multiplier onions

jimw00d(USDA zone 7)October 4, 2005

I won some multiplier onions on ebay and received 5 small clumps of onions. I am unsure as to whether I need to plant the clumbs or separate each clumb into individual bulbs and then plant the blubs.


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gardenlad(6b KY)

They should be separated.

Do you know if they are bulbing types, or topsetters? Could make a difference on spacing.

Either way, in your zone fall planting works bests.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 9:26PM
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jimw00d(USDA zone 7)

I have no idea what type of onion I have. All I can tell you is that they are pink skinned and arrived tightly packed together. Any ideas of depth. Some are very small, approx the size of a garden pea. Others are the size of average garlic clove.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 12:27PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Well, you'll know soon enough whether they are bulbing or topsetting.

For fall planting, prepare the bed by amending with compost, blood meal, bone meal and wood ashes. Onions are heavy feeders, so apply the last three at the rate of one cup each per 10 row feet.

Separate the sets. If they're in a nest, as you describe, I suspect they are most likely either bulbing multipliers (i.e., potato onions) or shallots.

Plant the sets on six inch spacing. You won't need that much if they are topsetters, but why take a chance until you know?

Plant the sets, root side down, so the tops are covered with about 2 inches of soil. If you want, mulch with straw. I don't bother with the last.

For spring planting, follow the same plan, except plant them so the tops just show at the soil line.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 7:51AM
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jimw00d(USDA zone 7)

Great advice. Thanks very much. As soon as the torrential rain stops I'll get them in the ground. Thanks again. I have well rotten manure, blood meal and plenty of straw so fingers crossed I will get a good showing on onions.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 9:51AM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

I also just received my order of Heritage sweet whites. Good thing I've just read this, as I would have been very dissapointed. I received 25 "clumps" of onions. Some of the clumps had fallen apart in the bag and I thought "Great, my onions are distroyed, shuld I maybe return them" But then I read this post. So, if I understand this, I separated these clumps into a couple hundred bulbs, and plant them about 6" apart, I should have scallion type growth by spring. When harvesting, do I pull up the scallions or cut them at ground level? I truly didn't think these little jems would be so confusing. Heidi

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 2:33PM
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coho(z8/9 N. Calif)

I am surprised you did not receive planting instructions.
Pull or dig the scallions. Perhaps the following will help.

Our multiplier onion sets should be planted 1 inch
deep 4 to 6 inches apart. If you wish to increase the
white section of the plant for harvesting as table
scallions, the soil should be mounded around them as
they grow to a depth of about 3 or 4 inches.
In mid summer, the leaves will begin to die back from
the tips and start to fall over with top sets on the
stalks. At this time you should stop watering. Within
a few weeks, the bulb lets or sets will be ready for
harvesting. Dig them after the leaves have turned
yellow and brown and remove the top sets and replant.
Do not cut the stems at this time. Let them cure in a
warm dry spot until totally dry and the outer skin of
the bulb has turned to a papery feeling. At this time,
the stems can be removed to within one inch of the
bulb and the onions can now be stored in a cool dry
place at 34 F or grater for eating or planting.
(from original planting directions)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 12:09AM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

I actually did receive directions on planting, but nothing specifies about separating the clusters or how to harvest them as scallions. You did answer my question. I will pull the scallions up rather than cut them off at ground level. I've never grown scallions before. Reading thru these posts are more helpful than the "planting directions" thanks a bunch everyone. HEIDI

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 9:59AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Heidi, just so there's no confusion, by scallions do you mean green onions? Green tops with white sections above the roots?

If so, we can amend the instructions slightly. Because you are not interested in bulbs, per se, you can plant more closely.

Separate the clusters, then plant individual "sets", root down, spacing them about an inch apart.

If you fall plant, bury them 2-3 inches deep, and mulch with straw. If spring planting, just push them into the soil so their tips are just even with the soil surface.

Mound the growing greens if you want more white.

As you harvest (which you can do at any time) leave about every third one in the ground to develop bulbs. That will serve as your seed stock for the following year.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 7:00AM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

Thanks for the extra info. I can't wait till all this rain stops so I can get these lil guys in the ground. I thankfully already have my garlic planted just before this rain. HEIDI

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 3:09PM
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Just a suggestion. When I pull/pick for a meal, I have bulbs on hand and replant. I have onions year round. Of course I do live in North Florida. I do cover them with hay for a freeze but have never bedded them with hay. That probably is a great idea and prevents weed growth.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 9:13AM
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serjy(z6 PA)

I planted some potato onions in early october and already have green onions growing quickly. What do I do with them? Let the green parts grow all winter long and into summer or cut them back?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 11:24PM
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I was told that top set multiplier onions are left alone, just harvest the top sets, plant them then harvest to eat when big enough. What do you do to the stocks for the winter? What do you do in the spring?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 8:09PM
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