Perennial Alternatives To Regular Onions

Annual vegetable gardens take a lot of work. There is all the sowing and planting, the hardening off, the weeding etc., etc., etc.. Wouldn't it be lovely if there were options that would allow us to harvest edible food year after year without all that hard work? Well, there are! Perennial vegetables do not enjoy a huge, widespread popularity but more and more people are realising the use of perennial vegetables, or vegetables that do not need to be grown from seed every year, including these allium alternatives:


Shallots (A. cepa aggregatum, A. oschaninii)

Plant shallots at the same time as you plant your garlic in the autumn and the following year, each of the bulbs will have divided to make a bunch of bulbs. Save a few back to plant and eat the rest for their highly prized, milder onion flavour.

Bunching Onions

Bunching Onions (Allium fistulosum)

These hardy onions are harvested and used as spring onions or green onions. But the difference is that you can enjoy these 'spring' onions throughout the winter. These take up little space and once established, will endure for years in a perennial vegetable bed.

Egyptian Walking Onions

Egyptian 'Walking' Onions (A. cepa proliferum)

These unusual onions 'walk' along. They develop bulblets on the top of their tall stems in the early summer, which then bend down and root where they touch the soil. The leaves can be used like spring onions and the bulblets can be cooked whole in soups and stews.

Potato Onions

Potato Onions (A. cepa aggregatum)

Like shallots, potato onions form several bulbs from each one planted, but these are stronger than shallots and are perfect for where a stronger onion flavour is needed. Potato onions are also even more productive than shallots and you can make re-plantings in either the autumn or in the spring.

Babington's Leek (A. ampeloprasum var. babingtonii)

Like a regular leek, Babington's Leek has a distinct advantage in that it is a true perennial, tough and requiring little maintenance. Simply leave the plant to establish itself for a year and then you can harvest by cutting off the small leeks above soil level. The baby leeks will then regrow from the bulb.

Many of these plants can be divided and planted in the autumn, so choosing and ordering varieties now could allow you to make a start on your perennial vegetable garden.