Onions starting to flower/seed

bucktalesJune 4, 2009

My onions are looking great this year - much better than last - but some of the tops of the stalks are buds and turning into flowers. Do I need to snip these off so that the bulbs get bigger? Did I do something wrong?

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Did you plant from sets? In any event once onions begin the flowering process bulb growth is over. At this stage the onions will start taking food from the bulb.

Cutting off the flowers won't help.

It's time to get the onions that are flowering out of the ground and eaten ASAP. Their culinary quality is deteriorating.

They will not store well either so use them quickly.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 9:32AM
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Yes I planted from sets.

I will pull the onions that are flowering.

Bummer! Anything I can do to prevent this?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 3:11PM
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Uh... don't plant sets?

I know, too late now, but I've found onion sets are a lot more prone to bolting. I think it's because onions are biennials, so for the first year they grow a bulb, and the next year they use that bulb as a food reserve for growing a flower. Onion sets are just little bulbs that were grown last year and then went dormant, so as far as those onions are concerned, they've done the bulb part, so next comes the flower.

I started having a lot more luck once my garden center started selling onion *plants*. They look like bundles of green onions, which they pretty much are. Those guys have never made a bulb before, so that's what they'll do in your garden.

Another option is to plant onions from seed. I haven't had luck with that, but I might give it another shot sometime. But the onion plants are just super easy. The first time I planted those was the first time I had a sucessful onion crop.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 7:42PM
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Great, thanks for the heads up. I'll try the plants next year. I did notice that it was mostly the red and white onions that flowered. None of the yellow onion sets I planted went to seed.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 10:37PM
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zootjs(zone 5 MA)

Do flowers mean the same thing for shallots and garlic? Or just onions?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:21PM
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Flowers are normal on hardneck garlic, although you want to cut them off to focus energy on making the bulb.

The shallots that I have had flower have tasted fine, but you have to remove the hard flower stalk. I have not tried keeping them though, so I do not know how it effects their storage capability.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 10:06AM
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My onion sets have plenty of top growth but hardly any sized bulb.Some of them have started to develop a small flowerhead. Should I bend the heads over or just lift them?
When should I bend the top growth of the others as they are quite small as well?
Any ideas as to what I may have done wrong?And can I eat them even though they are small.
Any ideas Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 5:55PM
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quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)

Yes, you can eat them small, as in sautees and sauces. Onions are HEAVY FEEDERS. I never knew this until this summer: amend your soil heavily with compost and use lots of organic fertilizer to get large onions. Then, fertilize them 2 more times, spaced out in the growing season, before harvest. Corn gets this same treatment. I am wondering what to do with the small bulbs that formed at the tops of my red onions. Does anyone have a recipe for pearl onions or any suggestions? I suppose they'd be good in a pot roast or crockpot stew.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 2:16PM
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I planted onion sets last December. It is now April and the y have flowered. Help What does it mean. Is it time to pull and cure them

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 3:09PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

"I planted onion sets last December. It is now April and the y have flowered. Help What does it mean."

This question was already answered and I can't improve on what justaguy2 and neohippie has said.

"Is it time to pull and cure them"

Justaguy2 has answered this question as well. You should pull them and eat them. If you've got too many to eat in the near future then chop them and put them in the freezer, dehydrate some, whatever you can to preserve them. If you cure them they won't last long in storage.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:34PM
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Neohippie sums it up: Don't plant sets.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:14PM
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gardener_mary(6 MA)

Only plant small onion sets, they should only be the size of a marble. You can grow your own sets from seed,

Good Gardening, Mary

Here is a link that might be useful: Grow Onion Sets

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:08AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

That is the problem with onion sets. Only plant real tiny ones.
Onions , being biennial, flower second year. That is why spring planting from plants is better. B,c it is going to be their first year.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 4:06AM
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Glad I visited this thread today. I planted red onion sets for fun, just to see if they would develop in a container. They were only $.25/lb, and eighteen only cost me five cents. But, they are sending up flower stalks on several plants. May let some flower, in order to acquire seed stock for future planting. Oh well, nothing ventured...

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 3:32PM
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