Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Nodding Onion
Give a thumbs up Lady's Leek
Give a thumbs up Nodding Pink Onion

Botanical names:
Allium cernuum Accepted
Allium cernuum var. obtusum Synonym
Allium cernuum var. neomexicanum Synonym
Allium allegheniense Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Dry Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 8b
Plant Height: 12 - 18 inches
Plant Spread: 3 - 6 inches
Leaves: Malodorous
Fruit: Showy
Flowers: Showy
Other: Flowers have the typical onion scent.
Flower Color: Pink
Other: Magenta
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Summer
Underground structures: Bulb
Uses: Cut Flower
Will Naturalize
Dynamic Accumulator: K (Potassium)
Ca (Calcium)
Na (Sodium)
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Stratify seeds: 3 weeks
Needs specific temperature: 60 to 70 degrees F
Days to germinate: 14-30
Suitable for wintersowing
Propagation: Other methods: Offsets
Pollinators: Beetles
Moths and Butterflies
Various insects


Honey Bees in the Garden:  JuneHoney Bees in the Garden: June
By Mindy03 on June 1, 2011

June brings the end of school, Father's Day and summer. Summer brings hot weather and plants may need extra water. Honey bees will also need extra water to keep the hive cool.

(Full article5 comments)
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Photo gallery:

Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on May 3, 2012 7:04 PM

Honey bees get nectar and pollen from this plant.

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Posted by jmorth (central Illinois) on Dec 3, 2011 4:06 AM

Pretty neat little plant to observe...the pedicels bend upward once the flower develops.

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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Oct 21, 2012 2:12 PM

These plants are highly adaptable in the garden, thriving in sun or shade, moist soils or dry, water-wise landscapes.

When planted as annuals:
Sow outside: 2 to 4 weeks after average last frost or late fall for germination the following spring.
Start inside: 8 to 10 weeks before average last frost.

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Posted by Catmint20906 (Maryland - Zone 7a) on Aug 3, 2014 1:08 PM

Allium cernuum has special value to native bees, and attracts a variety of bee species including leafcutter, small resin, sweat, bumble, and cellophane bees.

This plant supports conservation biological control by attracting beneficial insects to the garden, including syrphid flies and soldier beetles, which eat common garden pests. Allium cernuum also reportedly helps to repel aphids, carrot flies, moles, tree borers, and weevils.

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Mar 7, 2018 2:21 PM

This Nodding Onion has a large native range from New York to British Columbia & Washington & Oregon, down the Rocky Mountains through Arizona & New Mexico into northern Mexico back to northern Georgia, growing in moist or dry areas, especially rocky outcrops, dry prairie, and dry woodland edges. It seems to be the onion species that Algonquian Indians (probably Miami) called "chigagou" after which the City of Chicago, IL got its name. It likes full sun best and a dry or moist soil that is neutral or slightly aljkaline. It can be divided every three years or when 8 to 10 bulbs appear in a clump if needed or wanted. It does self-sow some, but it spreads slowly. One can deadhead the spent flowers if seed is not wanted. The flowers are usually light lilac-pink, but can be white to pink to purple. This onion is supposed to be slightly toxic if eaten by humans. Native Americans used it carefully for some medicinal uses. Native plant nurseries sell some for native or naturalistic gardens and landscapes, though it would work well in a conventional situation. I don't know of it being sold at any conventional nurseries, which mostly sell cultivars of Eurasian species of ornamental onions. Short-tongued bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are noted as pollinators.

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Posted by JuniperAnn (Coastal TX (Sunset 28/31) - Zone 9a) on Mar 27, 2019 8:55 AM

I wish I had never planted this! It's so aggressive! Spreads by underground runners. I planted 6 plants one spring, and by summer I had hundreds and hundreds. I weeded them all out by hand, and one rainy week later, they were just as numerous as before! So then I panicked and used poison, which worked great for a few months, but now they're coming back & I'm weeding 10-50 little sprouts per day every day. Maybe it's a great plant where it's colder or drier, but don't put it in your flower bed in the humid subtropics!

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Plant Events from our members
MrsBinWY On March 10, 2017 Seeds sown
coffee filter in baggie in fridge for 8 weeks, little bit of H2O2, 16 seeds from molanic; jugged 5-26-17 (1 germinated in fridge); all up on 6-9-17
Catmint20906 On July 8, 2015 Bloomed
Catmint20906 On November 11, 2014 Seeds sown
Yorkshirelass On July 1, 2007 Miscellaneous Event
Moved houseplant not transplanted into new garden
» Post your own event for this plant

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