Walking Onions are perennial plants and will grow back each year
and yield new and bigger clusters of sets on the top and new onion
bulbs in the soil - they will divide and form clumps. During their
first year of growth they will not produce topsets. There are
some exceptions to this depending on your growing conditions and
how big the topset is that you started with. The bigger the topset,
the better the chance that it might produce its own topsets in
the same year. This is because a bigger topset will have more
stored energy to put into growing and producing topsets. As for
the average topset, you might see only greens the first year.
But don't be disappointed, your Egyptian Walking Onion plants
will sprout again the following year in full force and produce
their first clusters of topsets. Once established, plants may
be propagated by division or by planting the topsets. Egyptian
Walking Onions are extremely hardy plants. Our plants have endured
harsh winters with temperatures plummeting down to -24° below
zero! Hence the name, "Winter Onion." They grow well
in zones 3-9.
and when to plant your Egyptian Walking Onion topsets:
each "topset" in the soil about 2 inches deep. Soil
should be slightly moist and well drained. Onions hate wet feet....
or do they? I threw a bunch of topsets on the ground one autumn
and the winter that followed was very wet with flooding conditions.
The topsets were under 2 inches of water. In February they began
to sprout and grow despite their wet feet.
Plant your topsets or bulbs in rows about 2 feet apart. The sets
should be spaced approximately 1 foot apart in each row. Plant
in full sunlight. Partial shade is ok too, but full sun is the
best for optimal growth. Egyptian Walking Onion sets can also
be planted in clusters. When planted this way they make a great
addition to your herb garden. They can even be planted in pots
to be kept outside or indoors. They can be planted any time of
the year, even in the winter as long as the ground isn't frozen
or covered with snow. However, fall is the optimal time to plant
them so they can develop a strong root system and be ready for
good growth the following spring. NOTE: Egyptian Walking Onions
topsets will not produce topsets during their first year of growth
(although I have seen the "jumbo" topsets produce tiny
topsets during their first year of growth). Topsets will grow
during the plant's second year and every year thereafter. The
following is a list of what to expect when planting your sets
at different times of the year:
in the spring:
is a good time to plant your Egyptian Walking onion topsets. The
topsets will grow throughout the spring and summer and develop
tall green leaves and bulb/root growth in the ground. Since it
is the plant's first growing season, it will probably not produce
topsets, unless it is a huge (jumbo) topset.
in the summer:
planted at this time will grow roots and leafstalks, and have
some onion bulb development in the ground, but they will not produce
in the fall:
is the optimum time to plant your Egyptian Walking Onion topsets.
Topsets planted at this time will grow roots and leafstalks only.
The leafstalk will die back for the winter. The topset will develop
into a small onion bulb in the ground and store enough energy
to carry itself through the winter. A leafstalk will reemerge
in late winter and the plant will grow throughout the spring and
summer to maturity. More than likely, there will be no topset
growth the first summer, but some plants have produced topsets
their first summer after planting in the fall.
in the winter:
Yes! You can plant Egyptian Walking Onion topsets in the winter
as long as the soil is not frozen. If you can dig a 2" deep
hole in the soil, then you can plant your sets. The topsets will
not grow much at all - maybe a little bit of root growth only,
unless you live where the winters are mild. If this is the case,
you might also get a leafstalk. When planting in the winter, mulching
is a good idea. In fact, mulching is good practice at any time
of the year. Mulching keeps the weeds down, prevents unnecessary
water evaporation and erosion, and fertilizes your plants.
by Nature: Unharvested topsets that are left to
lie on the ground will self-sew. No planting necessary, they will
grown on their own. Of course this will only happen if the conditions
for growth are right. Optimum conditions include bare soil and
plenty of moisture.
to Harvest Your Egyptian Walking Onions:
In mid to late summer and autumn the topsets may be harvested.
The optimal time to pluck off the topsets is when the stalk has
dried and turned brown. More than likely, it has fallen over by
this time. Be sure to remove any topsets that have fallen to the
ground if you do not want them to self-sow in their new locations.
Despite their name, these plants are very easy to control and
keep from spreading just by harvesting the topsets. You can eat,
plant, or store your Egyptian Walking Onion topsets.
The greens (leaves) may be cut and harvested at any time of the
year. Just harvest one or two leaves from each plant. Be careful
not to cut the stalk that has the topsets. Soon after you have
harvested the leaves from an Egyptian Walking Onion plant, new
leaves will start to grow in their place which can be harvested
again. If you live in a mild climate, your Egyptian Walking Onion
plant may produce greens all year round. In the fall after the
topsets have matured and fallen to the ground, or after they have
been harvested, new greens will start to grow - yummy!
the onion bulbs in the ground:
The onions at the base of the plant that are growing in the ground
can be harvested in late summer and fall. Be sure to leave some
onions in the ground for next year's crop. An Egyptian Walking
Onion bulb is about the same size and shape as a shallot. Bigger
bulbs may be obtained by cutting off the topsets before they develop.
That way the plant can put its energy into the onion bulb in the
ground instead of into the topsets. Note: if you harvest the onion
bulb in the ground, you will destroy the plant - it will not grow
back next year. So, if you want to eat the onion bulbs in the
ground, make sure to replace them by planting topsets, or offsets
from the bulb (divisions).
to eat your Egyptian Walking Onions:
Walking Onions taste just like a regular onion, only with a bit
more pizzazz! The entire plant can be eaten. Shallot-like onions
form at the base in the soil. They can be eaten and prepared just
like any other onion or shallot. The hollow greens may be chopped
to eat like chives or green onions. They are excellent when fried,
cooked in soups, or raw in salads (my favorite). The topsets are
excellent when peeled and fried. You can even pickle them. Or
just pop them in your mouth like popcorn! Watch out, they're a
of the Egyptian Walking Onion:
Walking Onion" or "Walking Onion":
The name "Egyptian" is very mysterious. The ancient
Egyptians worshipped onions. They believed that its spherical
shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. Onions were
even used in Egyptian burials for the pharaohs. Small onions were
found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV. It is not known whether
the Egyptian Walking Onion came from the Egyptians or not. The
"Egyptian" part of the name remains a mystery. Maybe
the name refers to the way they walk.....do they "walk like
name "Walking Onion" was given to this plant because
it literally walks to new locations. When the cluster of topsets
becomes heavy enough, it will pull the plant over to the ground.
Depending on how tall the plant is and where the bend occurs,
the topsets may fall up to 3 feet away from the base of the plant.
Here, if the conditions are right, they will take root and grow
new plants. When these new plants mature, their topsets will eventually
fall to the ground and start the process all over again. Egyptian
Walking Onion plants can walk between 1 and 3 feet per year!
Egyptian Walking Onions are known for their ability to grow a
twisting stalk from the cluster of sets at the top of the plant.
Another cluster of sets will grow at the end of this second stalk
giving the plant a branching, tree-like appearance.
Onion", "Topset Onion", or "Top Setting Onion":
Walking Onions grow a cluster of sets at the top of the plant
instead of seeds.
Onions can survive freezing cold winters with temperatures plummeting
well below 24°F! They are hardy to zone 3.
following three scientific names refer to the Egyptian Walking
cepa var. proliferum
Egyptian Walking Onions are proliferous. A proliferous plant produces
new individuals by budding. This type of plant also produces offshoots,
especially from unusual places. In the case of the Egyptian Walking
Onion, an offshoot will grow out form cluster of sets. Proliferous
plants produce an organ or shoot from an organ that is itself
normally the last, as a shoot or a new flower from the midst of
a flower. In the case of the Egyptian Walking Onion, a cluster
of topsets grows from a cluster of topsets forming a multi-tiered
cepa var. bulbiferous
Walking Onions are bulbiferous. They produce bulbs!
cepa var. viviparum
Walking Onions are viviparous. They produce bulbils or new plants
rather than seed. Egyptian Walking Onion sets germinate while
still attached to the parent plant. They can be seen growing leaves
and roots before they ever touch the ground.
(monocotyledon - having one seed leaf)