Content Detail

Nodding wild onion is native in open woods and slopes from Canada to Mexico, including northeast Illinois. Mounds of flat, grass-like leaves support stalks of nodding, bell-shaped, pinkish-white flower clusters in June through August. Great plant for front of the border, rock garden, and naturalized areas.

  • Family (English) Amaryllis
  • Family (botanic) Amaryllidaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink, White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and form:

Nodding wild onion grows in 12 to 18 inch high clumps of basal leaves where several stalks appear to support clusters of nodding flowers.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to rocky soils and slopes from Canada to Mexico, including northeastern Illinois. C-Value: 7

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

It attracts butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

Leaf description:

This native has flat, narrow, grass-like linear leaves up to 12 inches long with a solid center that smells like onion. Each flower scape turns sharply to create a nodding umbel.

Flower description:

There are tiny, 1/4 inch, bell-shaped, pinkish-white to lilac flowers in loose, nodding clusters (umbels) from June through August.

Fruit description:

Flowers give way to seed capsules that contain many small black seeds. This plant reseeds easily. Cut off faded flower stalks to remove unwanted seeds.

Plant care:

Best planted in full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil. Nodding wild onion is tolerant of dry sites once established. Deadhead flowers for a tidy appearance and to prevent self-seeding.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

Bulb rot will occur in wet soils. It is deer, rabbit, drought, and black walnut toxicity resistant.


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