Why are my shallots bolting – what to do with flowering shallots

Shallots are the perfect choice for those on the fence about the strong flavors of onion or garlic. A member of the Allium family, shallots are easy to grow but even so, you might end up with bolted shallot plants. This means that the shallots are flowering and is generally not desirable.

So, what can be done about flowering shallots? Are there bolt resistant shallots?

Why are My Shallots Bolting?

Shallots, like onions and garlic, are plants that naturally flower once every two years. If your shallots are flowering in the first year, they are definitely premature. Bolted shallot plants aren’t the end of the world, however. Flowering shallots will probably result in smaller, yet still usable, bulbs.

When the weather is unusually wet and cool, a percentage of shallots will bolt from stress. What should you do if your shallots are flowering?

Cut the scape (flower) from the shallot plant. Snip the flower off at the top of the stock or if it is quite large, cut it off an inch or so above the bulb, avoid damaging the leaves. Don’t throw the scapes out! Scapes are a culinary delicacy that chef’s swoon over. They are absolutely delicious cooked or used as you would green onions. 

Once the scape has been removed, the shallot bulb won’t develop anymore. You can harvest at this point or simply leave or “store” them in the ground. If only some of the shallots have bolted, use these first since those that have not flowered will go on to mature underground and can be harvested at a later date.

If the scape has gone so far as to be completely open, another option is to harvest the seeds for use the following year. If all you have are bolted shallot plants and a sudden oversupply at that harvest, chop, and freeze them for later use.

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