Allium cepa
Common Name: onion 
Type: Bulb
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Native Range: Not known in wild
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Black Walnut


Plant as sets (bulblets) in early spring as soon as ground can be worked, about 6" apart in rows 8" apart with ½ to 1" covering of soil. Give room to grow as each bulblet will become a whole clump. They prefer well-drained, sandy and limey soil. Any organic material should be well composted. Provide regular shallow cultivation to reduce weed competition. Harvest tops or entire plant at anytime. Pull as green onions when 8" tall. Top harvesting will delay bulb crop maturity. Harvest bulbs when tops die back: pull soil away from clump to expose to full sun, pull up in several days, let dry outside for several days before moving to screens or racks in dark dry environment.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Allium cepa, commonly called shallots, are considered essential in French cooking, with a flavor somewhere between onions and garlic. Use greens as you would use green onions or chives. Use bulbs for soups, salad dressing, vegetable dishes, and casseroles. The onion is a cultivated vegetable of great antiquity and is not known as a wild plant. Greeks and Romans believed shallots originated in Palestine.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for garlic.

Specific epithet is Latin for onion.


Onion yellows is a viral disease that attacks all members of the onion family, especially non-seed types vegetatively propagated by bulblets. The virus stunts the plants, deforms foliage, and over winters in bulbs and bulblets. Using infected bulbs and bulblets spreads the virus through insect vectors to other onions in the vicinity. Select planting stock from reputable sources to insure they are virus free. Do not plant bulbs or bulblets that may have a problem.


Fresh like green onions or in cooking.