Gibson Priest

Gibson Priest

In early fall many gardeners and homeowners begin to notice wild garlic and wild onion. Both wild garlic and wild onion are closely related and difficult to distinguish from one another.

Both plants are in the liliaceae plant family, and are closely related and difficult to distinguish from one another. They are closely related to ornamentals such as daylilies and liriope. This family has many unique characteristics which make the use of selective herbicides possible.

Although many people do not see them, these plants produce flowers at the end of their leaf called a scope.

How to tell the difference between these weeds:

Wild Onion characteristics

♦ Bulb has a net-like membrane or covering

♦ Leaves occur from the base of the plant and tend to be flat

Wild Garlic characteristics

Leaves are hollow and tend to be formed higher on the stem (not where stem comes out of the ground)♦

♦ Distinct garlic odor


The plants are difficult to remove by hand and break off at the soil surface if you try to pull the plants by hand. Garlic produces many underground bulblets that are difficult to remove if the plant is dug out. If your garden has a loose soil, then it may be possible to pull up the plant after a good rain. A thick layer of mulch can help prevent the emergence of these plants in the garden.

If you choose to use herbicides, two non-selective herbicides that can be used are glyphosate and glufocinate. These herbicides can be used as a post directed spray, but make sure to keep the spray off desirable plants.

Selective herbicides for turf grass include metsulfuron methyl, imazaquin, and 2, 4D. These herbicides can be used safely over most turf grasses. All of these herbicides appear to control both wild onion and wild garlic. Make sure to read and understand all herbicide labels before using them.

If you have any questions regarding your planting or fall gardening plans or other weed control, please contact the extension office at 770-749-2142 or email

For more information and details on upcoming events, check out the Polk County Extension office on Facebook by searching “UGA Extension Polk County.”


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