Spring (Salad) Onions

Spring Onions

A popular fresh salad crop and very useful in the kitchen. Also known as scallions (Allium cepa) or bunching onions (Allium fistulosum). They are easy to grow and fast maturing. A useful crop to grow in the gaps between slower maturing vegetables in spring and summer. Certain hardy varieties can also be over-wintered.

How to Prepare >> Popular Varieties

Growing Conditions

Soil Type: Rich, fertile, moist but well-drained soil (non-acid).

Conditions: Grow in a sunny, open position.

Ease of Cultivation: Easy.

Type: Salad Vegetable.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

When to Sow: Mid spring onwards.

Harvest: May onwards.

Growing Spring Onions

Spring Onions are easily grown from seed, maturing in as little as 8 weeks.


Grow in a fertile, well-drained, crumbly loam with a pH of 6.5 or above. Ensure the soil is not too soggy.

Do not add manure before planting but follow a crop that was manured in the previous season.

Apply a general purpose fertilizer a week before sowing and rake the soil into a fine tilth.

When to Sow

For a regular supply, succession sow at 2-4 weekly intervals from early March onwards.

Sown thinly in rows 15cm (6 inches) apart. Alternatively they can be broadcast across a small area and gently raked in.

Late sowings of a winter hardy variety can also be made in August and September, which should provide an early spring crop. A winter crop can also be grown in the greenhouse, in a large shallow pot filled with compost.

Taking Care of Spring Onions

Keep weed-free and water regularly, until ready for harvest.

Pests and Diseases

Spring onions are prone to the same pests and diseased as the rest of the onion family but as they are quick maturing, they are unlikely to succumb to many problems.

Harvesting Spring Onions

Harvest as soon as they are large enough for use, around 8 weeks from sowing. Usually ready once they reach 6-12in (15-30cm) in height (depending on variety). Don't leave them in the ground too long as the leaves will start to become tough.

Not suitable for freezing.

How to Cook Spring Onions

Spring onions are best used as fresh as possible, although they will keep for several days in the salad drawer of the fridge.

Slice off the roots and remove any damaged outer leaves. Eat them raw in salads and sandwiches or used in stir-fries, omelettes and stews (they only required a short amount of cooking time).

The white bulbous parts can be sliced or split lengthwise. The green leaves can be chopped and used like chives.

Nutritional Value

Spring onions are a good source of vitamin C and B vitamins. The pungent flavour indicates they are full of the polynutrients and antioxidants.

Popular Varieties of Spring Onion

Spring Onions

Spring Onion 'Apache' produces is a deep purple-red skinned spring onion with a mild flavour and a crisp texture. Ideal for growing outdoors or in containers. Height 12in (30cm), spread 2in (5cm). Available at Van Meuwen and Thompson & Morgan.

Spring Onion 'Feast' (F1 Hybrid) produces long pure white slender stems that contrast with dark green leaves. Excellent heat and downy mildew tolerance. Ideal for successional sowing. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Spring Onion 'North Holland Blood Red' a fine red skinned spring onion that is white on the inside. No thinning required. Available at Suttons.

Spring Onion 'Purplette' an early bulbing, glossy purple-red skinned salad onion when small. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Spring Onion 'Totem' produces long uniform upright stems which do not bulb at the base. Crop throughout summer and into autumn. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Spring Onion 'White Lisbon' a widely grown mild flavoured white salad onion that is quick to mature. Suitable for summer and winter use. Mild flavour. Ideal eaten raw in salads. Height 12in (30cm), spread 2in (5cm). Available at Van Meuwen and Gardening Direct.

Spring Onion 'White Star' produces golf ball sized bulbs with a great flavour and crispy texture. Successional sow throughout the summer for a steady crop. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Bunching Onions

The true bunching onion is Allium fistulosum, a fast growing perennial that does not form a bulb. Other forms are sown in a close bunch to prevent bulbs from forming. Always read the packet label to check how to grow each variety.

Spring Onion 'Ciboule Red Dragon' produces a clump of slender elongated bulbs and long green stalks, similar to chives. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Spring Onion 'Ishikura' a slender long stemmed perennial oriental bunching onion.

Spring Onion 'Performer' produces upright, dark green leaves and mild flavoured stems that do not bulb. Ideal for all the year round production. Height 12in (30cm), spread 9in (23cm). Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Spring Onion 'Winter White Bunching' a strong vigorous onion that resists bulbing. Good all rounder and well suited for winter planting. Sow in late August for a May crop or sow from spring onwards for summer/autumn crop.

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