How To Plant Shallot [ Full Guide ]

Shallots are a popular ingredient in many cuisines and are relatively easy to grow, making them a great addition to any home garden. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the process of planting shallots, including understanding different varieties, preparing the soil, ideal climate conditions, and step-by-step instructions for planting shallots from sets. By following these detailed instructions, you can cultivate your own shallots and enjoy their flavorful bulbs in your culinary creations.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Shallot

To plant shallots, choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Prepare the soil by adding compost and ensuring it is loose and fertile. Select high-quality shallot sets, and plant them with the tips just at or barely below the soil surface. Space the sets 6-8 inches apart in rows 12-18 inches apart. Keep the soil consistently moist and weed-free. Harvest the shallots once the tops have wilted and dried.

Understanding Shallot Varieties And Selection

Before diving into the planting process, it’s important to understand the different shallot varieties and how to select the best sets for planting.

Varieties Of Shallots

There are two main types of shallots: the common or multiplier shallot, and the French grey shallot.

  1. Common or Multiplier Shallot: These shallots form clusters of bulbs and are often referred to as “potato onions.” They are typically milder in flavor and can be used in a variety of culinary dishes.
  2. French Grey Shallot: Also known as “true shallots,” these varieties produce bulbs that are more elongated and have a distinct, robust flavor. They are often preferred for gourmet cooking.

Selecting Shallot Sets

When choosing shallot sets for planting, look for firm, plump bulbs that are free from mold or disease. It’s best to select sets that are about the size of a large marble, as larger sets may produce smaller bulbs. Additionally, purchase sets from a reputable seed supplier to ensure their quality and viability.

Soil Preparation For Shallot Planting

Proper soil preparation is crucial for the successful growth of shallots. Shallots thrive in well-draining, fertile soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Follow these steps to prepare the soil for shallot planting:

  1. Clear the Area: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area.
  2. Loosen the Soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. This will improve aeration and drainage, providing a healthy environment for shallot roots to develop.
  3. Add Organic Matter: Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to enrich its fertility. This will also improve the soil structure and provide essential nutrients for the shallots.
  4. Fertilization: Consider conducting a soil test to determine if any specific nutrients are lacking in the soil. Based on the results, amend the soil with appropriate fertilizer to ensure the shallots have access to essential nutrients for their growth.

Ideal Climate Conditions For Shallot Cultivation

Shallots thrive in moderate climates and are generally planted in the fall for overwintering or in early spring for a summer harvest. Understanding the ideal climate conditions for shallot cultivation is important for achieving a successful harvest.


Shallots prefer moderate temperatures ranging from 50°F to 80°F (10°C to 27°C). They are sensitive to extreme heat and cold, so it’s important to plant them at the appropriate time to avoid adverse weather conditions.


Select a planting location that receives full sunlight, as shallots require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and bulb development.


Shallots need consistent moisture, especially during the initial stages of growth and bulb formation. Adequate watering is essential, but it’s important to ensure that the soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to rot and other problems.

Frost Tolerance

While shallots can tolerate light frosts, they are not fully winter hardy. In regions with severe winters, it’s best to plant shallots in early spring to avoid damage from freezing temperatures.

Steps For Planting Shallots From Sets

Now that you understand the different varieties, how to select shallot sets, and the ideal growing conditions, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of planting shallots from sets.

Step 1: Timing And Location

Choose the right time to plant shallots based on your climate and the intended harvest time. In cold climates, plant in early spring, while in moderate climates, fall planting for overwintering is ideal. Select a sunny location with well-draining soil for planting.

Step 2: Soil Preparation

Prepare the soil as described earlier, ensuring it is loose, fertile, and well-draining. Amend the soil with organic matter and fertilizer according to the soil test results.

Step 3: Planting Shallot Sets

Follow these detailed instructions for planting shallot sets:

  1. Spacing: Space the shallot sets 6-8 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart. This provides ample room for the bulbs to develop without overcrowding.
  2. Planting Depth: Shallot sets should be planted with the tips positioned at or just barely below the soil surface. Press them gently into the soil, ensuring they are secure and upright.
  3. Orientation: Place the sets with the pointed end facing up and the root end facing down. This will allow the roots to establish and the shoots to emerge from the correct end.
  4. Covering: Once the sets are in place, gently cover them with soil and press down lightly to ensure good soil-to-bulb contact.
  5. Watering: After planting, water the soil thoroughly to ensure the shallot sets have access to adequate moisture. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to rotting.

Step 4: Maintenance

After planting, proper maintenance is essential for the successful growth of shallots. Follow these guidelines:

  1. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry periods. Avoid waterlogged conditions, as this can lead to root rot.
  2. Weeding: Regularly remove weeds from the planting area to reduce competition for nutrients and prevent them from encroaching on the shallots.
  3. Fertilization: Consider applying a balanced fertilizer, following the manufacturer’s recommendations, to support the shallots’ growth and bulb development.

Step 5: Harvesting

Shallots are typically ready for harvest when the tops begin to wilt and turn brown. This usually occurs in late summer or early fall, depending on when they were planted. Carefully lift the shallots from the soil, and allow them to dry in a warm, well-ventilated area for a few days before storing them.

Planting shallots is a rewarding endeavor that allows you to enjoy the flavorful bulbs in your culinary creations. By understanding the different varieties, selecting high-quality sets, preparing the soil, and following the step-by-step planting process, you can cultivate your own shallots with relative ease. Additionally, providing the ideal climate conditions and proper maintenance throughout the growing season will contribute to a successful harvest of delicious, homegrown shallots. With this comprehensive guide, you can confidently plant shallots and reap the rewards of your efforts in the form of flavorful, homegrown shallots for all your cooking needs.

Steps For Planting Shallots From Seeds

Shallots are a versatile and flavorful member of the onion family. They have a distinct, mild taste that adds depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes. While shallots are readily available at grocery stores, growing your own can be a rewarding and cost-effective endeavor.

  1. Choosing the Right Seeds: When selecting shallot seeds, it is important to choose a variety that is well-suited for your climate. There are many different varieties of shallots available, each with its own unique flavor and growth characteristics. Some popular varieties include “Ambition”, “French Gray”, and “Red Gourmet”. Additionally, ensure that the seeds you choose are fresh and of high quality to ensure successful germination.
  2. Starting Seeds Indoors: Shallot seeds can be started indoors several weeks before the last frost date. Fill seed trays or pots with a high-quality seed starting mix, which provides the necessary nutrients and moisture retention for healthy seedlings. Sow the seeds about ¼ inch deep, covering them lightly with soil. Keep the soil consistently moist and maintain a temperature of around 70°F (21°C) for germination to occur, which usually takes 7-10 days.
  3. Transplanting Seedlings: Once the seedlings have reached a height of about 4-6 inches and have developed several sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into the garden. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. It is recommended to prepare the soil beforehand by incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve the soil’s fertility and structure.
  4. Preparing the Planting Bed: Shallots prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Test the soil pH and amend it if necessary, using lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. Clear the planting bed of any weeds or debris, ensuring that the soil is loose and friable. This will allow the shallots to establish their roots easily.
  5. Spacing the Seedlings: Shallots are typically planted in rows, with each plant being spaced about 4-6 inches apart. Dig shallow trenches in the prepared bed, ensuring that they are spaced approximately 12-18 inches apart. Place the seedlings into the trenches, making sure the roots are spread out and not bunched up. Gently backfill the trenches with soil, covering the roots and leaving the upper part of the seedling exposed.
  6. Mulching: After planting the seedlings, it is beneficial to apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around the base of the plants. Mulching helps to retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain a more stable soil temperature. Ensure that the mulch is applied in a thin and even layer, leaving some space around the seedlings to prevent rotting of the plants.
  7. Caring for Seedlings: Water the seedlings immediately after planting to settle the soil around the roots. Provide regular watering throughout the growing season, aiming to keep the soil evenly moist but not overly saturated. Ensure that the seedlings receive at least 1 inch of water per week, depending on weather conditions. Additionally, monitor the plants for any signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate measures if necessary.
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Proper Spacing And Depth For Shallot Planting

Proper spacing and depth are crucial factors to consider when planting shallots. The correct spacing allows the plants to have sufficient access to nutrients and sunlight, while the appropriate depth ensures proper root development and encourages healthy growth.

Planting Depth: Shallots should be planted with the tip of the bulb just protruding above the soil surface. Planting them too deeply may hinder their growth and decrease the yield. Ensure that the soil is loose and well-draining to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to rotting of the bulbs.

Spacing: Shallots should be spaced approximately 4-6 inches apart, both within the row and between rows. This spacing allows room for the plants to expand and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to increased competition for resources and decreased yields. It also improves air circulation, reducing the likelihood of fungal diseases.

When planting in rows, space the rows approximately 12-18 inches apart. This spacing allows for convenient access to the plants for maintenance and harvesting. It is important to avoid planting shallots near other crops with invasive root systems, such as carrots or potatoes, as they may compete for nutrients and space.

Watering And Irrigation Guidelines For Shallots

Proper watering is essential for the successful growth of shallots. Insufficient watering can lead to stunted growth and reduced yield, while overwatering can increase the risk of fungal diseases and rotting. Follow these watering guidelines to ensure optimal growth:

  1. Initial Watering: Immediately after planting the shallot seedlings, water the soil thoroughly to settle it around the roots. This encourages root establishment and minimizes transplant shock.
  2. Consistent Moisture: Shallots prefer soil that is consistently moist but not waterlogged. Regularly check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. Aim to maintain a steady level of moisture throughout the growing season.
  3. Deep Watering: When watering shallots, it is important to provide deep irrigation. This encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil and helps to establish a strong root system. Water the plants at the base rather than using overhead sprinklers, as this minimizes the risk of fungal diseases.
  4. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the shallots helps to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Mulch also reduces weed competition, preventing them from taking up valuable water and nutrients meant for the shallots.
  5. Irrigation Frequency: The frequency of watering will depend on various factors, such as climate, soil type, and stage of growth. As a general guideline, aim to provide shallots with at least 1 inch of water per week. However, adjust the frequency and amount based on local conditions, ensuring that the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  6. Monitor Soil Drainage: Shallots prefer well-draining soil, as excessive moisture can lead to fungal diseases and bulb rot. To improve drainage, amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, before planting. Alternatively, consider planting shallots in raised beds to ensure proper drainage.
  7. Watering Adjustments: During periods of heavy rainfall or drought, it may be necessary to adjust the watering schedule accordingly. During rainy seasons, reduce the frequency of watering to prevent waterlogged conditions. In arid regions or during dry spells, increase watering to ensure an adequate supply of moisture to the shallots.
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Fertilizing Shallots For Optimal Growth

Proper fertilization is crucial for the healthy growth and development of shallots. Shallots have specific nutritional requirements that should be met throughout their growth stages. Follow these guidelines for fertilizing shallots:

  1. Soil Testing: Before fertilizing, it is recommended to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient content and pH level of the soil. This will help you identify any deficiencies or imbalances and determine the appropriate fertilizer to use. Soil testing kits are readily available at garden centers or through your local agricultural extension office.
  2. Organic Matter: Incorporating organic matter into the soil before planting shallots is beneficial for improving the soil’s fertility and structure. Compost, well-rotted manure, or organic fertilizers can be added to supply essential nutrients to the plants.
  3. Nitrogen: Shallots require a steady supply of nitrogen throughout their growth cycle, as it promotes leaf development and overall plant vigor. Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as fish emulsion or well-balanced organic fertilizers, at regular intervals during the growing season. However, avoid excessive nitrogen application, as it can result in excessive foliage growth at the expense of bulb formation.
  4. Phosphorus and Potassium: Phosphorus and potassium are important for the development of healthy bulbs. Phosphorus promotes root development and flowering, while potassium improves disease resistance and overall plant vigor. Apply a balanced fertilizer with a higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium, such as a 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 blend, during bulb formation and maturation.
  5. Timing of Fertilizer Application: Divide the total amount of fertilizer into multiple applications throughout the growing season. Apply the initial fertilizer when preparing the soil before planting. Follow up with additional applications every 4-6 weeks during the active growth period. Avoid applying fertilizer within a month of harvest to prevent any residues in the edible bulbs.
  6. Foliar Feeding: In addition to soil application, foliar feeding can be beneficial for providing a quick nutrient boost to shallots. Dilute a water-soluble fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and spray it directly on the leaves of the plants. This method allows for the direct absorption of nutrients by the plant tissues.
  7. Flush with Water: After applying fertilizer, it is important to water the plants thoroughly. This helps to prevent fertilizer burn, as excess salts can accumulate on the surface of the soil and harm the shallots’ developing roots. Watering after fertilization also ensures proper nutrient uptake by the plants.
  8. Monitor Nutrient Deficiencies: Regularly inspect the shallot plants for any signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as yellowing or stunted growth. Adjust the fertilizer application based on the specific nutrient requirement or consult with a local horticulture expert for further guidance.

Growing shallots from seeds can be a rewarding experience, providing you with a fresh and flavorful addition to your culinary endeavors. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure success in planting shallots, from selecting the right seeds to maintaining proper spacing and depth, and providing adequate water and fertilization. With a little care and patience, you’ll soon be enjoying a bountiful harvest of delicious shallots right from your own garden. Happy planting!

Protection Against Common Shallot Pests And Diseases

Shallots are a popular and versatile member of the onion family that add a unique flavor to a variety of dishes. They are easy to grow and can be planted in gardens, raised beds, or containers.

Like any plant, shallots are susceptible to pests and diseases. Taking proactive measures to protect your shallots can ensure a healthy and productive crop. Here are a few common pests and diseases that affect shallots, along with ways to prevent or manage them.

A. Onion Thrips

Onion thrips are tiny insects that feed on the leaves of shallot plants. They cause discoloration and distortion of the leaves, which can weaken the plant. To prevent onion thrips:

  • Regularly inspect your plants for signs of thrips.
  • Introduce predatory insects like ladybugs or lacewings, which feed on thrips.
  • Remove and destroy any heavily infested plants.
  • Use organic insecticides as a last resort.

B. Shallot Maggots

Shallot maggots are the larvae of a small fly that lay eggs near the base of shallot plants. The maggots tunnel into the bulbs, causing rotting and damage. To prevent shallot maggots:

  • Use floating row covers to physically block adult flies from laying eggs.
  • Rotate your shallot crop each year to prevent buildup of maggots in the soil.
  • Plant shallots in well-draining soil to discourage fly activity.
  • Remove and destroy any infested bulbs.

C. Downy Mildew

Downy mildew is a fungal disease that affects shallot leaves, causing yellowing, wilting, and a fuzzy, grayish mold on the undersides. To prevent downy mildew:

  • Plant shallots in well-draining soil and space them apart for good air circulation.
  • Avoid overhead watering and use drip irrigation instead.
  • Apply organic fungicides containing copper or sulfur if necessary.
  • Clean up and destroy any infected plant debris.

D. Fusarium Basal Rot

Fusarium basal rot is a soil-borne disease that affects the bulbs of shallot plants, causing brown discoloration and rotting. To prevent fusarium basal rot:

  • Choose disease-resistant shallot varieties when possible.
  • Avoid over-watering and improve soil drainage.
  • Rotate your shallot crop to prevent buildup of the disease in the soil.
  • Remove and destroy any infected bulbs and plant debris.

Maintenance And Care Tips For Growing Shallots

Once you have protected your shallots from pests and diseases, it is important to provide them with proper maintenance and care to ensure optimal growth. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

A. Soil Preparation

Shallots prefer well-draining soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and drainage. Remove any weeds or debris from the planting area.

B. Planting

Shallots can be planted from sets (bulbs) or seeds. To plant from sets, gently separate the bulbs and plant them about 1-2 inches deep, with the pointed end facing upwards. Space the sets about 4-6 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart. If planting from seeds, sow them about 1/4 inch deep and thin the seedlings to the desired spacing.

C. Watering

Water shallots regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Avoid over-watering, as this can lead to rotting of the bulbs. Drip irrigation is recommended to deliver water directly to the roots and minimize evaporation.

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D. Fertilizing

Shallots benefit from regular fertilization to promote healthy growth. Apply a balanced organic fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula, according to the package instructions. Side dress the plants with the fertilizer once or twice during the growing season.

E. Mulching

Mulching around shallot plants helps to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and maintain a more consistent soil temperature. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around the plants, taking care not to cover the bulbs.

F. Weed Control

Keep the area around the shallots free from weeds, as weeds compete with the plants for nutrients and water. Regularly remove any weeds that emerge, taking care not to damage the shallot bulbs or roots.

G. Thin Out Shoots

When the shallot plants reach a height of around 6 inches, you can thin out some of the shoots to allow for better bulb development. Carefully remove some of the smaller, weaker shoots, leaving the stronger ones to grow.

H. Stake Or Support Taller Varieties

Some shallot varieties, especially those with larger bulbs or taller growth, may benefit from staking or support to prevent them from falling over. Use bamboo stakes or tomato cages to provide support as needed.

I. Regular Monitoring

Regularly monitor your shallot plants for any signs of pests, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies. Take appropriate action immediately to minimize any damage or spread of diseases.

Harvesting Shallots And Curing Techniques

Knowing when and how to harvest shallots is crucial to ensuring optimal flavor and storage life. Here are some tips on harvesting shallots and the curing process:

A. Timing

Shallots are typically ready for harvest when the foliage begins to turn yellow and fall over. This usually occurs 100-120 days after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Avoid leaving them in the ground for too long, as the bulbs can become soft and deteriorate.

B. Harvesting Process

To harvest shallots, gently loosen the soil around the bulbs using a garden fork or spade. Carefully lift the plants out of the ground, taking care not to damage the bulbs. Shake off any excess soil and cut the foliage, leaving about an inch above the bulb.

C. Curing

Curing is the process of drying shallots to improve their flavor and storage life. Lay the harvested shallots in a single layer in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Allow them to dry for about 2-3 weeks until the outer skins are papery and the bulbs feel firm.

D. Trimming And Cleaning

Once the shallots are fully cured, trim off the roots and any remaining foliage. Gently brush off any loose dirt from the bulbs, but avoid washing them as excess moisture can lead to spoilage during storage.

Tips For Storing And Preserving Shallots

Proper storage and preservation techniques help extend the shelf life of shallots, allowing you to enjoy their flavor for months to come. Here are some tips for storing and preserving shallots:

A. Storage Conditions

Store cured shallots in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. A basement, pantry, or garage with consistent temperatures between 32-50°F (0-10°C) is ideal. Avoid storing shallots near fruits or vegetables that produce ethylene gas, as this can cause them to sprout or spoil.

B. Storage Containers

Place shallots in mesh bags, paper bags, or wooden crates to allow for airflow and prevent moisture buildup. Avoid storing them in plastic bags, as plastic can trap moisture and lead to rotting.

C. Check For Spoilage Regularly

Regularly inspect your stored shallots for any signs of spoilage or rot. Remove any bulbs that show softness, mold, or other signs of deterioration to prevent them from contaminating the rest of the stored shallots.

D. Freezing

If you have an abundance of shallots, you can also freeze them for long-term storage. To freeze shallots, peel and chop them into desired sizes. Place the chopped shallots in airtight freezer bags or containers and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Frozen shallots are best used in cooked dishes rather than raw.

E. Pickling

Another way to preserve shallots is by pickling them. Prepare a pickling solution using vinegar, water, sugar, and spices of your choice. Slice the shallots into thin rings or wedges and pack them into sterilized jars. Pour the hot pickling solution over the shallots, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Seal the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for at least a week before consuming. Pickled shallots can be stored for several months.


With proper care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of shallots. Protecting against common pests and diseases, providing regular maintenance and care, and knowing the correct harvest and storage techniques will ensure that your shallot crop thrives. Whether you use shallots fresh, store them, or preserve them, their unique flavor will enhance your culinary creations throughout the year.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Shallots?

Shallots should be planted in the fall, around 4-6 weeks before the first frost. In warmer regions, they can also be planted in early spring.

How Should I Prepare The Soil For Planting Shallots?

The soil should be well-drained and loose. It is recommended to work in compost or organic matter to improve the soil structure. A soil pH of 6.0-7.0 is ideal for shallots.

Can I Plant Shallots In Containers?

Yes, shallots can be grown in containers as long as they have enough space for root growth and good drainage. Use a potting mix specifically for vegetables and make sure the container has drainage holes.

How Deep Should I Plant Shallot Bulbs?

Shallot bulbs should be planted with their pointed ends facing up, about 1-2 inches deep in the soil. If planting in rows, they should be spaced 6-8 inches apart with about 12-18 inches between rows.

Do I Need To Water My Shallot Plants?

Yes, shallot plants need consistent moisture to grow properly. Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions. The soil should be kept evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Mulching can help retain moisture in the soil.