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September 24, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Discover Field Garlic



  • Field garlic (Allium oleraceum) is a bulbous perennial that grows wild in dry places in northern Europe, reaching 80cm in height.
  • It reproduces by seed, bulbs and by the production of small bulblets in the flower head (similarly to the Wild Onion Allium vineale). 
  • Unlike A. vineale however, it is very rare with Field garlic to find flower-heads containing bulbils only. 
  • In addition, the spathe in Field garlic is in two parts.
Know your Field Garlic – Distribution
  • Field garlic is native to temperate Eurasia. 
  • It is native to Britain and is found in dry, grassy places, usually steeply sloping and calcareous soils, and on open sunny banks in river floodplains. 
  • It favours altitudes of 0-365m. 
  • A. oleraceum is scattered throughout England and very scattered in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. 
  • Erosion of coastal areas leads to a reduction in the available habitat for this species, leading to population declines.

Know your Field Garlic – Position and Soil

  • This plant prefers partial or full exposure to sunlight. 
  • Field Garlic tends to grow in slightly moist, heavy clay-like soil, although it will grow just fine in other soils. 
  • This plant spreads quickly, much like a weed, and can be difficult to get rid of.

Know your Field Garlic – Cultivation

  • An easily grown plant, it prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. 
  • The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. 
  • Seed is rarely if ever produced in Britain. 
  • The plant usually produces many small bulbils in the flowering head and these can spread themselves freely around the garden. 
  • Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. 
  • This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. 
  • Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
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