If you see a stem ending in a flower bud emerging from your onion crop, you have a problem: the seedling is full of seeds.
Let’s see why the onion can bloom and what you can do to save something.
Why onions flower
The onion is a biennial plant that in nature develops in the first year, forming the leaves and swelling the bulb, in practice it takes the strength to later form the flower, flowering will come after a period of lethargy, in the spring of second year.
In the garden, onions are grown on an annual cycle: they are planted and harvested once the bulb has formed, during the dormant period, without waiting for flowering.
It can happen for various reasons that the plant anticipates flowering.
Why is it a problem if garden onions bloom
If the onion is planted early, the problem is that the plant uses all its energy for the formation of the flower and then interrupts the formation of the bulb, which is the part we want to harvest. That is why premature flowering ruins the harvest of our onions.
Cause of early flowering
- The most common cause of early flowering is a change in temperature . If the plant feels cold, it may think it’s winter and therefore flower as soon as the frost has passed. Be careful to plant at the right time.
- Even too much watering can induce early flowering . In general, when conditions are unfavorable to the plant, as a last resort, the onion aims to set seed as soon as possible for the species to survive.
- The danger of flowering is much greater if onions are planted in bulbs . The bulbs for transplanting in the market are actually selected seeds from the previous year, so don’t be surprised if some of them bloom. Sowing from seed or transplanting seedlings requires more time and care, but they are less prone to seed.
- Normally due to selections, Stuttgart onions (yellow onions) are more resistant, whereas with white and red onions there is a higher risk for them to flourish.
What you can do when this happens
When the onion blooms, there is nothing left to do to save the bulb. Even cutting the stem is useless if the plant has decided to bloom. Here are the chances we have of getting a harvest from our garden anyway:
- Pick and dry the bulbs as they are as soon as we see that they make the landscape flowery. We will have small onions and less good than those harvested under normal conditions, but it’s still better than nothing.
- Cut the whole plant at the base taking care not to damage the bulb. Shoots that will be born you will get very tender onions , delicious to eat fresh in salads. They are harvested when they are about an inch tall. This is the system we recommend . Chives are very good, and even if you ditch the bulb, it’s a slightly different vegetable, nice to bring to the table.
- Bloom onions to collect seeds plant next year.