Catawissa Red Topsetting Onion

Latin Name: Allium x proliferum

Synonyms: Allium proliferum, Allium cepa var. proliferum

Common Names: Catawissa Red Topsetting Onion, Red Egyptian Onion, Egyptian Onion, Walking Onion, Top Onion, Topset Onion, Topsetting Onion, Tree Onion, Winter Onion

Reported Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Description: Catawissa is one of the largest and most famous varieties of the topsetting or Egyptian onion. Egyptian onions are a spontaneous hybrid between “bulb” onions and scallions, and are also known as tree, walking, or top onions due to their ability to form small bulbils (or bulblets) at the top of the bloom stalk, which in turn sprout to form new plants. Catawissa also makes an excellent scallion or green onion for virtual year round use. Like a multiplier, it will form numerous divisions in addition to the topsets.

Catawissa was popularized by the nurseryman F. F. Merceron of Catawissa, PA, in the 1850′s. Catawissa is known for its large size–bigger specimens may in fact need staking–and its double tier of topsets. Regular topset onions will have sprouting bulbils on top of the stems, but Catawissa will often have bulbils on top of the bulbils, perhaps leading to the name “tree” onion. It should be noted, however, that at least one authoritative writer considers this plant to be almost or totally identical to the red Egyptian onion, and think of the name as simply a marketing ploy on the part of Merceron (Thomas Jefferson grew a remarkably similar plant in the early 1800′s in his kitchen garden at Monticello). In the culinary world, a traditional French method of using the topset onion is to stuff the leaves with cream cheese, a use for which the large hollow Catawissa leaves are perfect.

Cultivation: Catawissa will grow in any decent garden soil that is well drained. It even thrives in poor sandy soils, and is moderately drought tolerant. Add wood ashes or limestone to overly acidic soils.

Product: WE CURRENTLY SELL CONTAINER GROWN GREEN AND GROWING PLANTS AND NOT TINY BULBILS OR BULBS. As such they must be planted or otherwise attended to upon arrival, and not left in the box for a couple of weeks. Topsetting onions are tough but they are not immortal. Buying established plants instead of bulbs, however, gives you a significant (really really big) jump on the growing season.

Shipping Season: September through November. Some container or field grown plants are available year round. Contact us for information. Available Now!!!!!

Price: Three Container Grown Plants, $4.95 (Counts as one plant for shipping purposes) Available Now!!!!!

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