If you have ever grown a garden, then you know how important it is to identify and get rid of weeds.
Wild onions can be found throughout the United States, and if you have a garden or lawn, they are likely to find their way into your yard as well.
Wild onions are sometimes thought of as a good addition to your garden because you can get free food out of it. However, it is especially problematic because it grows like a weed and can take over your lawn if not contained.
Wild onions also contain toxic substances that could harm your pets and children if ingested, so it is important to identify them correctly in order to treat them appropriately.
If you want to learn more about wild onion identification and control, be sure to continue reading.
What is Wild Onion?
Wild Onion, also called Allium canadense or the Canada onion, is a perennial plant that is native to eastern North America, although it has also been naturalized in many different parts of North America and the world.
It is characterized by hollow, flattened leaves and a round bulb below the ground, like what you think of when you picture an onion.
These weeds are pollenated by the American bee and flower typically from May to June.
In order to properly deal with wild onion weeds in your lawn or garden, it is best to know 1) where they tend to grow, both locally and nationally, and 2) what they look like so that you can identify them.
Where Does Wild Onion Grow?
Wild onion is a common weed that can be found all over the United States, but it is especially prevalent in the eastern region. It can be found as south as Texas and east to Florida, all the way north to New Brunswick and west to Montana.
Wild onions can also grow in different areas than normal onions depending on what types of bulbs and tubers were left behind by previous owners or other plants that may have been planted along with them.
In your garden, wild onion tends to grow in clumps and they are often found near flower beds and hard to mow areas, although they can sometimes grow right in the middle of your lawn as well.
Wild onion also likes to grow in shady areas since they are planted by bulb and tuber reproduction. They also like to grow along borders of lawns, sidewalks, fences, and in beds with mulch.
How Do You Identify Wild Onion?
Wild onions look very similar to other plants such as garlic chives and ornamental grasses which makes them difficult for some people to identify. Here’s what to look for if you think you have Wild Onion growing in your lawn or garden.
They grow in clumps with hollow leaves that grow up to about a foot tall. Growing out of the stem are leaves that are hollow with razor-sharp edges that can cut you when it’s brushed against.
These leaves often have flowers at their top. The flowers are shaped like stars, small, and pink or white; they tend to grow in a dome-shaped cluster. Under the ground, wild onion has an edible bulb that is covered in a thick, dense skin made of hard fibers.
Instead of flowers growing out of its leaves, you may see small bulblets, also known as bulbils, which turn into new plants when they become mature. The number of bulblets produced can be largely influenced by your soil type.
However, the most obvious way to identify wild onion is by smelling it. The Canada onion will have a strong, unpleasant onion odor, especially when you crush the leaves or bulbs.
Can You Eat Wild Onion?
While wild onion is edible, you should never eat it raw. The leaves and bulbs of these plants contain a toxic substance that can cause you to become ill if swallowed. Wild onion can also cause gastroenteritis in children, and livestock and horses can become ill by ingesting it.
The best way to eat wild onions is by frying or boiling them into a soup or stew, which will reduce the amount of toxins in the plant. However, we still don’t highly recommend it, as chronic wild onion ingestion can lead to health problems in adults as well.
Wild onion also has a stronger flavor than regular onions, and their white bulbs tend to be much smaller. This could mean that wild onion will also have a stronger odor than regular onions, although it’s likely to depend on the soil where they were planted and how long they’ve been allowed to grow.
Also, be sure to watch out that you have not collected or attempted to eat deathcamas, which is a plant that looks similar to wild onions but is much more poisonous. To find out, smell the plant: if the pungent onion smell is lacking, you may have collected deathcamas instead.
How Does One Kill Wild Onion?
Although wild onion might seem harmless, it is still a weed and can take over your yard. If you are looking to get rid of wild onions in your lawn or garden, then there are several ways that you can go about doing that. You can use either organic methods or chemical methods.
It is best to use these methods either in the early spring, before the weeds grow, or in the late fall, so they are weakened and unlikely to survive the winter.
Via Organic Methods
Since wild onion reproduces by bulb and tuber, the best way to get rid of it in your yard is by digging up each bulb as soon as you can identify it. This process will take a lot of time, because the bulbs tend to break apart very easily from each other, so you’ll have to be dedicated if you really want wild onion gone from your garden. The best way to dig them up is with a small shovel or trowel rather than your hands.
Another organic method is to spray the area with vinegar as soon as you see the weed, which will prevent it from producing flowers and seeds. Pouring boiling water on the leaves and stems can also work.
Via Chemical Methods
You could also use herbicides, which would help kill off any existing plants as well as prevent new ones from growing for up to six months. However, if you have pets or children who play outside then consider using natural methods instead so they won’t accidentally ingest chemicals when playing.
Herbicides and weed killers with glyphosate will work to kill wild onion. Glyphosate is an herbicide that is able to move through the plant’s vascular system, which helps get rid of it from the inside.
The best time to spray with an herbicide is right when the leaves have sprouted, before they grow and mature. Be sure to read the instructions on the side of the bottle to see what amount is right for your yard.
How Do You Prevent Wild Onion From Growing?
There is not much you can do to completely prevent wild onion growing in your yard, but you can minimize the chances. Mowing regularly keeps the leaves trimmed, which reduces wild onion’s ability to spread.
Additionally, keeping a full and healthy lawn and garden makes it hard for any weeds to find a foothold and sprout.
Keep in mind, wild onion seeds can lay dormant for years, so be sure to check early in the springtime for a few years after you get rid of them to see if they reappear.
Wild onion is a common weed that can be found in many yards. It grows from seeds and spreads quickly, so it’s essential to take care of the problem as soon as possible. There are two methods for killing wild onion – chemical or organic. Organic methods include pulling out the plant by hand, using vinegar to kill the roots if you don’t want to pull them up, and spraying with boiling water twice weekly until all signs of life have gone away.
Chemical control will work too, and is more effective if done early on in the growth cycle. Prevention includes planting grasses around flowerbeds and gardens because these plants will compete with weeds like wild onion for nutrients and sunlight.
We hope this article was able to help, and good luck with all of your gardening and de-weeding endeavors!