How to Get Rid of Wild Onion and Wild Garlic

Last updated: 07/15/21
Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Wild garlic (Allium vineale) and wild onion (Allium canadense)—also known as onion grass and garlic grass, respectively—can be found in yards throughout Maryland, though wild onion is more common in this area. These winter perennials start appearing from underground bulbs in late fall, growing through the winter and spring. In late spring, aerial bulblets begin to form, carrying a duplicate of the genetic material of the parental parent. While the surface plant begins to die off in early summer, the underground bulbs continue to persist, re-sprouting annually for several years.

How to Identify Wild Onion & Wild Garlic

Wild onion and garlic are easily recognizable by the pungent odors their leaves release when crushed—a strong onion or garlic smell, respectively. Though both weeds have thin, green, waxy leaves, wild garlic leaves are round and hollow, while those of wild onion are flat and solid.

Control Methods for Wild Onion & Wild Garlic

Getting rid of these weeds can be very difficult, often taking several seasons to eradicate completely.

  • Pulling: The most effective method to get rid of these grasses is to manually remove not only the surface plant but also the bulbs. This is best done when the soil is moist, using a trowel or a weed puller. It is important to remove all bulbs and bulblets—which can break apart easily—as the weed can otherwise regrow. To prevent re-spreading, throw away the entire clump—do not try to shake off excess dirt and do not compost!
  • Mowing: While regular mowing does not kill these weeds, it can weaken the plants, preventing them from setting seeds and spreading further. Unlike other weeds, mowing the grasses shortly before applying herbicides can actually improve uptake.
  • Herbicides: These weeds can only be treated using post-emergent chemicals, as pre-emergent products have no effect on them. Products are best applied in November and again in February or early March, though the thin, glossy stalks can make it difficult for the herbicide to adhere to the plant, thereby greatly reducing the effectiveness.

It takes a lot of time and energy to get rid of wild garlic or wild onions, so let us help! Our team of local experts at Blades of Green has developed a proven lawn care program that can help you get rid of unwanted weeds and more!

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