You are currently viewing How to Recognize Wild Garlic, Wild Onion & Star-of-Bethlem & Get Rid of Them

How to Recognize Wild Garlic, Wild Onion & Star-of-Bethlem & Get Rid of Them

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  • Post last modified:May 23, 2022
  • Post category:Gardening
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Wild garlic, wild onion and star-of-bethlehem flowers look oh-so beautiful when they’re in the forest, but they can take over your garden. Here’s how to recognize them & get rid of them from a pro who knows.


ward upham kansas university research and extension horticulture

Ward Upham, horticulturist with Kansas State University Research and Extension, tells the characteristic of each flower to help homeowners recognize which weeds are at work.

When we know what we’re dealing with, it makes it easier to get rid of these weeds from our gardens.

How to recognize wild garlic.

Wild garlic (Allium vineale) has waxy, upright, needle-shaped leaves that are round and hollow, grow 8-12 inches long, and smell like garlic – as do its underground bulbs. The plant´s April-June flowers appear on short stems and vary in color from reddish purple
to pink to greenish white.

wild garlic

How to recognize wild onion.

Wild onion (Allium canadense) also has waxy, upright, needle-shaped leaves that grow 8-12 inches long. But, they are flat and solid, not round and hollow. And, only the plant´s scaly-looking bulbs have a strong onion odor. Its April-June flowers have no stem and are white with pink-red accents.

wild onion flower

How to recognize star-of-bethlehem flower.

Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) is a bedding plant that escaped. Its sprawling, thick, waxy leaves have a white stripe running down the center rib. It has little to no odor. The plant´s pure-white, six-petal flowers appear in late spring. Then the plant dies back, only to appear again in fall. “All parts of the Star-of-Bethlehem are toxic, but especially the bulbs,” Upham warned.

star of bethlehem from family features

How to get rid of them.

He recommends spot spraying the weeds, if appropriate, adding a sticker-spreader to the spray. “A number of common herbicides list wild garlic and wild onions on their label. County Extension offices can share university recommendations,” Upham said. “But, another approach is to try digging up these three weeds. Or, homeowners may want to try Weed Free Zone or Speed Zone on all three, since Virginia Tech has had some success with Star-of-Bethlehem and a carfentraz one product.”

Want more? See all of our seasonal gardening tips.

Want even more? See our new gardening tips from pros who know – and more.

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