Choosing Multiplier Onions for Your Garden

With so many onion varieties available, it is confusing for home gardeners to choose which one would be best for growing in their gardens. There are two basic types of onions. One onion type forms one large bulb per plant, while the other type called multiplier onions, forms bulb clusters.


Types of Multiplier Onions

Multiplier onions, also known as bunching onions, spring onions or green onions are used for their green stalks. Many people refer to them as scallions. They produce clusters of small, pearl onions that grow tall, green stalks. Rather than using the bulbs for enhancing your meals, you cut off the green onion tops, which gives a subtle, onion flavor. If you’d like to plant multiplier onions, check the following common varieties and choose the one that’s best for your garden:

  • Welsh onions (Allium fistulosum) – This type of perennial green onion is specifically grown for its green tops because it doesn’t produce large bulbs. Also known as Japanese onions, the stems grow from 6 inches to 24 inches.
  • Potato onion (Allium cepa aggregatum) – This onion variety produces medium-sized bulbs that grow in clusters. They look similar to shallots and both the bulbs and green tops are edible.
  • Egyptian onions (Allium cepa proliferum) – These are very hardy and unusual, in that they produce marble-sized bulbs both underground and on the onion stalks. They are also called walking onions or top-setting onions because the top-growing bulbs fall over and regrow another onion in the soil. They have a stronger flavor than scallions and shallots. The stalks grow up to 3-feet tall.

Growing Conditions Required for Multiplier Onions

Since multiplier onions don’t grow large bulbs, they’re ideal for container planting. Just push the bulb clusters in a pot filled with potting soil and place it in a sunny location. As you use the onion tops, more will grow from the bulbs.

When planting multiplier onions in your garden, choose a location that gets full sun. If you’re growing your onions from seed, start them indoors in March. Keep the soil moist, and your bunching onions should germinate in about one week. Plant the seedlings about 3 to 4 inches apart in rows about two feet apart after any danger of frost. You can divide the bulb clusters in late summer for propagating more multiplier onions.