The Best Way To Grow Fall-Planted Shallots

Planting these mild miniature onions yourself will save you big bucks and give you a harvest full of flavor next season.

September 8, 2016
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In the group of alliums, sometimes called multiplier or potato onions, fresh shallots are food royalty, favored in cooking for their mild taste that goes well in almost any recipe, whether it be in sauteed vegetables, soups and stews, or a sauce for a chicken or beef dish. Raw shallots are a sweet addition to a fresh salad. Shallots produce blue and green foliage and clusters of rounded to teardrop-shaped bulbs that have a sweet garlic or onion flavor, depending on variety. The papery skins that wrap the bulbs vary from coppery yellow to red-brown to purplish red. 

Like onions and garlic, shallots are reasonably easy to grow from sets, small bulbs that have been grown from seed and sold for shallot culture. In fall, after the first frost but before consistently cold weather arrives, plant shallots in a sunny garden spot in deep, loose, well-drained soil that has been amended with material from your compost pile. Shallots grow well next to such vegetable plants as lettuce, leeks, cucumbers, peppers, celery, onions, garlic or tomatoes. They do NOT grow well next to vegetable plants such as beans, peas, or sage. Follow this simple guide to starting your own fall planted shallots to harvest for next season. 

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)
Shallot bulbs
Separate Bulbs

Separate bulb clusters into individual bulbs and plant them about an inch deep, broad end down and pointed end up, so the tip of each bulb is just barely covered by soil.

Related: 3 Different Ways To Plant Onions

planting shallots
Space And Mulch

Space the bulbs 2 to 6 inches apart in rows about one foot apart. Mulch the plants with 6 inches of organic mulch, such as straw or chopped leaves, to protect the shallots over the winter. The shallots will sprout through the mulch in spring. (Check out these 7 things you didn't know you should compost.)

watering plants

Water to keep the soil evenly moist while the shallots are actively growing. Cultivate around them carefully to prevent competition from weeds. You can harvest shallots for cooking when they are young, to use as scallions, or chop off a few outer leaves to use like chives or green onion foliage to add a fresh taste to your recipes, but removing too many leaves will result in smaller shallots when fully grown. To direct the plants’ energies into bulb formation, chop off flower stalks that form.

Related: How To Grow Scallions


Fall-planted shallots should be ready for harvest in early to mid summer. Dig them when the leaves begin to yellow and fall over. Shake loose soil from the bulbs and spread them out in a single layer in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area to cure for up to a month before storing in cool, dry conditions. 

Shallots are perennials, so any left in the ground will sprout and continue growing. But you’ll get better-quality bulbs if you harvest the entire crop when it matures in summer and then replant part of your harvest in fall for the next year’s shallot harvest.