Can I collect seeds from onion flowers?

Onion    Pennsylvania

At the top of my onion plants a few has balls on them, can I collect them and use the seeds to start my own onion, and if so when should I collect them?

Posted by: sarah (2 points) sarah
Posted: June 26, 2014


The main reason for growing onions from sets is that many onion varieties are hybrids and will not produce seed which is true to type. That is to say that most varieties are the result of a cross between two onion types with desirable characteristics and the seed that is produced will express characteristics of either parent plant, but not both. So it really depends on the type of onions you are growing and whether or not you mind that the plants grown from the seeds may not be quite as good tasting as the plant that they originally came from.

If you want to go ahead and save the seeds, you should wait until after the flower head opens. Let the flower turn brown and dry on the plant and then snip it off with a pair of scissors and collect the seeds from the individual umbels. Store them in a cool, dry place until you want to sprout them.

Just a note about the flowers. Onions are biennial and should usually only produce flower heads during the second year of growth. When flowers are produced earlier, it is called 'bolting' and it happens when growing conditions are not optimal - if the weather has been unusually cold etc. The bulbs produced from a plant that has bolted are perfectly edible but will not get as large as those from plant which have not bolted and they also do not store as well.

Posted by: Lindsay McMenemy (1 point) Lindsay McMenemy
Posted: June 26, 2014

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