Scallion: A guide to growing, caring for, and harvesting

Scallion, also known as green onions or spring onion
Scallion, also known as green onions or spring onion

Introduction to Scallions: Understanding this Versatile Onion Variety

Scallions, also known as green onions or spring onion, are a type of onion that is harvested while still young and before the bulb has fully developed. They are milder in flavor than mature onions and have a crisp texture that makes them a popular addition to many dishes. Scallions are used in various cuisines worldwide, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Mexican.

The scallion is a biennial plant that can be grown as an annual. It belongs to the Allium genus, which includes other onion varieties such as chives, shallots, and garlic. The plants grow in clumps and can reach a height of 20-30 inches (50-75 cm) at maturity. They have long, slender, hollow leaves that are usually dark green but can also be yellow or purple depending on the variety.

Scallions are easy to grow and can be grown from seeds or transplants. They prefer well-drained soil and full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. Scallions are typically ready for harvest in 60-90 days after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

One of the advantages of scallions is their versatility in the kitchen. They can be eaten raw in salads or as a garnish, or cooked in stir-fries, soups, and stews. They can also be pickled or fermented for longer-term storage.

In addition to their culinary uses, scallions also have some health benefits. They are a good source of vitamins A and C and contain antioxidants that can help protect against cancer and other diseases.

Overall, scallions are a versatile and easy-to-grow onion variety that can add flavor and nutrition to your meals. With the right growing conditions and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh scallions throughout the growing season.

Planning and Preparing Your Garden for Scallion Cultivation

Before you start planting scallions in your garden, it’s important to plan and prepare properly. Here are some key steps to take:

Choose the Right Location: Scallions prefer well-drained soil and full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade. Look for a location in your garden that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Test Your Soil: Scallions prefer a slightly acidic soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Test your soil to determine its pH level and make any necessary adjustments.

Prepare the Soil: Work organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, into the soil to improve its texture and nutrient content. You can also add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before planting.

Decide on Planting Method: Scallions can be planted in rows, in clumps, or even in containers. Consider the size of your garden and the amount you want to grow when deciding on a planting method.

Scallion Varieties: There are several scallion varieties to choose from, including white, yellow, and red scallions. Consider the flavor and growth characteristics of each variety when making your selection.

Planting Time: Scallions can be planted in both the spring and fall, although the ideal planting time will depend on your climate. In general, they should be planted when soil temperatures are between 45 and 75 °F / 7 and 24 °C.

By following these steps and planning carefully, you can create the optimal growing environment for your scallions and ensure a successful harvest.

Choosing the Right Scallion Varieties for Your Garden

Selecting the perfect scallion variety to grow in your garden can seem overwhelming, especially with the abundance of options available. Different varieties have varying growth patterns, bulb sizes, flavors, and colors, making it essential to consider your specific needs and preferences.

One popular scallion variety is the White Lisbon, a classic scallion with a long, slender stem and a mildly sweet flavor. Another option is the Tokyo Long White, which has a thicker stem and a more pungent taste than the White Lisbon. For those interested in a colorful addition to their garden, the Evergreen Hardy Bunching scallion produces dark green leaves and a mild onion flavor.

If you prefer a thicker and more substantial stem, the Parade scallion is an excellent choice. It is resistant to bolting and has a slightly sweet flavor. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a variety that can withstand cold temperatures, the Red Baron scallion is an excellent option. It has a mild, sweet taste and produces vibrant red bulbs.

It’s important to note that scallion varieties also have different growth rates, with some maturing faster than others. For example, the Guardsman scallion matures quickly and produces a medium-sized bulb, while the White Spear scallion takes longer to mature but produces a large, flavorful bulb.

Consider your climate, soil type, and the desired flavor and size when selecting a scallion variety for your garden. With the right variety, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh and flavorful scallions straight from your garden.

Growing Scallions from Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

Scallions are a great addition to any garden, and growing them from seeds is relatively easy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Prepare the soil

Scallions prefer well-draining, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Work in some compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil. Scallions can be grown in raised beds, containers, or directly in the ground.

Sow the seeds

Sow the scallion seeds directly into the soil, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.6 to 1.3 cm) deep, and 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. You can also sow the seeds in rows, with rows spaced about 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Cover the seeds with soil and water gently.

Keep the soil moist

Scallions need consistent moisture to germinate and grow well. Water the soil regularly, making sure it doesn’t dry out completely.

Prick out the seedlings

Once the scallions have germinated and grown to a height of 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm), thin them out to about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. This will give the remaining seedlings enough space to grow.


Scallions are light feeders, but they still benefit from a balanced fertilizer. Apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 1 tablespoon (15 ml) per plant every 3 to 4 weeks.


You can start harvesting scallions when they are about 6 inches (15 cm) tall. Gently pull the scallions out of the soil, or use a sharp knife or scissors to cut them just above the soil level.

Growing scallions from seeds is a rewarding experience, and with a little care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of these flavorful and versatile onions.

Growing Scallions from Transplants: Best Practices for Success

Growing scallions from transplants is another option for those who prefer not to start from seeds. Transplants are usually available at garden centers or can be ordered online. When planting transplants, it’s important to choose a healthy specimen with no signs of damage or disease.

Choosing the Right Time and Place to Plant

Transplants should be planted in a location that receives full sun and has well-draining soil. Scallions prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. The best time to plant transplants is in early spring or fall, when temperatures are mild and there is less risk of heat stress.

Preparing the Soil

Before planting, amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil quality and drainage. Scallions prefer soil that is loose and crumbly, so loosen the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) and remove any rocks, roots, or debris.

Planting the Transplants

Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the transplant and place it in the hole, making sure the top of the soil line on the transplant is level with the surrounding soil. Space the transplants about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) apart in rows that are about 12 inches (30 cm) apart.

Watering and Fertilizing

After planting, water the transplants thoroughly to help them establish roots. Water regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Apply a balanced fertilizer every 3-4 weeks to promote healthy growth.

Maintenance and Care

As the scallions grow, keep the area around them weed-free and remove any damaged or yellowing leaves. Mulching with straw or compost can help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth. Regularly monitor for pests and diseases, and treat as needed.

By following these best practices, you can successfully grow scallions from transplants and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

Caring for Scallions: Watering, Fertilizing, and Pest Control

Now that your scallions are growing strong, it’s important to take good care of them to ensure a healthy and abundant harvest. Here are some tips on watering, fertilizing, and pest control for scallions.


Scallions require regular watering, especially during hot and dry weather. It is recommended to water once per week, either through rainfall or irrigation. To avoid overwatering, make sure the soil has good drainage and allow the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out before watering again.


Scallions are not heavy feeders, but a little bit of fertilizer can help promote healthy growth and yield. A little compost can be applied once or twice during the growing season. Alternatively, you can use a slow-release fertilizer, like horn shavings, that will provide nutrients gradually over several months. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of bulb development.

Pest Control

Scallions are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but there are a few common issues to watch out for. Onion thrips and onion maggots can damage scallion leaves and bulbs, while fungal diseases such as downy mildew and botrytis can cause leaf yellowing and rotting. To prevent these problems, keep the area around your scallions clean and free of debris, and avoid overcrowding plants. If necessary, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control pests, and copper fungicides to prevent fungal diseases.

By following these tips for watering, fertilizing, and pest control, you can help your scallions thrive and produce a bountiful harvest.

Maintaining Healthy Soil for Optimal Scallion Growth

Healthy soil is essential for growing healthy scallions. In this chapter, we will explore the best practices for maintaining healthy soil that will promote optimal scallion growth.

Soil pH: Scallions prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. If your soil pH is too low or too high, the plants will not be able to absorb nutrients properly, which can lead to stunted growth or nutrient deficiencies. You can test your soil pH with a soil testing kit, available at most gardening stores.

Soil Structure: Soil structure is also important for scallion growth. The soil should be loose and well-draining, allowing for proper aeration and water infiltration. Adding organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, can improve soil structure and fertility.

Soil Nutrients: Scallions are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization. Nitrogen is especially important for scallion growth, as it promotes leafy growth. Compost or a balanced fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-10-10 blend, can provide the necessary nutrients for healthy scallion growth.

Mulching: Mulching is another way to maintain healthy soil for scallion growth. A layer of organic matter, such as straw or leaves, can help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weeds. It is important to keep the mulch layer thin, however, to prevent it from smothering the scallion plants.

Crop Rotation: To prevent soil-borne diseases and pests, it is important to practice crop rotation. Do not plant scallions in the same spot for more than two years in a row, and avoid planting them in areas where other members of the Allium family (such as onions or garlic) have been grown in the past.

By following these best practices for maintaining healthy soil, you can ensure optimal scallion growth and a bountiful harvest.

Harvesting Scallions: Timing and Techniques for Maximum Flavor

Harvesting scallions at the right time is crucial for achieving maximum flavor and nutrition. Here’s a guide on timing and techniques for optimal scallion harvest:

  • Timing: Scallions can be harvested at any time during their growing season. However, for the best flavor and texture, it’s recommended to harvest them when the stems are about 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) tall and the bulbs are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. It’s important not to wait too long to harvest, as scallions can become tough and woody if left to grow too long.
  • Techniques: There are a few techniques for harvesting scallions, depending on your preference and how you plan to use them:
    • Pulling: This is the easiest and most common method of harvesting scallions. Simply grab the base of the stem near the soil line and gently pull upward. The entire plant, including the bulb, will come out of the soil. Be sure to loosen the soil around the scallion first to prevent damage to the roots.
    • Cutting: If you prefer to leave the bulb in the soil and allow the scallion to regrow, you can use a pair of scissors or garden shears to cut the stem about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the soil line. This method allows for multiple harvests from the same plant.
    • Snipping: For a more selective harvest, you can use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip off individual stems as needed. This method works well if you only need a few scallions at a time and want to keep the rest of the plant growing.
  • Storage: Once harvested, scallions can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. To keep them fresh, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag or container with a lid. Alternatively, you can chop the scallions and freeze them for later use in soups, stews, and other recipes.

By following these harvesting tips, you can enjoy fresh, flavorful scallions from your garden all season long.

Preserving and Storing Scallions: Tips and Tricks for Long-Term Use

After harvesting your scallions, it’s important to properly store them to extend their shelf life and maintain their flavor. Here are some tips and tricks for preserving and storing scallions:

  • Clean and dry: Before storing scallions, make sure they are clean and dry. Gently rinse them in cool water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Trim the ends: Cut off the roots and any brown or slimy parts at the ends of the scallions.
  • Choose your storage method: Scallions can be stored in a variety of ways, depending on how you plan to use them. Here are some common methods:
    • Refrigerator: Wrap the scallions in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
    • Freezer: Chop scallions and freeze them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Frozen scallions will keep for up to six months and can be added directly to soups, stews, and other dishes.
    • Dehydrating: Slice the scallions thinly and dry them in a dehydrator or low oven until they are crisp. Store the dried scallions in an airtight container for up to six months.
  • Keep them fresh: To keep scallions fresh for longer, make sure to store them away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, and tomatoes. These can cause your scallions to spoil more quickly.
  • Revive wilted scallions: If the scallions have started to wilt, you can revive them by cutting off the ends and placing them in a jar of cold water in the refrigerator. Change the water daily and your scallions should perk up within a few days.

By following these tips, you can enjoy the delicious flavor of scallions in your cooking for weeks or even months after harvest.

Scallion Recipe Ideas: Creative Ways to Use Your Fresh Harvest

Scallions are a versatile and flavorful addition to many dishes, from soups and stews to salads and stir-fries. Here are some creative recipe ideas to make the most of your fresh scallion harvest:

Scallion Pancakes: Mix scallions into a savory pancake batter and fry until golden brown. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Scallion Pesto: Blend scallions, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a food processor to make a tasty pesto that can be used as a spread or pasta sauce.

Scallion and Ginger Fried Rice: Saute scallions, ginger, and garlic in a pan before adding cooked rice, soy sauce, and sesame oil for a simple yet flavorful dish.

Scallion and Goat Cheese Frittata: Whisk eggs with scallions, goat cheese, and salt before baking in the oven for a delicious breakfast or brunch option.

Scallion and Mushroom Dumplings: Stuff a mixture of finely chopped scallions, mushrooms, and seasonings into wonton wrappers and steam for a flavorful appetizer.

Scallion and Cilantro Lime Sauce: Blend scallions, cilantro, lime juice, and sour cream or yogurt in a food processor to make a tangy and refreshing sauce that can be used as a dip or salad dressing.

Scallion and Potato Soup: Saute scallions and diced potatoes in a pot before adding chicken or vegetable broth and simmering until tender. Blend with an immersion blender for a creamy soup.

Scallion and Sesame Noodles: Toss cooked noodles with a sauce made from scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar for a simple yet delicious meal.

Scallion and Bacon Quiche: Mix scallions, cooked bacon, and shredded cheese into a quiche batter before baking in the oven for a savory and satisfying dish.

Scallion and Shrimp Stir-Fry: Saute scallions, garlic, and shrimp in a wok or pan before adding soy sauce, sesame oil, and your choice of vegetables for a quick and tasty dinner option.

Experiment with different combinations of scallions and other ingredients to discover new and delicious recipe ideas. With their bold flavor and versatility, scallions are sure to add a tasty twist to any meal.

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