En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - May 17, 2011

From: East Granby, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Problem Plants
Title: Invasive native wild onions in East Granby CT
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have wild onions which have become extremely invasive. I have no idea how to get rid of them, and this year they seem to have taken over my entire flower bed. I tried pulling the bulbs out for several years, and it just seems so futile. Even if you can not offer a remedy, please make sure that people become aware of what a nasty invasive plant, these seemly harmless chivelike sprouts can become. I fear the only way to eliminate them is to cement them over. urgh!!!!

ANSWER:

There are a number of different plants in the Allium genus that have the common name of "wild onion." Allium canadense (Meadow garlic) is native to Connecticut and sounds like your description. From our webpage on this plant:

"Use Food: There are many bulb forming plants that resemble wild onions, some are toxic. Only harvest plants with the distinct odor of onions. The chopped green leaves can be used like chives and the bulbs are cooked as any other onions."

From the Growing Conditions for the plant:

"Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moderately rich, neutral soils.
Conditions Comments: Some Allium species can become weedy in warmer climates. Tolerates all conditions well; very hearty plant. Make sure soil is well-drained, plants will rot in standing water. Generally free of pests and disease, although some people have had problems with slugs."

Actually, we probably can't give you any real solution to the problem, unless you want to dig up the bed and make sure every little sliver of bulb is destroyed (not in the compost pile!). In the past, on invasive plants, we have recommended cutting off the top of the offender and painting the cut area (within 5 minutes) with a broad-spectrum herbicide and using a disposable sponge brush as an applicator. This still is probably only a delaying action, but theoretically, cutting all the upper leaves off, which manufacture food for the plants, as well as applying herbicide before the cut area heals itself over might eventually starve those roots. Theoretically.

We are publishing this to remind our readers to investigate every plant, even gift plants, thoroughly before you plant it. The only way to get rid of invasive plants is to never plant them. We appreciate your giving us a very clear example of this problem.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Allium canadense


Allium canadense


Allium canadense


Allium canadense

 

 

 

More Problem Plants Questions

Zinc tolerant plants for sunny area
June 08, 2012 - I have a very high zinc soil in an all day sun area. Any suggestions as to what kind of flower can I grow successfully? Zone 8 Thank you
view the full question and answer

Problem with Pterocaulon pycnostachyum
September 17, 2014 - I have a solitary Pterocaulon pycnostachyum in my wildscape; it invited itself. Some years it does not flower at all (or the bloom is eaten before I see it), and its stalks (usually 4) are not ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of thistles from Columbus TX
May 20, 2014 - I am sorry if you have an answer in FAQs but I could not find it. We recently cleared property near Columbus Texas of many cedars (ash junipers). This spring we experienced a profusion of thistle -...
view the full question and answer

Will the
May 27, 2015 - I'm becoming interested in rain gardens, and although Silphium perfoliatum does not appear to be a host for butterfly caterpillars and like most of the "giant tall grass prairie daisies" may be a b...
view the full question and answer

Will Crossvine damage stucco walls?
June 17, 2015 - The Crossvine I planted about a month ago is doing well. It is growing up a stucco wall and its little tendrils are sticking to (or into?) the stucco. Is this going to grow into the stucco and damage ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center