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Onions going to seed

We have just noticed a couple of our onions are going to seed. We have never had this before - is there anything we can do ... should we cut off the flower spike and let it continue growing ... will it still be edible? Did we plant too early (27th March)?
They were grown from sets: we have 4 different varieties - not sure which ones it is. Are some varieties more susceptible? 
Any thoughts welcome, please!


  • LynLyn Posts: 23,047
    edited May 2022
    I think sets are more prone to this,  I always grow from seeds, Ailsa Craig,  although they can be a bit big,  sometimes I cut one in half.
    The onion probably won’t be eatable you could try cutting it in half and see what it’s like inside but usually they’re hard.  Cutting the flower stalk off won’t make any difference now, the work to produce it will be in the bulb already. 

    Edited to add,  on the plus side,  if you let it flower and go to seed you can collect them for next year. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • ShepherdsBarnShepherdsBarn Posts: 401
    edited May 2022
    Okay, thanks @Lyn ... I have just checked and it seems to be the Red Baron - the other varieties seem okay - at the moment! 
    Could I sow the seed at the end of the summer/early autumn and leave to over winter in the polytunnel, then transplant them to the vegetable patch in the spring? I do have some seed but need to check the varieties.
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,496
    I've never risked growing from seed, but concentrate on sets.  I usually grow somewhere in excess of 120 and stick to Sturon where possible.
  • LynLyn Posts: 23,047
    I wouldn’t sow the seeds in the autumn,  I sow between mid February to the start of March, whichever suits you,  it’s the easiest thing,  get a fresh packet of seed, sprinkle them on some compost (although that debatable now). Lightly cover, Then stand back,  they take a while to get growing, but will germinate quickly, as will leeks.   I do keep them indoors until they’ve germinated. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,260
    Stress causes onions to bolt.  A cold snap, or too hot & dry, can both result in onions producing a flower - it's a "reproduce before I die" response.  Really hard to prevent in some seasons, but you can use fleece to protect them if it's unusually cold, and make sure they don't run short of water.  Too late for this year's "bolters" though...
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,583
    When some of ours bolted last year we cut of the flowering stalks and left the onions in the ground. They were all edible later on.
  • ShepherdsBarnShepherdsBarn Posts: 401
    Ah, thank you @bertrand-mabel; perhaps I will do that ... and maybe leave one for the seeds! 👍
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,068
    I grow Red Baron from sets. There are always a few that make a flower bud, I just cut them off and the onion carries on growing, may not be as big as the others.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • ShepherdsBarnShepherdsBarn Posts: 401
    Thank you! 👍
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