- Wild garlic (Allium vineale) is the most common onion-like winter perennial weed with underground bulbs. It goes dormant in the summer and regrows from the underground bulbs in fall and spring.
- Removing stems and bulbs when the soil is moist, either by pulling them or using a thin trowel, is the best long-term solution for small infestations.
- Postemergence herbicides applied in the fall and repeated in spring over two years provides the most consistent results.
- In bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and centipede lawns, repeat applications of Image Nutsedge Killer Concentrate & RTS controls wild garlic.
- In both fescue and warm-season lawns, repeat applications of three-way broadleaf herbicides containing 2,4-D, dicamba, and mecoprop (MCPP) control wild garlic and wild onion.
- With good spray coverage, glyphosate effectively controls wild garlic in non-turf areas.
- Refer to the list below for other effective herbicides.
- Please follow the label instructions on all herbicides paying particular attention to the applicator’s safety and spray timing to the weed and the turfgrass.
Wild garlic (Allium vineale) and wild onion (Allium canadense) are winter perennials, with wild garlic predominant in South Carolina. They emerge in late fall from underground bulbs and grow through the winter and spring. In late spring, aerial bulblets are formed, and the plants die back in early summer. The underground bulbs can persist in the soil for several years. Both species have thin, green, waxy leaves, but wild garlic leaves are round and hollow, while those of wild onion are flat and solid. Wild garlic produces three different types of underground bulbs that may develop into new plants. If not mowed, wild garlic plants will produce aerial bulblets in the early summer resulting in small clumps of new plants in the fall.
Pulling: With a small number of weeds, pulling, though difficult, is a worthwhile option. When the soil is moist, it is easier to pull up large groups of bulbs. However, bulbs or bulblets will likely be left in the ground, and new leaves will later re-emerge. For best results, dig them out with a thin trowel. Fall tillage in vegetable gardens will reduce infestations of wild garlic.
Mowing: Mowing will not kill wild garlic or wild onions. However, regular mowing can weaken plants and prevent bulbs from producing bulblets that will develop into new plants.
Chemical: Unfortunately, there are no preemergence herbicides that will control wild onion or wild garlic. They must be treated with a postemergence herbicide, and persistence is the key. One characteristic that makes control difficult is that wild garlic and wild onions have a thin, waxy covering or cuticle on the outside of their leaves, preventing herbicides from sticking and penetrating the plant tissue. Spray plants more than once and for more than one season. Unlike other weeds, mowing wild garlic or wild onion immediately before applying an herbicide may improve herbicide uptake. After application, do not mow for at least two weeks.
Timing of Sprays: Treat wild garlic and wild onion in the fall after new shoots have emerged and again in early spring (February or early March) before these plants can produce the next generation of bulbs. Do not apply herbicides when warm-season turf such as centipedegrass or St. Augustinegrass lawns come out of winter dormancy and begin to green up in the spring. This is the time that these grasses are the most susceptible to herbicide injury. Evaluate the effectiveness of the herbicide application by inspecting the lawn again in the fall and the following spring and retreat if necessary. A non-ionic surfactant such as Southern Ag Surfactant for Herbicides will improve control of wild garlic and wild onion. Surfactants improve the herbicide’s adherence to the leaves and may increase penetration, but may temporarily cause turfgrass yellowing.
Suggested Herbicides for Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, and Centipedegrass
Imazaquin, the active ingredient in Image Nutsedge Killer Concentrate & RTS and other imazaquin containing products, will control wild garlic and wild onion. (RTS means a ready-to-spray bottle that does not require mixing but is usually more expensive). Wait at least 1-½ months after treatment before reseeding, winter overseeding, or plugging lawns. This product is not for use on newly planted lawns nor on winter over-seeded lawns with annual ryegrass. Please read and follow all instructions on the labels
Celsius WG Herbicide, which contains thiencarbazone, iodosulfuron, and dicamba, will control wild garlic, especially if applied when the average daily temperature is higher than 60° F. Apply in the fall and again 2 to 4 weeks later. The addition of a non-ionic surfactant will increase control. Celsius selectively controls many broadleaf weeds and several grass weeds in all four of the common warm-season turfgrasses.
Homeowner products containing metsulfuron, such as Scotts Spot Weed Control and Weed Control Granules for Southern Lawns, also control wild garlic and wild onions. There are other commercial products containing metsulfuron labeled for lawns that can also be used. Do not apply metsulfuron to a lawn that is over-seeded with annual ryegrass or over-seed warm season lawns no earlier than 8 weeks after application. Do not use lawn clippings as mulch around ornamentals or vegetables.
Suggested Herbicides for Both Cool Season and Warm Season Turf
Three-way broadleaf herbicides containing 2,4-D, dicamba, and mecoprop (MCPP) will control wild garlic and wild onion with repeat applications. Examples of three-way herbicides for residential lawns in homeowner sizes are:
- Bayer BioAdvanced Southern Weed Killer for Lawns Concentrate; + RTS
- Bonide Weed Beater – Lawn Weed Killer Concentrate
- Ferti-lome Weed-Out Lawn Weed Killer – Contains Trimec® Concentrate
- Gordon’s Trimec Lawn Weed Killer Concentrate
- Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer for Lawns Concentrate; + RTS
- Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec® Concentrate
- Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Concentrate; + RTS
These products can be used safely on most turfgrasses, but reduced rates are recommended when applying to St. Augustinegrass or centipedegrass. Apply during November, very early spring, and again the next November for best control. Do not apply these herbicides during the spring green-up of warm-season turfgrasses or over the root zone of nearby ornamental trees and shrubs. Do not apply these products to newly seeded grasses until they are well established (typically after the third mowing). Treated areas may be reseeded three to four weeks after application. Always check the product label to determine if it is safe to use on your lawn grass and for the proper rate of application and to determine if it is safe for use on your species of turfgrass.
Suggested Herbicides for Non-Turf Areas
Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide that will also provide control of wild garlic and wild onion. A selective herbicide should be used if unable to prevent glyphosate from getting on desired actively growing grasses. Many glyphosate products are available in homeowner sizes, below are just a few examples:
- Roundup Original Concentrate
- Roundup Pro Herbicide
- Martin’s Eraser Systemic Weed & Grass Killer
- Quick Kill Grass & Weed Killer
- Bonide Kleenup Weed & Grass Killer 41% Super Concentrate
- Hi-Yield Super Concentrate
- Many others
Originally published 06/04