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Bunching Onions – A Perennial Scallion Patch

There is something about the sound of a “perennial scallion patch” that should have irresistible appeal to any onion lover. To get one – you grow bunching onions.

As much as I love onions, I can’t for the life of me figure out why I haven’t grown them. But I’m remedying that this year.

Allium fistulosum – the true scallions – bunching onions.

I always thought scallions were just very young regular (or bulbing ) onions – only a couple of weeks away from green onions. I have just learned that bunching onions are the true scallions.  They make no bulb.

What They’re Like

There are numerous varieties. Each performs a little differently, but all have basic characteristics.

They have hollow green stems and a long blanched white stalk and can be harvested at any stage.

They divide at ground level and form evergreen clumps up to 1 foot in diameter to 2 feet tall. Depending on the variety – they will divide the first year or the second.

They multiply but are not invasive.

Perennial (Enduring for a long time.)

Once your bunching onions are established, you should have them for years and years.

Some varieties winter over and the ones that don’t can be lifted and potted  to winter over inside the greenhouse or porch.

Getting More

Once established, all you have to do to make more plants is divide them.

Lift the plants you want to harvest and leave the rest to continue. Or move them where you want more.

You can let heirloom varieties reseed or divide them.  Hybrids, although sterile, can be propagated by division.

When to Harvest

I read of someone who was able to start harvest after 3 weeks, but the norm seems to be 8 to 10 weeks.

Some reviewers think the new growth in spring is the tastiest.

Some varieties have a more intense flavor than others.

They may be used raw in salads, as a garnish, or as a substitute for chives.  Use them in soups, stir fries, or anything you use onions for.

They impart authentic flavor to Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine.

Flowers

I saw pictures of the variety Franz bunching onions and loved the flowers on them.  So much so, that I plan to use them in some of my flower borders.

Varieties I Ordered and Why

Evergreen Bunching – I hadn’t found a source for Franz at the time I ordered and wanted to make sure I grew one that would winter over.  Also, Evergreen Bunching is said to outshine most for intense flavor.

Red Bunching Onions – Just because they’re red.

Franz – Produces beautiful flowers.  Is said to be one of the best performers.  Starts dividing the first year.  Is an old heirloom. Hardy in winters.

Last Words

A Perennial Scallion Patch sounds like a winner to me!

 

 

14 comments to Bunching Onions – A Perennial Scallion Patch

  • rose

    Thank you so much for this information!! I have some currently growning in my garden and harvested some last night for a fabulous salad. I will from now on treat them like my forever scallion patch!! You’re awesome!

    Recipe if you want to try. This is enough as a side salad for two hungry people:
    1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes cut in quarters
    1/2 avocado cut into small bite size pieces
    1 cup chopped bunching onion (I used the whole thing)
    1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta
    1 1/2 cups rough chopped arugula

    Toss the above and let it sit for a while. If I’ve taken any of the above out of the fridge I let it all come to room temperature. Just before serving drizzle with balsamic vinager and olive oil to your taste. If everything is really fresh I usually forgo the oil.

  • Theresa

    So glad you have your forever scallion patch, Rose! It does make life a lot nicer.
    The recipe is just to our liking. (Of course, I’ll have to leave the arugula out of Bill’ salad — but it WILL go into mine.)
    The balsamic vinaigrette is perfect for almost any salad and that is definitely what I’ll use.
    Can hardly wait for tomatoes to come in so I can try it!

    Thanks for letting me know your thoughts and for the recipe!
    Theresa

  • Cindy Strotkamp

    I had no idea that bunching onions existed! I am SO excited! I will be trying this ASAP!

  • Theresa

    Cindy, You’ve got time to start bunching onions now to get a good start before the cold comes. (At least I hope we have time.)
    They make great “backup”.
    Theresa

  • Jenny

    I am reading this post with interest because I was given what were called multiplying onions. They do multiply but never really form a bulb. They look more like scallions. They flowered this summer with a gorgeous pom pom bloom. So ornamental. Now I am wondering if what I have are the perennial bunching onions. They have rather a strong taste raw.

  • Theresa

    Sounds like bunching onions to me Jenny.
    There is such a thing as multiplying onions (also called potato onions). You plant one in the fall and get from 2 to 10 small onions the following summer.
    Theresa

  • Gene Smith

    Theresa, although I’ve been registered here for a while, I’ve just figured out how it works, I like to share and discuss garden info, so if I post too much let me know, thanks
    My best bunching onion is called Florida white multiplier by the guy I bought them from off eBay. Probably the same as Evergreen Hardy, but who knows? They scape and then die back in July, I divide and dry the bulbs, then plant back on Labor Day. I usually start harvesting mid October. They divide in the fall and spring and I eat them for about 9 months of the year. Planted about 200 last fall and I’ll probably harvest close to 2000 this summer. They are very sweet, not strong at all. We eat them almost daily and don’t put a dent in them.
    I’m also going to seed and trial later in the spring with 6 varieties from Baker Creek.
    I also have 3 short day varieties from Dixondale, 3-4 varieties of Egyptian walking onions, a Scottish bunching onion, potato onions, a bunching onion grown locally for at least 60 years and I’itoi onions named by native Americans in Arizona.
    I may or may not keep them all, but they are trouble free, no pests, take care of themselves, don’t require much room, are perennial, and live through our worst winters, what’s not to like about them?

  • Theresa

    Agreed!
    Glad to finally meet someone who eats as many onions as I do Gene.
    Your posts are interesting and most welcomed.
    Theresa

  • Camille

    These is my 3rd spring with my evergreen bunching onions,they have a big bulb on top this year. What is it?

  • Theresa

    Camille, Onions are perennials. They put up a seed stalk, flower, and set seed in the second year.
    Sounds like that is what yours are doing.
    Theresa

  • Barbara

    My red bunching onions are very big, having grown undistilurbed for 4 months. Can I still harvest them and eat fresh? Can they be dried and stored?

    Thanks!

  • Theresa

    Barbara, true bunching onions do not produce a bulb. You can still eat them fresh. They can’t be cured and held in storage like regular onions of potato onions.
    Theresa

  • Delicia Ambrosino

    Hi Thereasa,
    Coming from a gardening family this sounds a bit ignorant but here goes. Are they called bunching onions because they put out more than one onion? I just bought seed {Heshiko-bunching onion by name} and have never grown them. I love the flowers and buds of chives too more than I like the green leaves and the whole thing dries nicely when cut to size. Now, a final question. You said they {bunching onions} can be used for anything that regular onions are used for. Does this include canning them say for example bread and butter pickles and even on their own.?

  • Theresa

    Yes, Delicia, bunching onions put out more than one onion. Sorta looks like a cluster of spring onions. (In other words no bulb enlargement.)
    Glad for your question about canning, because I never even gave canning a thought. Can’t speak from personal experience on that, because I’ve never canned onions and I don’t make pickles because of the sugar.
    Since the onions don’t really bulb up, you probably would not want to can them. But if you only had bunching onions when you made your bread and butter pickles, I would think they would do in a pinch.
    Hope this helps. Glad you asked because I’ll bet some others had the same question.
    Theresa

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