The fall season is getting to an end, and winter will then follow. For most people, it is the time to be merry and enjoy their holiday vacation. However, if you are an aspiring gardener, this season may bring quite a hassle on your part. Unfortunately, the late fall is when wild onions usually grow. Wild onions are what many called “wild perennials” that usually emerge in late fall and spread seeds in late spring before they die back in summer.

Wild onions after they are pulled out and dried

Wild onions after they are pulled out and dried

If you have been into gardening for some time now, you will clearly understand why these wild perennials are pretty much unwanted. However, for the sake of the newbies, I would like to emphasize why most gardeners like me are exerting much effort on how to get rid of wild onions.

Why I Hate Wild Onions in My Garden

There are basically three reasons as to why I am adamant to find ways on how to get rid of wild onions in my garden.

1. They Keep Coming Back!

Wild onions are pretty much like weeds; the only difference is that they don’t easily die out like others. Well, they are perennials, after all. I usually have patience in pulling out weeds from my garden, but wild onions prove to be a difficult case.

Photo by Hank Shaw. Via:

If you try to pull them out with your bare hands, the leaves will easily break, leaving the roots and bulb still underneath the ground. As long as the roots and bulb remain, they will keep coming back again and again.

2. They Leave a Nasty Smell!

As mentioned above, when pulling wild onions using bare hands, the leaves usually breaks, making you garden smell like onions. The same thing happens when you mow your lawn. Let say a week or two after mowing; you can already tell these weeds are back with a vengeance because of the smell.

The wild onions in spring season

The wild onions in spring season

3. Most Herbicides Don’t Work With Them!

This is perhaps the worst. With the advancement of technology, you might think that “herbicide will kill them off.” Well, guess what? Most herbicides don’t work. I say most because post-emergence herbicide can actually help if done correctly.

How to Get Rid Wild Onions

Now that I have laid out the reasons why wild onions are unwanted, let’s move on to the most important part—the “how” part. “How do you get rid of them permanently?” and “Didn’t you say they keep coming back?” are probably two questions running around your head at the moment. Well, after thorough research and trying the different tactics, here are 4 ways on how to get rid of wild onions:

1. Mowing it Repeatedly

Mowing will not kill the wild onions for good, but it will help getting rid of them at least for a while. But here’s the catch, if you have the patience and need much exercise, then mowing repeatedly will weaken the plants and prevent them from setting the seed. Wild onions need their leaves for photosynthesis; without the leaves, they will progress slowly.

Roots and bulb of the wild onion after pulling it out.

Roots and bulb of the wild onion after pulling it out.

2. Using Post-Emergence Chemicals

Unlike other weeds that can be controlled using pre-emergence herbicide, wild onions can only be treated using the post-emergence ones. Another thing to keep in mind is that you have to spray the herbicide more than once and more than one season. Wild onions leaves are flat blades and glossy, making it hard for the herbicide to adhere and penetrate.

Fortunately, you can do a little trick for this. Mow your lawn or garden first, then apply the herbicide immediately. Because mowing helps break the glossy surface of the leaves, applying herbicide right after will enable the chemicals to penetrate onto the leaves better. Mow the weeds at least three times before applying the herbicide.

Edible Wild Plants Wild Onions

Edible Wild Plants Wild Onions

3. Spraying at the Right Time

Knowing when the best time to spray the chemicals can help you get better results. The timing of sprays is perhaps one of the tactics that most novices overlook. Spray the chemical in November and repeat in early spring. After you mow them in November, apply the chemical immediately, then do it again in late spring just after the green-up season and before they spread their seeds and germinate. Do this trick consistently and apply treatment as necessary.

4. Using Herbicide with Imazaquin

Imazaquin is an active ingredient that is used in most herbicides for weed species and is well-known to control wild onions and wild garlic. Imazaquin can travel through soil and can be mixed with ground water where the roots of weeds are. So, check first if the herbicide you bought contains this chemical.

Spraying herbicide is a practice most farmers use

Spraying herbicide is a practice most farmers use

However, make sure not to spray this chemical on other grasses like warm season grasses such as bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Bahia, and Zoysiagrass. This is because doing so will also hurt and damage these grasses, especially during the green-up season which is usually in spring. You cannot use this chemical as well in newly made lawn and overseeded the lawn. I only used this chemical after the green-up season is finished; it is usually the time where the weeds are still small.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wild Onions

1. How To Identify Wild Onion From Wild Garlic?

This is one common question that most newbie gardeners asked, but if you do a quick research, you can actually tell the difference through the leaves’ appearance. The wild onion has flat, blade-like leaves with a solid appearance while the wild garlic has round and hollow leaves.

Bears garlic blossom bloom plant

Bears garlic blossom bloom plant

2. Is Using Herbicide Safe?

I believe that using herbicide or all chemicals, in general, properly is safe. So, I highly suggest you read the instructions carefully and follow them strictly.

3. Is There a Way on How To Get Rid of Wild Onions Effectively and Fast?

After pondering this questions for a while, there is actually one. But of course, this comes with some circumstances. You can get rid of wild onions fast, but this may require you to destroy your lawn or garden totally and start up a new one after you can guarantee that these nasty weeds are completely out of your garden.


Please note that they may appear again in the future, though, due to certain reasons like wind or birds carrying wild onion seeds in your area.

That’s it! You can start getting rid of wild onions in less than five months (from late November to April). Hopefully, these tactics will be of great help to you and your beloved garden.

Which of the four ways above have you tried so far? Have you tried other methods on how to get rid wild onions? Please share them below; I’d love to learn from your experience too!

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How to Get Rid of Wild Onions in Less Than Five Months!

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