All About Growing Shallots

Fine-flavored shallots can keep in storage for months, and growing shallots is easy. Whether you plant shallot cloves in fall or shallot seedlings in spring, by late summer you will be harvesting shallots. This guide includes descriptions of several types of shallots you can grow in your garden.
By Barbara Pleasant
December 6, 2013
Add to My MSN

Like dishes packed with oniony-garlicky flavors? Grow shallots! This crop keeps for months, too, so you can continue enjoying its flavors in your winter soups and casseroles.
Illustration By Keith Ward


Content Tools

Related Content

Mountain Gardening And The Challenges

The challenges that we encounter trying to grow a garden at high latitude.

Double Your Tomato Plants

Tomatoes are a great vegetable, perfect for all occasions and relatively easy to grow. Here is a way...

Plant Garlic in the Fall for a Larger, Healthier Crop

Do you know the best time to plant garlic? Try planting in fall instead of spring for healthy, large...

Fried Shallots Recipe

Breading and cooking shallots in hot oil yields a tasty topping for simple dishes. Or you can enjoy ...

Famous for their delicate onion flavor with a hint of garlic, shallots earn their place in homestead gardens because they are such a great storage crop, with their ability to keep for six months or more. Growing shallots can begin with small bulbs or cloves, planted like garlic, or you can try growing shallots as annuals by starting seeds indoors in late winter. Productive and carefree after they’re established, shallots require moist, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Types of Shallots

Red shallots produce clusters of plump, teardrop-shaped onions with red skins and faint red rings inside. Popular red shallot varieties such as ‘French Red’ and ‘Holland Red’ are sold as cloves, or you can start ‘Camelot,’ or ‘Conservor’ (both hybrid varieties) from seed.

Gold shallots are similar to red shallots, but with tan or copper-colored skins covering yellow-tinted bulbs. Seed-sown varieties such as ‘Ambition’ and ‘Saffron’ (both hybrids) are the longest-storing onion-type crop you can grow. 

Gray shallots are upright plants that produce elongated shallot bulbs at the base of each stem. Gray shallots have a shorter dormancy period compared with other shallots, so they are the preferred type for planting in fall.

How to Plant Shallots

Fall planting works well when growing shallots from cloves that are showing signs of breaking dormancy, or you can wait until first thing in spring. Fall planting is recommended with gray shallots, which often break dormancy in fall.

Red and gold shallots, particularly those grown from seed, are in a state of deep dormancy in the fall, so it is usually best to wait until early spring to plant them. Seed-sown shallots grown as annuals should be started indoors under lights in late winter, so that sturdy seedlings are ready to set out four to six weeks before your last frost. Though they start out growing slowly, shallot seedlings are sturdy, fast-growing plants compared with bulb onion seedlings.

Harden off shallot seedlings for at least a week before transplanting them to prepared furrows in deeply dug garden beds. Shape 6-inch-deep furrows in a cultivated bed, and line the bottom with a standard application of a balanced organic fertilizer. Refill 3 inches of soil, and set out the seedlings 8 inches apart in all directions. 

For recommended planting dates for your local climate — and to design your garden beds — try our Vegetable Garden Planner.

Growing Shallots

Keep shallots carefully weeded, and drench plants with a liquid organic fertilizer when they are 12 inches tall. Shallot plants naturally splay out as they approach maturity, as each plant will have divided into several separate plantlets. Shallots grown from cloves may produce a dozen or more small bulbs, while seed-sown varieties typically produce three perfect shallots per plant.

Harvesting and Storage

Begin harvesting shallots when the tops are actively dying back, which is usually late summer. Loosen the soil around the plants with a digging fork, pull up the plants and shake off the soil.

After harvesting shallots, cure the plants in a warm, well-ventilated place for a week, and then trim back the tops to 4 inches, and clip off the roots. Continue curing for two more weeks before trimming again and cleaning up for storage. Store cured shallots indoors, in a cool, dry place.

Propagating Shallots

Many gardeners set aside small shallots for replanting, but larger bulbs will produce better crops. Seed-sown shallots are mostly hybrids that have been bred for earliness. Although hybrid seed-sown shallots often do produce flowers, their ability to grow true from seed is unknown. Under good conditions, a packet of purchased shallot seeds will remain viable for three years.

For growing advice for many more garden crops, check out our complete Crops at a Glance Guide.


Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on .


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.