I couldn’t this week’s picks be anything but the cute little ‘weeds’ we’re seeing growing like ‘weeds’ right now; namely Chickweed, Purple Dead Nettle, Henbit, and Hairy Bittercress (although several others may be starting to show as well – like annual bluegrass, horseweed, speedwell, bedstraw and even the rosettes of poison hemlock, which we will address later in the season). I bring these up right now because the short spurts of warm weather has these winter annuals (which actually germinated last fall and have been sitting patiently for a little warm weather) growing like crazy so they can flower, seed and die. And it happens just like that! The secret to control is simply raking them out of where they’re growing. They’re annuals, and die. And make sure you rake them before they flower and set seed! In lawns, get the lawn thicker and these winter annuals can’t grow. In open beds and gardens, apply a pre-emergent in late summer to stop the seeds from growing. By the way, did you know that these are all basically edible, with Chickweed being one of the most nutritious greens you can eat? So, I say this: “If you can’t beat ‘em, just eat ‘em!”
Leaves of wild garlic are hollow and branch off the main stem. Leaves of wild onion are flat, not hollow, and emerge from the base of the plant. Wild garlic flowers may be green or purple; wild onion flowers are generally white or pink. So now the question is, how do you get rid of them?
Wild Onion Control:
1.) Physical Removal – This is probably one of the most effective means of control. But, for best results, you must remove everything that belongs to that clump. Stems, roots, bulbs, and closely surrounding soil. Dig the entire clump, making sure to get everything, and pitch it out, soil and all. Replace the hole with new soil.
2.) Cultural Practices – Maintaining a healthy lawn and correcting drainage problems may help reduce infestations.
3.) Mowing – This will not kill the wild onions, but regular mowing will weaken the plants as well as preventing them from setting seed or bulblets.
4.) Chemicals – In the lawns, these are considered broadleaf weeds, but not all broadleaf weed killers are effective against wild onions. Sprays labeled for wild onion control are most effective applied in spring or fall and will require repeated applications (be persistent). The foliage is very waxy and makes it difficult for herbicides to adhere and penetrate, so either bruise the plants by hitting with a stick, or even spraying after mowing may help. Or use a surfactant to help the herbicide adhere and work more effectively. Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra or Fertilome’s WeedFree Zone work great in cooler temperatures and does a nice job on wild onions. You can reseed within 2 weeks after application. In the landscape beds, using a non-selective herbicide - Roundup, Fertilome’s KillzAll, etc., and again, bruise the plants prior to spraying, or add the surfactant to the herbicide before spraying, and it will take repeated applications to finally get the clump under control.
If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em! Yes, wild onions/garlic are very edible. Feel free to cut and use the greens from wild onions (make sure they have not been sprayed with herbicides) in salads, soups, or wherever you would use chives or green onion greens.