Growing perennial onions in your vegetable garden is an easy and smart way to ensure a continuous harvest throughout the year. Depending on the variety, you can use the bulbs and stalks for cooking, where each part offers your dish a distinct taste and texture.
Perennial onions are different from the common ones in your grocery stores. They can self-multiply, have smaller bulbs, and a stronger taste than regular onions. There are numerous varieties of these onions you can successfully grow at home. Here are the top seven worth trying.
1. Hooker’s Onion
Hooker’s onions, or tapertip onions, are modest plants with small green leaves and elegant purple flowers that bloom in summer. They can grow up to 1 foot in height and produce edible bulbs, flowers, and leaves. The small bulbs, 10 to 15 millimeters wide, have a strong flavor and fragrance and taste better when pickled, boiled, or dried for seasoning. Flowers and leaves are ideal for garnishing raw.
Hooker’s onions are hardy to zones 5 through 9. They prefer sandy or loamy, well-draining soil with a pH of 7.4 to 8.4. They thrive in full sun and require little water.
2. Nodding Onion
Nodding onions get their name from tiny, pink or white, bell-shaped flowers that nod downwards. The plants grow about 1 to 2 feet tall and have soft, grass like leaves, which lend the crops a whimsical touch. You can consume the bulbs, leaves, and flowers of the plant.
They grow best in zones 4 through 8 and bloom from July through August. Plant them in fall or spring in well-draining, moist soil under full sun. Nodding onions can grow frivolously, so deadhead the plant after the flowers fade to prevent spread and keep their shape.
3. Potato Onion
Potato or multiplier onions grow in clusters of small yellow bulbs instead of a large single bulb, similar to garlic. They grow 1 foot tall and are ideal for growing at home since they produce a moderate yield that you can consume in a few weeks. Like traditional onions, you can only consume the bulb of this crop.
They are hardy to zones 4 to 10 and are best planted in spring or fall in areas with mild winters. They are heavy feeders, so plant them in soil enriched with organic matter, such as aged manure or compost. Choose an area with full sun and water them whenever the soil feels dry.
Another member of the perennial family is the ramp or wild leek. They are slow-growing plants that can take a year to germinate from seed and bloom after about seven years. The white or yellow flowers appear as distinct globe-like heads that grow on tall stems. They offer a delicious harvest of edible foliage and bulbs coveted by top chefs.
They are best grown in raised beds with rich, moist, well-draining soil to control the spread. The wild perennial vegetables are shade-loving since they grow in the shades of deciduous trees in their natural habitat and only require watering during dry spells. Harvest them sustainably in spring, removing a few bulbs and most foliage.
Chives are well-known perennial onions with a mild flavor. They are vibrant plants with round, hollow leaves that shoot upwards from the bulb and stunning, pink, pompom-like flowers. Both the blooms and foliage are edible.
Chives are hardy to zones 3 to 9. Plant them in a spot with fertile, moist, well-draining soil and full sun. They are cool season crops that grow in spring and fall and go dormant in summer. Provide them with enough water to moisten the soil during the growing season and cut the leaves closer to the base when harvesting.
6. Walking Onion
Walking onions or top onions are delicious perennials with a unique appearance. They have tiny bulbs, or topsets, growing from the tip of the green, hollow leaves. The weight of the bulbs causes the green tops to bend over. The topsets fall to the ground and grow roots before becoming mature crops. The leaves, roots, and topsets are all edible.
They are best grown in zones 4 to 12 and require lightly loamy or sandy, well-draining soil with an acidic pH. They thrive in full sun but benefit from afternoon shade in areas with scorching summers. The plant only needs watering to help it become established, so hydrate the plant when the soil feels dry.
Leeks are popular perennial onions that can grow in small spaces. They can grow into showy plants with long, dark green tops, but the smaller ones taste better and are more tender, making them ideal for cooking. They have a sweet, oniony taste, which makes them a fantastic addition to soups, stocks, and stews.
Leeks thrive in well-draining soil, rich in humus, and sunny areas with good air circulation. The crops only require watering during dry spells. You can harvest the crop as you require by digging up the entire plant.
Growing perennial onions is an excellent way to enjoy the vegetable for multiple years with little upkeep. They also have multiple edible parts; some taste best cooked, while others can be eaten raw. They also make striking garden plants with their beautiful foliage and colorful blooms.
Which of these perennial onions would you like to grow in your vegetable garden? Share below in the comments!