Shallots, Potato Onions, & Multiplier Onions – Growing Guide (The Aggregatum Group)

The aggregatum group of the “Onions” includes shallots, potato onions, and multiplier onions, which are all part of the allium family.

Shallots are well-known for being hardier than their onion cousins. They are also much beloved by gourmet chefs and home cooks alike for their mild, slightly sweeter flavor with a touch of the pungency of garlic.


I grow shallots from seed, just like I do with all the other alliums. Some people say to plant them the way you do garlic. Perhaps it really does work. But I find it much better to grow it from seed. Why plant one bulb, only to have it grow another one the exact same size?

But maybe I’m biased. The one time I tried putting shallot bulbs in the ground, they never grew even the greens I expected, and rotted in the ground. Whereas my seed-started ones grew beautifully. So, take it for what it’s worth. Other gardening books say plant shallot bulbs to grow another shallot bulb. I grow them from seed with fabulous results.

Shallots don’t like wet soil. The soil should be light, and well drained throughout the growing season. If you have heavy clay soil, you’ll need to work in plenty of organic matter.

If you choose to plant shallot bulbs, plant each shallot bulb with the pointed top pointing upwards, and cover with one half to 1 inch of soil. If you’re planting in the fall, plant them slightly deeper, up to 2 inches, to protect the shallots from freeze/thaw damage, and mulch well. Space the bulbs about 6 inches apart.

They are ready for harvest in late summer, when their leaves begin to dry and wither. Withhold water for a few days before harvesting.

Dig (carefully) or pull up your shallots. Brush them off gently so you don’t bruise them, but don’t wash them. They need to be dried or cured for 4 to 6 weeks in a warm, dry place on a tarp where the sun will never touch them. Gently turning them every day or two will help with the drying process. Or you could dry them on mesh screens so air can circulate all around them.

Once they’re properly cured, they can store for many months in mesh bags in a cool, dry spot in your kitchen, just the same as garlic.

I honestly don’t know why shallots aren’t grown by more gardeners. They are hardier, they can keep longer, and they have a superb flavor. If you propagate by bulbs and not seed, you don’t have to worry about cross-contaminated seed, so that’s one benefit to the bulbs vs. seeds debate.

Multiplier or Potato Onions

Multiplier or potato onions are perennial onions. Like shallots, they multiply underground, producing a cluster of bulbs from a single planted bulb.

Check out the growing guides for others in the allium family:

Scallions & Bunching onions
Elephant Garlic
Onion/Common Chives
Chinese/Garlic Chives

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