What Do Onion Tops Tell You about Maturing Onions?

When gardeners look at onion tops, they’re looking for one of two things. One is to see if the onion bulbs are ready for harvesting. The other is to see if the onion tops are ready to pick. Whether growing onions for bulbs or tops, observing the onion stalks is important for harvesting at just the right time.


How to Tell When Onions Are Ready to Harvest

If you planted yellow, white or red onions, they all display the same clues about when it’s time to harvest them. The most visible signs of maturation have to do with the onion tops, but there are other signs, as well:

  • Onion tops start to turn yellow
  • Onion tops tip over
  • Necks of the onions split
  • Large onion bulbs push through the soil

Other Onion Top Characteristics

Onion tops naturally tip over when the bulb matures, but some gardeners force their onions to stop growing by folding the onion tops over. Folding the onion tops makes the stalk turn brown. Once this happens the onion bulbs stop growing, and you can cure the onions. This makes for a shorter growing season.

It the onion tops sprout flowers at the top of the stalk, then pick the tops and remove the flower. You can use the stems in any recipe that calls for scallions. When an onion top flowers, it’s called, bolting. Once an onion bolts, the bulbs stop growing, so bolted onions won’t reach the size of a mature, full-grown onion bulb.

How to Tell When Green Onions Are Ready to Harvest

If you’re growing green onions or spring onions, it’s easy to recognize when the onion tops are ready for picking. The bulbs of green onions remain small when planted underground. These onions are grown for their green onion tops, also known as scallions. The long, green stems grow from the small, white bulb. Green onions are simple to regrow by planting the scallions with the roots attached in containers or in the garden.

You can harvest your green onion tops whenever they start sprouting from the top of the bulb. It really doesn’t matter how tall they are. After you trim the onion tops off the bulbs, they’ll beginning growing again. It only takes a couple of weeks to have full-sized scallions.

Text: Garden.eco