How to grow shallots

Shallots are surprisingly easy to grow – find out how, in our practical Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December


Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do not Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do not Harvest in September

Do not Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Average Yield

    60-180 per 3m row

  • Spacing

    15cm apart

    30cm between rows

    Leave tip showing

Mild-tasting shallots are one of the easiest crops you can grow. You can raise them from seed, but it’s so much simpler and quicker starting with sets (small shallots) that you grow on to cooking size.


Shallots have a milder flavour than onions and are used in a variety of dishes, particularly in French cooking, where onions would be too over-powering.

How to grow shallots

Grow shallots in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Water in dry conditions and keep the area around them weed free. Harvest when the foliage starts to die down.

To help prevent fungal diseases like onion white rot, try to avoid getting the foliage wet when watering. Water plants at their base, which will also help to ensure it reaches the roots and isn’t lost to evaporation.

More on growing shallots:

How to plant shallots

Planting shallot sets
Planting shallot sets

You can plant shallot sets in early spring or autumn. From an autumn planting you’ll get earlier, heavier crops. Like onions, shallots prefer sun and a moisture-retentive, fertile soil, ideally with plenty of well-rotted organic matter such as garden compost added.

It’s worth looking for heat-treated shallot sets, as the resulting plants are less prone to bolting (producing flowers). Bolting reduces the quality of the crop.

Rake over the soil to break down any large lumps. Plant sets with the tips showing. Space your shallots, which produce multiple bulbs, 15-20cm apart. Allow 30cm between rows.

Cover with fleece or netting to stop birds pulling up the bulbs.

How to care for shallots

Short foliage appearing above ground
Short foliage appearing above ground

In spring, apply a nitrogen-rich fertiliser to autumn-planted bulbs to give them a boost. Water well during dry spells.

Shallots (like onions) are shallow rooting, so hand weed rather hoe between the rows.

How to harvest shallots

Harvesting shallots
Harvesting shallots

Autumn-planted sets are ready after 36 weeks, spring-planted sets after 20 weeks, but as soon as your shallots are big enough to use you can harvest them. The leaves will droop over and turn brown when they’ve stopped growing.

In this practical video, Monty Don shows you how to lift shallots without damaging them, so they store well. He also explains how to tell if your crop is ready to harvest:

Growing shallots: problem solving

Shallots are usually trouble free, though they can be affected by onion white rot – a fungal disease found in soil that causes the foliage to yellow and wilt.

In this video, Monty Don shows you how to identify the symptoms of onion white rot and how to prevent it in future years. As he harvests his infected shallots, Monty suggests many other crops that you can plant in their place, which will not be affected by this fungal disease:

Cooking with shallots

Cut off the tops and peel, then slice or chop finely. Shallots are excellent roasted and they’re delicious braised whole in casseroles.

How to store shallots

Spread shallots out on newspaper or racks to dry. They’re ready when their outer skins rustle when you touch them. Hang them in nets in a cool, dark, dry place. They should store well for months.

Shallot varieties to grow

Freshly harvested shallots
Freshly harvested shallots
  • ‘Golden Gourmet’ – a heavy cropper with good flavour. It keeps well
  • ‘Red Gourmet’ – early maturing with red flesh. The spicy taste is great in salads and cooking
  • ‘Red Sun’ – good yields of large, red-tinged bulbs with crisp, spicy, white flesh. Stores well. Plant in spring