Egyptian Walking Onions are a unique and intriguing type of perennial onion that displays fascinating growth habits.
A hybrid between Allium cepa, the cultivated onion, and Allium fistulosum, the Welsh onion, Egyptian Walking Onions are also known as tree onions, top-setting onions, or walking onions due to their distinctive appearance and growth pattern.
Ready to learn all about cultivating and enjoying these unique onions? Read on!
Why Are They Called Walking Onions?
These unusual onions begin their growth cycle like any other onion plant in early spring but start to exhibit their unique characteristics around May. Egyptian Walking Onions grow a cluster of bulblets, or top-sets, where a typical onion would produce flowers.
As these top-sets grow and develop, the weight of the new growth may cause the original stalk to bend and flop over, allowing the bulblets to take root in the surrounding soil.
This curious growth pattern allows the onions to spread or “walk” to new areas in the garden, making them a conversation-starting addition to any vegetable plot.
Planting and Growing Conditions
Egyptian Walking Onions are a unique and versatile addition to any garden. These perennial onions can be planted in both spring and summer, providing you with a tasty harvest for years to come. As with any plant, understanding their ideal growing conditions is crucial to their success.
Soil and Sun
These onions thrive in well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. It is vital to prepare your garden bed with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to ensure healthy soil, which in turn will produce strong, healthy plants.
They can be planted either in full sun or partial shade, making them a suitable option for various garden spaces. However, keep in mind that full sun will generally yield better results.
To plant your Egyptian Walking Onions, dig a hole about two inches deep and place bulbs in the planting hole. Space the onions approximately six to 10 inches apart if you are looking for larger, pungent onions.
Alternatively, plant them closer together for smaller, sweeter onions. Cover the bulbs with soil and water them thoroughly after planting.
Maintaining an appropriate moisture level is key for proper growth. While these onions can tolerate slight drought, it is essential to water them regularly during their growing season. Be cautious not to overwater, as this can lead to rot or other issues.
Harvesting and Usage
Egyptian Walking Onions are an interesting and flavorful addition to any home garden. When it comes to harvesting and making the most of these unique onions, there are several aspects to consider.
To harvest Egyptian Walking Onions, you can dig up the entire clump or simply pick individual leaves as needed. The small underdeveloped onions at the bottom of the mature plant are edible but possess a strong, hot flavor.
The tender young shoots and stems work wonderfully as scallions and are great for culinary purposes.
These onions produce small bulblets, also known as “bulbils,” on the top of their stalks. Bulbils can be eaten as well, especially if you choose not to replant them. You can also store them for a few months for later use. Soups and salads commonly feature these onions as a key ingredient due to their unique flavor profile.
Apart from enjoying them fresh, you can use Egyptian Walking Onions for various purposes such as pickling. Their versatility allows you to incorporate them into multiple dishes or preserve them for long-term storage.
Common Pests and Solutions
Egyptian Walking Onions, like any other plants, can be attacked by pests. The most common pests that can affect them are thrips.
Thrips are small insects that can cause damage by piercing plant tissue and sucking the sap. They are attracted to Egyptian Walking Onions and can cause leaves to turn silvery, wither, or deform.
To control thrips, it is advised to:
- Use sticky traps to monitor and catch adult thrips.
- Release beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, that can feed on thrips.
- If the infestation is severe, apply insecticidal soap or a neem oil solution to the affected area. Make sure to follow the label instructions and apply during the cool hours of the day to prevent plant damage.
Weeds can compete with Egyptian Walking Onions for nutrients, water, and light. It is essential to perform regular weeding to ensure that your onions have enough resources to grow healthy and strong.
Treat your garden area with a safe weed killer.
Where to Buy Egyptian Walking Onions
Ready to try your gardener’s hand with Egyptian walking onions? Try these Egyptian walking onion bulbils.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to harvest?
The best time to harvest Egyptian Walking Onions is during the late summer or early fall. The greens can be harvested as needed anytime during the growing season, similar to green onions or scallions. The bulbils at the top of the stalk can be harvested when they are plump and well-formed.
Can you propagate them from bulbils?
Yes, you can propagate Egyptian Walking Onions from the bulbils that form at the top of the plant. Simply remove the cluster of bulbils and plant them individually, following the same planting instructions mentioned earlier.
What are the preferred growing conditions?
Egyptian Walking Onions prefer full sun and well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. They have a tolerance for various soil types but will perform best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Regular water and nitrogen-rich fertilizer will help promote healthy growth.
How do they get their name?
They get their name from the way they “walk” across the garden as they propagate. When the topsets become heavy, they cause the stalks to bend towards the soil, where the bulbils then take root and start new plants. Over time, this creates the appearance of the onions moving or “walking” through the garden.
What culinary uses do they have?
Egyptian Walking Onions have a taste that is similar to shallots, but slightly more pungent. They can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, stir-fries, and more.
The greens can be used as a substitute for green onions or scallions, while the bulbils and mature bulbs can be used like traditional onions or shallots in recipes.
Wrapping up Egyptian Walking Onions
With its unique appearance and propagation method, the Egyptian walking onion is one you’ll not easily forget. And since both its roots and greens are useful in various types of recipes, it’s no wonder this onion is a favorite among so many home-cook gardeners.Want to learn more about onion varieties and care? Check out our onion hub page!