Spring onions – saving seed

Spring onions or shallots as they are sometimes known often run to seed when weather warms in spring.
Onionseed1 Seed of green onions does not keep for long and seed collected for sowing next season will produce a vigorous crop as this seed will have come from plants that have adapted to your local soil and climate conditions. Leave several of your green onion plants to produce seed from their globular flower heads (umbrels). As seeds develop the umbrel appears like a globe of tiny greenish-white ‘buds’. As the seed matures the heads change to a pale grey and the buds begin to open and ripe, black seeds can be seen inside the buds. Not all the seeds ripen at the same time.

Onionseed2 The usual method of collecting seed from these plants is to wait until most of the seed has ripened, then cut off the seed heads into a paper bag and leave the heads until the rest of the seed ripens and drops to the bottom of the bag. After all the seeds have been collected, they can be separated from the papery debris in the bag.
However, with this method, quite often the first seeds to ripen have dropped to the ground. I prefer to take a medium sized bowl or brown paper bag with me when I go to check the vege patch and while holding the bowl under each seed head, I give the seed head a gentle shake. The collected seed is then transferred to a labelled paper bag until all the seed has been collected. I get more seed with this method and it avoids having to separate the seed from the debris.

6 thoughts on “Spring onions – saving seed

  1. As soon as this unseasonably hot weather came most of what was growing in the veg plot is going to seed. Bit of a shame as I thought I would get a little more off them. But at least I will get some seeds for next season.

  2. Great article! Thank you a lot for this information! My mother has onions in her garden and I want to steal some seeds. Thanks for sharing this information!

  3. good reading
    I use the seeds of the first ripe tomato {was told this years ago}
    now I can have tomato’s ripe before xmas, mostly Deboreo & Ox heart
    love em.

  4. Thank you for this very informative article. My spring onions have been producing a seed-head for about two weeks – and Spring is almost finished!
    I will try both methods – shaking the seed head and cutting it off – fortunately, I have a number of plants growing!
    Whilst all this is going on, my garlic is also producing seed which is quite beautiful. It would be great to save this seed as well, although most available information indicates it’s better to plant the cloves, rather than plant the seed. Thanks again.

    It doesn’t matter that spring is almost finished, Jill. The seeds in my spring onions are just starting to mature and I’ll still be collecting seed for a couple of weeks. Make sure you collect the seed on a dry day.
    Regarding the garlic seed heads, although there is information on the internet on how to grow garlic from seed, the usual practice is to remove the flower stems (scapes) as the energy required to produce flowers and mature seeds reduces the size of the garlic bulbs. – Lyn

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