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ALLIUM cepa var. viviparum

Image of Allium cepa var. viviparum

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Liliaceae

Botanical Name

ALLIUM cepa var. viviparum

Plant Common Name

Egyptian Onion

General Description

The outlandish "flower heads" of Egyptian onion contain bulbs instead of blooms. Like other varieties of garden onion (known collectively as Allium cepa), they are biennials that originated in Central Asia but that are unknown in the wild.

The pale- to mid-green, hollow, awl-shaped leaves of Egyptian onion arise from a large, papery-coated bulb. In summer, spherical clusters of small bulbs ("bulbils") are borne atop tall stems. The clusters may also include a scattering of small yellowish-white flowers. Bulbils often begin to produce roots and shoots while still on the stem. The weight of the fattening bulbils causes the stems to eventually flop, resulting in new plants where bulbils contact soil.

Garden onions require full sun and regular watering because of their shallow roots. Grow them in loose, rich, well-drained soil. Plant Egyptian onion bulbs in late summer or fall for a crop of bulbils the following summer. Harvest the bulbils after the stems topple, and use them for pickling or in soups and stews. The bulbils store for months in cool, dark, dry conditions. Young Egyptian onion leaves are delicious in salads, baked dishes, and stir-fries.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Vegetable

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    4"-12" / 10.2cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No