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Monday, April 21, 2014

Onions Producing Flowers Too Soon

Q. Hello Bob. My son got me onions that were little 3" sprigs with roots, no bulbs, tied togather in a "bunch", no soil. we separated them and planted a few months ago. They have grown about 7 inches or more tall and I just noticed today some of them are getting seed bulbs on their tops. But if they are large onions, why are they going to seed already?
I checked the bulbs under the soil and they are maybe 2 inches around. Is that as big as they will get now that they are going to seed or should I cut the top seed bulb off? I don't know what kind they are but do know they are not shallots or leeks. And since the bulb is so large, pretty sure they aren't just green onions. But if they are large onions, why are they going to seed already? Please help.

These are the onion flowers. Producing the flower uses enough energy from the plant. Making seed from this flower consumes even more energy. Unless you have some use for the flowers, remove them as soon as they start to develop. Twist or cut them off.
A. Yes, that is the flower being produced. This can sometimes happen if there are some wildly fluctuating air temperatures or erratic irrigations.

Pull or cut the flowers off unless you want to use the open flower for culinary purposes then let them open and remove them. Do not let them go to seed.

Continue to fertilize the onions once a month. The safest to use is just dissolve some fertilizer that can be used for foliar applications into some warm water, dissolve it and pour it around the plants evenly. Otherwise you would do what we call “side dress” a dry fertilizer in a narrow band about two to four inches from the plants in a line parallel to the row. Do not get dry fertilizer too close to the plants or you can damage them.

Do not harvest until the tops of the plants fall over. That is your clue to go ahead and harvest them over the following week or so. They will also benefit from a surface layer of mulch. This can be shredded newspaper (black and white only) around the plants.

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