONIONS & GARLIC

Storing Onions
Store whole onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Never store them with potatoes, as the onions will cause the potatoes to rot.
Sweet onions will be best if you use them soon after purchase. Maui and Vidalia onions have tender skins and a high moisture content, so they don’t store as well as many other kinds of onions.
Red onions will last for 2 to 4 weeks, yellow for 2 to 3 months, and white for up to 3 months.
Cut onions should be tightly wrapped and then stored in the refrigerator. Consume them as soon as possible, as they will oxidize and lose their vitamins quickly once cut.
Storing Shallots
Store shallots in a dark, cool, dry, well-ventilated place, and they will keep for about a month. Alternately, you can store them in the refrigerator, but they will only last for about 2 weeks.
Storing Garlic
Store garlic at room temperature in a dry, well-ventilated place and it should keep for at least 3 months.
Storing Leeks
Store leeks unwashed in a dark, cool, dry, well-ventilated place and they can keep for 1 to 3 months. Or store them in the refrigerator, where they should keep for about 2 weeks.
Storing Scallions
Place unwashed scallions in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should keep for up to a week.

Scallion Picking: How Do You Harvest Scallions

While most people know that scallions are simply young, immature onions that are easy to grow, not everyone is certain about scallion picking or harvesting. Scallions are harvested for their greens and small, white stem that grows underground. Both the greens and white stalk of the scallion can be sliced or chopped and added to salads or used as garnish. They can also be cooked and are often used as a substitute for chives in many recipes. In fact, a mature scallion is actually quite similar looking to a large chive.

When to Pick Scallions

Scallions are typically harvested prior to the formation of the onion bulb. Generally, the younger the scallion, the milder the flavor. The exact time for scallion picking varies upon personal preference but is usually within about 60 days after planting.

Scallions can be harvested several times throughout the season depending on their level of maturity, with most people harvesting them once they are at least a half inch thick or anywhere from 8-12 inches tall. Another way to tell their maturity is color. Scallions should be green, upright, and succulent whereas onions are ready for picking once they’ve turned yellow and flop over.

How Do You Harvest Scallions?

Once scallions are ready to be harvested, gently loosen the surrounding soil so you can carefully pull them up. When harvesting scallions, choose the largest and use them first, as it is best to both harvest and use scallions right away. Scallions left for too long will quickly wilt and loose their freshness.

However, if you are unable to use all of your harvested scallions, they may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. It’s best not to wash them if storing is necessary. Keep the scallions in an airtight, plastic bag. Some people find placing them in a damp paper towel works as well.

When preparing scallions, be sure to trim off the roots and tip of the white stem as well as the top two inches of greenery.

All About Scallions & Chives

Almost any onions sown from seed can be scallions (also called bunching onions, green onions, spring onions or green tails). Plant them thickly, pick them young, and you’ve got scallions.

Planting Scallions

To have scallions in the summer, plant seeds of an onion variety such as ‘Beltsville Bunching’ or ‘Evergreen Bunching’ as early in the spring as you can. Pull them up when the stalks are about eight inches tall, and the small bulbs will be tender and tasty. (Some varieties, such as ‘Long White Bunching’, don’t ever form bulbs. So, even if you let them grow taller, you won’t have scallions with over-sized bulbs.) ‘White Portugal’ is a bulbing onion grown all over the country and harvested young for sale as scallions.

You’ll sometimes see bunching onion transplants for sale. Although they’re ready to eat a little sooner, they’re not worth buying. Bunching onions planted from seed will be at the eating stage in just a matter of weeks, and one planting can supply you with produce for many years: They’re very hardy and they survive winter temperatures as low as -30F. Bunching onions go to seed each season, so the crop comes back year after year. All you need to do is keep the weeds out. If you want to keep a perennial bed going, plant a hardy variety, like ‘Evergreen White Bunching’.

Early Scallions

Here’s how to be the first in your neighborhood to have scallions in the spring. Three to four months before frost in the fall plant a variety such as ‘Stuttgarter’ in a one-foot-wide row, scattering the seeds onto smooth soil and raking them in lightly. If the soil is dry, soak the area before planting, and keep it moist until the seedlings are up. Don’t thin them at all! Around the first of November, bend the tops over and mulch the onions with three to four inches of hay or leaves. In the spring take the mulch off early, and your spring onions are four weeks ahead of your neighbors’! You can start harvesting as soon as there’s something big enough to eat.

Scallion Varieties

‘Beltsville Bunching’ – A crisp, very mild onion that survives hot, dry weather better than any other green onion.

‘Evergreen White Bunching’ (“He-Shi-Ko”) – This tasty onion won’t form a bulb. It continues to grow and form new shoots throughout the growing season. Will winter over in the North.

‘Long White Tokyo’ – This variety forms a single stalk and withstands some hot weather.

‘Red Beard’ – An unusual red-stalked bunching onion with white tips and roots.

‘White Lisbon’ – A hardy, mild-flavored onion. For many years it was the most popular bunching onion among American gardeners.

Growing Chives

Chives are a great windowsill crop. You can also plant them in a permanent location in an herb garden or as a border for a flower garden. They are just about disease-free and need very little attention once you get them producing.

You can start your chive bed from seed in a window box or flower pot or by using some plants from a neighbor. Six or eight plants are plenty and since they’re perennials, you’ll get plenty of chives each year. Set out the plants eight to 10 inches apart, and they’ll expand to fill the area.

Chives like rich, well-worked soil and fertilizer, so rake some compost or manure into the soil before planting. Trim off the tops of the transplants, leaving an inch or two, and put the plant in at the same depth. Do this early in the spring.

Clip off the tops whenever you need them. The plant will produce more and be slower to go to flower. To keep a steady supply of chives producing through the winter, dig up part of a cluster of plants and pot it inside. It won’t hurt the next year’s crop.

Allium fistulosum

One of my favorite summer routines is taking daily (or hourly) strolls through my garden, plucking and eating edible leaves as I go.

Probably my all-time favorite things to eat straight out of the garden are bunching onions! At the peak of the season, I’d estimate that eat a handful of the leafy tops each day during my garden walks, not to mention the bundles that I chop up and sprinkle in soups, stir fries, and sandwich fillings.

If you aren’t already growing this enticing crop in your garden, you really should be! Bunching onions are a cinch to grow, strong and enduring, and once established, they can supply a sharp and delicious punch of flavor to your cooking, year after year.

Here’s what’s to come in this article:

What Are Bunching Onions?

Also known as Welsh onions, green onions, Japanese bunching onions, spring onions, and scallions, these are perennial non-bulbing alliums that produce yummy green stems and tiny white roots, year after year!

They have thick, round, hollow stems that are bright green in color, and unique and lovely greenish white flowers that are slow to develop and bloom through much of the summer.

The leaves have a mild onion flavor and are edible raw or cooked. Larger varieties are similar to leeks, and smaller ones resemble chives. The flowers are edible, with a similarly sharp flavor, though they tend to be a bit dry.

These perennials are so fast and easy to grow that they are often utilized as annuals, harvested completely, and then reseeded in succession over the course of a season. Learn more about succession planting here.

Similar Species

Distinguishing between bunching onions and other allium varieties can be tricky. After all, pretty much any type of onion will produce edible greens.

For instance, the common bulbing onion, A. cepa, can also produce green onions early in the season, and many scallions sold in US grocery stores are actually greens from early bulbing onions.

Here are a few more similar species that produce edible greens:

  1. ameloprasum – Leeks
  2. cepa aggregatum – Shallots
  3. schoenoprasum – Chives

Though similar in taste to many of these relatives, A. fistulosum is a true perennial bunching onion that does not form a bulb, and its green foliage tends to be superior in flavor!

Cultivation and History

Though often referred to as Welsh onions, bunching onions did not originate in Wales, nor do they have a particular connection to Welsh culinary tradition. In this case, “Welsh” refers to an Old English form of the word, which was once taken to mean “foreign.”

In fact, this long-cultivated crop is native to China. Its use by humans dates back to at least 200 BC. It likely reached Japan by 500 A.D. and spread from there across Asia and Europe, eventually landing in North America.

In addition to being a tasty inclusion in all manner of cuisine, it also has many uses in Chinese medicine. It has been used to help improve metabolism, prevent cardiovascular disorders, and fight colds and upper respiratory infections.

A poultice made from scallions is said by herbalists to even be helpful for treating infection or draining sores. A poultice is a moist lump of plant matter that is placed on the skin to treat wounds or skin ailments. It can be wrapped in cloth or applied directly to the skin.

It is also conveniently useful to help protect gardens! The juice can be used as a moth or aphid repellent, and the whole plant is thought to repel certain types of insects including termites, as well as moles. Not a bad deal! (Please let us know if you have any success trying this in your own garden…).

Propagation

This hardy plant can be grown easily from seed or transplants, or by division.

Find a spot in full sun or partial shade, with well-draining soil. For best results, incorporate plenty of organic material such as compost or aged manure prior to planting.

From Seed

Sow seeds in early spring for summer harvests, or in late summer to mature in the fall or spring.

Plant 1/4-1/2 inch-deep about 1/4 inch apart in rows 2-3 inches wide, or broadcast seeds. Once seedlings are well established, thin to an inch apart.

From Seedlings/Transplanting

Start seeds indoors about 5-6 weeks before the last frost date for your area. Maintain an average temperature of 59 to 68°F, and keep the soil moist until germination, which will take between 7 and 10 days on average.

Once plants are 8-18 inches tall and about as wide as a pencil, transplant to the garden in rows, leaving a few inches of space between each.

Water dry soil gently before planting. You can dip the bottom of roots lightly in water or liquid fertilizer before setting in the soil.

Division

Once established, plants can be divided easily to spread throughout your garden, or to share with friends and neighbors!

Division can be done at any time of year, but spring is best. To divide plants, just dig up a clump, carefully split the root ends into several sections, and replant.

How to Grow

Bunching onions are very resilient. They will grow in almost any soil conditions and can even tolerate drought.

That being said, providing a nutrient-rich soil in full sun with plenty of water will certainly help to produce a superior crop.

Plants will benefit from regular watering, as well as the addition of liquid feed such as comfrey tea or fish fertilizer every few weeks.

To make a homemade comfrey tea fertilizer, cut a bunch of comfrey leaves and place them in a five-gallon bucket of water. Wait a couple of days, strain, and this nutrient-rich “tea” is ready to be used on your plants. Be warned, it does have quite a strong smell! You can find complete brewing instructions here.

It is also important to keep the area around your plants free of weeds. Surrounding them with a thick layer of mulch is an ideal way to both keep weeds down and keep the soil moist.

Growing Tips

In preparation for winter, apply a thick layer of mulch over plants in the fall. This will protect plants through the cold weather and help to stimulate an earlier crop. Remove mulch in spring, once the soil has warmed up.

Try planting in succession every 3-4 weeks for a continual supply!

Try hilling plants with soil as they grow, a couple inches higher with each addition. This will force the leaves higher up the plant, resulting in long, blanched stalks and much longer edible greens.

Cultivars to Select

Several different types of scallion, green onion, and bunching onion cultivars are available. And they’re all delicious! Here are a few of my favorites:

Evergreen

This non-bulbing onion is mild and delicious as a fresh garnish for salads or cooked dishes.

‘Evergreen’

Slow to go to seed, expect 65-120 days to maturity.

Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.

Heshiko

Try this hardy Japanese variety that grows 12-14 inches high and is great for overwintering.

‘Heshiko’

This variety matures in 60-120 days and is suitable for all growing zones.

You can purchase seeds at Eden Brothers Nursery.

Tokyo Long White

Another Japanese heirloom type that grows well in the US and is great for cooked dishes.

‘Tokyo Long White’

This one matures more quickly than other varieties – you can expect 75-95 days to harvest.

Seeds are available at Eden Brothers.

Managing Pests and Disease

While tasty to you and me, bunching onions are typically not all that tempting to pests, and don’t often experience problems. In fact, planting alliums around the edges of garden beds is often done as a precaution to ward of unwanted insects and herbivores.

Nonetheless, there are a few pests and diseases that can occasionally strike.

Pests

Allium Leaf Miners

These small flies lay their eggs inside the leaves of allium-family plants, and can eat their way down to the roots, creating little white spots along the tips of the leaves. The wounds left by the mines can become rotted by fungi or bacteria, which can ultimately destroy the plant. Once the miners have burrowed into the crop, there’s little you can do.

This is a relatively new pest that is still being researched, with the first infestation in the Western Hemisphere being confirmed in 2015 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The best method is prevention by timing crops to avoid infestation. You can also use row covers to prevent flies from laying eggs on plants.

Thrips

These tiny insects create blotchy streaks on the tops of plants, causing deformity in the leaves.

Hose off leaves with a strong jet of water in the late morning to remove insects. You can also coat each leaf with a homemade insecticidal soap.

Disease

White Rot

This soil-borne fungus can affect all plants in the allium family. The disease causes white mold to form at the base of the roots, sometimes ruining plants.

Practice crop rotation to reduce disease spread. But keep in mind that preventing recurrence may not always be possible, as white rot can live in soil for anywhere from 8 to 20 years. Be sure to avoid using starts or seeds that have been infected, and rotate crops.

Downy Mildew

Mildew can leave fuzzy growths on leaves, causing them to turn yellow or brown and collapse.

Avoid planting infected sets, rotate crops regularly to areas that have not had other allium species grown in them in the last few years, and plant in well-draining soil.

Botrytis Leaf Blight

This is a foliar disease that causes small white spots on leaves and causes tips to wilt and die back. Eventually, this can cause all of the foliage to die. Wet weather can cause spores to germinate and spread rapidly.

Destroy any infected plants and reduce the risk of spreading by rotating to areas where no other allium species have been grown for the past few years.

Harvesting

Plants can be harvested in two ways: you can pull entire plants and eat them like green onions, or you can snip off leaves as needed throughout the growing season, more like chives. Leaves will grow back quickly and can be cut down several times throughout the season.

I prefer to stick mainly with the snipping method, pulling up only a few plants here and there once a patch is well established. This way, I can ensure that this hardy perennial continues to thrive and produce each year without any extra work for me!

Harvesting can begin any time after plants have reached 4-6 inches high. The larger they get, the stronger the flavor! If pulling up entire plants, you may want to wait 4-5 months from seeding to harvest, until they reach full maturity.

In warm climates, this plant can be harvested year-round!

In the first year, do not begin harvesting until mid-summer, and be careful not to over harvest, so that young plants can have the opportunity to develop strong roots. You should also remove flower heads when they form, unless you are planning to save seeds or enjoy the flowers in your cooking.

Preserving

Bunching onions can be stored for up to 10 days in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. They can also be frozen easily or dried for longer preservation.

Freezing

Wash greens thoroughly and lay them out to dry. Next, chop them up into little rings of whatever thickness you prefer.

That is pretty much it! There’s no need to blanch prior to freezing, simply pack them into freezer containers, bags, or glass jars. Whenever you need a few for cooking, just grab a handful and throw it right into your meal.

Drying

This is perhaps my favorite preservation method for this plant. Since the greens tend to dry fairly quickly, are able to be stored for years, and take up very little shelf space, drying is a prudent way to preserve an abundant crop.

Begin by washing and chopping the greens, and then allow them to air dry. Use a dehydrator or place them in the oven at the lowest heat setting, until no moisture remains. For more on dehydrating the garden’s bounty, .

I like to put them in the oven on the “warm and hold” setting, but if this isn’t a feature that your oven has, just use the lowest temperature available. They dry quickly, so check them often!

Recipes and Cooking Ideas

Delicious on their own or as an enhancement to a main course, these sharp green leaves make a perfect addition to any meal.

On a warm day, try dipping crunchy veggies in a cooling scallion dip, or warm up on a chilly evening with a sweet and zesty bowl of green onion soup.

Easy Green Onion Mini Frittatas via Foodal. Photo by Nikki Cervone.

Use them to add a delightful crunchy spice to salads and sandwiches, or to flavor broths, enhance stir fries, and spruce up your dinner with a lively garnish.

Foodal has a useful guide on ways to prepare and use green onions.

Try going fancy with some mouth-watering green onion frittatas.

This fun recipe from Foodal combines fresh scallions, peas, and feta to make mini frittatas in muffin tins.

Quick Reference Growing Chart

Plant Type: Perennial Bulb Tolerance Drought tolerant
Native To: China but naturalized world-wide Growth Rate: Fastest in cool weather
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 5-9 Maintenance: Low
Season: Spring through fall Soil Type: Nutrient rich, will tolerate poor soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0
Time to Maturity: 4-5 months Soil Drainage: Well-draining
Spacing: 2-3 inches Companion Planting: Beets, sweet peppers, spinach, lettuce turnips and parsnips
Planting Depth: 1/4-1/2 inches Avoid Planting With: Other Alliums to avoid pests and disease spread and cross pollination
Height: 10 to 14 inches depending on cultivar Family: Amaryllidaceae
Spread: Will continue to spread unless contained or pulled Genus: Allium
Water Needs: Regular watering Species: Allium fistulosum
Pests & Diseases: Allium leaf miners, army cutworms, beet armyworms, nematodes, slugs, thrips, leaf blight, downy mildew, maggots, neck rot, white rot

Grow Yourself a Bundle

Bunching onions, Welsh onions, scallions – whatever you want to call them, there really isn’t a downside to cultivating a bundle of these hardy alliums in your garden.

They are so easy to grow and care for, and if you do it right, you can continue to obtain a harvest from the same plants year after year!

Do you have experience growing perennial bunching onions? Share your stories and tips in the comments below!

If you found this guide valuable, you’ll also find some excellent info on other types of alliums here:

  • How to Plant and Grow Garlic in Your Veggie Patch
  • Flowering Alliums Transform Your Yard for Weeks

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About Heather Buckner

Heather Buckner hails from amongst the glistening lakes of Minnesota, and now lives with her family on a beautiful homestead in the Vermont Mountains. She holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental science from Tufts University, and has traveled and worked in many roles in conservation and environmental advocacy, including creating and managing programs based around resource conservation, organic gardening, food security, and building leadership skills. Heather is a certified permaculture designer and student herbalist. She is also a fanatical gardener, and enjoys spending as much time covered in dirt as possible!

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