About Walking onions (also known as Tree or Topsetting onions)
Walking onions are fantastic perennial hardy edible and ornamental plant to add to your perennial vegetable garden and work well as part of a polyculture. Once you have them growing, they will always be around. A really useful addition to your permanent larder of edible plants.
They grow like bunching onions, but during the summer they make a curious ‘top setting’ head of bulbils on the end of the flowerstalk where the flower should be. They are also known as ‘Tree onions’ or ‘Top setting onions’ because the weight of the top setting bulbils causes the stalk to fall over and root where they touch the ground gradually forming a colony. The next year, these form onions in the new location and the whole process happens all over again. They will gradually walk around your garden, sneak into your neighbour’s yard then make a bid for freedom!
How to grow
Bulbs can be planted at any time of year and will begin to sprout very soon after planting out. Top setting bulbils normally appear in June and July.
How to harvest
Harvest onion greens for most of the year by snipping off with a pair of scissors. Top setting bulbs can be harvested in summer.
How to propagate more plants
Walking onions can be simply left to propagate themselves and they are quite happy to do their own thing. You can however collect the top setting bulbs and scatter them in a new place to start a new colony. Sometimes the patch can become a little bit crowded so it doesn’t hurt to divide and separate a few clumps now and again.
Walking onions remain green for most of the year, once the top setting bulbs have matured in summer and fallen over, the main stems will dry out and can be trimmed back. The fallen bulbils will start to sprout in small clumps a few inches from your mother plant. We have found that the mother plant will generally re-sprout from the base too.
How to Eat
Use as any bunching onion, while the bulbils can be used in pickles, or chopped up for cooking