The Q&A Archives: Wild onions

Question: How do I get rid of wild onions in my yard?



Answer: Wild garlic (Allium vineale) and wild onion (Allium canadense) are winter perennials. They emerge in late fall from underground bulbs and grow through the winter and spring. In late spring, aerial bulblets are formed and the plants die back in early summer. The underground bulbs can persist in the soil for several years. While both have thin, green, waxy leaves, those of wild garlic are round and hollow, while those of wild onion are flat and solid. There are a few control options. Pulling: With a small number of weeds, pulling, though difficult, is an option. It?s likely, however, that bulbs or bulblets will be left in the ground and new leaves will later re-emerge. For best results, dig them out with a thin trowel. Mowing: Mowing will not kill wild garlic or wild onions. Regular mowing can weaken plants and prevent them from setting seed. Chemical: Unfortunately, there are no preemergence herbicides that will control wild onion or wild garlic. They must be treated with a postemergence herbicide, and persistence is the key. Plants will need to be sprayed more than once and for more than one season. One characteristic that makes control difficult is that both have a thin, glossy leaf to which herbicides don?t readily adhere. Adding a spreader-sticker to the spray solution will help it to adhere evenly. Be aware that some products have a spreader-sticker already added. Unlike most weeds, mowing wild garlic or wild onion immediately before applying an herbicide may improve uptake. After application, do not mow for at least two weeks. Timing of Sprays: Treat wild garlic and wild onion in November and again in March. However, be careful not to apply most weed killers onto centipedegrass or St. Augustinegrass during their spring greenup period. Good luck with your yard!

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