Bring the Outdoors Home

Nodding Onion | Plant Profile

Native to the American Northeast, Nodding Onions (Allium cernuum) are a familiar part of the Pennsylvania landscape. These fragrant clump forming plants grow up to 18″ with flat grass-like blades. They droop at the tip and produce a downward facing flower. Flowers can be purple, pink, or white. Though they are edible, the quality is not up to culinary standard.

Easily grown in Pennsylvania, the Nodding Onion has adapted to dry to medium well drained soils in full sun to part shade. They can be found naturally growing throughout typical lawns, but are cut well before flowering. These plants prefer dryer soils but can tolerate some clay.

The delicate hanging blooms make for beautiful border fronts and bring texture, color, and fragrance to gardens.


Nodding Onion Characteristics

Nodding Onions are particularly hardy in the Pittsburgh climate and can be frequently found throughout landscapes. The grass-like leaves have a strong onion aroma, particularly when damaged. Foliage persists into late summer with blooms lasting from June to August. Nodding Onion are self seeding and will spread on their own if not cut back. The pink, purple or white flowers give way to black seeds as the blooming season comes to an end.

Nodding Onion is self seeding and will propagate on its own. These plants should be divided every third year or when 10 or more bulbs appear close together. To prevent propagation, deadhead the blooms before the black seeds appear. Nodding Onion is very easy to care for with no serious pests or diseases.

These plants can be make a great addition to rock gardens, along borders, or in naturalized areas with wild flowers or meadows. They can bring height to locations with groundcovers as they are usually hardy enough to not be choked out, but are not invasive themselves.

USDA Climate Zone
Zones  4 - 8
1.00 - 1.50'
.25 - .50'
Bloom Time
June - August
Dry - Medium
Full Sun to Part Shade
Deer Resistant?