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Old July 15, 2016   #1
Tormato
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Default Walking onion seed

Reading how others are trying to get seed from garlic, I tried it with walking onions.

It looks like I'll get some seeds, although I'm not sure if they'll be completely mature. The plant stem eventually broke off at the point where I removed the bulbils, so the harvest was sooner than planned.

Any ideas if the seed grows true?
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Old July 15, 2016   #2
clkingtx
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I don't know if the seed grows true, but if there are no other onions around to cross with, wouldn't that mean it self pollinated? I am growing a walking onion that had mostly"seeds"- they don't look like actual seeds, but just tiny, under developed bulbils(is that what you mean by seed?). The only other allium I have growing is chives...they can't cross, can they? That would be strange...

Mine broke off like yours, where I removed the bulbils- and so I just planted all of them. So far, several of them have sprouted.

Could they be crossed with anything that might be growing wild somewhere? My neighbors have pretty overgrown yards sometimes, but I haven't noticed any gardens.
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Old July 15, 2016   #3
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Tormato , some folks put garlic scapes into a vase of water to give the seeds extra time to mature, so maybe you can try that with your walking onion stem? (or maybe it broke off at the top? I couldn't quite tell.)
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Old July 15, 2016   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tormato View Post
Reading how others are trying to get seed from garlic, I tried it with walking onions.

It looks like I'll get some seeds, although I'm not sure if they'll be completely mature. The plant stem eventually broke off at the point where I removed the bulbils, so the harvest was sooner than planned.

Any ideas if the seed grows true?
The plant stem breaking off is where they get their name. I just learned this. http://www.southernexposure.com/egyp...-oz-p-955.html
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Old July 16, 2016   #5
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I'm guessing there will be quite a bit of diversity. They don't make seed often so it would make it hard to select a variety. That's what Kelly saw with potato onions at least. With that said I just harvested a garlic that came from true seed and it is similar to the parent. So I guess the only way to find out is to plant them.


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Old July 17, 2016   #6
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Actually, selection is very simple as you multiply by bulbils anything that you like. The difficult part is getting seeds. You could try crossing it with regular onions or with bunching onions.

Odds of getting something worthwhile are very high.
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Old July 17, 2016   #7
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Interesting to note that the alliums are outcrossing by nature - flowers don't mature male and female parts at the same time, to ensure at minimum an outcross with another flower in the same umbel. They suffer from inbreeding depression if the population is too small. So healthy seeded alliums contain a fair degree of heterozygosity.

This makes me think, there is a reasonable chance that the Walking Onions have some degree of heterozygosity so that the seed would indeed produce diverse offspring as opposed to a 'selfed' result identical to the parent. The fact they reproduce clonally doesn't mean that the genome of the plant is entirely homozygous - and would be unlikely to some extent, given that alliums are mandatory outcrossers.

Put another way, if you had a Sungold F1 that was propagated by cuttings for generations, you would still get diverse results by growing the true seeds from the plant. While an Indian Stripe OP propagated clonally would still produce plants identical to the parent from true seeds, except for a possible random mutation eg PL.

In the case of garlic, it is possible that the low true seed viability is due to insufficient genetic diversity and heterozygosity - maybe presence of multiple loci/ alleles that are detrimental or fatal when homozygous. Possibly all garlic originated from a small founder population, (or a few small isolated founder populations) and that clonal reproduction is nature's way of overcoming the genetic obstacles to forming viable seed, rather than the effect of human selection. After a long time and many disparate strains grown out the genetic diversity has been increased by small random mutations, so you now have a better chance of viable seed by crossing different varieties which have diverged genetically over a long time.
In the case of the Walking Onions, only way to find out is by growing out the seeds. Great project! Please keep us posted.
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Old July 17, 2016   #8
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The only thing I can relate to this is an agave which is in the same family or used to be.
They cross in nature they put out seeds and little ones on their shoots.
Some die when they flower and some dont.

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Old July 17, 2016   #9
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These onions are really the result of a cross between two species and then reproduced vegetativelly for generations. Diversity must be very big, so one or two rounds of selfing won't be a problem. You can also let them cross with other varieties.

The main problem with these and garlic is that they accumulate virus. Just by growing from seed should show a big increase in vigour.

Once a plant is not propagated by seed for many generations it tends to loose its ability to make seeds. Potato onions or garlic are perfect examples.
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Old July 20, 2016   #10
Tormato
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clkingtx View Post
I don't know if the seed grows true, but if there are no other onions around to cross with, wouldn't that mean it self pollinated? I am growing a walking onion that had mostly"seeds"- they don't look like actual seeds, but just tiny, under developed bulbils(is that what you mean by seed?). The only other allium I have growing is chives...they can't cross, can they? That would be strange...

Mine broke off like yours, where I removed the bulbils- and so I just planted all of them. So far, several of them have sprouted.

Could they be crossed with anything that might be growing wild somewhere? My neighbors have pretty overgrown yards sometimes, but I haven't noticed any gardens.
I removed all of the bulbils from one plant, and then the flowers produced seed. With all of the various alliums I have, they could cross. I believe I have two different walking onion "varieties" (one producing green bulbils, the other red bulbils). Next year, I'll try to plant them near each other and again try for seed.
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Old September 23, 2016   #11
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I'm onto my F2 stage of grow out and have 10 clumps of walking onions nearly at the point of producing scapes. In the photos below is one of two F2 plants from a year ago, it produced good sized bulbs identical to the parent clone and having no other onions flowering that summer i was only hand pollinated over itself

young seedling


Same plant but older


What the F2 plant produced




These are the size of the parent clones that i started with
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Last edited by Medbury Gardens; September 23, 2016 at 04:21 PM.
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Old September 23, 2016   #12
PhilaGardener
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Those much larger sized bulbs than my walking onions!
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Old September 24, 2016   #13
Medbury Gardens
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilaGardener View Post
Those much larger sized bulbs than my walking onions!
That was 20 years of selection to get them that size, just gota try and see if an open pollinate tree onion can reach that big
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Old September 24, 2016   #14
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Wow, I haven't even looked to see what size bulbs are underground the walking onions. Those are well worth harvesting!

I gathered my topsets the other day and found some seed pods among them. They're drying now and then I'll look and see if there are actually some seeds.
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Old September 24, 2016   #15
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There's so many different strain of tree onions, some produce flowers better than others, seems to be the strain that grows green bulbils is one that does, mine was like trying to get seed from a soft neck garlic, i had to remove the bulbils so that the flowers could have a fighting chance, would never had set seed otherwise
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