Folding Onion Tops: Why Do You Fold Down The Tops Of Onions

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

To new gardeners, rolling down onion tops may seem like a questionable thing to do, but many gardeners think folding onion tops before harvesting onions is a useful practice. Read on to learn all about it.

Why Do You Fold the Tops of Onions?

If you plan to use the onions right away, folding onion tops isn’t really necessary. However, if your goal is to store the onions for the winter, rolling down onion tops encourages the onion to turn brown and stop taking up water, thus boosting the final process of ripening. When sap no longer flows through the onion plant, growth stops and the onion will soon be ready to harvest and cure for storage.

When to Fold Onion Tops

This is the easy part. Fold or bend onion tops when the onion begins to turn yellow and fall over on their own. This occurs when the onions are large and the tops are heavy. Once you’ve folded the top of the onions, leave the onions in the ground for several days. Withhold water during this final ripening period.

How to Roll Down Onion Tops


The technique for folding tops is totally up to you. If you’re an orderly gardener and messiness drives you crazy, you can fold the tops over carefully, creating rows that keep your onion bed tidy.

On the other hand, if you tend to be casual about the appearance of your garden, simply walk through the onion patch and step on the tops. Don’t, however, step directly on the onion bulbs.

Harvesting After Folding Onion Tops

When the onion tops turn brown and the onions are easy to pull from the soil, it’s time to harvest the onions. Onion harvest is best performed on a dry, sunny day.

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