Allium Family: Onions, Shallots, Green Onions

With dozens of allium varieties to choose from, the right selection can mean the difference between success and disappointment, so use this guide to determine what will suit you best.
From: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Vegetable Gardening

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Onion 'Ailsa Craig'

An old favorite, this reliable variety yields heavy crops of large, sweet onions, with smooth yellow-brown skin. Best sown as seed in spring to produce a good fall crop that stores well if allowed to dry.

Sow: Late winter to early spring
Harvest: Late summer to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Onion 'Senshyu'

Sets of this useful winter Japanese variety should be planted in fall and seeds sown a little before for an early summer harvest. The semi-flat, straw-colored bulbs grow to a good size and have a strong flavor.

Sow: Late summer
Plant sets: Early to mid-fall
Harvest: Early to midsummer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Onion 'Sturon'

Traditionally grown from sets, this variety produces large, round, yellow-brown colored bulbs that have a strong skin, which makes them an excellent choice for winter storing. Seed is occasionally available.

Plant sets: Late winter to early spring
Harvest: Late summer to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Onion 'Shakespeare'

For an early summer crop of globe-shaped onions with rich brown skins, try this British overwintering variety. The dense white flesh and sturdy skin mean that they store well, and they have an excellent flavor.

Sow: Early to mid-fall
Harvest: Early to midsummer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Onion 'Red Baron'

Widely available as both seeds and sets, this variety has a rich red skin, with pronounced pink stripes between the bulb's layers. It will store for only a limited time.

Sow: Late winter to mid-spring
Plant sets: Early spring
Harvest: Early to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Shallot 'Longor'

An attractive, elongated variety of shallot, with a pink flush to the skin and inner layers. The strongly flavored bulbs store well through fall and winter if carefully dried. Quicker to crop than traditional bulb onions.

Plant sets: Late winter to mid-spring
Harvest: Mid- to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Shallot 'Red Sun'

One of the most reliable red shallots, this variety has wonderful burgundy skin and white flesh with layers divided by pink rings. Appetizing chopped raw in salads, it is also well suited to cooking and pickling.

Plant sets: Early to mid-spring
Harvest: Mid- to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Green onion 'Guardsman'

This trusted, white-stemmed variety is extremely easy to grow. It is a good choice to sow successionally from spring to fall because it is hardy enough to overwinter and give an early spring crop. Resistant to white rot.

Sow: Early spring to mid-fall
Harvest: Late spring to mid-fall; late winter to early spring
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Shallot 'Golden Gourmet'

Large and yellow-skinned, this high-yielding variety produces bumper crops of good-quality bulbs from sets and is easy to store all through the winter. It is less prone to bolting in dry conditions than many shallots.

Plant sets: Late winter to mid-spring
Harvest: Mid- to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Green onion 'North Holland Blood Red'

An attractive variety with bold red bases and a mild flavor. Use thinnings from early sowings as green onions, leaving wider-spaced plants to develop into red-skinned maincrop onions.

Sow: Early spring to early summer
Harvest: Late spring to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Green onion 'Paris Silverskin'

A dual-purpose small white onion that can be harvested young as a salad onion or left in the ground to bulb up for pickling. Easy to grow and compact, it makes an ideal crop for small gardens.

Sow: Early to mid-spring
Harvest: Mid- to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Green onion 'White Lisbon'

A trusted old favorite, this variety produces white bulbs and bright green tops with a good, strong flavor. It is easy to grow but prone to downy mildew, so keep rows well spaced to avoid the spread of disease.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun