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Understanding Spring Onions


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  • Understanding Spring Onions

    We failed at growing spring onions by direct sowing in mid-April at the plot last year - it was far too difficult to weed around them & they grew reeeeeeeally slowly.

    We decided we'd try outdoor sowing in a pot at home this year & sow in mid-March - which we did. I had a few different packets of seed kicking around but decided to use the same type again for comparison. They're 'Evergreen Bunching' (from Fothergills).

    Looking on 'tinternet', Allium Fistulosum (which these ones are) are a different beast to Allium Cepa. I was happy about this as my trawl of the net made me think that the fistulosum ones are what's known as 'Welsh Onions' that would essentially grow as a clumping perennial. I had dreams of growing a clump big enough to divide to have some on the plot/to share & a few at home for convenience.

    So (to finally get to my point ), this year they've grown but they're still small/very thin - certainly not pickable.

    Is this because they are 'Welsh Onions' & therefore should be expected to establish themselves more slowly, or have I completely got the wrong end of the stick?

    I've not fed them with anything & they're just in a standard multipurpose compost so maybe I've just been too mean to them?

    Location: SE Wales about 1250ft up

  • #2
    Spring onion varieties in the species Allium fistulosum are not perennial clumping onions like Welsh onions. You grow them just like normal spring onions. The "Evergreen" in the name simply refers to the fact that they are winter-hardy.
    The difference is that they will never produce a bulb, and instead will simply remain an even thickness all the way down, unlike A. cepa which will start to produce a bulb if left for a while. So yours will never grow into pickling onions. They are meant for use as spring onions.

    As for why yours have not grown much, I've never had much luck with spring onions in pots. They tend to be very weedy and thin.
    If you have trouble with slugs eating the seedlings, try starting them in a seed tray then transplanting once they reach a decent size, as one would for leeks. Spring onions transplant well like this, too.


    • #3
      I sow them in a three inch pot & then transplant to a bigger pot & then they thicken,maybe they root more once disturbed I don’t know,some plants like root disturbance. Some varieties might do better than others,it’s good to have a few different varieties so you know it’s not you it’s them
      Location : Essex


      • #4
        Well, a curse on gardeners world & their misleading info ( )!

        Thanks Ameno - you've explained that so well even I understand & thanks Jungle Jane for the tip on transplanting

        I didn't expect bulbs or pickling size & only wanted spring onions but they are really weedy & thin which I'm now going to blame on growing them in a pot.

        I'll take a pic over the weekend as I'm now wondering if there are too many too close together & if it's worth dividing them so it would be helpful if you could see what they actually look like.

        I'm quite taken with the idea of the perennial 'Welsh Onion' so would welcome any recommendations of what variety I should look for to make sure I'm sowing the right thing next time. x

        Location: SE Wales about 1250ft up


        • #5
          Hi all,

          Fishing through my seed packet haul today I spotted a pack of 'Ishikura'. Can these be grown as a perennial clumper or am I being really dense again?
          Location: SE Wales about 1250ft up


          • #6
            As a general rule, no variety sold as a spring onion and grown from seed will be perennial.
            Onions by nature are biennial. They grow one year, flower the next, then die. Even so-called perennial bunching onions are technically biennial as well, in that if they flower they will die. It's just that in these varieties the bulbs naturally divide, which means there are always new plants to replace the old ones, plus they often never get big enough to flower in the first place as they are always dividing.

            Ishikura is a normal spring onion, in the species Allium fistulosum, which means it is a non-bulbing onion.


            • #7
              Thanks ameno - you patience knows no bounds

              I guess my dream of a nice permanent clump of spring onion type onions is exactly that - a dream
              Location: SE Wales about 1250ft up


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