Plant for a perennial onion, for the early spring food, for the eternal circle of life, and for the resemblance to hieroglyphic ambulation!
Hardy from Zones 3-9. Up to 3 feet tall and they walk about 3 feet a year!
Underneath our Figs, or along edges of garden beds, you’ll find clumps of dark-green stalks topped with bundles of purple bulblets, some sprouting into more dark-green stalks like long legs in the air. When those bulblets get too heavy, the stalk bends down to the ground where the sprouting bulblets plant themselves. Speed up this process and these clumps look like they’re walking around the garden! We love these perennial Walking Onions, one of the first garden crops to spring up each year.
We’re not exactly sure where Allium proliferum comes from, though some believe the Romani introduced it to Europe from India. Ancient Egyptians honored onions, even burying them with Pharaohs, because their roundness and nested rings represented eternal life. Perennial Onion is a hybrid of Common and Welsh Onions and goes by several names, including Topset Onion (referring to bulblets), Egyptian Walking Onion (perhaps because their zigzag spreading habit looks like famous ancient drawings), and Tree Onion (maybe our favorite name!). You can eat them like any other onion, though we usually leave the bulbs in the ground and cut back some of the stalks to use like green onion. Pretty soon you can cut the greens again. The topsets are also tasty; peel them and fry or pickle them!
We propagate our Perennial Tree Onions from divisions or by grabbing the topsets and tossing them into other beds.