In the mountains, wild garlic (Allium vineale) and wild onion (Allium canadense) appear in late winter and spring in lawns, along roadsides and seemingly everywhere else.

Here are some notes on how to control these cute but prolific weeds.

Wild garlic and wild onion are often confused, but it’s easy to tell them apart.

The garlic has round, hollow leaves and a bulb with small cloves. Wild onion has flat, solid leaves and a layered bulb. Both plants die back in early summer.

The leaves, stems and bulbs of both weeds are edible (although we don’t advise this). Control is the same for both:

  • Dig up individual plants, making sure to get all the underground bulbs. Just pulling them up doesn’t normally work because if just a bulb or two remains in the soil the plant will sprout again next year.
  • Treat with glyphosate, but remember that glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide that will damage or kill most plants it contacts.
  • In lawns, spot treat with a broadleaf weed killer that contains 2,4-D or dicamba. Many common herbicides contain one or both chemicals, but check the label before you buy to ensure that it will control these two weeds. Maintaining a healthy lawn at the correct height will choke out many weeds without having to use herbicides.

You may have to treat more than once during the season, and repeat the process in subsequent seasons because the bulbs can persist in the soil for several years.

Start applications as soon as the weeds appear, and continue as directed by the product label. Bruising the leaves by stepping on them may allow better chemical penetration.

The plants must be actively growing for these treatments to be effective.

Jim Janke is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Haywood County. For more information call the Haywood County Extension Center at 828-456-3575.

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