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How to Control and Eliminate Wild Onions

Zach Colander posted this on Oct 18, 2016

Wild Onion

Garlic and onion may make great additions in the kitchen if you’re cooking some Italian food, but on your lawn? Wild Onion and Wild Garlic are two pesky weeds that are definitely a site for sore eyes--and that’s without chopping and dicing them.


Wild garlic (Allium vineale) and wild onions (Allium canadense) are relatives to the varieties of garlic and onions we buy from the grocery store but with a glaring difference, these winter perennials creep up usually where they are not wanted like flower beds or lawns.


Along with making your lawn look unsightly, these weeds come with perhaps an equally off-putting smell. Wild garlic and wild onions are invasive weeds which can reproduce themselves at an alarming rate. Both plants produce underground bulbs and also from seeds that are set from their blossoms which can potentially infest your lawn by popping up in more than one spot.


Okay...so just pull them or mow them. Problem solved right?


Wrong. Unlike other weeds which can be simply controlled by chopping, pulling or spraying, wild garlic and wild onions aren’t willing to go away without some resistance. Mowing over the weed or pulling it from the garden will not affect the bulbs beneath the soil, and within just a few days the bulbs will simply bring forth new leaves.


Digging them out is a good option that is proven to work but could be a bit laborious, especially if you have a lot of them to deal with.

Effective Methods of Control


Wild onions and wild garlic have thin leaves which can easily shed preemergent herbicides. They also have waxy coating which helps prevent absorption of the herbicide. With that being said, spraying the plants once will not do the trick. Regular repeated treatments of a post-emergent herbicide like Roundup are necessary since the plant can stubbornly shake off herbicides.

We would suggest mowing wild garlic or wild onion immediately before applying an herbicide may improve uptake. After application, it is recommended that you do not mow for at least two weeks.


Optimum Application Times:

Wild garlic and wild onion should ideally be treated during early fall to November and re-treated near the end of winter into early spring (February or early March) before these plants can produce the next generation of bulbs. However, be careful not to apply most weed killers onto centipedegrass or St. Augustinegrass during their spring green up period. Inspect the lawn again in the spring and the next fall, and treat if necessary.


Recommended Herbicides:

Imazaquin, the active ingredient in Imazapyr 2 SL and 4 SL Herbicide will provide adequate control for wild garlic and wild onion. It should be noted that this product should not be used on fescue grass. In the spring during green up, this herbicide should also not be applied to warm season turf. We would recommend that you wait at least 6 weeks after application before reseeding, winter overseeding or plugging lawns. This product should not be applied on newly planted lawns, nor on winter over-seeded lawns with annual ryegrass.


Broadleaf weed killers containing 2,4-D, dicamba and mecoprop (MCPP) can also provide effective results in controlling wild garlic and wild onion with repeat applications. Examples of three-way herbicides for residential lawns in homeowner sizes are:


The products above can safely used on the majority of turf grass but it is recommended to use a light amount when treating St. Augustinegrass or Centipedegrass. It would be ideal to apply these herbicides in November, at the beginning of spring, and again the following November for best results.


These herbicides should not be applied during the spring green up of warm season turfgrass, or over the root zone of ornamental trees and shrubs that are close by. Newly seeded grassed should also not be treated with these products until they are well established by at least the third mowing.  Always check the product label for application amounts and to determine that it is safe to use on your particular species of turfgrass.

Metsulfuron (such as in MSM Turf Herbicide (Manor), and Negate 37WG) provide excellent controlof wild garlic and wild onions in various turfs such as bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass. For these two professional-grade products, a non-ionic surfactant is required to mix with at 2 teaspoons per gallon for bed results. A non-ionic surfactant provides increased penetration toward the leaves.


Metsulfuron should not be applied to over-seeded lawns with annual ryegrass. Woody ornamentals should not be planted in treated areas for at least one year after application. Also. meltsulfuron herbicides should not be appled beyond two times the width of the drip line of desirable hardwood trees.


Celsius WG Herbicide, which contains thiencarbazone, iodosulfuron, and dicamba, can also effectively control wild garlic, especially if applied when temperatures are above 60° F. Apply in the fall and again 2 to 4 weeks later. The addition of a non-ionic surfactant, such as Alligare 90 Wetting Agent, will enhance control.


Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide which can control wild garlic and wild onion. If it proves to be difficult to prevent glyphosate from getting on desired actively growing grasses, a selective herbicide is highly recommended. Apply glyphosate during winter in order to avoid damaging the turfgrass. Solutions offers the following glyphosate herbicides:


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