Green onions, called Allium cepa and scallions, are similar and share many properties, but although similar, they are not the same. They have subtle differences.
The differences are in their flavor to how they grow; all these we will discuss here.
Are scallions and green onions the same?
Scallions and green onions look alike, but they are not the same. Their white stems and hollow green stalks can be hard to differentiate, but the flavor will make them stand apart. For example, green onions will have a stronger flavor than scallions, which you will notice when cooking your favorite dish. Another difference is that green onions form a bulb while scallions don’t.
Both are similar and different in some ways. Both belong to the Allium family, but green onions are Allium fistulosum, and scallions are of the Allium cepa family.
Green onions belong to the bulb-forming species and will be harvested before the onion develops its white onion bulb.
Scallions do not form a bulb but grow long tubular leaves that can form a small white bulb but are usually harvested when the leaves are a foot tall.
Green Onions vs. Scallions
Green onions and scallions are similar and defined by the age of the plant at harvest. Apart from the flavor that defines them, the only physical difference is one forms a white onion bulb while the other produces a lot of hollow green leaves instead of a defined bulb.
What Are Green Onions?
Green onions are “a young onion with a slender green stalk and a small bulb, used as a table vegetable, usually raw, especially in salads” (source). Green onions are part of the Allium family and have a mild flavor to add to many versatile dishes.
A bonus of growing or buying green onions is they are available all year round and can be used raw in salads or as a garnish to be used for flavoring in casseroles. Sometimes green onions are called spring onions and are classed as vegetables.
They are more closely related to garlic or leeks than onions but are regarded as an onion.
What Are Scallions?
Scallions are regarded as “bulbless onions” which are perennials. They grow tall hollow green leaves that can reach a height of three feet but are best harvested at about a foot tall. Scallions are clump-forming onions with leaves that are perfect for eating. They are milder in flavor and more tender than green onions or spring onions.
Do Scallions Grow From Onions?
The straight answer is that a scallion can be grown from any onion seed, but some onion varieties are better than scallions.
How To Cut Scallions
Scallions are tender and small, so take care when working with them. Select the stalks while thin and firm, and work in small batches to prevent crushing them. Cut the stalks from the root side towards the tip of the leaves. Depending on the dish or recipe, you can slice them thinly, great for soups, or cut them thickly for stir-fries to add fantastic flavor.
Substitute for Scallions
If you can’t get scallions, the best substitute for scallions are early harvested onions, white parts of leek, and fresh chives.
Green Onions vs. Spring Onions
While they both belong to the Allium family, they have some differences. For example, spring onions are planted in Autumn and harvested in early Spring. While green onions are planted in Spring and harvested after sixty-five days, mid Summer.
Green Onions vs. Chives
Green onions are more intense in flavor than chives. Although they can be interchangeable in recipes, make sure to adjust the amount you use. Chives are considered herbs, using the long green stems for cooking, and salads and green onions are identified as immature onions with hollow stems. Green onions last fresh longer than chives, even when stored in the fridge.
How To Grow Green Onions
There are three tried and successful methods of growing green onions. You will have to decide which one suits your growing capacity best. This will depend on space, time and when you would like to harvest your green onions.
Method 1: grow from seed:
- Select the type of onion you want to grow, depending on weather and growing space.
- Prepare the bed to grow in a convenient place in full sun. Make sure it is well-draining soil. Put compost and organic matter in the soil to enrich it to ensure a good growth rate.
- Plant the seeds about a month before the last frost. Sow directly to the soil about half an inch deep in rows about a foot apart.
- Water the seeds well; the seeds will germinate in about a month when the soil temperature is approximately 18 to 30 degrees Celsius.
- Once the seeds have germinated, thin them to two to three inches apart, and try keeping only the stronger plants.
- Mulch to keep your bed weed-free will also help keep the soil moist.
- Keep your green onion seeds well watered, watering every few days when necessary.
Method 2: grow your green onions in a container indoors:
- Choose the variety you want to grow and buy the sets at your local nursery
- Prepare the container with nutrient-rich soil
- Plant each set an inch deep with the root side down
- Place the container in a bright sunny place inside
- Keep the soil moist and water every few days to stop the container from drying out
Method 3: growing green onions in a glass jar or container:
- Any green onion bulb will work for this method. Save the white part with the roots.
- Select a clear glass jar and place the bulbs root side down. The greens will grow out of the top of the jar.
- Add water to cover the bulbs completely and place them in a sunny place; and after a few days, the roots will start to go longer, and tiny green shoots will begin to shoot.
How To Harvest Green Onions
Once you have grown your green onions, you will be keen to start harvesting them and using them in your culinary dishes.
Harvesting green onions are grown in the garden:
- Harvest after three to four weeks.
- Harvest the green onions by pulling the entire plant out of the soil.
Harvesting green onions are grown indoors in a container:
- When the green leaves are six to eight inches tall, they are ready for harvesting. Pull the entire plant from the container or cut the green tops off with scissors. This will allow the green onion bulb to continue forming.
Harvesting green onions are grown in a glass jar or container:
- When the green sprouting leaves are four to six inches long, they will be ready to harvest.
- Use a pair of scissors to cut as much of the greens as you require
How To Regrow Green Onions
It is easy and fun to regrow green onions, provided you have the correct type of green onion bulb to encourage growth.
Follow the steps above explaining how to grow greens from the green onion bulb in a glass jar.
Can You Freeze Green Onions?
Yes, you can freeze green onions. First, wash the green onions thoroughly, and dry them with a kitchen paper towel. Next, cut the bulbs and roots, and slice the green parts into pieces to the size you prefer. Use a freezer-safe container, and after about two hours, toss the contents so they do not freeze into a solid block.
Can I Use Green Onions Instead of Scallions?
Yes, you can use green onions instead of scallions but be careful not to use too much as the green onions have a much stronger flavor.
Are Leeks Green Onions?
Leeks and green onions are both identified as vegetables with similar appearance and taste. But they are a different species, leeks are from the Allium ampeloprasum, and green onions are from the Allium cepa species.
In conclusion, we agree that green onions and scallions are similar but different. They are very useful as they can be used as substitutes for each other in recipes and add flavor and freshness to any dish.
They are both easy to grow, and with the varied methods suggested, there’s a way to grow your own to suit your requirements.