Scallion Picking: How Do You Harvest Scallions

Gardener Holding Uprooted Scallion Plants
(Image credit: leonovo)

While most people know that scallions are simply young, immature onions that are easy to grow, not everyone is certain about scallion picking or harvesting. Scallions are harvested for their greens and small, white stem that grows underground. Both the greens and white stalk of the scallion can be sliced or chopped and added to salads or used as garnish. They can also be cooked and are often used as a substitute for chives in many recipes. In fact, a mature scallion is actually quite similar looking to a large chive.

When to Pick Scallions

Scallions are typically harvested prior to the formation of the onion bulb. Generally, the younger the scallion, the milder the flavor. The exact time for scallion picking varies upon personal preference but is usually within about 60 days after planting.

Scallions can be harvested several times throughout the season depending on their level of maturity, with most people harvesting them once they are at least a half inch (1 cm.) thick or anywhere from 8 to 12 inches (20-30.5 cm.) tall. Another way to tell their maturity is color. Scallions should be green, upright, and succulent whereas onions are ready for picking once they've turned yellow and flop over.

How Do You Harvest Scallions?

Once scallions are ready to be harvested, gently loosen the surrounding soil so you can carefully pull them up. When harvesting scallions, choose the largest and use them first, as it is best to both harvest and use scallions right away. Scallions left for too long will quickly wilt and lose their freshness.

However, if you are unable to use all of your harvested scallions, they may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. It's best not to wash them if storing is necessary. Keep the scallions in an airtight, plastic bag. Some people find placing them in a damp paper towel works as well.

When preparing scallions, be sure to trim off the roots and tip of the white stem as well as the top 2 inches (5 cm.) of greenery.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.