GARDEN TIP: Saving Onion Seed

Post last updated: August 13th, 2018

First, a disclaimer. I am not an onion expert. Far from it. I planted last fall’s crop too deep and they have not produced bulbs. When you plant them too deep, they become scallions rather than bulbing onions. I didn’t know that, of course, because I took a class on growing onions after I planted half a row of onions. Using my fingers to scratch the dirt away from the onion did not do much to help them bulb.

Okay, so that’s the disclaimer. What I do know about onions, green onions in particular, has come from observation. Always, at the beginning of the second year, the grocery store green onions I planted the year before, formed a bud at the top of the stalk. This is because onions are biennial. The bud showing up at the top of the stalk is known as “bolting.”

Onion bud

Eventually, the bud opens.

Green Onion bud opens

 Then it blooms. Look very closely and you’ll see one tiny bloom in this photo.

Blooming Green Onion

After what seems like a very long time (I seem to remember it taking months), a seed head forms. In this photo you will notice little green capsules. As they dry out and open, a black seed emerges in what remains of the papery, brown capsule.

Green Onion going to seed

You can save these seeds but if you have other onion varieties in your garden or anywhere within 12 miles, as I understand it, bees will work their cross-pollination magic. Don’t let this stop you from planting the seeds. Anything mutant in the garden is fun. Be adventurous, be a Mad Scientist.

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