So you have some spring onions in your garden and are wondering what they’ll grow up to be. When is the right time to harvest them? Is it any good waiting for them to bulb up, or can you harvest them in spring once the shoots are tall enough? Do spring onions grow into onions?
It’s quite common to get confused, especially as a novice gardener. The confusion arises from the many forms of onions – green onions, scallions, and bunching onions. If you know exactly which one is which, you can decide when to harvest each type and how to use it. Let’s continue reading and find out what to expect from spring onions.
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What Are Spring Onions?
Spring onions (Allium fistlosum) look much like scallions, except that they have a small bulb attached to the base. Many different varieties exist for the species. The bulb size for different varieties varies from as thin as that of a scallion (white underground stem) to the size of a softball. However, the bulb size is much smaller than that of bulb onion (A. cepa). The taste of the small bulb at the base of spring onions is mellower and sweeter than that of bulb onion.
They’re planted in late fall and harvested in spring, as the name implies. They reach maturity in just about 8 to 12 weeks, after which they are ready to be picked and consumed. Since the bulbs don’t expand too much, you can grow several plants in a small space.
Do Spring Onions Grow Into Onions?
It really depends on what you have planted.
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Immature Bulb Onions
Sometimes immature bulb onions are called spring onions in terms of their usage. Often, home gardeners plant regular bulb onions in late winter and harvest them immaturely in spring as green onions. If these bulb onions are allowed to continue growing and provided with optimal conditions, they will form bulbs and grow into onions.
Bunching Onions/Scallions/Green Onions
However, the spring onions could also come from onion varieties that never produce bulbs. These are scallions or green onions (both refer to the same thing). When harvested at maturity, these onion varieties will not have any bulb at the base. Seed stores and nurseries sell these varieties by the name “bunching onions.” If you are growing one of these varieties, then no matter how long you wait, spring onions will NOT grow into onions. Don’t expect to see any bulb even with the ideal conditions. These onion varieties are for harvesting and enjoying solely as spring onions.
Since “spring onion” isn’t a scientific term, there are some differences in what people might use it for. If used in Canada or the UK, it might refer to scallions (green onions). One thing is for sure – they’re all alliums! So if you want to know whether spring onions will grow into onions or not, you need to identify the exact variety. If the variety is from the species Allium fistlosum, then no, it will not grow into an onion bulb. If the variety is from the species A. cepa, then yes, it will grow into onion if given the time to reach maturity.