The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
Consider non-chemical options first.
On loose or light soils, remove all bulbs with a hand fork or trowel. This is a laborious task and will only be effective if done thoroughly, perhaps even resorting to sieving the soil to ensure all small bulbs and bulbils are removed.
Putting infested beds down to grass does not prevent the growth of the bulbs, but small infestations may be almost eliminated by replacing the topsoil to at least a spade's depth.
An alternative method is to cultivate the soil during dry conditions in November or late January, when the bulbs are in growth and most susceptible to disturbance. This will weaken them and may prevent flowering and the production of bulbils, but do not dig from August to early October, when the bulbs are dormant, as this will simply spread the bulbils around.
Caution: do not dispose of bulbs or bulbils by adding them to the garden compost heap.
Among other bulbs
Unfortunately, when wild garlic or crow garlic are found growing amongst other bulbous plants no weedkiller will kill them without also harming or destroying the cultivated plants by absorption through their leaves and roots.
- Use glyphosate-based weedkillers (e.g. Roundup Fast Action, SBM Job done General Purpose Weedkiller or Doff Advanced Concentrated Weedkiller) around the woody bases of well-established trees and shrubs, as it is not readily absorbed by woody tissue
- Around low-growing shrubs and perennials shield the cultivated plants from the spray until it has dried on the weed
- Glyphosate can also be used on paths and drives (Doff Path & Patio Weedkiller or Job done Path Weedkiller)
- The most effective period for spraying is probably just before flowering
- Before spraying, try lightly bruising the stems and leaves of the allium, by trampling or beating with a spade, to help absorption of the weedkiller
Control may not necessarily be achieved in a single season.
SBM Job done Tough Weedkiller (ready-to-use only), SBM Job done Path Weedkiller (ready-to-use only) and Weedol Pathclear products containing glyphosate/diflufenican can be applied once a season to natural surfaces where no plants are to be grown, and can also be applied under and around established woody trees and shrubs. This product kills off existing small green growth and prevents or checks developing growth. It could also help to check early growth, particularly of small bulbs and bulbils. Check manufacturer’s recommendations before use to avoid damaging sensitive plants.
Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining different weedkillers available for gardeners; see sections 4 and 5)
Chemicals: applying with a sprayer
Chemicals: using safely and effectively
Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale weedkillers
Weeds: non-chemical control