Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)

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An extremely tough plant with gorgeous flowers and edible leaves!

Nodding Onion is a wonderful and useful plant to have in multiple locations. It is very drought tolerant, so it does well in harsh dry planting strips. It is beloved by bumble bees, so it works well in pollinator plantings. It is beautiful and well behaved, so it looks good as an ornamental. Its onion odor repels pests, so it is a good companion planting in vegetable gardens. It is one of the rare plants that can survive under a black walnut. What can't this plant do?

We mostly see Nodding Onion planted as an ornamental plant, and it does that job beautifully - it has attractive, light green leaves, and drooping pink flowers. It is a true onion, growing from a bulb which will offset over time, yielding more and more flowers. It's a pretty small plant, so it works best along a border or together with other Nodding Onions.

Nodding Onion leaves are edible, and a good replacement for scallions. The bulbs are also edible raw or cooked, and although we have not tried them, they reportedly taste stronger than most cultivated onions! Nodding Onion has been a native food source for thousands of years across the whole continent.

Photo credit: By Walter Siegmund (talk) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Photo credit: By ghislain118 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Photo credit: "Allium cernuum, flower. C & O Canal Park, Montgomery co., MD. (6/05/12)" by FritzFlohrReynolds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Long-lived perennial (20+ years)
Full sun to mostly sun
Moist to dry
Up to 1.5 feet
Drooping groups of light-pink flowers
Bloom Period:
Early summer to late summer
Long, soft leaves, similar in taste to scallions
Native Range:
Across North America, except for the Southwest US
Typical Habitat:
Grasslands, prairies, meadows